After Legion is Irrelevant

Top of my feed this morning Breakfast Topic: What comes after Legion?

I honestly find myself wondering how World of Warcraft could possibly top Legion. I mean, where do we go from here? A full-scale invasion of the Burning Legion a scant sixteen or so years after the last one. Considering it took them ten thousand years to return after their first attempt, it feels like the intervals are getting shorter 
Because they are. 
So I’m wondering what happens this time. If we beat back the Legion, it’ll have to be a pretty decisive win, wouldn’t it? Not just shutting down the portal they’re using to invade, we’ll also have to eradicate every last trace of them: every cultist and every demon that’s currently on Azeroth. That’s a mammoth undertaking. But if we don’t do it, when will the next invasion come? 
So what do we do after we accomplish it? Is it finally time for us to go to Argus? Take the fight to the Legion’s doorstep? 
I find myself wondering how many worlds are left out there. Are there allies for us to find? Is there a grateful cosmos waiting to be delivered from the Legion or are we one of a few ragtag holdouts, enduring in spite of the Fallen Titan and his army of annihilation? What else is there for us to do once we stop the Legion this time? 
What do you all think? What’s next, after Legion?
There are so many problems with this question, it pretty much requires that I wax literal in my attempt to unpack it.  Oh, you'd like me to do that? Here goes.

A quote from Terminator Genisys
Time doesn't exist in the sense that Matthew Rossi at Blizzardwatch suggests, especially in fantasy worlds. Time isn't a set interval marching in unmalleable increments down to the end of time.  Time is more gas than fluid or concrete. It can be compressed or expanded to fill whatever boundaries we place on it.

But we can set that aside because we aren't talking about reality, but rather fantasy.  It has already been established that the Legion lives outside of time and space. They don't see time as temporal creatures (like humans) see time.  Consequently the interval can be ten thousand years or next week, it is the same difference to them.

Blizzard can literally have every expansion after this one be The Burning Legion Returns and it can be factually defended from within established World of Warcraft canon.

So what comes after the current expansion is pretty much irrelevant, from a story perspective. It's already been established we can travel to parallel universes and port to any world within the current universe of Azeroth. The Burning Legion can be there, mucking up the world. Or not be there, if the developers decide not to include them. Mists of Pandaria added the only part of Warcraft III that I felt was left out of World of Warcraft,  so I can't suggest any new content just right off the top of my head.

The real question is, will the next expansion be something the player base will want to play? That is quite literally the multi-million dollar, multi-million playerbase debate.

Since I've still not bought Legion (#noflynobuy) I think they've already gone there. They've been headed that way for quite some time. The first hint of their direction was in Mists of Pandaria. In MOP  flight was an endgame-only perk. You had to be at top level in the game to be able to fly. Contrary to what the naysayers insist, this was a retrenchment from both Cataclysm and Wrath of the Lich King, where flight was incorporated from the beginning of the expansion, and a return to the old ways of Burning Crusade. With Warlords of Draenor the world of the original game, where no flight was possible, was reintroduced.

This is, to put it bluntly, going backwards.

I get it, the new owners (Activision) have a gameplan that requires Blizzard to milk every dollar out of the playerbase that they can get their hands on, while simultaneously devoting as little programming time to the game as they can get away with. This means simplifying the game in ways that are less noticeable if the players cannot simply fly over obstacles.

Here is an example.  The world of Outland is physically bigger than the old world of Draenor. I have proven this to myself by flying across regions of the game map in both areas. This fact is the reverse of established game lore, that Outland is smaller than Draenor because of the destruction wrought by the Burning Legion. The world can be smaller because in Draenor you were expected to fight across the ground for every inch of territory you wanted to traverse. Constraining the players in this way allows the developers and programmers to skip creating the larger worlds that Warcraft is known for, making it possible for them to economize on programming time.

The Broken Isles of Legion are demonstrably smaller than every single expansion that has come before in World of Warcraft. Why are we limited to just the Broken Isles? Why isn't the invasion everywhere on Azeroth simultaneously? This is the Burning Legion, they have uncounted demons at their beck and call.  They could easily be in every city on Azeroth simultaneously.

But that would be one whole hell of a lot of programming.  It would equal the amount of programming that went into creating the first game.

Which is my overarching point here. The Legion expansion is the smallest addition to the game that has ever been introduced, and it comes at the cost of a complete reworking and simplification of every system in the game outside of redrawing maps for the game itself.  It is a lot easier to program simplified playstyles and constrain players to small sections of ground-based maps than it is to create new worlds with new areas to explore, complex and challenging playstyles to master.

Playstyles that include flight.

But it isn't just flight.  I was disgusted at the garrison copout in the last expansion. Sending followers out to play the game you couldn't take time to play.  Building ships that you never sailed on.  The one thing that might have saved Warlords of Draenor for me would have been allowing me to build ships I could sail where I wanted to go. But that too would have required an exponential investment in programming time, something Activision doesn't want to spend money on.

Having all of Azeroth be under siege would also make the garrisons we've spent two years building have a use beyond becoming just another game hub no one goes to anymore. It would do something unprecedented in WoW, not abandon former content as being that old game we used to play. The garrisons have their own separate hearthstone. Draenor has been protected through our actions from invasion by the Burning Legion lurking out in infinity.  Why would we not stage our last defense of Azeroth in the one place we know the Burning Legion can never return to. Draenor of the past.

So it comes down to this for me. Until and unless they revise their development strategies, I can't see them doing anything I will want to play.  I could be wrong, but I'm betting I'm not. Waiting and seeing is something I do well. 

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