Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Black Hole Sun

All eyes are on Blizzcon. This is of course the slowest of all news weeks, but one thing that I have read this week (Source unknown) that there will be no additional patches for Mists of Pandaria. Much as been made of the speed of the patches for the current expansion but in reality if a new expansion is announced as expected at Blizzcon, then it is likely to take 12 months to release. All expansions I believe have been released in Autumn / early Winter, and there is no reason to believe that the next expansion will arrive any sooner. This will make a 2 year expansion which also is not unusual, so in fact the only patch that came out quicker than expected is probably 5.1 and that was only to distract people from the pain of the Golden Lotus.

The assumption of most commentators is that we can expect a pre-expansion launch to tidy up the loose ends with the Sha and Garrosh storylines. I am guessing from the disjointed storyline and the addition of one scenario, that Blizzard will not make the same mistakes as last time.

Patch 5.4 is not quite 2 months old, and already I am guessing that people are becoming bored with the current content. The raid still feels fresh and flex is absolute joy, to raid with guild members and friends in a relaxed environment, but Timeless is starting to grate with the endless grind, considering this is an area with infinite possibilities, why are we still doing the same two weeklies and a daily quest?

Cataclysm left the player with only Dragon Soul for consolation and the difficulty settings were quite low, so a lot of people had killed Deathwing on the day of release in LFR and on normal after a few weeks. The Lich King was a much more hardy opponent and needed several buffs/nerfs before the average Joe even had a chance to defeat him.

The only thing in our favour is the re-deployment of the Titan Team, this means spare resources can be used to provide more content in patch 5.5 and the rest of the team can concentrate on the new expansion. We will only know how far advanced the expansion is during Blizzcon and the inevitable playable demo.

On the subject of the expansion and the Warlords of Draenor, I am thinking that we might be visiting a new set of zones, rather than a rehash of the Outlands. People who claim to be Lore Nerds suggest that Draenor was blown asunder and the bit that we have found so far is the Outland. This leads Blizzard to yet again pull a rabbit from it's ass, and find a new continent floating in space.

The refresh of Azeroth during Cataclysm was not a huge success, even though everybody acknowledges that it needed to be done. The result was that resources were taken away from the endgame and the results speak for themselves.

As this is the season for predictions, I will attempt a few of my own:

  1. The new expansion is Warlords of Draenor.
  2. No new expansion for at least 9 months.
  3. Heroics 5 man instances will be re-introduced.
  4. Scenarios of multiple sizes will continue to be used to compliment and advance storyline.
  5. A major change to LFR either using flex technology or content that needs only one Tank or fewer healers.
  6. Dailies and Weeklies will be used for content and reputation, but not as the only source of reputation gain.
  7. Gear will not be available only through the medium of Valor and Justice, Factions will once again require gold.
  8. Commendations will continue to be used for Alt reputation gains.
  9. The next expansion is for 5 Levels only.
  10. The squish is coming, and certain unintended items will become BiS. Some levels will becoming difficult and others ridiculously easy, especially around the old level caps
  11. I anticipate no new class, but possibly a new race (available to both side)
  12. New character models for all, with PC upgrades for many
  13. New improved levelling for Tailoring, Leatherworking, Enchanting, Jewelcrafting and Fishing.
  14. Jewelcrafting to return to a discovery method for all gem cuts except for PvP
  15. No new professions
  16. Radical changes for Warriors, Hunters and Rogues.
  17. Normal 10 and 25 man Raiding to be replaced by Flex.
  18. No replacement for Wintersgrasp and Tol Barad
  19. Legendary to continue to be a questline available to all and achieved by the few.
  20. No major change to the Talent tree, 1 new level added at 95.
  21. Valor upgrade vendors to stay.
  22. Scribes will be able to make coloured Gear Ink to assist in the Transmog process.
  23. PvP vendors will be hidden in a cave with no indication where to find them.
  24. No new farm or upgrade to existing farm.
Mists of Pandaria was a solid base to launch the next expansion, and with a movie on the horizon, Blizzard need to provide a little more than nothing for the next 9-12 months.


  1. I've made some of these predictions elsewhere but for brevity I'll focus on stuff I disagree with from your list.

    10 levels, not 5... I think we only got 5 in MoP because they wanted to get back to 10s which required getting us to 90. Three reasons:

    1) 10th anniversary upcoming and the 10/10/100 theme is quietly compelling.
    2) I'm expecting 10 talent tiers, one for each 10 levels. There's no way to coerce 95 into any sort of mathematically consistent tiering that starts at 0 (could be 5/20/35/50/65/80/95, I suppose, but I doubt they'd do that).
    3) 5 levels feels small... previous-expansion mobs are still green and quests are still current. Hard to move on when you're only getting 5 new levels every 2 years. 10 is just a better number.

    One caveat - I seem to be the only person, blogger or commenter, to be convinced it'll be 10... not sure I've even seen a theory, everyone seems to think it'll be 5 again. So, I'm both very confident and not at all confident in that prediction.

    I don't see gear colouring coming although I'd support it if it did.

    I think the next expansion will hit in the May-June timeframe. Like you, though, I kind of laugh when people talk about how much more quickly the content has come out in MoP... it hasn't, not really. Maybe a few weeks here and there but nothing significant. Still, I don't expect we'll be stuck with 5.4 for more than 9 months (7 months from now) if Blizzard can avoid it.

    I'd be surprised if there wasn't SOME sort of farm... most likely a new equivalent that isn't actually a farm but serves a similar purpose. Some expansion-appropriate way to passively farm mats.

    Other than that... I'm mostly in agreement, those all seem logical.

    The two main things I can think of that you seem to have missed are a level scaling / mentoring system that may be incoming and some sort of alt leveling perk to make it quicker/easier to get alts up to max than heirlooms currently allow. I'd actually prefer to turf the heirlooms entirely (I miss getting gear upgrades when I wear them) and just get a flat 10% XP bonus for each max-level toon for each expansion.

    (as an example of that, if you have 10 toons at 60+, you'd get a 100% bonus from 1-60 for your 11th... if you have 8 at 70+, you'd then get an 80% bonus from 61-70... all the way up to 95 or 100, no reason that can't apply to current content as well)

    Bonus points for #23, probably the safest prediction of all right there. "Where are the PvP vendors?" "In the cave at 23,72" "I don't know what to do with coordinates" "..."

    1. Should have been "brevity," of course, forgot the quotation marks above.

  2. The reason I believe that 5 Levels is more likely than 10 is because of the itemisation squish. 10 Levels result in expanding the iLevels throughout the expansion.

    Blizzard want to condense throughout the game so are unlikely to want to extend at the endgame any more than they need to.

    The time to complete 5 levels and 10 levels can be adjusted to be within an hour of each other if Blizzard so wishes.

    The other downside is that starting from 1, 100 looks like a lot more levels than 95. It is just a bit of psychology, although Blizzard are less interested in getting new players and more interested in attracting returning players.

    1. Yeah, those are the usual reasons for 5, along with momentum... we've had 2 straight with 5.

      My theory is that 5 was never really intended in the first place, though... due to the old world revamp, Cataclysm only gave us 5 new zones vs 7 in BC and 10 in Wrath so the new content was compressed and they may have decided to compress the levels as well to keep them in balance. Maybe they actually had a goal of making the next expansion, the 10th Anniversary one, being the one to get us to level 100 and had to delay things a bit. Since we were stuck at 85 they made MoP 5 levels as well to get back on a 10s track and now they're free to go back to 10.

      I also think that more levels feels better when leveling than fewer. There wouldn't be any need for them to add additional iLvls, there were more than enough iLvls in MoP to kit out 10 levels. 372/384/393/399/408/414/429/437 from just quests/vendors and there were a handful of iLvls from item drops (364/377/390/403/416) as well.

      I'm pretty confident that they're going to introduce some sort of leveling speed boost outside of RAF to help overcome that psychological barrier of needing 100 levels on a new toon.

      Either way, I see where 5 makes sense but my gut's telling me 10. We'll see soon enough. :)