As my three regular readers know, I spent several years playing and raiding in WoW. My heyday was from mid-BC to mid-Cata, what most consider to be the golden age of WoW, based upon both the sub numbers and the quality of the content. Like many others, my love of WoW has waned, and I have not played with any regularity for about two years. I still, however, follow the community and read several blogs out there that either focus exclusively on WoW or hit on it with some regularity.
From reading those blogs, I have a good sense of where the game is and where people want to see it heading. A couple of posts from The Godmother, Green Armadillo, and Lonomonkey got me thinking – the way for WoW to move forward is to look back. On what will soon be the 10th anniversary of WoW, two of its greatest strengths and weaknesses are: (1) its extreme wealth of group content; and (2) nostalgia. So how could Blizzard take advantage of this, and what the hell am I talking about? First, my thesis. Then, I will answer those questions.
I believe that Blizzard, which is no stranger to recycling content, should make every existing raid tuned to and available for max-level characters in the next expansion. There, I said it.
The Good and the Bad of Nostalgia
I am a textbook example of why nostalgia helps and hurts WoW. I often look back on my time spent in WoW, with the friends I made, and the battles we won and lost together, and it makes me smile. In fact, I often wish for those days. The last couple of times that I have come back to the game, I find that it does not live up to the image in my mind. Friends have moved on, mechanics are different, I am not as invested in the storyline as I once was. That is the double-edged sword of nostalgia that Blizzard has to deal with when trying to attract a player like me back to the game. Given the trend in subscriber numbers, there are probably millions out there like me. Well, at least thousands.
The same goes for content. WoW now has hundreds (I think) of beautifully constructed raid encounters. The problem is that only a few dozen, at most, are actively being raided because they are the only ones that are current, are challenging, and are rewarding, outside of maybe getting a transmog piece. Good luck getting a group together for Gruul, because no one needs anything from him anymore. Even if you do get the group together, he would likely be trivial. So WoW has all of these great assets, but there is no way for players to easily take advantage of them.
Well, I have given it some thought. By mashing together a hodgepodge of ideas from the WoW of today and yesterday, as well as stealing from a few other games, I think a system like this could be implemented.
Crawling Before Walking
Right out of the gate, let’s move past the basic issue of “can it be done.” Blizzard has shown no lack of willingness to recycle and update old raid content – Naxxramas, Onyxia, Ragnaros. Moreover, every Heroic dungeon has to be tuned for leveling and endgame, so the know how is there. If Blizzard wants to undertake a project like this, it can do it. The harder part is making it accessible to players and providing the proper motivations to get people to use it. I have some ideas how to do that, but of course, they will not be perfect.
Making it Work
If Blizzard implemented this system, I think it would need to go on the LFR with the standard 25-man raid team. There would be a ton of balancing issues and loot ilevel issues, and having LFR, Flex, Regular, and Heroic, 10s and 25s, might spin this project out of control.
So, each raid is accessible through LFR in the 25-man variety. Larger raids, like ICC are split up into wings. Loot rules are the same as LFR, but any class can get any drop. Taking a page from the Timeless Isle, the drops are BOA, so any of your alts can use them. I would also like to see some, if not all of the drops be of the heirloom variety, so that your alts can start using them right away.
But why, you ask, would a progression raider ever set foot in one of these raids? First, at max level, make the equipment that drops in one of these raids equal to loot drops in Heroic 5-mans (a step below current progression LFR) so that it helps you gear up for the current progression cycle. Throw on top of that a drop from the final boss of a raid (“Rune of Amplification”) that can be applied to any piece of gear obtained through one of these “Classic Raids” that would raise the ilevel of the piece to that of the current content LFR. Doing this, however, binds that piece of gear to the character. You might also require different numbers of runes for different slots.
How, you say, will you have people running 30 different raids without severely dumbing them down? Well, some mechanics will need to be simplified, that is for sure. Let’s also take a page out of FFXIV’s book here – in the early “learning” instances, helps pops up on the screen to tell you exactly what you should be doing in an encounter. For these Classic Raids, the first time a deadly boss mechanic is used, a brief message can pop up saying “When this happens, this is what you should do.” Of course, it should only pop up once so people have to learn something.
Finally, with so many raids, how will your queue ever pop? Let’s steal a page from late-Wrath here – the weekly raid quest. Each week, you get a mission to do a different Classic Raid. The rewards are something that is relevant to the current level of gearing. In the first tier of the expansion, it could be more Runes of Amplification, it could be Justice or Valor. Whatever motivates players to run it.
Why Should Blizzard do it?
A system like this will capitalize on the two points mentioned earlier – it stokes people’s nostalgia while also making largely irrelevant content relevant again. Many guilds will organize Classic Raid nights like they already do, but there will be a greater incentive to do them. In addition, having a weekly raid quest that sends you to a different raid each week means that you are not running the same thing over and over and over again for months. In any given week, you may get to run a raid you have not set foot in for years or maybe one you have not set foot in at all.