Thursday, April 25, 2013

Even Better than the Real Thing?

The Case for the Defence.

I noted with some satisfaction yesterday that other people are beginning to suggest that two factions in-game aren't really enough anymore. After eight years, the game that began as Red versus Blue has  gone through numerous incarnations, but (at least until Cataclysm) remained true to the two faction balance from which the game was originally descended from. However, as time has gone on, it has become increasingly clear that this isn't enough, that fostering an Us versus Them mentality perhaps isn't the best way to maintain the longevity of the game. I think it's fair to say that Blizzard is going to want to eke Azeroth's existence out until it makes it to a decade of gametime, and with that in mind I find myself thinking ahead, as my good dear friend Mr Bear Butt did. With Blizzcon in November, I think we can safely assume we'll get an Expansion name when it arrives. The question then becomes: what's next?

What's next, Josiah?

This game needs an Expansion that keeps the bar as high as Pandaria has: that gave us a chance to choose our faction after 10 levels of understanding that we had no choice, that the Horde versus the Alliance was a fight we had to buy into as the new race in town. As time has gone on it has become increasingly clear that the Pandarian's outlook to war isn't about having sides, it is about defeating the enemies that present themselves, in whatever form. That means getting the Kirin Tor to forget their differences and their affiliations and walk away from conflict. When Garrosh is finally knocked into next week, are we REALLY expected to just go back to the way things were and forget all the lessons the Pandarians taught us? I for one really hope not, which is why I'm advocating a third, neutral race or (as has been hinted at in various places) a chance to break away from your current racial leader to become a champion of a specific faction that already exists in game.

SUCH a good idea. No, it is!

As BBB mentions in his post, the Horde's gonna be a right mess at the end of the Expansion. To be honest the Alliance isn't in such great shape either, but as a writer I see the benefit in having things as a mess. Conflict is a great storyteller, after all. As we've already broken with convention and have a 'Big Bad' this time around who's actually a part of the core races, it shouldn't be a stretch to allow us to start making greater decisions as players, surely? The problems come with the coding of the game, that large areas of the 'Universe' we inhabit are oddly out of synch with each other. How can we have consistency when the world exists in so many simultaneous 'timezones'?

I think this might be where championing a faction could come into it's own, and we could end up in a position where 'new content' for the next Expansion isn't actually new at all. Part of me can see no new races for the next phase of the game, and no new continents to explore. Instead, Blizzard take the renegade step of COMPLETELY updating the existing game world to represent the state of the Horde and the Alliance post-Garrosh. Outland and Northrend get their much-needed facelift, and encounters like Ulduar and The Lich King end up being accessible via the Caverns of Time, which becomes a hub for those people wishing to relive the classic battles of days gone by. After all, with the Bronze Dragonflight effectively out of a job, becoming a tourist attraction seems a great way to employ all those guys for the forseeable future. They could open a new branch in Dragonblight under the temple for the Lich King fights, and maybe re-purpose some of that open space in Auchindoun for an Outland hub. I bet the Explorer's League would be interested in buying some concessions...

Archaeology, and everything else, gets a makeover.

If you think about it, this would be the ultimate 10th Anniversary Makeover. It could easily pull back all those people who left to see how Blizzard finally change the game into something new, but inherently 'the same.' We might finally get flying in Ghostlands, or closure on old storylines we pursued in TBC and Wrath. This time however we won't be doing this as simply Horde or Alliance, we could choose our own 'alliances', even (shock) switching sides in specific Scenarios to go work for what was once our enemy. Battlegrounds however are the massive sticking point in this plan, and that's why, like Mr Butt, I think it could finally be time for a third faction in game. Not someone like the Forsaken or (as I have previously suggested in this parish) the Shado Pan, but a truly neutral group that does not look at the colour of our tabards or the race we are. I think we already have the lore established for this in game too. I think it may be time for our friend Tirion Fordring to come home from the Frozen Wastes and take the Argent Crusade to the next level.

One man went to slay, went to slay the Undead
One man and his sword (Ashbringer!) went to slay the Undead...

The Argents have been a consistent part of Lore since Vanilla, as the undead/demon menace have been a constant thorn in their side. They re-invented themselves for Northrend and I have no doubt they could do so again post-Garrosh, to provide a place for those weary of Horde/Alliance politics to hang their armour and attack the problems that exist inside the factions before we start worrying about any huge Big Bad menaces. Let us say then that we could not simply play under this 'neutral' faction but also become a Champion for another cause. The archaeologists could go help the Explorer's League, those who enjoyed working in the North could pick a Northrend faction to help out, and we could all explore a world bought up to date post-Garrosh. I'd happily forgo a new race, a new continent and the rules up to this point if it meant we could go back to Northshire and travel to L95 in a consistent Universe.

I realise what I'm asking for is quite possibly a technical nightmare and will never come to pass, but part of me hopes that Blizzard's attempts to rationalise things like Professions is an indicator they know, at least in part, there has to be something done about the way the Universe currently hangs together. In the meantime, I can but dream...

1 comment:

Andy said...

I wonder if it's even necessary to be part of any faction at all. Would that work? No affiliation needed, although perhaps there could be advantages to picking one over the other, a bit like Aldor/Scryer.