|See, the thing is...|
It's been a while since we had this feature on a Friday, mostly because I'm really busy collating data on the Alpha, but I feel it is worth spending five minutes making a point here, that I feel does need stating in the general scheme of things.
I told you Garrisons were brilliant, and they are.
|And so it begins.|
It doesn't matter that we're only in the fledgling days of the feature. It isn't even an issue that we've only seen one half of the story. The Alliance Quest files are now in the Client, and we've been promised a look at how that starts in the next patch. What I can tell you now, with the most objective hat on I can wear, is that this feature GIVES LEVELLING A PURPOSE. No, it's not an utterly new or brilliant approach, it's not hugely innovative or subtle, but what it does is reinforce what you do, for the first time, with a tangible sense of personal attachment. Sure, you've had affinity with the storyline before: from the first time you're playing the game 'solo' this is a way to focus your efforts. It becomes an extremely personal narrative framework on which those explorations proceed, and that is something we've not seen on this scale since the days of TBC. Unlike the 'metaphor' of the war effort in Pandaria there is, more crucially no need to indulge: you can skip all of this if you wish quite easily. The choice, more than anything else, is what makes this feature all the more attractive, because come my 6th alt I can decide to just ignore it at no cost to my sense of completism.
|The beauty of optional.|
More significantly of all, this feature has managed to combine exploration and progression in a really satisfying way. Yes, you will still have to kill X and gather y on your travels, but when the reward is an NPC who joins your cause, well there's something a bit special in that, because after nearly a decade having people pledging their loyalty to you it actually begins to mean something. I'm already at stupid levels of engagement and having to rein myself in from overplaying this because I KNOW come the time this goes Live I may never leave my Garrison again, just simply because it has the POTENTIAL to be a better alternative for 'living' the kind of life I already ascribe to in game. The key now isn't if Blizzard stuff things up somewhere along the way, it is what they are capable of adding to make it a feature that not only defines the game, but becomes pivotal for Expansions to come. This is Player Housing, but not in a Wildstar style, or a Club Penguin style, or indeed a Animal Crossing style. This is what the concept looks like when you get a bunch of people who make games about strategy and combat to make it, and that works just fine.
|Doing it Right, at least for me.|
I've not actually sat down and made a real judgement on what I think of all of this, because I've been trying to be objective about everything I see. However, I know now this place as a Hordie is somewhere I'm going to enjoy living in. It will be well-used, not simply for the Professions, but as a place that becomes mine. I look forward to customising each Garrison I own in a unique way that mirrors the character that 'lives' there and I'm even looking forward now with cautious optimism to having defend the place from attack. The thing is with any game, there is a point where you let yourself believe what you are playing or you don't. Like a good book or a movie, you allow the events around you to suck you into the action and become a part of what is being 'told' around you. The Garrison is an absolutely perfect example of people doing just this: some just won't, some will be nervous, many will just hate it because this isn't the story they want told to begin with. That is all well and good, but remember you get more out of an experience if you give a piece of yourself to it when you begin. My heart is in this, and I can already see and imagine the rewards that may be mine if this works.
Now all I have to hope is that other people are prepared to take the risk with me, and jump right in.