As the release date for mists draws near I'm going to share my predictions for some of the features and changes we can expect in the coming expansion.
I expect this to be a huge hit for guilds that run together as a way to grind out some quick and easy valor. They will not have to wait for a tank or healer and can get right in so a lot of guilds will surely take advantage of getting some valor during the hours where those roles are not around. For social guilds this feature will end up being a huge boon as, from my experience, they are usually full on damage dealers and this will work for them.
However, for the masses that choose to do randoms I have a feeling this will backfire on blizzard. I expect to see many groups of lesser skilled players that do not know how to use their personal abilities to their fullest have a hard time with them.
Three bad damage dealers with no idea how to use crowd control, defensive capabilities and personal healing or avoidance will encounter a format harder than they are used to. With a five man random there is always a tank to take damage and a healer to heal them and now they will be forced to take responsibility for their own actions and I can see this only ending one way, badly. I suspect that these will end up being harder than five man dungeons for those bad damage dealers with little or no skill due to the lack of support they have become accustom to.
I expect this to be a huge plus to the game for every type of player across the whole spectrum. Lesser demands on the group means that it will become easier for a few players, or even one, to carry players with less ability. For the top end player down to the at least good enough to clear a dungeon player this will mean faster runs and less frustration while doing their grind to cap valor. For the lesser skilled players, returning players, new players and dare we say it bad players, this will mean less frustration coming from the people that end up feeling like they are doing all the work.
In many cases, if there are no problems, no one will care about the bad player or two because they never needed them to do it anyway. It was only when you needed everyone to do their job right that people got frustrated and started being rude in groups to the lesser players.
Remember, for those that want harder heroics, they are only hard when you do them in self made groups and those first few times through. Once you have beaten the challenge they are just a boring grind that you do each week to cap on valor. So if you end up running a dungeon 100 times what would you rather? One time with a great and fun challenge, 49 times with a decent run just to get it done, and 50 times with some people that frustrate you because they can't play their class well enough to help with the run. Is that one true day of challenge worth the 99 of frustration. I say not, it should be easy from the get go and I think if they are easy enough this could be a huge plus to the game.
Love them or hate them it makes no difference. This is a completely optional part of the game. Just like transmog was for me, while I still think it is a solid addition to the game I couldn't care one way or another if it were there or not, pet battles will be the same. It will not be required of anyone. There will be nothing more than some achievement points to get from it and lets face it, achievement hunters are probably the type of people this will be a hit with to begin with. A way to do some stuff solo to pass the time and have some fun.
I expect this to be a huge hit and they put some love into it. If you have been around the world since the release of 5.0.4 you will see there are pet trainers everywhere. There is even one dead in the middle of the path of glory in hellfire which makes you wonder, what the hell are they doing there. Being they updated even BC and WotLK content for this I can believe 100% that this is here to stay and will get the attention it should in the years to come.
But in the end, it is the fact that it is completely optional that will make this one a winner all around. People that think it is stupid will not feel obligated to do it and people that are just looking for something to do, even if the concept does not originally interest them, have something to waste some time on.
This will turn out badly. No doubt in my mind. Just look at pet battles and see the commitment they made to it and turn back to the tillers to see the commitment they didn't and you will see what I mean. They will not be a life long addition to the game. Unless they do some serious updating it is a one expansion and done thing. Recent additions like archeology, transmog, reforging, and pet battles where made to stay. They are useful always to those that wish to do them. Tillers, not so much.
First off, if you plan on crafting your own items, or even if you don't, this seems as if it is mandatory. It is not optional content. Secondly it is not tied to anything other than mists. Once we leave that part of the world in the next expansion our farm gets left behind.
Instead of integrating it with the game and making it build up they made it a one shot thing. They could have done something like you get lower level dailies to get five plots for our farm in vanilla content then add another 5 plots of land and some dailies in BC content and then another 5 in wrath and cataclysm each and finally 5 more in mists and it would have been something to gradually build up in time across the entire game and something you would continue to work on forever but they decided not to give it the love they gave pet battles and it will instead turn into something like the argent tournament.
Something that is good for the expansion it is in, something you might even go back and do some day for some easy daily gold, but once its time has passed it is only a memory of what was. Important at the time and nothing now.
I think blizzard really missed big time on this one and could have made it better if they gave it the same love they did with pet battles and added it throughout the entire game. It could have been the start of player housing. This expansion we would built up to 25 farm plots throughout the entire game and next expansion we start to build our house. Nothing this expansion will ever scream missed opportunity as loudly as the tillers does.
Why is something added last expansion part of this one? Because mists gives new life to a one expansion old profession that seems a lot older and stale way too soon. By making some small changes like increasing the number of fragments while digging to increasing the dig spots per site to making the dig sites smaller, it all bodes well. It will let people that wanted to level it have a faster and considerably more enjoyable time doing it.
That is not the reason why it is listed here however, it is the fact that once you do reach mists level you do not need to go back in the old world and fly what seems like forever to get the fragments you need for the item you wanted to get. Anything you dig in pandaland you can trade in for other fragments. So no more clearing for hours trying to get a dig site in uldum only to find you got another piece of junk instead of the mount or pet you wanted. Just dig on that one new continent and trade in for those fragments.
It makes it so that you level faster and can play catch up easier for those that never tried it. It is like a whole new profession, or at least an old one envisioned to be better. A way to trade fragments should have been included in the original design in my opinion as anyone that has built over 700 of each night elf, troll and fossil items but still does not have items they want will tell you.
I can the nerd rage from a mile away and they have not even come out yet. The cries that they are too hard, that the timer is too strict, that only certain group make ups can do it, that blizzard is catering to the hard core players, that it needs to be made easier so others can have some fun, to it needs to be part of the random system, to a million other things.
While each and every addition or change to the game is guaranteed to elicit some sort of response in favor and against from the community I see this one being the hot bed of arguments this expansion.
While I know already it is going to be hard, frustrating even, to beat those timers when you are a player like me, average, I know with some effort, some time and some practice I will be able to do it if I go with the same group of 5 for a while. Not like the hard core players that will almost instantly get gold of course, but perhaps after a few dozen runs and I might have a chance at it.
The difference is, I see it as it is, I will try it, I will want to do it, but if I can't I can't. I can accept that. The community will not. For the people that understand what it is meant for like myself and the people that can do it this will be a huge success, perhaps the biggest in the entire expansion, but for the people that are not willing to accept that there are some things that are just not meant for them, read as the majority of the player base, they are going to hate it to a level of hate that has never been seen before. The only question I have is how long until blizzard rolls back those timers a minute or two? I'd guess 6 weeks. Mark my words.
There is a lot of panda hate out there and people will not let it go, ever. I am sure of that. For most however, the pandas will just become part of the game and even the people that had a mild dislike to even a slight hatred for the idea will adapt to it and begin to not even notice they are there. The pandas will just become a running joke like blood elves having no male race and the space goats being, well, space goats, but they will become an accepted part of the game in short time by the majority of players.
I suspect that in time we will see their radical food benefit changed as it seems for a fair deal of classes and specs the race to be if you want to maximize what you do will be pandas and it will sooner or later be considered over powering. I am guessing later, after all the hard core guilds spend the money to race change, then they will adjust it to be more in line with the other races. Hey, blizzard is a business after all what do you expect?
In the end I see pandas as being a take it or leave it thing. They will not have any lasting impact or make and changes to how people feel about the game and when the expansion is over they will just be another race, as they should be.
While I personally believe the game did not need another paladin class, one that can tank, heal and melee, they seem like a solid addition from the get go. I can see a fair deal of players rolling one to try out the new class but I only see the healing spec has having a long life in popularity.
While there will be melee and tank monks running around I just do not get the feeling like they will take off as well as the healing spec. I think, for a while at least, what an eleventh class will bring to the game is a chance to change how things work, like raid make up and raid size. Even blizzard has hinted at that a few times in recent interviews.
As it is a new class I see it being a huge success but I do not see them becoming like death knights where everyone and their mother seemed to be playing them in wrath. Because they are starting at level one and they, seemingly, will not be as over powered they will not have as huge an impact on the game as death knights did.
I see the return of quest based reputations as a boon personally and I think when the expansion starts most others will as well. When they move to their second and third characters is when we will really see how well the changes work and how people will accept them.
I can see all the gear being made BoA just like the enchants were, or some changes, if there is enough complaining on the forums about not wanting to get another character all the way up again in rep again and I do expect those complaints to start around week two when many of the more serious players will have at least a few characters at end game level.
Over all I expect that their attempt to make people do dailies and gain reputations will back fire on them and the community will not like it for the most part. It will force a change somewhere around the middle of the expansion. They might not go as far as making the items BoA as they want people to gear through valor on the character that uses the items, but they might lower the valor purchases to friendly only with friendly being extremely easy to get to. And in truth, honored is already easy to get to.
But like I said, I see this new reputation based gear being a huge failure and even more so if they plan to put new valor gear later on with the same requirements of reputation. The community will reject this.
I think that the new concept of offering valor points for dailies will be a huge success. Casual players, solo players and just plan old anti social players will have the ability to get valor gear without having to do group content. It will take a lot longer and they will never cap or get much per week but it gives an option to those players that are adverse to random groups or can not get into a guild group for whatever the reasons might be.
It will keep people playing longer as they will have something to work toward. Valor for dailies will be a huge success for the players that it is aimed at and might even be considered a huge success from the people it isn't aimed at when those people are doing dailies instead of dungeons.
Removing the daily cap will as well be a huge success for those players that want to do solo content. It will give them more ability to play without playing with others which is good for blizzards bottom line and whatever is good for blizzards bottom line is good for all of us as the more they make the more likely we are to continue to get new content.
It will however be a double edged sword, one I am expecting to experience myself based on the type of player I am. No daily cap will make some feel as if they need to do everything every day. At least with 25 you had a hard line on where to stop. Now, there would be no such thing. If there are 55 dailies up that you feel you need to do because you have not maxed reputation for those factions yet you will try to do them all and this could push some people into burn out faster. I'm calling it now, I will be one of those people, 100% certain. Even at that, I will say the no cap on dailies is still going to be considered a success for this expansion.
I think that the looking for raid will take a huge step forward this expansion. What we experienced with the version we had been doing was a dry run and now they have some feedback and we can see if they can adjust things a little better.
The new loot rules will stop some of the issues with the looking for raid and the experiences of the last one will teach them something if they learn from it as they have with the loot rules. While I personally believe there are better options for the loot system there is proof that there is a growing evolution of the LFR and we will see it throughout this expansion.
Staggered and delayed releases for the LFR will also assist with what many considered burn out that was caused by the LFR. By letting raiders get into the raid first and releasing the LFR shortly after it will create more content over a time period. While I think this is good for the game I do see this being an issue for a fair deal of players who only use the LFR and rarely if ever raid feeling like they are getting left out or held back by a delayed release. They will make complaints and we will see a lot of forum posts complaining that is it should be released sooner but I do not see blizzard bending on this one, like I said, it seems they have learned a lot from their dry run.
I think the new way of releasing it will be a huge success, even if some will be critical of it, because it will become the content for who it was originally intended for, the non raiders and people with less time on their hands to raid instead of being something actual raiders feel they have to do.
I think raiding will take a huge step forward this expansion now that they will have a more reliable three difficulty system and a preplanned design for reducing difficulty ahead of time. While a great deal of the hard core players are against any nerfs to content those nerfs are required if blizzard truly ever wants to push end game to more players. It will need to be more accessible.
With those efforts, they are adding hard core only achievements, which I believe is about time they did. For those that defeat the content with no buffs while it is current content they will get an achievement saying so. This will allow blizzard to nerf the content more without having to deal with the extremely vocal raiding community that seems to think it diminishes their kill because someone did it 3 months after them with a nerf on it. No longer will those types of raiders have to feel that their accomplishments are tainted or being given to others through nerfs and now the front door to raiding has been opened to a much larger community.
Adding to all that we have the benefit, to even the most hard core of the hard core, that allowing more people into raids brings. The more people that are doing the content and enjoying the content and paying to play the content gives blizzard more reason to make that type of content.
So if that means 2M extra people are doing the raid with a 30% buff gets me more raids, I say let them have at it, make the buff 80% for all I care. While they are doing the one that has the 80% buff I will be doing the new raid with no buff that was made possible because more people are raiding and that pushed them to make more raid content and release it faster. I am all for more raid content released more often, who wouldn't be?
I think the world is only looking up when it comes to raiding and this could be the expansion we finally see an epic raid again. One that will be worth going back and doing for years to come. I am calling it right now, the next kara or uldar is coming, the next great memory, all thanks to easier raiding for the masses and constant nerfs.
There are other aspects I can go into but, as usually, I have gone on too long as it is, so those are my predictions for some of the things we will be seeing in mists. While I tend to hope for the worst so I can't be let down after the feeling cataclysm left me with I have to admit, mists looks like it has the potential to be a second wind for an old franchise. The pluses clearly outnumber the minuses.
What are your predictions?