Friday, August 17, 2012

Return to Yesteryear

Well, that's the reaction I got from the new WoW cinematic.

Ever seen the Warcraft III cinematic, where the Orc and Human are fighting in a field and an Infernal attacks (and kills) them both?

Well, you can see the similarities with the new Mists cinematic.  An Orc and Human are fighting after a shipwreck (the background is one part Robinson Crusoe and one part Treasure Island), and their battle is interrupted by a Pandaren.

There's more humor (and wuxia tropes) in the latter, but the former is more focused.  You know what you're going to be doing in Warcraft III, but Mists presents a bit more sandbox scenario, ala Vanilla WoW.  Sure, there's the voiceover talking about family and balance, but the imagery presents a different picture.

The selling points that the Mists trailer is presenting to the world?  Martial Arts.  A new continent to explore.  Humor.  Pandaren.

In short, an open book.

Given the direction that Blizzard has moved WoW ever since its inception, this trailer presents a different challenge.  I think this will resonate with people who like to explore a new culture and most especially it will resonate with people who quest and craft.  Whether altoholics can handle leveling in Pandaria multiple times remains to be seen; there's some early indication that the quest chains aren't so rigid as they were in Cata, which bodes well for leveling alts, but whether someone will care to repeat the same story multiple times is the big question.

The raiders, however, aren't necessarily going to be entranced by the trailer; the lack of an endgame pointer in the trailer suggests that Mists might actually be a transitional or bridge expac.

Blizz may have put out Mists to set up the next expac in much the same way that the second book in a trilogy sets up the last book.  Unlike Cata, where Blizz tried to pack both the second book (revamping the Old World) and the finale (the Deathwing/Twilight's Hammer story) in one expac, perhaps Mists lays the groundwork for the next expac.  Sure there will be raids, and we know that Garrosh bites it, but that's all done to set up the Big Finale two to three years later.  Garrosh as the End Boss in Mists isn't all that exciting; he's an asshat who --combined with Varian-- has kept Azeroth in an almost constant state of war since the middle of Wrath, but Garrosh as the Big Bad has the same sort of ring to it that Cho'gall had.

The trailer confirms my belief that Blizz is taking a big risk with Mists.  They're banking on the appeal of Pandaria to sustain WoW for a while, but going off of their traditional expac/raiding script might be off putting to some of the player base.  Right now, it's too early to tell.

Well, except for the humor.  They'll always have that.


  1. While I did play Warcraft III I never saw the cinematic,there is a similarity between them.

    I always wonder what kind of research they do into players. I know some raiders were put off by Mists, I wonder if Blizzard has research that indicates the people with limited play time and altoholics like me will offset them.

    Be interesting to see what the subs do once Mists is out for a bit.

    1. You know, we might be looking at this wrong. Blizz could be focusing on the altoholics and limited play people because they know that they can count on the raiders to show up.

      If that's the case, it's an awful lot of hubris involved, but maybe they know that the raiders will stick around no matter what.

    2. Now I think you're really on to something! That sounds like Blizzard to me. I can kind of forgive the hubris as long as they never lose the humor as I think that's what might be keeping me here.