A full year has passed since Blizzard released the fourth expansion, Mists of Pandaria, to the nine-year-old MMO World of Warcraft. The aging MMO saw a spike in subscribers when the Pandas first found their way to Azeroth, but in the two years since, subscriber numbers and revenue have taken a turn for the worse. The game is still profitable enough to justify the subscription fee, but Blizzard needs to bring old players back and win over some new ones if it wants to see WoW thriving as the game reaches its tenth anniversary. This afternoon at BlizzCon, the ‘WoW: What’s Next?’ panel revealed the company’s plan for the MMO’s future.
It appears that the first of our BlizzCon 2o13 predictions has come true on day one of the festivities in California. Just as the rumors predicted when Blizzard filed a new trademark last week, the company has confirmed that the fifth expansion to WoW is on the way and will be called Warlords of Draenor. The upcoming expansion pack will deliver a host of new features to the game; including a new level cap of 100. This is an exciting twist for MMO fans who were most likely expecting the level cap to only increase by five, like it did in the previous two expansions. The last time a WoW expansion gave players ten full levels to play through was in 2010’s Wrath of the Lich King.
Instead of introducing new races or additional playable classes, Warlords of Draenor seems to be focused on expanding the new endgame experience. This should help eliminate some of the re-leveling fatigue that has hurt the game in the past and give veteran players more motivation to dust off characters that they already have leveled. To make sure the game still appeals to new players, and players that skipped the last expansion or two, Warlords of Draenor will allow each player a one-time character boost to level 90. That means you will be able to take an old character and automatically bring them up to speed or create a brand new character and skip the first 90 levels. This seems like exactly the right kind of move to make it as easy as possible for new and old players to jump right into the new content.
Although Warlords won’t offer players any new races, the character models and animations from the original races will receive a long overdue makeover. The revamp will help the orcs, humans, and other longtime residents of Azeroth fit in the with races that have been introduced by recent expansions.
In addition to the increased level cap; the expansion will also include the usual addition of new zones, dungeons, raids, scenarios, and battlegrounds. Players visiting Draenor will also have access to a new feature called Garrisons. Heroes will construct their own expandable, customizable strongholds that will serve as a base of operations throughout their time in Draenor.
The expansion seems to be poised to deliver on the requests from many fans of the MMO to return to the formula that made the first expansion, The Burning Crusade, so successful. By concentrating on introducing new zones and expanding on exciting Warcraft lore, rather than reinventing areas and raids that already exist, players will have more reason to return to the game. The story-driven expansion plans to allow players to engage in one of the most exciting moments in Warcraft history.
“Warlords of Draenor gives players a chance to take a commanding role in one of the Warcraft series’ most crucial conflicts,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “This expansion also includes features that make it easy for anyone to jump right into the action, whether they’ve played WoW at some point in the past or are just setting foot in Azeroth for the first time.”
Stay tuned throughout the rest of the weekend for additional information on Warlords of Draenor and the rest of Blizzard’s upcoming projects.
No release window was mentioned for World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor.
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