The Cataclysmic changes coming soon to World of Warcraft are undoubtedly going to change the game to the core, right down to the very face of Azeroth. For the most part, I think players welcome the imminent changes. But there’s one giant heap of change, in particular, that still leaves me a bit uncertain.
Quests. And with them, lore.
When Deathwing emerges from the elemental plane Deepholm in the not-too-distant future, he’s going to bring on a ton of destruction. As we know, zones will change. And most of the quests that once made up the landscape will, presumably, become nothing but a memory.
Most of this was confirmed this past weekend when Blizzard lifted its press tour NDA, and we saw a whole flood of new information surface. Things always are subject to change before the actual release of Cataclysm (or, for that matter, afterward via patch), but it looks like a ton of old quests are going bye-bye for good:
- Zones that don’t change much in visuals may still change significantly in story (Westfall’s quests will be roughly 95% new)
- Wrath had about 1,000 new quests. Cataclysm will have more than 3,000
- Iconic quests, such as those involving Linken, should still remain in the game, relatively untouched (woot)
Why not take that a step further and allow players to have access to ALL old content? Lore already supports the perfect vehicle to allow the switching between the pre- and post-Cataclysmic world — Nozdormu the Timeless and the Bronze Dragonflight.
I’m not suggesting that players should have access to ALL the quests ALL the time, but I suppose I am a believer that content — even when it’s old — is still content. No matter how many times you’ve played through those old quests, escorted a comrade out of harm’s way or collected 10 creature pelts to contribute toward a worthy cause, those quests still have value. What’s the point in doing entirely away with quests that players have been enjoying for years? Plus, it would still give players a way to earn the coveted Loremaster title (since I’m certain a new incarnation of the title will unroll for the expansion).
The problem is, a lot of things will change in the Cataclysm, and the focus of Azeroth will shift from whatever those old quests had you doing to what we can only guess will be newer initiatives with a greater, and more immediate, importance. Having old quests around that no longer make sense with the new issues of the land simply wouldn’t work.
But here’s what would work — phased content to a pre-Cataclysmic world. We already know that phasing is going to be a widely used mechanic for the new expansion. Why not allow an under-phase of the world, as it is now? The key lies within deciding how players can access that phase.
As suggested earlier, I would suggest the Bronze dragonflight. Up until now, the bronze dragonflight has played a role in the Caverns of Time, attempting to send adventurers to prevent the meddlesome Infinite Dragonflight from destroying or altering key events in history.
For this mechanic, the bronze dragonflight could send the toon to another, pre-Cataclysm phase of Azeroth to allow them to prepare the world for the oncoming damage. Gather that last pile of timber needed for a village here, go kill that elite monster terrorizing the countryside there — the adventurer’s small contributions to Azeroth, via questing before the Cataclysm, will make it, perhaps, a small bit less chaotic after-the-fact.
How to emerge back to the current phase? Simply use an item, or perhaps talk to a bronze dragon (they could be stationed, say, at every pre-Cataclysm flight point).
I get the impression that Blizzard is going more for a clean-slate with the new expansion. But a variation of this alternative could keep a lot of lore-nerd players happy, too. Since I don’t see it happening, I’ll see if I can instead work a bit on that Loremaster title, while I still can.