Throughout Warcraft’s long and varied content history have come moments where future development direction has been defined by the casual player base. It began for me with the Winterspring Mount trainer, Epic Armour quests in Everlook, and the collection of 0.5 Tier set. These had nothing at all to do with the main thrust of raiding or dungeons, required your own impetus to complete, and were completely optional. The resonance of these ‘quests’ (even if they weren’t really even that by the game’s own standard) have been repeated, over and over in differing forms, across the game’s lifespan. Yesterday, another of these moments appeared on my radar, mentioned before only in passing during a Dev Live Chat. The Deaths of Chromie however appears to be a subtle redefinition of casual content, and is already intriguing for the thought and consideration placed into advertising its existence before that content even goes live.
Chromie began life as an NPC in the ruins of Andorhal back in Vanilla, and became synonymous for most due to her inclusion in the Culling of Strathlome dungeon during Wrath. Looking at the advertising material, and without giving too much away, it is again back to Northrend that players will be sent on this particular journey: it’s a very photogenic backdrop, and if this story goes the way I think it will (and no, I’m not spoiling myself) it should very nicely tie a lot of disparate threads together across multiple expansions. This is also EXACTLY the kind of content I’ve been asking for since scenarios were invented. For that reason alone, I’m hoping many people not only run the quest line but enjoy it, because it opens up a really lovely alternative content stream going forward.
Consider, if this works as a concept and is universally well received, what it could mean for casual content in the future. I think it would be a very foolish person who could think this is the future for the game: raiding and dungeons and levelling quests are the backbone of Azeroth’s existence, and with PvP form a pretty insoluble combination that is hardly likely to be dented by the inclusion of content such as this. Yet again, it becomes a tool in a kit, part of a whole, but with the essential nod to those who have never held true interest in the competitive content since the World began. I see this as a final and essential nod to those who think that there needs to be more in the game than simply a fixed set of grinds. What we all yearn for, now and again, is simply the fantasy: not hours of grinding AP, or evenings spent wiping on the same boss. As was the case back in the Battle of the Undercity, this game needs to have epic moments that aren’t exclusively tied to the trinity of class mechanics or organised group content.
Maybe, if we’re lucky, Chromie is about to deliver the motherlode.
A lot of the success of this venture will ultimately depend on the attitude of players going into it, as has always been the case in Expansions past. If you were happy being King of the Ogres in Outland, or enjoyed inflicting physical violence on Peons so you could own a dragon of your own, I suspect this ‘feature’ will be right up your Path of Glory. There’s already echoes here of the Lion’s Landing quest campaign from Pandaria, which many people cite as the benchmark until now of how ‘doing content’ outside of organised instancing should be conducted. The proof, of course, will be how many people pick up this to do in the first week, but more importantly how many run it more than once, and on alts. Blizzard enjoyed telling us how many players ran for a cosmetic skin when 7.2 launched: is Chromie now about to become a self-fulfilling benchmark of success by the number of times we save her life?
At least as we now know the Tomb of Sargeras opens on June 20th in the US, there won’t be that much time to wait…