It was only a matter of time, I suppose, before someone turned up claiming to have looked at data files with possible relevance for the Expansion. This stuff gets out, like it or not… but even if it is a pack of lies, the possibilities give people like me a chance to work out what we’d like to see in the next iteration of ActiBlizz gameplay. In this case (via a Twitter post) I’ve found myself rather enthusiastic about a possibility. That’s all this is, folks, just creative flim-flam from a woman who’s managed a full eight hour’s sleep. Take it as that, and nothing else.
What might this mean in the 7.3 files with relevance to 8.0 and beyond, I hear you cry? Well, my first thought was simple and potentially game-changing:
If as Devs, you didn’t want a new class so soon after Demon Hunters, what would your options be to keep players interested but not totally screw up months of class balance? Well, one option could well be to grant us the ability to change our race to a sub-race. You have a questline that grants you the cosmetic change, and a special set of abilities that go with it, but nothing that gives a raiding advantage. Consider it to be like the artefact questline, but instead of the weapon as a reward, you are.
Let’s say that, as a Dwarf, I got two options: Earthen and Dark Iron. Now, we already know how important Light and Shadow is in this upcoming Expansion, as there’s a massive great big questline in Argus which establishes these forces as significant going forward. In the files above we also see reference to both Light and Dark. What if, for the sake of argument, you could choose a path for your sub-race based on these criteria?
Oh, and if that diagram seems strangely familiar to you…?
There are options too for this sub-race introduction: it could be a quest path that you need to walk to understand the history of these particular groups, and when the task is done your reward is to choose the narrative you enjoy the most. It could be the means by which the Devs appease all of us who want a third faction: if they can’t make us neutral, this would grant a close approximation of feeling ‘different.’ However, the fly in the ointment for all of this is those people who don’t want to be anything but what they are. They’re happy in their class/race combo and have no desire to change. What would be the incentive for them to stay as they are?
That’s the unknown quantity in this theory: for every person who might jump at the chance of becoming a Tinker Gnome (that’s a rumour already) or a Void Touched Druid there will be an equal number with no interest in playing the game, and if the script plays like it did with ‘Class Fantasy’ it would mean a lot of people simply not buying the Expansion at all. What this little leak (and my speculation) does is highlight just how dangerous it is to play game designer with only your desires front and centre.
Just because you think an idea is great does not mean anybody else will think so too.
As we count down to Blizzcon (not long now) you’re going to see a ton of people try and get the Achievement for ‘I Figured It Out’ (guessing the key features of gameplay before they’re announced) and I can guarantee NOBODY will remember the ones that were pants. If you luck out, then that’s a badge that you can feel free to wear for the as long as you wish. This is a lovely theory, I like it, but that is all it is right now, and I have better things to do with my time than pin my hopes on a possibility.
Roll on the Opening Ceremony, so we can at least get a real sense of what is coming next.