Normally I’m not in the position to do current news, but the fates have today aligned and instead of looking at what we can actually expect in 7.1.5 and beyond, I want to talk about how the old world suddenly became relevant again.
Hidden in the unearthed patch notes on the PTR (which went live just as I trashed what was going to be this week’s column) are details of NINE (yes count them) new festivals that we can expect to see as part of daily life on Azeroth. I’d kind of expected one or two to start with, and to have so many at once? Well, that’s already warmed the cockles of my cold, dead heart. It’s not just the range of things we’ll be celebrating, but more importantly where nearly all of this action will be taking place. It’s not the Broken Isles that matters for this patch, but everywhere else, and that’s something that’s well worth dedicating some column inches.
First of all, let’s tell you where and when you’ll be going, with accompanying datamined descriptors from the game files.
In date order the new festivals run as follows: [*]
Call of the Scarab
On this date, the Scarab Gong was rung, opening the gates of Ahn’Qiraj. Represent your faction by gathering supplies or by slaying Twilight and Qiraji forces. The winning faction gets to fly their banner next to the Scarab Gong for the rest of the year!
The mages of Azeroth like to relax, too. Hop into a portal at your local watering hole and join the Tavern Crawl!
Hatching of the Hippogryphs
Today is the day that the Frayfeather hippogryphs hatch. Head to Frayfeather Highlands in Feralas to witness the spectacle firsthand!
March of the Tadpoles
Today, the baby Winterfin murlocs of Borean Tundra complete their trip across the Westrift.
Volunteer Guard Day
Today, the denizens of Azeroth and Draenor take some time to celebrate the hard work that their guards perform. /Salute a guard to show you care!
Spring Balloon Festival
The skies are clear, the wind is calm… it’s a great day for hot air ballooning. Hop into a hot air balloon, enjoy the scenery, and make some new friends!
Today, the sporelings of Sporeggar in Zangarmarsh hold their annual mushroom festival. Help them keep the great Gshoo alive as long as possible!
Thousand Boat Bash
The citizens of Azeroth need a break. Let’s go boating in Thousand Needles!
The dinosaurs in Un’goro are getting restless. Time to go pay them a visit!
The first thing that leaps out from this list is that it’s only eight month’s worth of content. This current list takes us to Gamescom time which will presumably be when we’ll hear about something significant either related to an expansion or beyond the future of Argus. I’d expect to see September to December covered at some point, presumably if this bunch of festivals is a success. More importantly than that, however, all of these areas should be prepared not only for scaling technology, but further use going forward for… let’s say World Questing. It should also show whether the tech that is in place to create multiple areas for play during busy periods can be applied to the old world. If that’s the case? All the safeties are off, and nowhere is off limits for upgrading or improving anymore.
In fact, this could be the signaling of a new and glorious age where everything, regardless of expansion, whether outside world or indoor instance, can be re-purposed as and when the design team sees fit. The possibilities for that are making my head spin as I type this: Ogri’la could end up being scaled to become a challenge to L100’s returning to do it for the first time, not simply just for leveling players. It could be the first indicator that our next expansion won’t involve any new content at all but the reinvention of all those previous expansions so that they remain relevant for levelers but you can’t go back and boss them anymore. It would mean curtains for an awful lot of farming, for starters, but if it remains only outdoor content and legacy instances remain untouched, I really would not have a problem with that at all. In fact, the more I think about that possibility, the more excited I become.
It’s also probably no surprise that only the first event is anywhere near fleshed out because January 21st is less than two months away and one presumes they’re already internally testing the life out of the technology. That should mean that as soon as the PTR goes live, they can spin time forward and we can pretend we’re in Silithus. For the record, my personal levels of excitement for this festival far outweigh any changes to my class, the Brawlers Guild, and indeed going to the Tomb of Sargeras in 7.2, simply because I have such strong memories of this zone and its significance to my life in the time I’ve played the game. There are other factors to consider here, knowing the zone as I do; there’s an ancient PvP game that already exists, which could easily be utilized as part of the celebration… or it could all be new.
Mostly I’d like the PTR to be live so I can go play but as it’s not, there’s an opportunity to look at what else is on offer here. The Tadpole and Glowcap Festival look like they might share mechanics, for instance (as indeed do the Hippogryphs) which would actually be quite useful in terms of time required or coding needed to create content. You’d love every event to be different ideally, but that means learning how to do nine new festivals, which is not as practical as some of you might first think. There’s already a precedent for balloons in Pandaria (which is where I’d imagine we’ll go for this) and the other events have capital cities written all over them. Mostly, this seems like a decent combination of differing events that covers every expansion, and that’s the real key. It is getting players to go to places that some of them may not have visited since they first leveled and encouraging them in turn to re-examine classic content they may now only experience in Timewalking.
I’m also making a fairly large assumption here that content will scale up to match L110’s. There is just as strong a likelihood, to maintain the sanctity of the expansion environment, that you could end up being scaled down to enter these classic zones, though I am told this is less likely after comments made in presentations. Even if that is not the case initially, if it was possible at a later date then it could end up as an even larger game changer than the current content dictating the direction of future content because then in Argus, I could end up being sent back to the Storm Peaks to collect some Titan technology from an open world zone and having to do so as a level 70. Then maybe I’ll be back in Outland scouting a zone as a 65, and finally back to the most recent incarnation of Dalaran as 110. This then affords a measure of current relevance on absolutely everything and means that the game itself gives legitimacy to the journey from L1 onwards. Respecting the land and abilities doesn’t have to stop there: what if they could crack the means by which you only use the spells that are relevant to the zone/level you happen to be in? Would this allow old bosses to be re-purposed in new and interesting ways, and could we see a return to achievements such as Herald of the Titans, which demanded you could only complete Ulduar at a particular item level?
The potential for these holidays is both many and various, and I’ll be watching the PTR with interest for any evidence or indicators of what we may yet be seeing in terms of long-term old world changes. It’s apparent the game team has been poking about in classic content, not simply for the reintroduction of key areas for Artifact quest lines. One assumes that once your weapon’s all sorted, there’ll be something new to add to your paper doll in terms of awesome, and that will need researching and planning for well in advance. That means research and presumably taking old backgrounds before applying the new technology to them. The potential really is endless, and I for one am more excited about this than I have been for anything else, for quite some time.
What this finally means is that, after over a decade, Warcraft isn’t just the last expansion you bought in terms of long-term relevance. It makes the entirety of Azeroth both accessible and applicable to any player regardless of their level. It could also mark the renaissance of traditional leveling if these events are XP rich, and if they encourage more players back into classic zones and areas for the first time. Most of all, Azeroth yet again becomes a living, breathing and continuously evolving world, both to play and enjoy oneself within, and for that alone these new holidays in Warcraft might end up as the best thing yet to happen in Legion’s expansion lifetime.
[*] PTR Data is always subject to change, so these dates may alter, or events may vanish. Speculate responsibly.Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Column, Event (In Game), Legion, MMORPG, World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday