We are two weeks away from TBC, the first expansion to World of Warcraft. It’s a big deal, largely because, well quite literally, it will change the game.
The biggest thing: the maximum level moves from 60 to 70. Why is this so important:
- People have been sitting at level 60 for about two years. This means that level hasn’t been that important as a differentiator for a long, long time. So since everyone has been stuck at 60 they’ve differentiated across different axes:
- Equipment: There are currently 3 tiers of equipment that are dramatically different. Even the people with tier 1 are dramatically more “powerful” than those in “tier .5” or “tier 0″… And there are very few with full sets of tier 3. But basically all this stuff will be obsolete withing a few months of the expansion release (since people will be 70 and the level 70 stuff is better than even tier 3).
- PVP: This has been fun. The rewards, however, are all equipment. So all the PVP people have been doing was a fun game, but all the “output” again gets washed away. Start over when you get to 70.
- People haven’t “levelled up” in a long time. Getting a PVP rank used to be comparable, but they took that out in Decemeber and it was crazy hard (like 80 hours a week) past a certain level. So the feeling of advancing a level will be back, at least for a month or two, which will be fun and energize people.
- New areas — there have been a lot of patches with new areas in the two and half years of WoW, but they were almost exclusively dungeons and battlegrounds. There will be new dungeons and battlegrounds in the expansion too. But, more importantly, there will be a giant new land mass. This will bring back the joy of discovery and exploration. I think it will be a lot of fun.
- New races — this will appeal to the hardcore folks who want to try something new. It might also be good for new people who now have some vague advantage to entering the game now (they get to be one of the new races).
So I think there might be a resurgence of playing, but I’m not sure. I have not been to Outland (the big new area) in TBC, although I have played the beta. I messed around as a dranei and a blood elf (the new races) and it was pretty fun. But I couldn’t bring myself to level up to 70 only to have it wiped when the expansion is released, so I haven’t seen the high end stuff. I’m looking forward to checking it out.