Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Upcoming Casual Content probably not instance based

The In-Development page for World of Warcraft was updated recently to reflect some previously unknown content in the next major patch. The update also gave some new details on the druid epic flight form and the netherwing drake mount. These have been hinted at previously but very little information had actually been revealed. The surprise content on the update page is definitely the addition of three new areas which are being advertised as solo and small group content. The descriptions on the webpage for the three areas make them sound more like quest hubs then new instances but interpretations differ.

The Three New Areas:

Ogri'la: An ogre based area with new quests and a new faction based in Blade's Edge Mountains. Supposedly has epic and rare item rewards though details are scarce on how you earn them. Since this is a confirmed new faction I'm going to guess that you have to do repeatable quests and perhaps an instance to grind to get your reputation with them to exalted.

The Etherium Prison: A prison for one of the outcast ethereal clans which is apparently owned by the Consortium faction. Since this is already an established faction with many quests I think this one has the highest chance of being a world dungeon filled with elite mobs.

Skettis: The resident bird people of the Outlands have a grand city in the mountains of Terrokar Forrest which is already in the game sans quests. Apparently the area is somehow associated with the yet unrevealed flying mount which is looking more and more like it will be the owl/crow model the Arrokoa use for pets.

The descriptions for all three state themselves as content for solo and small groups. The Skettis and Ogri'la areas state that they have new 5-man bosses while that part is missing in the Etherium Prison description. Its very doubtful that any of the new areas are complete dungeons like the ones that currently exist in the Outlands especially since those take awhile to develop. I'm guessing because of the time factor that the developers most likely implemented these new areas according to number 1 below though I like to dream that three new group instances were about to be put into the game.

Most likely ways the new areas will be implemented:

1) Quest Hubs with new chain quests which eventually result in having to fight a 5-man boss. This would be very similar to the way most quests are structured in Netherstorm and Shadowmoon valley. I would expect Ogri'la quests to give reputation while quests for the other two areas might give tokens in a manner similar to Halaa. This is because Ogri'la is the only confirmed new faction thus the epic rewards can be locked behind exalted status.

2) Quest Hubs which require you to go to a non instanced area filled with elite mobs. In a couple places in the old world a cave or a dwarven fortress would be filled with elite mobs with several quests requiring you to go into them. Since the rewards for these areas were usually sub par people ignored them. However, if good up to date rewards were given then I can see these being popular except on PvP servers where the most populous faction will constantly hold them.

3) The least likely but one I hope for the most is that each area has a single small instance which has group content inside but single person quest objectives outside. Think of the way the Wailing Caverns is set up in the barrens and you can picture how such an area would work.