Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Could New WoW Races Play Both Sides?

Blizzard has decided to remove the one faction per PVP server restriction to accomodate their planned paid faction change service. This is most likely because the alternative, changing the factions of all the player's characters on that server in a single transaction, would lead to cries for the same bulk discount to be available for other account transactions. However, what if there were a second reason why the change was needed?

Blizzard made a clumsy attempt to cover up the Worgen and Goblin Halloween masks by adding a bunch of miscellaneous masks in the next PTR patch. Still, most people believe that the expansion will see Goblins added to the Horde and Worgen added to the Alliance. Could they be neutral races instead?

If you were ever going to do a neutral race, Goblins would seem to be the best choice. They will work for the highest bidder, and they already make most of their towns neutral, so it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine subfactions of Goblins in the employ of either of the two sides. If Blizzard REALLY wanted to shake things up, though, they could allow Goblin characters to SWITCH sides.

The Goblin mercenary agency could have a policy of wiping the short term memories of its troops before hiring them out, removing faction-specific languages and reputations. The player could be required to foot the bill when they request reassignment, and the switch could have a cooldown that represents exposure to the radiation of the mind-wipe device. This would prevent the worst of the trash-talking abuse, while giving the new race a unique feel (and access to all the faction mounts in the game, a potentially fun perk).

Acquired Worgen-Lycanthropy
As to the Worgen, the speculation centers around the formerly human kingdom of Gilneas, one of two locations in Azeroth (the other being the Grizzly Hills) where Arugal appears to have inflicted a Worgen curse upon people. (There are a separate group of Worgen in Ashenvale and Duskwood who have been summoned from somewhere, and who may or may not still possess non-Worgen forms.) The Alliance questline in the Grizzly Hills suggests that characters - even the non-human ones - can be turned into Worgen. What if Worgen were a CLASS option representing characters who have been cursed, rather than a player race?

Obviously, Blizzard might be hesitant to add a new class or classes after dealing with the balance issues of adding Death Knights this expansion. Then again, have we ever seen Worgen using weapons, running around with pets, etc? As far as I can remember, basically all Worgen mobs are either unarmed melee combattants or shadow mages. What if you added a melee Worgen class that consists of a Warrior whose Berserker stance is replaced by Worgen form and a caster Worgen class that consists of a Priest whose Shadowform is replaced with Worgen form?

The Worgen player would be indistinguishable from another member of their race/class until they suddenly went berserk (presumably with some benefit in place of the normal racial perks). This would have minimal effects on class balance, since you wouldn't really be adding new classes. Perhaps players could even be given a way to infect their existing characters if they were so inclined.

Unrealistic Expectations
Alright, realistically, I don't think anyone is expecting anything so far out of the box. Far more likely is that Goblins and Worgen will be single-faction like any other race, and the change to PVP server restrictions was simply to make it easier for Blizzard to justify charging per character for faction changes. The only thing we might see if Blizzard is feeling ambitious would be for the new races to start somewhere around level 40, with their starter content available for alts of the other existing races to help pad out the relatively sparse 40-58 content range.

Still, I'd be far more interested in something like this that really offers a different experience instead of yet another race that plays just like all the others.


Tesh said...

While I think both ideas would be fantastic (I really like the neutral race option), I don't think they will happen.

At least, not the Neutral race one. Giving players the ability to switch factions is supposedly a paid service, and letting Goblins get away with it for "free" wouldn't sit well. Money wins over flavor more often than not.

Worgen, on the other hand, could work like the Zombie Apocalypse, giving anyone a Worgen form under certain conditions. You'd still need the cross-faction chat (which works, so that's nice), and probably some sort of neutral ground for Worgen gatherings. The Role Playing potential of a werewolf clan strikes me as particularly interesting.

Still, that's a lot of work, and for that reason alone, I doubt it. Some of the pieces are there thanks to the Zombie event, so it's plausible... but I can't shake the feeling that Blizzard has WoW in "maintenance" mode (and has for a while), just calling in the work and doing as little as possible to keep players paying. (Not necessarily *playing*, mind you.)

DeftyJames said...

I am simply not convinced that Goblin's should be Horde. Yes, there are some lore reasons for it but frankly those reasons are weak. At least with the Draenei they came from outer space. Goblins have been neutral since day one in WoW. That's four years. To all of a sudden have them pop in as Horde is, well it's incredible, and I am saying that about a fantasy game.

Another problem with this conception is that it's visually backwards. The most Horde looking character is the Worgen while the Goblin fits visually better in among the Alliance.

Of course, Blizzard can do what they want. But I think all those Goblin=Horde people are overlooking quite compelling reasons why that makes no sense.

ZacharyPruckowski said...

In my mind, the solution would be to have you make a Goblin or Worgen and pick either faction at the start. It should be straightforward to have 2 Goblin Cartels on opposite sides (both hired, or some sort of feud, or whatever), and I'm sure you could have 2 separate Worgen clans fighting about something or another.

Anonymous said...

"Goblins have been neutral since day one in WoW. That's four years."

the steamweedle cartel has been nuetral.

other goblins run the horde blimps, live in ogrimmar, and give us quests to kill and steal from gnomes (gnomeran quests)

seems like a logical fit to me.

now worgen will be a stretch, didn't night elves first summon them? don't know why they would want to stay alliance.

either way, no real point to speculating we'll all find out at blizzcon probably, and we all might be wrong =)

Green Armadillo said...

@Tesh: You know, I hadn't thought about doing Worgen as a third faction like the Scourge Invasion. It might work in some ways - the questline in Grizzly hills implies that you have to voluntarily undertake some brutal rituals in order to be turned. If you couldn't be turned involuntarily and they respect PVP flags, that would remove the two real problems with the event.
But yes, maintenance mode dictates the more traditional approach.

@DJ: As Zach and the Anonymous one point out, Goblins work for the highest bidder. The fact that one or both sides have managed to hire SOME goblins does not necessarily mean that ALL Goblins will suddenly be all "For Teh Horde!!111!!". I would be utterly shocked if any of the Goblins affiliated with neutral towns went to either faction. As to the appearences, the juxtaposition may be intentional. When the races for TBC were announced, they explicitly stated a desire to have a human-looking pretty race on the Horde and a large imposing race for the Alliance. Goblins would add a small race to the Horde, while Worgen would add a furry race to the Alliance.

@Anon: My understanding is that the Worgen come from another dimension/planet (yes, again with the outer space thing). The ones in Ashenvale and Duskwood appear to have tricked a hapless Night Elf into summoning them to Azeroth from wherever it is they come from. More Worgen were summoned by Arugal in Silverpine. He then learned to turn normal humans into Worgen, which we see in the Grizzly Hills. (It's less clear whether the Worgen from the other world still have humanoid forms, as we don't ever see them shapeshift.) The rumor is that Arugal turned the entire human kingdom of Gilneas, located south of the Greymane Wall in Silverpine, and that these formerly Alliance Worgen would be the ones to come and join in the expansion.