How much of a debate is there over what the next MMO from Blizzard will be? Originally Starcraft was a solid guess, but since StarCraft 2 will take 3+ years to be fully released, you can’t really launch an MMO in between delivering the full RTS product, can you? That leaves us with two options, a new IP and Diablo. A new IP MMO would be too risky now that Blizzard is a public company, and new ideas are not exactly Blizzard specialty (see SC:Ghost). This leaves us with Diablo, which conveniently has a new title set for release ‘soon’. Following the footsteps of Warcraft 3 and WoW, D3 will launch followed by a ‘sequel’ in Diablo Online. WoW will continue to slip further and further into kid-friendly MMO (Panda expansion anyone?), and D3-Diablo Online will aim for a more mature audience. Considering D3 has adopted a WoW-like hotbar for abilities, it will be interesting to see what direction the MMO version takes. Action-RPG-MMO done right? Yes please.
Jeff Kaplan leaving WoW might as well be the official ‘we don’t do raids here’ announcement. Considering WotLK launched with zero new multi-boss raid content, and the lighting pace the first actually new raid is being release at (‘soon’ right?), it’s hard to argue the direction WoW is moving in. While I personally don’t care much for the new direction, time (and market briefings) will tell the tale of its success. With anyone remotely interested in raiding already farming the current content, it will be difficult to change that pace by releasing noticeably more difficult content. If Uld is indeed a step up in difficulty for Nax-geared raiders, how exactly will that play out among the casual raid crowd? How tolerant will they be of guild-check encounters, considering Blizzard won’t be able to place the more traditional gear-check encounter (you can’t have a gear check if everyone already has the gear, now can you?).
Finally, I’m a bit surprised the WAR forums are not filled with more angst over 1.2. Fetch issue aside, it seems everything in 1.2 has been well received, and met with a general “lets see how it all plays out on test” attitude. Odd for the forums…
IMO WAR currently has a large ‘lurker’ population: people who moved on in the first 1-2 months because of certain issues that are still tracking the game and waiting for something to bring them back. The Choppa and Slayer will do it for some, and I think some of the more major changes to oRvR (keep redesign and such) will bring back others. If you left the game in the first 1-2 months, you will be surprised at how far WAR has come since release, both in terms of overall server activity and in code polish. It’s still far from perfect, but noticeable more enjoyable overall now than at release, and this will only increase once 1.2 goes live.