Blizzard: Where Does It Go from Here in 2013?

Today, Blizzard announced that the current PVP season for World of Warcraft is ending on March 5, creating speculation that the new patch most likely will be in effect about the same period. If, indeed, the patch does get deployed during that week, we should think about how this unfolds, considering that the next expansion for Starcraft 2 will be released the following week.

With the Starcraft 2 expansion on the horizon, much of Blizzard’s marketing campaign will most likely be covering the expansion over the next patch. While the patch is a major one, it merely signals the next tier of raiding content but does not conclusively end the current World of Warcraft expansion. As a result, it begs the question how long the current expansion will last and what other plans Blizzard will have for 2013?

Outside of the Starcraft 2 expansion and Blizzcon, which is scheduled for November now, there have been no other major releases for this year. Usually, Blizzcon ends up being a major marketing campaign for Blizzard as they use it as a platform to announce the next generation of games and expansions.

So far, what we do know concretely is that Blizzard does intend to eventually follow up with Diablo 3 in terms of an expansion and that Blizzard is secretly working on a project, only known as Titan. Where Titan falls in terms of a game genre in the Blizzard universe is anyone’s guess at this point. Could it be a possible futuristic MMORPG that will some day eclipse World of Warcraft? For that I have little answers as of now.

The rest of the year more than likely will see most of the focus go to Mist of Pandaria and the salvaging of the disaster called Diablo 3. Mist feels like there’s a lot of life to the game since it heavily emphasized a more grinding aspect compared to Cataclysm. Story-wise, the game is far more open ended and without naming an ultimate end game boss, it allows itself to progress as far as it needs to. At the moment, the only thing we can assume is that Hellscream Garrosh will most likely be the closest thing to an end game boss for this expansion as Blizzard admitted themselves.

In between that point and patch 5.2 is where we’re allowed for some degree of speculation. Considering that a new island is being added in patch 5.2, I’m certain there’s even more room for growth in Pandaria as a continent and certainly from a storyline viewpoint. In looking at how Wrath of the Lich King provided roughly 4 tiers of raiding, we potentially could see a similar amount here before addressing Hellscream Garrosh as a raid boss. With patch 5.1, we’re only dropped tidbits of the developing storyline, which alludes to how the horde leaders start expressing their dissatisfaction with Garrosh. Also, we get to see Thrall make his long awaited return in a cameo.

I think patch 5.3 might return back to that storyline and merge the next tier of raiding towards the other aspects being hinted at here and there. For instance, the Klaxxi, upon reaching exalted, reveal that the “old gods are not the gods you think of”. Could this aspect allude to something that will occur in this expansion? What does the Thunder King have to do with this? How does the Sha forces work along these lines? And what about the Mogu? Lastly, how does this tie into Garrosh’s admiration for the Mogu and wanting their artifacts?

I feel as though the expansion will probably come to a close around Blizzcon just so that they can announce their next major expansion. I don’t think we’ll see anything new on the World of Warcraft front in the form of an expansion for the rest of the year so most of the content coming out will be major content releases.

Then there’s Diablo 3. Diablo 3 feels like it’s in a state of limbo. While the latest patch 1.0.7 finally introduces a player vs player system, it’s not the one that everyone really expected. However, I felt that this patch was an experimental one to see how the Diablo 3 PVP world would react. Unfortunately, the way it was setup honestly does not provide a lot of staying power since there was little compelling elements to it. I do think that we will see an arena system this year but it might not be for a few months while Blizzard gathers data on the current PVP parts.

Beyond arenas, I can’t see much that Blizzard can do to improve the game outside of adding more drops to the game. The crafting aspect shows that Blizzard can easily add simple stat content. Outside of the horrible DRM online-all-the-time system, the game’s other massive flaw is the terrible drops and overall RNG.  I think Blizzard needs to combat this even more since top players end up copying each other around specs and gear. I think the talent system is pretty deep rooted which leaves the gear aspect that can be improved. I feel other types of legendaries that are useful should be added to the game. Move away from Witching Hours, Mempos, etc. and provide more gear that adds a variety of flavor to a stagnate game.

Overall on the Diablo 3 front, Blizzard really needs to address those issues before focusing on the next expansion. The arena thing should be something they deliver sooner than later as they had promised that at the beginning of the game. They would certainly lose a ton of faith if it becomes part of the next expansion.

Lastly, there’s Titan. All we have is a title and tons of speculation. Some say it’s an existing IP linked to a current title. My belief is that we’ll finally the connection between the Tarren and Tauren along with the perpetually non-existent but always mentioned infamous Cow Level.

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