Thursday, July 5, 2007

Adding new classes and races to WoW

I've been critical towards the idea of adding new classes to World of Warcraft in the past. The problem is that it is hard to imagine a class adding a completely new function to the gameplay. We'll still have tanking, damage dealing, healing, and support functions (like buffing or crowd control). Why add a new healing class, or new dps class, if there are already plenty of those? The same is true for new races, besides enabling Horde paladins and Alliance shamans the new draenei and blood elf races didn't add much new functionality to the game.

But saying that new classes or races don't add much to the depth of a game misses an important point: new classes and races add a lot to the breadth of a game. Lord of the Rings Online has 4 races in 3 newbie zones. World of Warcraft started with 8 races in 6 newbie zones and now has 10 races in 8 newbie zones. The advantage for replayability is obvious. As long as a new race comes with it's own new lore, new newbie zone, and new quests, it is a valuable addition to the game. Most people liked the draenei and blood elves, because their starting areas had a lot of new and interesting quests, actually often more varied than the quests in the original starting zones.

New classes could do something similar. Maybe it isn't such a bad idea to have a monk class, even if as melee dps class with low armor it wouldn't be all that different from a rogue. But people who liked one character class and are starting an alt because they don't enjoy the end-game often are looking for something not so different from what they already played. You can always invent slight variations in the way special abilities work, and give the monk some sort of zen power instead of mana or energy. And often much of the attraction of a class is in the looks. I played a friar in Dark Age of Camelot, and his combat maneuvers just looked cool. So maybe some other players would like to play a necromancer with skeletons instead of a warlock with demons, even if they wouldn't play all that different from one another. Adding more content to a game is never wrong.

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