I was reading the MMO-Champion highlights of WoWChakra’s interview with World of Warcraft Game Director, Ion Hazzikostas, about the game’s upcoming expansion, Shadowlands, and I was struck by the following comments:
- Time is different in Shadowlands. It is a construct or order and structure, which isn’t a focus in the Shadowlands.
- We will have to see how this difference in time will effect our characters when we come out the other end.
I have been playing WoW since 2005 and I do not recall the concept of time passage ever being an influencing factor on my character. Clearly, days and weeks passed when I was traveling the length and breadth of Azeroth. Then the Dark Portal flared back to life, and new adventures transported me to alien worlds and alternate timelines. None of these campaigns were completed during the course of a long weekend. As a champion of Azeroth, I came to terms with marching off to some unknown land to battle for months at a time.
However, it does not matter if the events of an expansion take place over eight months or two weeks, because nothing changes with me or my relation with the world when I return. My character does not age, unless I chose gray hair at the barber shop. Yes, faction leaders come and go, but Azeroth as a whole has been effectively frozen since the Cataclysm.
The current expansion, Battle for Azeroth, did see the destruction of two capital cities, Teldrassil, of the Night Elves, and the Undercity, of the Forsaken. The significance of these events in Warcraft lore was evident by the passionate outpouring and debates from the player base on the justification and meaning of these attacks. The fate of the Night Elves and Forsaken will continue to unfold during Shadowlands, but currently these historical events can be rolled back to restore their zones to the time before they occurred at the whim of the player.
Along with character the term “when we come out the other end” caught my attention. This suggests while Shadowlands may be cast in the same general mold as recent expansions, what comes after it may seen by Blizzard as an opportunity to do something very different.
Since the focus of the comment is the effect of time on our character, I think a time jump of years into the future is a possibility. In this scenario, we save the afterlife only to return to an Azeroth that has moved on without us; where there are monuments to our achievements and our names live only in legend. What the new allegiances? Has the Alliance and Horde found peace without us, or have they raged unchecked? What are the new zone borders? Conflicts? How do we fit into this brave new world?
Expansions have gone from adding new classes and races, to expanding class accessibility, recruiting allied races, and now with Shadowlands, to expanded character customization. There is a point where there’s nothing significant or exciting to be done with the character model or class. At that point, it is the world in which our character lives that becomes the next new core feature.
Of course, we are several years from finding out what the Blizzard wizards are planning. In the meantime, I will continue to ponder and dream.