With World of Warcraft’s next expansion announcement right around the corner, players have begun writing down their wishlists. WoW’s 11th expansion will be revealed at the upcoming Blizzcon in November, as is tradition. And while not much is known about the future of the game just yet, fans can’t help but talk about one major change they want to happen. Of course, I’m talking about the world revamp.
Now, for those who might not be aware, the majority of the zones in World of Warcraft are still stuck in 2010’s Cataclysm expansion. That was the last time Blizzard changed its original Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms continents. So if you were to level in those zones today, you’d be doing all the same quests the developers designed more than a decade ago.
Because of this, fans feel like it’s high time to shake things up and give Azeroth another fresh coat of paint. But to those fans, I’d simply like to share J. Allen Brack’s iconic words, “you think you do, but you don’t“. You see, despite how exciting the prospect of a renewed Azeroth is, making the change is like opening a whole new can of worms. Let’s dive into just what that’s the case, shall we?
Been There, Done That
Blizzard has already tried a world revamp in Cataclysm as I mentioned earlier. And let’s just say, the change wasn’t exactly well-received. Sure, at the time it might’ve been fun to replace the old zones in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. After all, fans had been leveling in them for 6 years by that point. But here’s the thing. Most people don’t look at the change fondly in hindsight.
For one, Blizzard made it so the original questlines in Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdom were completely removed from the game. This made it so some iconic quest items and rewards became permanently inaccessible to players. It’s only recently that they’ve started re-adding them to Retail WoW. As a part of the world revamp, the developers made significant changes to the appearance and geography of several zones.
The once idyllic zone of The Barrens got a massive crack from Deathwing’s action dividing the zone into two parts. Just nearby, in the Thousand Needles, the iconic Shimmering Flats got flooded in its entirety. The changes might have been novel and exciting when they first came out, but over time, the nostalgia of the original quests and zones came creeping in.
Part of the reason why Classic World of Warcraft picked up so much steam in the community, was because players wanted to return to the old world. Now, I’m not arguing the post-Cataclysm world is nearly as iconic as the zones in Vanilla World of Warcraft. But still, there’s bound to be people who will miss it when these zones are gone.
Expectations Will Be Even Higher This Time
The world revamp at the time of Cataclysm already felt too massive to imagine. Keep in mind, that they changed up a ton of the old zones. This meant adjusting the topography, adding in completely new questlines, and updating the quest rewards. On top of that, the developers had to add in all the regular content they usually do for an expansion release.
The reason why they were able to achieve it back in Cataclysm, was because most of the changes didn’t require massive visual overhauls. The core assets, like buildings and foilage, were simply reused in all the revamped zones. It’s safe to say, that won’t cut it nowadays. Vanilla’s got a distinct art style sure, but the graphics were woefully outdated by 2023 standards.
If these zones are changed, Blizzard will need to recreate all of the assets used in these old zones. And that’s a much larger task than you’d think. Imagine all the cultural buildings belonging to each race, as well as the specific types of plants and trees found in every zone. Their art team would have to pull in more than a couple of all-nighters, and that’s putting it lightly.
While the change would make the game’s fidelity reach an all-time high, realistically speaking, it’s not possible for the team to be able to generate so many art assets in such little time. Again, keep in mind that the expansion can’t lack any other core features either. Stuff like new raids, dungeons, and a whole new batch of zones, would still be highly wanted by players.
Most Players Only Care About Endgame
Another reason why the zone revamp didn’t jive well with the player base, was because WoW fans tend to only care about the endgame. Sure, leveling can be fun. But on launch day, a lot of people tend to just burst through leveling and start dungeon grinding. That’s not to say there aren’t folks who love to take things slow and smell the flowers. But they’re simply not a large enough part of the community, especially nowadays.
Keep in mind, that this is what people do for new leveling zones, which are mandatory to reach the updated level cap. Now, imagine if Blizzard were to update the old leveling zones. Most of these have already been out-leveled by a majority of the playerbase. The idea that folks would decide to skip out on all the new expansion content on launch day, opting instead to start a new toon, is kind of a pipe dream.
What this means is that for a large section of the fans, revamping the world is essentially pointless content. All the effort that would be required in doing so, and like I said, it’s a lot of effort, is better put for more endgame-related activities. Even for people who might enjoy leveling, most of these zones will be a one-and-done deal. That’s unlike the more “replayable” style of content Blizzard has opted for lately.
A World Revamp Doesn’t Really Fit In Lorewise Currently
If you think about it, the ideal time for a world revamp would’ve been at the start of Dragonflight. Canonically, there was a time skip in the lore. So, it’d make perfect sense to update the world to reflect the changes happening to Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. But Blizzard passed on that opportunity, probably for the reasons I mentioned.
Doing the change now makes even little sense because of this. Dragonflight changed up the lore in a pretty significant way. With the Primal Incarnates unleashed, and a potential Void threat looming, revamping the old world right now comes at a huge risk. After all, the zones could once again become outdated after a single patch, especially if some big globe-altering event takes place.
The ideal route seems to be to take individual zones and bring them up to speed. This way, they can tackle the massive task of revamping Azeroth one step at a time. More importantly, most of these revamped zones tend to be a part of the endgame-related content. Like how Blizzard updated the Arathi Highlands and Darkshore in Battle for Azeroth when they became Warfronts.
I could see Blizzard choosing a specific set of zones from Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, and updating them to become endgame content in the upcoming expansion. Of course, there could be a whole new island like usual too. But these additional zones could do much to show the changing landscape and politics of Azeroth.
Perhaps the most solid piece of evidence suggesting why a world revamp isn’t what WoW needs – and why it’s not happening, can be found in the datamined files. Recently, WoWhead discovered a pre-order exclusive mount called the Algarian Stormrider. While the mount isn’t available in-game right now, it’s likely tied to the Epic Bundle of WoW’s next expansion.
The mount’s name is a pretty important clue as to where World of Warcraft’s next expansion could be set. It’s referring to Khaz Algar, which is a new location that was talked about recently in Dragonflight. For those who might not have caught up with their lore, it’s apparently a Dwarf settlement. And not just any dwarves, they were Earthen who succumbed to the Curse of Flesh.
It’s very likely players will venture to Khaz Algar in Patch 11.0, which is likely to be a Dwarven zone located on the content of Avaloren. The mount’s appearance is also likely to be similar to the existing Stormrider NPCs in WoW. This would tie in with the whole Elemental versus Titan war that Blizzard is building. Why is all this relevant to the world revamp situation?
Well, it’s because it hints at new content, as well as zones of interest in that continent. With how work-intensive it would be to revamp the old world, I highly doubt the devs would be able to add in a complete batch of new zones too. So the very existence of Khaz Algar, and Avaloren, make the changes of a proper world revamp happening fairly low.
That’s not to say they might not update one or two zones as they see fit. But yeah, if you’re hoping to see all of Azeroth get updated to modern WoW standards, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Either way, we’ll likely learn more at this year’s Blizzcon. But until then, players have been going wild with speculations and theories about if and how the world revamp could take place.
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