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Mar072017

Raising the Stakes! How World of Warcraft is Upping Their Game

By Jeff Francis
How World of Warcraft is upping their game

For the last few years, a common refrain was heard that World of Warcraft was dying and on its last legs. The venerable mmorpg had been surpassed by newer games that boasted many more players. The subscriber base for WoW had dropped to just over five million, and this was seen as that the end was nigh. (Of course, five million PAYING subscribers is something that every mmo would kill for.) Yet the online game has drastically turned things around over the last year. From a new app to a focus on gameplay, we examine how Blizzard is upping their game with World of Warcraft features.

I am one of those individuals who originally never found most World of Warcraft features to be particularly innovative. Other gamers I played seemed to have specific features first, and these were later incorporated into WoW. The main strength for WoW, in my opinion, was that they chose the best features from other games and incorporated them into an amazingly stable system that used a deep lore to create a compelling virtual world. However, a lot of things have changed since I stopped playing the game, and Blizzard has been on a roll with their new WoW features that are bringing players back and keeping them logging in.

One of the biggest examples of how Blizzard is killing it with their World of Warcraft features is the massive success of the Legion expansion. This expansion brought many lapsed players back into the fold, and Blizzard was smart in recognizing what had been done wrong with Warlords of Draenor. A number of WoW features found in Legion show how much the mmo is upping their game. The first is that Legion uses the rich lore of WoW as a centerpiece, sending players scurrying across the width and breadth of Azeroth. This connects players to the immersive world that they love so much. Another of the important WoW features found in Legion was the introduction of world quests, which serves as a new form of endgame content. There are quite a few world quests for players to choose from, and they rotate regularly. The range of quest types is quite good, from the standard kill x of something to more interesting ones, such as solving a riddle or riding a magical tiger through some springs of magic. Players can complete four world quests for a specific faction to receive both favor and some rewards (with some really great rewards being possible). These factions remain in place for three days, offering players plenty of opportunity to gain some favor.

However, not all World of Warcraft features are massively huge. A lot of small touches can have just as much impact upon how a player enjoys the game. The introduction of a new app for Legion allows players to interact with the expansion while they're on the go. Players can train recruits, start and complete missions, research Order Hall upgrades, manage followers, and explore the available world quests. The ability to check out key components of a player's game is one of the important WoW features that just seem to make the game stronger. Another useful feature is that WoW Tokens, which can be bought for in-game gold, can now be used, besides for 30 days of game time, for adding to the Battle.net account of a player. This makes the WoW Tokens more versatile, allowing players to convert in-game gold into the ability to purchase additional services, such as additional character slots, or items for other Blizzard games.

Other World of Warcraft features that are enhancing the game experience include the new micro-holidays and PvP Brawls. Micro-holidays are special events that last from only one to three days. The beauty of this system is that it offers a quick spark of fun without the need to construct something elaborate. These micro-holidays range from collecting magic mushrooms to helping shepherd murloc tadpoles to hunting dinosaurs in Un'goro. The point is to have fun, and if you miss one, another one is just around the corner. Not be outdone, PvP Brawls look like one of the more entertaining WoW features to come along. These brawls take familiar battlegrounds but add new modes, rules, and scenic changes to spice things up. The PvP Brawls rotate on a weekly basis and offer some nifty rewards. Another great thing that Blizzard is doing is staging cross-promotional events between their various online games. The most recent promotion rewards players with a Primal Flamesaber Mount for use in WoW if players complete 15 Heroes of the Storm matches with a friend from their Battle.net friends list.

The point of all these World of Warcraft features is that they are allowing players new ways to enjoy the online rpg and immerse themselves more fully into the game's world. New content that is playable in easily digested chunks is making the game better, and players are responding. The reality is that there is always lots of different things for players to do, and the increasing variety of WoW features allows players the freedom to pick and choose what they want. Blizzard just keeps adding more and more to the game, and the latest entry is the new pet battle dungeon coming in patch 7.2. Players will take their pets to the Wailing Caverns for some serious battles, and the new experience comes with a weekly challenge quest. Through their hard work, Blizzard has enabled World of Warcraft to claw itself back from the vestiges of defeat and once again stand as an online titan. World of Warcraft has seriously upped their game over the last year, and it appears that they won't be stopping anytime soon.

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