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World of Warcraft Previews: The Solo Scenario System

By Reza Lackey on March 27, 2013

With patch 5.2, Blizzard introduced us to the first set of solo scenarios. Taking the three-player scenario system a tiny step further, we now have some very unique content that has much potential. These scenarios serve the purpose of a mini-game and also a fun way of progressing story elements on the Isle of Thunder. I continue to be a big fan of the scenario system, in both the original three-player scenarios and these new solo iterations. A lot of my friends and guildmates also seem to enjoy them just as much which got me thinking, “what more can the scenario systems be used for?”

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Phasing and Scenarios = “Pharios”

The single player scenarios that were introduced in patch 5.2 come in two varieties. The first scenario is the Troves of the Thunder King which is a time-based mission in which you try to grab as much loot as you can before a five minute timer expires. The other type of solo scenarios are linked to the Isle of Thunder progression. As each stage of the Isle is unlocked, a one-time scenario becomes available that furthers the story of the assault. These allow players to see the story unfold in the event they’re not logged in when a stage is completed.

In addition to scenarios, the Mists of Pandaria expansion also introduced Sunsong Ranch which gives each player a phased plot of land to farm on. This phasing technology, which isn’t new to the game, is used to separate players from one another who aren’t in the same phase. In the case of the Ranch, each player is in a unique phase in which no other players can see. These phases are geo fenced areas in the game world and once you step in, you enter your personal phase that no one else can interfere with. This is different from scenarios as they are essentially the same as a regular dungeon or raid instance - something that you load into.

The ideas that I have could utilize either of these technologies, so going forward I’ll refer to them both as one system, the “pharios system” (pronounced fair?e?ohs).  I’m not sure yet if that is clever or just a stupid idea but for the time being, I’m going with it. Phario’s not a system, he’s a man¹. Okay moving along - Taking these two systems, or Pharios, I have come up with a few crazy ideas that could add some interesting twists to existing World of Warcraft gameplay systems.

Class Scenarios

After playing the StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm campaign, I realized that one of its design ideas could be applied to World of Warcraft. During the course of the campaign, players can evolve some units in one of two ways, augmenting their abilities for the rest of the game. However, before making a decision on which way to evolve, players are tasked with a small mission that allows them to essentially test drive their evolution options by seeing how they perform on the battlefield. After this mission, players then decide which evolution path to chose.

In World of Warcraft, characters are able to select one of three new talents every 15 levels starting at level 15. What makes this talent system a bit more interesting is that each of the three available talents on each tier are, for the most part, completely viable. With three interesting choices to choose from, Blizzard has created a compelling talent system that was once just cookie cutter builds. While the cost to change talent choices is minimal, the task can still be intimidating for players who are leveling a class for the first time.

So here is my first crazy idea using the Pharios system (slightly more convinced it sounds stupid now). What if every time a new talent tier unlocks, you are able to enter a solo Phario where you are presented with a series of light challenges that will allow you to use the three new potential talents in an applicable setting. This will allow players a chance to see how these talents work with their existing abilities before ultimately selecting one. Taking it one step further, these specific class Pharios can also serve as a tutorial in disguise teaching players class mechanics as they level. While most of us seasoned players already know the best rotations for our class, there are still tons of players who still struggle to understand how different abilities work together. Or perhaps you’ve been a fire mage all your life and decide one day to make the switch to arcane. Instead of looking at various out-of-game resources, it would be great if there was some gameplay element that would educate players about that specific class specialization.

Professions

My next idea has to do with professions. Let’s say you’re an alchemist. Wouldn’t it be cool if you had your own alchemy lab in one of your factions cities? Like Sunsong Ranch, this would be your own phased, excuse me, Phario, personal space (I’m now convinced Pharios is a stupid term/idea and throwing it out the window). So, as an example, a level one alchemist doesn’t own anything. Once you hit level 50, you earn the ability to purchase a lab. As you continue to level, this lab becomes more decorated and cluttered with alchemy knick-knacks. Eventually, this lab could offer various crafting buffs for items created in it - an extra chance of discovering a new recipe or maybe a discount on materials needed.

Perhaps once a week, you will have a solo scenario that is specific to your profession. Similar to the Troves of the Thunder King scenario, it would be more of a mini-game than a battle against enemies for loot. Continuing with the alchemy train of thought, maybe this scenario would place you in a lab with a well known alchemy NPC to help them create a new concoction. In the scenario, you would have to find the right herbs on the shelf as the alchemy master swiftly calls them out, telling you which beaker to place them in all while dousing fires that erupt in the lab. By completing this scenario you could earn crafting materials or a chance at cool loot.

What are your thought on scenarios as a whole? Have any ideas for unique ways of utilizing this system? Let me know in the comments.

This weeks throwback item: Heartrazor

Follow me on Twitter: @rezalackey

¹ Get it? Solo Scenario System? I’m proud.


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