Each follower will have their own progression system. Similar to player characters, they will have a character level, which will also max at 100, and an item level. They will also have specific traits that dictate what they are able to do and/or how successful they will be at specific missions. Equipping gear designed for followers will increase their item level allowing for continued progression once they reach their level cap. As followers level to 100 by completing missions, they will gain stronger abilities and increasing success chances for future missions they are sent on. Just like items in the game, followers will also come in a variety of rarities ranging from common to epic which will determine the number of traits they can have - more traits for harder to acquire followers.
One cool aspect of the follower/mission system is that there is the chance for fun interaction between them and your character. As an example, if a follower was sent on a mission to a specific dungeon and is taken prisoner, you'll need to gather some friends and mount a rescue mission to recover them.
So what does sending followers on missions offer? In addition to follower experience points, successful missions will yield different resources needed to expand your garrison and "leveling up" buildings (more on buildings below). Missions also offer a chance at bringing home new loot for your character. Mission success will be based mostly on how well your followers’ traits match what will be required of them for a specific mission. Missions will also have varying time requirements with most higher level missions requiring several days for your followers to accomplish (or fail). Some of these missions can also be beneficial for your characters professions as well - if you're a blacksmith you could send followers on missions or tasks to mine ore.
The key element to each player’s garrison is the buildings that make it up. As I mentioned earlier, each garrison will have small and large plots for small and large buildings. As you earn building resources you'll be able to unlock additional plots giving you and your followers a greater variety of tasks and missions that can be taken on. Some of the buildings that can be built include barracks, armories, farms, mines, stables and inns. Each building will allow you to do specific things such as crafting, taking on additional missions, send more followers on missions and find and recruit new followers.
The resources gained from successful missions can also be used to upgrade your existing buildings, amplifying their effect. As an example, the higher the level on your barracks, the more followers you can send out on a mission. Leveling up buildings will also change their visual appearance as well so any visitors can see the wealth of your garrison.
In addition to having levels, buildings will also have a specializations for players to choose, further customizing their garrison to their play style. Each specialization augments abilities and/or effects that can help you focus your garrison into doing a few things very well. Specializations will also change the appearance of a building based on which spec you chose so that your “type” of garrison will be readable to anyone you invite in. Here is some concept art of a few buildings and how they might evolve as they level:
Putting It All Together
As you can see, the new Garrison system is a very deep addition to the game and like farming before it, it will give players something to own in the world beyond just their character. With building placement and specializations to your followers and their gear, there is a lot of content here that appears to only enhance existing game play without adding mundane or repetitive tasks. It will be interesting to see how woven into the leveling and end-game content this new system will be. As a fan of the simple farm players could acquire in Mists, I’m really looking forward to this. Not only will it be a ton of useful content, but it’s a great progressions system beyond trying to hang the best gear on your character. I’m glad Blizzard waited to introduce player housing until they felt they could get it right and to me, this seems entirely on the mark. After all, part of Warcraft’s DNA is base-building! Furthermore, if this is the next evolution of the farm in Mists, it’s crazy to think what could come next!
Let me know what you think about Garrisons in the comments below.
This week’s throwback item: Sword Breaker’s Bulwark
Reza Lackey / Reza is a giant nerd who loves video games, board games, film and way too many other things. Works in the film industry, on some startups and thinks science is cool. Also launches rockets.