In recent years MMOs have made some big changes. Over time games had been built on this giant leveling curve. Warcraft itself had zones which you played through in times to level up and then basically never went to again. This created a huge vacuum which left most of the surface of Azeroth empty as players moved on. However, Legion has really made the push to utilize the whole continent, something that Warcraft should be looking at in the future.
Azeroth is a huge world, but you only spent time in certain zones to level up your character. With all of the boosts available in the game now between Draenor and Legion is seems like a lot of old real estate that has not been used. When Blizzard did their Cataclysm expansion it changed the landscape of Warcraft and gave reasons for players to revisit older zones with a new purpose.
Legion as an expansion was designed in a fashion to allow for more player choice. It gave you the freedom of selecting zones which then met your level as you went through them. This change is something that Blizzard should seriously consider for their next expansion. Bringing the World of Warcraft back together so that you can experience the older zones with new content.
Now, from a programing standpoint this may be much harder than it looks. You are going back into old areas to change and update the original systems. It may just be easier to keep adding on expansions as the game continues to grow. What Legion has done is really brought Warcraft in line with other updated MMOs on the market. Many recent games are putting more choice into the player’s hands when it comes to where they go and how they adventure. Legion enters you into a zone and then has you complete the overall storyline for that section. The zones end in you running the instanced dungeons for quests. Being able to choose where you go is the first step into future updates for Azeroth that will continue Warcraft well into its second decade.
The Garrison system in Draenor was a fantastic “hub” for doing quests, exploring zones and building up an entire new system in the game. However, now the Class Halls seem to have taken over that mechanic. These work because they bring together players a bit more rather than separating them out like Garrisons did. Legion keeps the class hall concept and Dalaran as your touch point for all of the quests and zones you explore. This central hub concept is nothing new in MMOs, but it does bring the players together much more than single housing and the Garrison idea.
Choosing the right zone is the wrong way to think about it. There is no “right” zone is really what Warcraft has done. All of the zones are equal across the board and offer a unique story experience. I can remember thinking about WoW in terms of “getting through” a zone. Now take the time to review which zone looks more fun and choose that as a starting point. This simple adjustment opens up much more freedom to the player.
As mentioned earlier what will be interesting to watch is how Legion will expand out with Patches in the coming months. With BlizzCon this week, something will likely be announced, although we are not sure what. Will WoW continue on its patch plans by supporting its dungeon and raid player base, or will they take a more open world approach? With Suramar's story coming to a close, where will we go next on the Broken Isles?