With the commencement of the limited "limited alpha" that includes VIPs, streaming notables, members of the games press, and some rank-and-file players, the information about the World of Warcraft: Legion expansion has flooded out the gate. Blizzard placed no limits on its alpha players and, in fact, encourages them to stream game play, write about it, post impressions and screenshots and much more. But is it too much of a good thing? What does it leave players when the expansion really launches in 2016? Not. Very. Much.
With the first run at alpha testing much less than 24-hours old, some spoilers of enormous value have already been revealed. WoWHead.com and MMO-Champion.com, to name only two, are packed to the rafters with every little thing that is known about the expansion. Every possible version of Demon Hunters customization has been screened; the new transmog system has been shown; artifact weapons in most of their iterations have been caught on YouTube...and these are just the last day's revelations. By the time Legion actually launches after months in testing, there will be guides to everything on the planet -- nothing will be left to discover, in some senses.
For those not in the “know”, the information overload started last week with the upload of the v7.01 patch to test servers that has had the hell datamined out of it. Battle pets, armor sets, NPC character models, to name but a few, have been shown prominently on all these sites. NOT running into information that has the potential to tell what someone actually might not want to know would be a miracle.
So the question becomes: Is it too much too soon and what does it leave for those who might not want to know every minute detail about the expansion before it actually, you know, launches?
Of course, the easy answer is: "You don't have to read about it. Noone is forcing you to visit those sites" and so forth. There is some truth to that to be sure. Of course, even avoiding known sites that deal purely with WoW-specific news can be a problem and it’s very difficult to avoid inadvertently running into spoilerish information on general gaming sites or social networks. Let’s not rule out the bitter fans who figure that if their hopes have been dashed by learning too much too soon, they will peevishly ruin it for others by blurting out every single thing they’ve learned up to now. But the larger issue is why? Why are testers not required to sign an NDA?
In today's gaming day and age, it seems that nothing but the development of Fallout 4 is kept under wraps any more. Company employees or contractors "leak" information to sites about the inner workings of projects to which they are assigned. Maybe Blizzard wants to head off that possibility and control what and when spoilerific information about Legion is revealed. To accomplish that, alpha testers are allowed to go hog wild revealing everything about Legion without any restrictions or NDAs in place.
In the end, the only losers are those players who want Legion to be a surprise, to see things unfold from a first-hand perspective and to learn the story, the mechanics, etc. after the expansion actually launches, not before. What’s wrong with wanting “the magic” of something new and unseen? What about the surprises lurking behind every quest giver and in every new location? While not all will be immediately known, of course, there is something rather gloomy about knowing the major plot points, the ins and outs of every possible mechanic, everything about all.
There is no real answer for this lament, but the overall feeling is that there just aren’t any surprises left in gaming and that’s just sad.
What about you? Will you read everything you can get your hands on about Legion or will you try to avoid most information that’s published? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.
Stay tuned later in the week or early next week for non-plot spoiler information about some of the new features, or changes to existing features, coming in Legion.