What we want from World of Warcraft in 2017

I've made it no secret how fond I am of Legion, World of Warcraft's latest expansion. A renewed affection for class fantasy and the rather ingenious 'Mythic+' dungeons have reignited a love for Blizzard's MMO that I haven't felt for years. Months later, I'm still happily sacrificing my evenings at the Altar of Warcraft in exchange for new gear and sexy mounts. But that doesn't mean World of Warcraft: Legion is perfect.

The announcements at Blizzcon already detailed the roadmap for the first half of 2017, including new dungeons and raids, a Hearthstone-esque Brawl Mode, and sweeping class rebalances. I'm eagerly looking forward to all of those updates, but that doesn't mean I don't have my own little wish list either. Now, keep in mind some of these changes would be a huge deal and might not practically fit into Blizzard's timeline for 2017. But hey, if there's one time of year to ask for somewhat unrealistic things, it's Christmas. 

Official vanilla servers 

I fear that, for Blizzard, the battle over whether to release official vanilla servers is a losing one. There was a time where it could live in ignorance and pretend that there wasn't an audience for vanilla servers, but the Nostalrius private server changed that—bringing legacy servers to the front of nearly every Warcraft players mind. With Nostalrius returning on December 17, there will be another huge surge of players choosing to relive the glory days of World of Warcraft rather than play Legion. 

Part of the popularity of servers like Nostalrius is undoubtedly because they are free, but you don't have to look very far to see a large demand to relive the glory days of WoW. After the Cataclysm expansion forever changed the face of Azeroth, World of Warcraft essentially became a different game than the one I first fell in love with.

Video games are universally terrible at preserving their own history, but Blizzard has an important opportunity to do just that. With official legacy servers, we would not only get a chance to remember where World of Warcraft came from, but to see how far it's come. 

Expand the variety of Mythic+ to all dungeons 

One of the things I despise about traditional MMO dungeons is that, while they might be exciting at first, they quickly devolve into a tired routine. Each dungeon is designed to be run dozens—if not hundreds—of times. But Warcraft's Mythic+ dungeons have the potential to set a whole new gold standard for the genre.

Right now, Mythic+ dungeons are used as a long term challenge for players by mixing in a few ideas from Diablo 3, like enemies with randomized extra abilities called affixes that require switching up tactics to survive. But what Mythic+ really does is keep dungeons fresh and challenging, and Blizzard should take that potential and make it central to every dungeon across all difficulty levels. Affixes shouldn't just be used to increase the difficulty, but tuned to make each run of a dungeon feel different than the last.

Warcraft's Mythic+ dungeons have the potential to set a whole new gold standard for the genre.

Assault on Violet Hold is one dungeon that has a similar idea at its heart. Each fight randomly draws from a pool of enemies, forcing you to adapt on the fly depending on what monsters you face. In that same vein, the first two boss fights are randomly chosen from a pool of six potential bosses. I had to run Violet Hold almost a dozen times before I fought each boss. That's a wonderful feeling. Blizzard should mix that concept with Mythic+ going forward to make all of its new dungeons as versatile. 

Update that old-as-hell user interface 

I have never been more ambivalent about a user interface than I have with World of Warcraft's. On the one hand, it's the most moddable interface in the genre, allowing for a wealth of add-ons to tailor my experience exactly as I see fit. On the other hand, the unmodded version is awful and desperately lacking in basic features. It's a shame that the first piece of advice I have to give to new players is to waste an hour or two modding the user interface just to avoid using that nightmare. 

Even looking at the basic interface makes me upset.

While the modding community around World of Warcraft should never be swept aside, it's time for Blizzard to update the UI so that some mods aren't such a necessity. Add-ons like DPS and aggro meters should remain optional, but there's dozens of basic features the UI is sorely needing. Better inventory management, an improved auction house, more detailed health bars—the list goes on. The fact that I even need a mod just to resize basic elements of the interface is frustrating. Games are always made better by mods, but that doesn't mean that developers should lean on them like a crutch to fix their problems. 

Legion-ize the entirety of Azeroth 

During the pre-launch event for Legion, the entirety of Azeroth became a battlezone as demonic forces launched their full-scale assault. And then Legion launched and everyone swarmed to the Broken Isles as if Azeroth never existed. World of Warcraft, like most MMOs, is terrible at repurposing old locations, but Legion has the potential to make all of Azeroth worth exploring again.

With Legion, Blizzard introduced a new leveling system that adapts every monster and reward to match your level. It's a brilliant idea because it lets me quest wherever I want instead of gating zones behind arbitrary level caps. That same system should be applied to all of Azeroth, so that no matter where you are, the creatures you face and rewards you get will always be tailored to your level. For a new character, you'd no longer be stuck questing along the same paths again and again. I'd love to stray from the beaten path as a fresh character to explore zones I never had the chance to in earlier years.

Taking this system and weaving it in with world quests that spawn everywhere, not just in the Broken Isles, would make Azeroth feel alive in ways it hasn't since Cataclysm. The Legion pre-launch event proved that the groundwork is there, Blizzard just needs to capitalize on the potential, making WoW exciting for players of all levels. 

Make the journey to Argus more than a raid 

One of the most exciting reveals that came out of Blizzcon was that in Patch 7.3 players would travel to a whole new planet to fight The Burning Legion. Speculation surrounding the draenei homeworld of Argus has run rampant since the race was first introduced in The Burning Crusade expansion nine years ago. Next year will finally have some answers about what that world is like, but I hope the trip is more of an extended vacation than a quick layover.

One of my favorite thematic aspects of Warlords of Draenor was the tension of invading a hostile world, and game director Ion Hazzikostas has said Argus will have a similar vibe. Aside from the orc homeworld of Draenor, this will be the first time we've ever traveled to another planet in WoW, and it'd be a shame if such a momentous occasion is spoiled on just a new raid or dungeon.

Argus it could become a moment Warcraft fans will remember for years to come.

It might be too much to ask for a whole new zone to quest in, but Legion could be setting the foundation for just that. In Patch 7.2, the Broken Shore will become ground zero of the invasion to repel the horde, and players will need to build and upgrade structures to help that cause. If that same idea was applied to the invasion of the draenei homeworld, Argus it could become a moment Warcraft fans will remember for years to come.

Whatever Blizzard has planned for the second half of 2017, I'm excited to find out. Legion continues to be one of the best expansions that World of Warcraft has ever had. With the roadmap laid out at Blizzcon, that opinion will hopefully last well into next year and beyond. If you have your own personal wish list of what you'd like to see from World of Warcraft next year, let us know in the comments. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.