Every single time I quit World of Warcraft I tell myself it will be for the last time. Legion was the last expansion I really got into, and I still bounced off it. Honestly, Wrath of the Lich King was probably the last time I remained subbed throughout an expansion's life cycle. But something always drags me back in. When Dragonflight arrived, it was dragonriding and the dracthyr, but after two months I was gone again. And now The War Within is trying to get its hooks into me.
Initially I was pretty confident I'd be able to resist the allure of The War Within, which doesn't have a release date but is expected in 2024. The new allied race, the dwarfy earthen, looks pretty uninspired, and while dragonriding being extended to most flying mounts is a welcome change, it's not exactly a new system. Warbands, though? That's too damn tempting.
The main thrust of the Warbands system is that it will let you share progression between characters across your account, regardless of what faction they are in or realm they are on. It's exciting, but that excitement is slightly tempered by the fact that what's being shared is, at the moment, a bit limited.
Your warband will share a large bank, renown and reputation progress (starting with The War Within, but eventually reps from other expansions), flight paths, achievements, Delve progress (a new endgame feature) and transmog appearances—regardless of whether or not your character can equip that armour class. Some items will also be warband bound.
These benefits cover every single character you've made, but you'll also be able to select five to show off on the menu, shining the spotlight on your faves.
As someone who cannot help but make alts, this is excellent news, and something I've been impatiently waiting for. While WoW's level squash and change in how you progress through the story has made it easier to work through the game with an alt, there have also been additional challenges as the game has grown in scale, especially when it comes to the rep grind.
Warbands won't be that generous, at least not at launch, but there's still a lot of potential. Eventually older reps will be included, and it also serves as the foundation for something Blizzard can build on. Here's what I'd love to see included in future updates:
- All reputation progress, which Blizzard seems to be working on
- Map exploration, not just flight paths
- A shared space, a bit like the class halls and garrisons, but for your warband
- Some kind of profession sharing—maybe you visit your warband camp and temporarily get access to another character's profession skill
- Using alts as followers—this could potentially reward them with XP and other things, but it would just be cool to send your characters on missions or have them following you around
Some of these, admittedly, are pipe dreams, particularly that last one, but a boy can dream. The first two, though, seem pretty reasonable, and it definitely seems like Blizzard views the first iteration of the Warband system as just the beginning.
So yeah, I guess I'll be coming back to Azeroth next year. It's probably time to admit that I'll never leave for good, even though it seems unlikely I'll stick with The War Within for longer than I have any of the other recent expansions. I'm hopeless.