BlizzCon 2013: World of Warcraft Garrisons Interview with Ray Cobo
The key to obtaining this loot? A follower system that sounds remarkably like the crafting system in Star Wars: The Old Republic, but without the ability to take your followers into combat. You send these followers on a series of timed, abstract missions, and there’s always a chance that they can come back with an upgrade in tow.
“The loot may have either different abilities, or it may complement the stuff you have already,” Cobo said, while adding that he couldn’t go into further detail. “It’s basically a different set of rewards.”
I was most surprised to learn that you can find your existing followers wandering about your garrison, and indeed, you’ll also find news ones hanging around the inn and coming with normal, rare, and epic qualities, just like loot. Or rather, I should say, like battle pets, the Pokemon-like feature added to WoW with Mists of Pandaria.
“We wanted to make sure that this system is someplace in the world that feels tangible and epic, but also that it’s not just a UI you look at the whole time as with pet battles,” Cobo said. Like battle pets, you can name your followers, and followers with a higher quality rating have a better chance to finishing tough missions like raids.
It all sounds compelling, perhaps excessively so. Cobo said he acknowledged the convenience of the design presents the danger of giving players little reason for players to venture out into the wider world, although he added that Blizzard limits such concerns by keeping key features out of the garrisons.
“One of the things that we really wanted to do with garrisons is to not take away the population and the desire to go to capital cities,” he said. “Things like the auction house and bank are still going to be housed in capital cities. The garrisons are just going to be a home away from home.”
You’ll also be able to move that home to the zone of your choice on Draenor, provided Blizzard has located a spot that can handle the sprawling complex.
“You’ll find them in more than two zones,” he said, laughing, but added that Blizzard still hasn’t settled on an actual number.
What you won’t be able to do, however, is deviate from the core Alliance and Horde buildings for garrisons, which roughly come down to human and orc racial structures. In other words, a night elf village is out of the question.
“The amount of art and work that goes into setting that up is enormous,” Cobo said. “Not only do you have just one building of each, but you also have three tiers of that building that require separate designs.
The concept reminds me more than a little of the Hytbold quests in Lord of the Rings Online’s recent Riders of Rohan expansion. Followers weren’t a part of Turbine’s equation, but rebuilding the burnt Rohirrim village unlocked new gear for your characters, to the point that the months-long endeavor replaced the raids that previously defined the free-to-play MMORPG’s endgame. The show-off factor even existed in that you could unlock cosmetic furniture such as kegs or ornate bedroom furniture and park it at your official player home back in the Shire.
That won’t be the case here, of course, but Blizzard faces a similar challenge of keeping the content compelling. I, for instance, never came close to restoring Hytbold, despite my general affection for Riders of Rohan and its mounted combat. Even with the allure of better loot, I preferred to stay in the world rather than devote too much time to the construction, since I knew no would could ever see my efforts.
As a result, I find myself wondering if the garrison design would be embraced more widely if it applied to guilds rather than individual players. No such plans currently exist, but such a shift (with the proper modifications) could give a devoted group of friends an achievement to be proud of, and one they could all see and share in. It may only be a dream, but I think it’s a good one.