DIY Developer: What I’d love Allied Races to be
The Allied Races feature is cool and innovative in World of Warcraft as a concept. The Alliance finally has High Elves. We now have moose horns, freaking Nightborne, and cool-looking Draenei. Better yet, each one has 5 racials that offer some commodity or advantages to professions, or make us do more damage, or be more resilient.
The World of Warcraft team has said to us and other websites via interviews the Allied Race system was made from the ground up to be expandable. Meaning more Allied Races will come out in the future. That opens the possibility for Ogres, Centaurs, Naga, Quillboars, Gilgoblin, Wildhammer, Tuskarr, Taunka, Furbolgs, Vrykul, Ethereals, and many other races and ethnic groups to be a playable Allied Race.
Allied Races has a huge collectible feel to it. It is like your Mount Tab, or your Pet Tab. You gotta have them all. Right? Allied Races is a feature that breaks the normal tradition of focusing on just your Main character; or focusing on your Main character plus doing a few alt characters.
If we jumped 5 years into the future as a World of Warcraft subscriber, and there were 10 Allied Races, I bet you would have leveled up all 10 of them — if you were a collector like (or better than) me.
The more Allied Races added, the more you get separated from your Main character as you spend more and more time across each of the different Allied Races.
What if all of them were account-wide everything? No matter what Allied Race or character you play as — all Professions you have leveled are accessible to any of your characters.
Oh wait, I forgot which character has this item I need — I have to login to all characters until I find that item. What if you could access all your characters’ bank by selecting a drop-down menu with the name of your character? No need to logout and login on each character. Type the item name in the search and it gets highlighted for me.
One aspect of Battle for Azeroth I love is the Heart of Azeroth. No matter which character you are playing as, any Azerite obtained by the Heart of Azeroth as a Paladin Retribution is shared with your Paladin Holy and Protection specs. What if the Heart of Azeroth’s Azerite and any other similar future systems like it was account-wide (not just spec-wide)?
What if I don’t want to play today as a Blood Elf? Let me pick the “Random” character icon, or from a set of favorites. Today I play as a Blood Elf, tomorrow as a Naga, the next day as a Taunka. No matter what my progress is in each, the progress comes along with me account-wide.
So this brings me to a core problem with Allied Races. Leveling these Allied Races from level 20 to 110 and beyond has two fundamental problems: the grind is agonizing the more Allied Races I level up. The first two might not be such a hassle, until I start collecting several of them. As you collect 5+ you get burned and tired of repeating the experience, and the less time you have for your “Main” character.
Just think about it. If it took you one week, or two weeks per Allied Race to level them up to max level, that amount of time is lost on your main character’s progress. Hence why account-wide everything across characters could help you forget about that hassle, as your main character would benefit from the progress your alt-characters are doing.
But how do you balance your level 28 Allied Race character not doing what benefits your level 110 character: World Quests, max level raids, etc?
This is the core issue of Allied Races. The second problem might actually help with the former: Chronology.
It has crossed your mind a couple of times. Wait, I unlock a Highmountain Tauren, or a Nightborne, a Void Elf, or a Lightforged — and now I have to grind from level 20 rescuing a world in peril from Deathwing’s cataclysmic assault, and then I have to go to Outland to save the Alliance or the Horde from Illidan, Kael’Thas, Lady Vashj’s machinations, and then I have to follow Garrosh’s commands to rid Northrend of the Lich King, and then go to Pandaria, and then to Draenor… but wait a minute… chicken and the egg. How is my Highmountain/Nightborne/Lightforged/Void Elf experiencing all this stuff that happened long before defeating the Burning Legion in Argus?
This is a huge element that Blizzard didn’t plan for. How do you explain this paradox? How do you address it so that it is coherent, and rewarding?
This is what I would do if I was a game developer:
CHRONOLOGY: THE LEVEL UP EXPERIENCE
1. To address the creative development/chronology aspect of Allied Races, the leveling experience needs to be tweaked, and needs to be optional.
No Allied Race should be forced to level up from level 20. It is too late to fix Battle for Azeroth. So I suggest in the next expansion after Battle for Azeroth, all Allied Races should be level 115, or the minimum level that the newest expansion starts with.
In the case of the Nightborne, the Nightborne hero you created just helped the Horde defeat the Burning Legion in Argus. What should be normal is that immediately, that Nightborne hero starts doing post-Argus stuff instead of magically start at level 20 killing stuff in Cataclysm-era Ashenvale.
So in order to fix this, as a developer, what I would do is introduce a new faction — that is old to us: The Timewalkers. We already do timewalking quests. Nozdormu is supposed to become Murozond at some point. The Timewalkers should rise as a faction once Nozdormu is lost to the bronze dragonflight. As a matter of fact, the bronze dragonflight is weakened after the Aspects depleted their power to defeat Deathwing. Now without their leader, the remaining bronze dragons recruit mortals to join their efforts to maintain the timeline, and to protect it.
In other words, we need to see Chromie become the founder of the Timewalkers. Inauguration day of that faction.
So here is where Allied Races come in. As a proud Nightborne, you join the Horde. Or as a proud Lightforged Draenei you join the Alliance. You have helped defeat the Burning Legion. Your leader has asked to represent the Nightborne or the Lightforged throughout the lands of Azeroth. But you don’t know anything about the Horde or the Alliance, and what their history is.
You do your level 110 World Quests as a Nightborne Warlock. Your main character gets account-wide benefits from whatever you do as a Nightborne Warlock, so that you don’t lose anything for focusing on Nightborne day-to-day progress.
You are doing your level 110 world quests as a Nightborne, and this quest pops onscreen. Chromie is inviting you to come to Caverns of Time. You grab the quest, and head there.
Nozdormu has been tainted by the Old gods, and becomes Murozond for the first time. Nightborne, we need you to join this brand-new faction, the Timewalkers, to help us root out any Murozond-and-infinite-dragonflight shenanigans, and to become a sentinel among our bronze dragonflight’s tasks.
In order to help us, you need to learn what it is to be a member of the Horde, and relive their past experiences through their eyes.
So you are a level 110 Nightborne, but you have a choice to relive the past of the Horde you just joined as a Timewalker. It is optional, and you can be level 110 any time you wish by clicking your Timewalker hearthstone — which brings you back to the capital city of Caverns of Time.
You want to go back in time to the last level you were? Level 28? You talk to Chromie and she sends you back to where you were before. And you return to level 28 to continue the Wetland quests you were doing earlier.
As you do your level 28 to 110 quests, you gain Timewalker reputation and points to later buy stuff. Once you reach level 110 you unlock new spells, or your attack/spell power increases as a reward for reliving the Horde story/experience before the Nightborne joined the Horde.
This way, you can choose to do level 110 stuff on day one as a Nightborne, and optionally switch to your Timewalking tasks.
The Calendar says that Tonight is level 110 raid time with my guild. Ok. I create a new Nightborne character. It is already level 110. I do a few level 110 World Quests. Get some gear. Reach iLevel 930. I go to the Timewalkers, and they send me back to level 20 to experience what the Horde lived through. I go to Ashenvale for 2 hours. Now I am level 25. Good. I have to hang out with my friends in Real Life and go to the cinema, then to a McDonalds. I come back home 4 hours later. Login and I get an alert that the level 110 World Quests are up.
I hit my Timewalker hearthstone, return to the present, back to the Caverns of Time capital city as a level 110 Nightborne. I take the portal to Dalaran, then go to the Vindicaar and do my level 110 World Quests.
I finish up the World Quests, and decide to resume my Timewalking stuff. Hit the Timewalker hearthstone, talk to Chromie, and she sends me back to level 25 in Ashenvale. Ok. Now I finish up the next quest, and they send me to Arathi Highlands. In a few hours, I am now level 30.
This is where the Allied Races, in my opinion, needs more cowbell. More flexibility to be on par with my guild’s requirements when they need me, and for myself as a max level character.
I can still do the level 20-110 grind without affecting my other max level needs. How will you reward me as a Nightborne for learning what the Horde I just joined with experienced throughout the past 5 years? The Heritage Set sounds nice, but maybe if you can give me some more stuff like unlocking things that will make my Allied Race more powerful eventually. That’s good.
I decide when to do level 110 stuff, and when to do the leveling stuff with the switch of a button.
We have seen this with Old Silithus and Silithus: The Wound. Who does that? A Bronze dragon.
We have done level 110 stuff, and then we have queued to a Timewalking dungeon that scales.
Why not go the whole way and introduce the Timewalkers as a faction and tie the Allied Races to it as an optional 20-110+ leveling experience? With good perks as you delve into it.
Should you decide not to do the Timewalking level 20-110+ stuff, you can still create any Allied Race from level 110-115 (Battle for Azeroth).
Now if you (optionally) do go through the level 20-110+ timewalking experience at your own pace… you become an elite member of the Timewalkers faction — unlocking access to other max level Timewalker content that your specific Allied Race can benefit from.
Chromie congratulates you for learning everything you needed to know about the Horde or the Alliance you joined. Now that you know what it means to be Horde or Alliance, how the events unfolded, now you know how to protect the timeline as a Timewalker.
Blizzard should thus introduce Timewalker special events: World Quests, or self-contained content like the Island Expedition’s Dynamic Replayability system where the Infinite Dragonflight and its agents attempt to alter the past, present, and future. Maybe something that happens once a week or so.
Technically, Blizzard could use new and old dungeons and scenarios adding new enemies trying to affect the timeline.
Let’s not forget either that the Infinite Dragonflight isn’t the only one tampering with time. A few years ago, we saw something odd happening in Andorhal as if Arthas was time-pering (tampering) with bronze wyrms. The Burning Legion can also access the timeways. The Old gods have as well. So there is a lot of content and systems Blizzard can add as fuel for multiple Allied Races once everyone goes through the level 20-max (optional) content toward a full-fledged Timewalker member.
If Blizzard moved toward this flexible format, people would love to invest in collecting multiple Allied Races.