Expansions Are Fun

So I’m a week into Storm Legion now and it got me thinking, what exactly is it about an expansion that tickles my feathers.  I really like having to learn something new.  This obviously precludes the argument of something NEW to do.  I can assure you that simply extending the content without some new mechanic doesn’t interest me in the least.  Horse Armor is not an expansion.

WoW’s expansions have typically added some new mechanic to the game.  Heroic dungeons came in BC, Lich King added phasing but changed grouping mechanics, Cataclysm added zero to the game and Pandaria added pet battles.  From a class perspective, I’ve played a Rogue in that game since launch.  I’ve see only minor changes for the most part, with a couple large swings along the road – such as the introduction of Mutilate.  Still, from Lich King to Pandaria, the Rogue has been practically identical.  That’s over 5 years ago and the playstyle has been more or less identical – all the expansions have essentially added more of the same.

I haven’t actively played EvE for any stretch of time but a few of the expansions over the years, the largest certainly the transfer of NPC stations to player-owned.  EQ and EQ2 have added plenty of mechanics over the years – mercenaries and AA top the list somewhat here.

Rift is 18 months old and 1 expansion in.  Classes were practically re-written from top to bottom a few weeks back to the point where my ability to play a given soul is technically different while being strategically the same.  My Shaman still uses melee attacks to deal damage but it much more thought based now then the previous macro-heavy build.  They also added the Alternate Advancement feature a few patches back, which gives a horizontal progress to top level players.  The new “no tagging” combat model allows for less griefing but perhaps more bad sport (simply hit once and run away).  I’ve yet to run any new dungeon or heroic raid but from what I can tell, they are under the same model as previous – if perhaps less reliance on resists.  Dimensions are certainly new and wow, I’m having fun there.

Expansions should feel different but familiar.  They shouldn’t just be-reskins of previous content.  The only way that sort of stuff works is in PvP games, where the content is delivered by the players.  PvE games need horizontal progress to feel different and give people something to do.  If you’re simply re-hashing what’s been done, then you’re in for a rough ride.