Garrisons as player housing

So it has finally happened, Blizzard have given an affirmative answer to the endless calls across the years for player housing. Other MMOs have had a form of personal or guild housing for many years, some since their inception. At the launch of Mists of Pandaria back in September 2012 two mini-systems appeared that approached something a bit like housing – the Tiller’s farm and the Lorewalkers library.

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Although these systems offer something you as a player can gradually unlock for your character there’s little choice or option for proper personalisation. Sadly I am forever spoiled by the Everquest 2 housing system, anything less than that isn’t good enough.

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So looking at the details about garrisons coming out of Blizzcon this week I’m pleased that something substantial will be coming but I must admit I wasn’t expecting a Warcraft 3 base building mini-game. Presumably it’ll be a new faction-grind type activity where we do some daily or weekly activities to unlock a choice of buildings and NPCs. The SWTOR/Neverwinter style “send NPC on mission” crafting is an interesting inclusion – let’s hope Blizzard goes the whole distance and includes a system in a smart phone app to send our NPCs out on these missions!

Despite the step forward this represents, I’m left feeling underwhelmed by the proposed system. It’ll be a grander version of the farm, which at its heart is just a reputation grind in a game with oh so many reputation grinds. If there isn’t a crafting profession (e.g. woodworker) attached to this system so that players can actively make stuff for their little corner of Azeroth then Blizzard have only done half the job.

The Garrison system was one of the topics raised in the Blizzcon commentary by Jasmine on the Massively Speaking podcast this week (link). Interesting she notes that come the launch of Warlords our much-loved farms in Pandaria will, presumably, be discarded just like the epic purples from raids will be replaced with questing greens. The same will happen to the shiny new garrisons if they are tied into the expansion content as the farms were with Pandaria. This isn’t confirmed of course yet, but Blizzard do seem to be effectively providing temporary housing – as a concept that doesn’t sit well with me.

In writing this I was struck by the thought: is this any different from buying a new, larger house in EQ2? Somehow I feel that it will feel rather different as the player that chooses to move home in Norrath has made that decision, whereas Blizzard will be deciding the fate of our garrisons by the content of the expansion to follow…

There’s a new MMO Champion post gone up with more details of Garrisons. It looks like the system will be pretty involved, but the closing phrases only reinforce the idea that this is temporary housing in effect.

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