Shintar writes about the recently announced wholesale changes to the endgame gearing system in Star Wars The Old Republic coming in the next expansion. I’ve never really engaged with the endgame in SWTOR so it will not affect me directly, but it did make me think about whether these large-scale revamps of MMORPG systems are actually justifiable or needed?
World of Warcraft’s developers at Blizzard have, I would argue, a bit of a reputation for wholesale change. Since the great talent pruning in the Mists of Pandaria expansion, each expansion of WoW has brought widespread revamps of class abilities. I’m not here talking about the incremental changes that all MMORPGs bring in from time to time, tweaking class power or adding or trimming a few abilities. I mean the large-scale revamps that reset the ability rotations for all classes or that change fundamentally how combat works. Regarding Legion’s big class upheaval – I cannot complain that all such change is bad. I actually enjoy playing Balance again after a four-year break, but overall a session does not go by where I do not think – at least once – “why did they have to remove that ability?” or “where are my buffs?”.
I’ve also read in the deluge of Final Fantasy 14 news coming out of the recent FFXIV Fan Fest event, that this MMO is going to be revising the battle system and skill system in the next expansion (Stormblood). If you consider these forthcoming changes in the context of the recoding of the entire game from version 1.0 to the relaunch with version 2.0 then the game has seen a lot of change in its relatively shorter lifespan.
Some MMOs seem to me to have had more additive change than wholesale revision – Rift and Everquest 2 have had new systems added but do not seem, from my limited viewpoint, to have had old systems removed or revamped to the same extent as the examples given above. I wonder whether all MMORPGs in reality change this much, from a system perspective, simply as part of the expansion and renewal of the game?