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Archaeology is Not Expected to Receive Updates in Shadowlands
10/7/2020 em 17:59
interview with the French news site Judgehype
Production Director Patrick Dawson let us know that Archaeology was not planning to make a return in Shadowlands, an announcement which has met with with a surprising amount of contention. To be clear, this does not mean that Archaeology is being removed the way First Aid was, it simply isn't expected to receive any new development with the launch of Shadowlands.
Archaeology is entirely linked to the artifacts of Azeroth. Nothing new for this secondary profession in Shadowlands to be expected.
Archaeology has an interesting history within the
World of Warcraft
, decried at various times as one of the most soul crushing grinds in the game, such as the hunt for
Zin'rokh, a Destruidora de Mundos
or the the 600 fragment grind for
Espírito de Eche'ro
, which is only available for 2 weeks every 6 months. Still, there's a lot of contention regarding this announcement, as many players greatly enjoy these hunts, along with the opportunity to gaze into the lore of the game's past.
Many fans of the professions (or band-wagoners rushing to call out Blizzard on anything they can) have been quick to point out that Archaeology existed in Draenor and Outlands, so saying the profession is linked to "Azeroth" is misleading. It's a fair point, though keep in mind that it's a bullet point recap of a French report translated into English, so the wording isn't necessarily literal.
More accurately, the point would seem to be that Archaeology artifacts are tied to the races which now inhabit Azeroth - which at this point very much includes the Orcs, Ogres, and Draenei of Outland/Draenor, so Archaeology within those zones made sense - even for things like Arrakoa as while they might not necessarily be playable races inhabiting Azeroth, their history is still certainly linked to that of our own, and so it makes perfect sense that we'd explore that history through Archaeology on their native worlds. Shadowlands, however, exists as a realm apart; the races which inhabit Azeroth (etc) may
there, but it's not a part of their history... it's their future.
Now, none of that matters the least bit for fans of Archaeology. Certainly there are old beings and architecture within the zone, many references to the "first ones", and the Shadowlands has it's own history as well - a story which will undoubtedly still be told, just through different means. The implication would seem to be that intent is for
to be about exploring the future, with what happens to the souls after characters die, rather than focusing on the past.
This also highlights one of the perils of introducing new systems, which set a precedence that players expect to continue every expansion into the future. Archaeology was originally designed around Cataclysm, to help tell stories that were uncovered in the great upheaval, but became something expected in every expansion following. Then Game Director
Tom Chilton hit on this topic in an interview with PCGamer
“In some ways,” Chilton says, “I wish we had kept some features bound to the expansions they lived in to make room for more innovation without players feeling like we were taking something away.” He points to the Archaeology profession introduced in Cataclysm as an example; he wishes they’d removed it in time for Mists of Pandaria. It’s a practice he intends to follow in the future. The garrisons introduced in the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion, for instance, won’t carry over to whatever comes next."
The developers obviously embraced many of these concepts, and we've seen the result in things like Garrisons, Order Halls, the War Campaign, Azerite, and Legendaries. Just imagine trying to keep all of those systems relevant over the course of several expansions, it would be completely untenable. For all the derision some players give toward expansion specific systems which don't carry over into the rest of the game, it gives developers a chance to try wildly new ideas without having to worry about maintaining them or how they'll fit into the game years later. Although you could argue that Archaeology is very low impact compared to the rest of those examples, the response to this announcement shows just how hard it can be to remove something that's become ingrained into the game, no matter how big or small it may be.
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