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What Could Have Been / World of Warcraft

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World of Warcraft has had a lot of ideas that were eventually scrapped or replaced:

  • Hero classes were a feature mentioned before the game was released. Many years since the initial release, they have only created two (Death Knights and Demon Hunters). Paladins were at one point going to be one, but ultimately made a normal class.
    • The original plan for Death Knights was that you would convert a high-leveled character into one rather than rolling a fresh toon. This was scrapped due to concerns players would turn their character into a Death Knight and then decide that they liked their original class more. They then toyed with the idea of having a quest chain in Northrend where your higher level toons would interact what would become the freed Death Knights. In the end, they compromised and let people roll a Death Knight once they hit the prerequisite level of 55, and gave them a starting zone all to themselves which explained their back story first-hand.
      • The original idea for Runeforging was that Death Knight players would be able to customize the runes on their resource bar -for example, a Frost Death Knight might choose to give up some of his Blood and Unholy runes in exchange for more Frost runes, or convert a less useful rune into more flexible Death runes. This was deemed too complicated, so all Death Knights were given a standard rune layout, and Runeforging was changed to just being a Death Knight-exclusive free weapon enchant.
      • Another idea was to have Runeblades be their own separate weapon type, usable only by Death Knights. This was deemed unworkable at the time, and Runeblades were ultimately only implemented as cosmetic skins for normal weapons. However, the concept would eventually be revisited with Demon Hunters, who did get their own unique weapon -Warglaives.
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  • Monks were initially planned to lack an auto-attack mechanic, making up for it with stronger bursts of damage on their attack skills. Although this would have made them completely unique from every other class in the game, it was deemed a balancing nightmare and had to be scrapped.
  • One of the most clear examples is the Wrath Of The Lich King expansion's scrapped aspects. It was intended that there be a Gundrak raid and a third wing of Utgarde Keep, and Crystalsong forest was intended to be the home of the Argent Crusade tournament (as opposed to containing the floating city of Dalran and nothing else) By far most painful, it was initially intended that the Azjol-Nerub kingdoms be an entire underground zone in which players would have significant interaction with Anub'arak, Arthas' third in command, and presumably deal with the sinister and desperate spider-like Nerubians who used to rule most of Northrend. Instead, there are two dungeons. Anu'barak is the boss of the lower level one. He has no effect on the game apart from that, though he comes back as a boss under the tournament. And there are a grand total of four living Nerubians in the game, and only one of them even has a name (though more were added in Cataclysm). This is particularly odd given that they introduced tons of new races in Northrend, but gave no presence to the race that people had known was there since Warcraft 3 came out in 2002.
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  • Prior to that, The Burning Crusade was just as bad about this; several characters that were slated for return were left out completely, and so called “portal worlds” (completely different, presumably legion held planets that would have been accessed via portals) were excluded, though they were a bit selling point of the expansion. It wasn't until Legion that "portal worlds" came back during the invasion of Argus.
  • Cataclysm was also supposed to implement a feature called Path of the Titans, that would've acted as an alternative to the normal talent system to give even more customization to your character, and would have combined the new archaeology profession with a redesigned glyph system. However, the system wasn't found to be effective at giving the customization they wanted, and instead it was scrapped.
    • Most likely related to this system were the two factions related to archaeology: The Explorer's League and Reliquary. The latter faction was created as a Horde equivalent and both were planned to have a reputation, which means quests and NPCs. This never came to fruition and they remain as flavor factions instead.
    • The Abyssal Maw was originally planned as either a dungeon or raid, with many players expecting it to come out with the Firelands raid tier. While the map was designed, the content never made it past early design phases and was dropped after Cataclysm ended.
  • Warlords of Draenor went through several changes in the planning stages. The earliest idea has no Time Travel at all, instead Garrosh was meant to discover a magic horn and use it to resurrect the titular Warlords in an unexplored part of Outland. There was also a concept of him rallying a "Mongrel Horde" of kobolds, gnolls, murlocs and all the other quest fodder to be his army. Then they decided that if they were going to bring back the Old Horde then they might as well bring back Old Draenor, so the Infinite Dragonflight got brought in to make that happen. Then they dialled down the amount of Time Travel- originally the players were meant to travel to AU Draenor with the help of the Bronze Dragonflight, and try and prevent Garrosh from ever opening a connection to Azeroth. There were also plans for a Shattrath raid, the zone of Gorgrond was completely different in Alpha, and there are various hints to expanded storylines (most notably the Pale Orcs/Cho'Gall/Void storyline) that ended up on the cutting room floor. And if the "Grommash will be the final boss" statement wasn't a lie, it seems that the post-100 patches were meant to shake out a whole lot different than they did.
    • The Cho'gall and Void storyline being dropped is especially obvious when looking at World of Warcraft: Chronicle published written around the same time which paints the Void as being the ultimate antagonist of the universe.
      • Two islands meant to be introduced in later patches were Farahlon, home of the Laughing Skull Orcs, and an unnamed Ogre land. Neither made it past early planning stages. Farahlon did receive a joking reference in a garrison mission.
    • Originally garrisons could be located in any of the zones but due to the difficulties of arranging this they were limited to the starting regions with limited outposts in other zones. Capital cities were planned for each faction as well and even largely constructed but after it was decided to merge those functions into Ashran they were left as nothing more than impressive-looking quest hubs.
  • The Legion expansion had several major plot points change during Beta:
    • It's not clear if the character's ultimate fate was changed or not, but early builds indicated that Vol'jin was merely missing after the events of the Broken Shore, not necessarily dead (Varian Wrynn, on the other hand, was always straight up dead). In the final version, he dies onscreen in a very clear and unambiguous manner. Also, in the original version, it was implied Sylvanas had usurped control of the Horde in Vol'jin's absence. In the finished version, Vol'jin himself names Sylvanas his successor after she saves the Horde forces in Broken Shore, although Battle for Azeroth suggests he wasn't acting in his right mind when he did so.
    • Tirion Fordring was originally planned to be the Death Knight's Fourth Horseman instead of Darion Mograine. This one is pretty obvious, as the finished scenario still has them attack Light's Hope Chapel for Tirion's body. But a lot of players didn't like this idea, either because the preferred him as a Paladin, or they just thought it cheapened his death to bring him back so soon. Eventually the developers relented and changed it to Darion. But the scenario was already made and they didn't have time to scrap it and start over, so they used it anyway and just changed the ending so that a literal Deus ex Machina stops the resurrection and kills Darion, leading to him being made the Horseman instead.
    • The black dragon known as Ebyssian was originally planned to be Wrathion. He ended up being changed to a new character due to a combination of the timeline not working out (Wrathion being only a few years old would make it hard for him to integrate himself into Highmountain's society to the extent 'Spiritwalker Ebonhorn' had) and concerns that, after what Wrathion did in his last appearance, players wouldn't want to work with him again.

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