Wow needs to bring back the RPG in MMORPG

So, settle in for a long read if you care to.
And no, before you see the name “FFXIV” and jump to a conclusion, I’m not saying Wow should just become FFXIV, they’re two drastically different games and I like them both and think both games have aspects that the other could learn from

currently, and this is something I’ve been considering for a few days right now, currently I would not even call Wow an MMORPG.
sure it’s an MMO… but where’s the Roleplay?
and I don’t mean flat out RP servers like Argent Dawn EU.
what role do I play in this world? in this in-game community?
in the world I am a champion, a maw walker, a meaningless generic title that gets thrown about all the time, with no meaning, no weight, it’s completely and utterly meaningless.
and even then characters forget I am that thing between patch cycles and expansions.
the last time I actively played a “role” in the world was Legion, as the leader of my class order, I had no idea what the druids were doing in their hall etc, I was Deathlord and that was that.
Then since the start of BFA I’ve literally been a pointless nobody with a grand title, an unimportant errand boy who’s also apparently a high ranking member of the alliance, or a prophesied “Maw Walker” in the shadowlands, whilst once again essentially being an errand boy.

So - in the games’ narrative world I do not exist, am not made to feel like I exist, I have no role that I am playing, I am a faceless entity known as champion or maw walker.

So how about the game’s community, it’s playerbase, do I play a role there?

Well not really.
I’m just another tank to everyone, my appearance means nothing, my name means nothing, I’m referred to as “Tank” in dungeons, or sometimes on odd occasion more specifically “DH” or “Paladin”. And by and large it’s only while in content that people will even communicate, save for a few specific servers, like the earlier mentioned Argent Dawn EU.
So YET AGAIN I am not playing a role, I am yet again a faceless entity, randoms in dungeons calling me tank is a near equivalent of the story characters calling me “Maw Walker”. I have no identity on that, I’m not an individual for someone to talk to, in that scenario I am simply a tool, a tool that distracts enemies while they kill the enemies and nothing more.

My name means nothing.
My appearance means nothing.

Now for the comparison to FFXIV…

FFXIV gives an extremely rigid and strict narrative experience, you ARE the Warrior of Light and you have no choice in that, and that isn’t for everyone and I understand that completely.
But it’s done in such a way, dialogue conversation in cutscenes is done in such a way that there is plenty of room for YOU to paste YOUR personality onto your character, through your very appearance, my character is a tall as hell edgy guy with a big sword and you see that in all of the dialogue cutscenes.

but also how that dialogue is written, in every cutscene your character pretty much just nods in acknowledgement, but the dialogue itself feels like it is addressed to YOU.
Alphinaud isn’t talking to the Warrior of Light, he’s talking to ME.

I understand the character’s woes, I’ve seen their struggles, I’ve taught them lessons, they’ve taught me lessons, and SOMEHOW I feel completely differently to certain scenes than say one of my friends did, we both felt the same character with the same lines of dialogue addressed the way we were individually thinking in that moment.

So without a doubt, I do play a role in FFXIV’s world, and that role is me, the characters refer to me as the Warrior of Light, but that’s a formality, I have more identity than that title alone and the characters are written to acknowledge that.

and the wider gameplay too, my role in the playerbase, I am a tall person with a big sword that looks metal as hell, people can spot my identity, who I am, from a mile away, be that just by my chosen aesthetic and character design, or because they do know me, they recognize me, I can run into Limsa Lominsa or Old Sharlayan and chances are I will see someone that knows me or I will see someone that I know, even just running past a stranger, I’ll likely recognize their name.

FFXIV doesn’t have class talents, every class is the same gameplay someone else would get with that same class, a good Dark Knight will play exactly the same as another Dark Knight who’s also good., there’s no wiggle room for your own choices there, same as in the story quests, there’s sometimes some dialogue choices but they don’t have impact.
and YET there’s so much more room to imprint who you are, the role you want to play, on your character.

it is an RPG that happens to be an MMO, everything you do, from the character creation screen to the super high end difficulty end game content and everything inbetween, everything is built and engineered to allow YOU to imprint your personality onto your character, and thus experience the story and the video game itself in a much more personal way.

There is absolutely none of that in Wow, again to reiterate, I’m just a faceless entity known as Maw Walker to the characters, and Tank to people I come across.

Wow needs to re-add the RPG back into MMORPG


So, essentially what might be missing is our solo questline that felt almost tailored to us. The closest we got was Legion and everybody loved that. Also the mentions of our previous exploits by NPCs in new expansions and the different dialogue for demon hunters all across the isles (which stopped in broken shore for some odd reason).

I agree. And more customisation would certainly help - what they are doing with Dracthyr in those terms is amazing. The idea to be a specialist in professions again is also good. I’m not sure how our main characters will be treated, some “champion” or THE champion; it would be nice if Dracthyr had some different stuff like DHs had too. I’m not looking for spoilers, though.

I think it felt more RPG in Vanilla because it took so long to level, we had a closed server community where you recognised other people and you chose your own long path from baby recruit to an actual hero.

TLDR: They did really well in Legion with it, slid back but hopefully DF is going to be better.


I will never understand this. Saying that you play a role in XIV is almost exactly like saying you play a role in Super Mario Bros or Assassin’s Creed II: you really don’t.
You squeeze your fantasy in whatever crack the story leaves open, and you do so while constantly trying to ignore all the contradictions this causes. You can do this with basically any videogame, to an extent.
World of Warcraft allows that creative approach to the story to a much greater extent.
But we’re talking about videogames, you can’t separate story and gameplay: in a roleplaying game the emergent narrative is ideally materialised through interaction. Meaning you rely on mechanics/rules to interact with the narrative space. This almost never happens in XIV, because XIV doesn’t allow you to define your character mechanically in a significant way.
Gearing is uniform, talent choice doesn’t exist, you don’t even really choose a class, since all characters can max all jobs. Ultimately all bards are the same bard and play exactly the same, and all characters, with enough game time, are the same character, both in the story and gameplay wise.
In World of Warcraft, with all its contradictions and limitations, you choose a faction, a race with unique traits, a class, and those choices are binding, they define your character narratively and mechanically at the same time. And then, on top of that, you define your character through a much steeper power growth, through specialisations and talents, through the gear you equip.

Final Fantasy XIV is a solid and fun game, but it can barely be called an RPG and it surely doesn’t hold a candle to WoW in that respect. And this keeping in mind that WoW itself is far from perfect.
To me World of Warcraft in an MMORPG that compromised way too much on its traditional RPG elements, while XIV is an MMORPG that absolutely drove them into the ground, to the point it looks more like a visual novel without choices, than an RPG.

The key element is this.
RPG =/= story, stats and side quests.
RPG = a game where players express their chosen role by being authorised to interact with the narrative space in an emergent way.

I don’t doubt you can roleplay in XIV in a satisfying way, to be clear. I do that too, but I wouldn’t say it’s thanks to the game. All you need to roleplay is enough imagination, then any context can be turned into a field for RP. An RPG should be built to facilitate this, and XIV isn’t. It was, a few years back, when you could allocate attribute points and all that, but now it doesn’t facilitate roleplaying any more than, say, a Kirby game.
Apart from character creation, glamour and emotes, XIV does absolutely nothing to facilitate RP. WoW is lacking in the emotes department, XIV is lacking in everything else.

I really don’t want to sound dismissive, it’s not how I feel at all, but to me it sounds like you really got into the story and grew attached to your character. Which is great of course, XIV makes you love your character and of course you’re brought to attribute a personality and all that to the character. But it’s despite the complete lack of RPG elements, not the contrary.


WoW is more of an action rpg than it was in classic sure, but RPG doesn’t mean larping in goldshire, pasting a tumblr fanfiction about your character into a tab on your character screen isn’t an rpg, when i think RPG i think more about my choices as a player having an impact on the world around me, like Fallout 1 or something.


Of course it doesn’t, LARPing in Goldshire would ne impossible unless you could find a RL location called Goldshire.

LARPing stands for ‘Live Action Role Playing’, ie you actually dress up and do your RP in the real world, not in a computer RPG.

AS for the OP, I agree, Blizz have slowly sucked all the RPG aspects out of the game intil now it#s a moot point as to whether it qualifies as a RPG.


But describe to me how you would make wow a true rpg then? How could you realistically implement player choice having an impact on the world around them while simultaneously allowing for other players to do the same, all while not having those choices or impacts clash?

The most RPG you can get in a multiplayer experience is your mog and the way you interact with the world, i.e your class and spec.

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How ? Well WoW was never an RPG where you had any real players choice but that doesn’t prevent anyone from choosing their role (race/class) and playing that.

However there’s been too much introduced where your choice of race and class just don’t matter, Jumping quests, racing quests, using a vehicle quests, quests where you’re forced to be something else, all of this has been at the expense of quests where my chouce of race, class and gear have an effect on how well I do the quest.

For a game like you describe I would shunt the lore as a backstory and make the game full loot permanent PvP with guild being able to take control of zones and have to defend them from other guilds (see how EveO does it).

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It’s never been an RPG it’s always been an MMORPG; not the same thing.

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I’d argue an MMORPG is fundamentally just an RPG with a lot of players.
Of course there are going to be differences, but it’s fair to expect an MMORPG to be an RPG just as much as any other RPG.


No, that’s where people get confused. Introduce multiple players, then the game experience has to change.

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Playing with other people is fundamental to the most traditional roleplaying experiences in history though. In fact, I’d say interaction with other players is one of the main facilitating elements for RP and one of the most traditional elements of the genre.

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to me RPG means just that, role playing in a video game, regardless of what the core gameplay is actually like, If I am given a completely blank character to paint my personality on to, but the gameplay is exactly the same as someone else’s, that’s still a roleplaying game.
AC 2 and Super Mario don’t do that, Mario is a character, Ezio is a character, although limited in the case of Mario, established characters like that have their own emotions that they express, they aren’t yours.

Take a newer AAA “RPG” for instance, Horizon: Forbidden West, or God of War 2018.
People call these games “RPG’s” purely because they have stat progression, gear and weapon choices.
That is not a roleplaying game, you do not play to role of Kratos, Christopher Judge plays the role of Kratos, you’re just experiencing that story with some fun gameplay inbetween the scenes.

in FF’s story, the most amount of emotion that shows on my character is usually a nod, not always, sometimes there is a forced sense of emotion, which are usually my least favourite parts, but by and large I am absolutely free to react to dialogue and narrative set pieces with my own emotions because that’s who the dialogue is aimed at, not the Warrior of Light. Me.

When was the last time we felt story characters in Wow were talking to us, as a person, with our own thoughts? When was the last time we didn’t just feel like a meaningless entity in that world?

to be clear I’d LOVE the option in FF of not being the Warrior of Light, but that’s the option the game gives and it handles it really well for the most part.

I’d like Wow to really hammer on to that narrative quality, with characters and our interactions with them eliciting emotional responses from us.
And the best course for that I think would probably be bringing class orders back and give us deep quest lines with frequent updates in line with the main “narrative”.

Also as for the choices you describe that Wow offers… when were they last acknowledged? when did they last feel like choices?
We all just go for the same builds on the same classes, do whatever Icey Veins’ tells us is the optimal thing to do, and if we don’t other people complain at us and tell us to go learn our class.
That isn’t much of a choice, that’s just power progression with the ability to get it wrong.

Wow does do a better job of acknowledging your racial choice, and obviously factional choice, but again, I’d like the game to acknowledge that choice WAY more, if I’m a zandalari Paladin, I should be a Sun Warrior who believes they get their power from the Loa of Kings etc.
This is where the Class Skins idea that was doing the rounds a few months ago would be really damn cool, the same abilities, but a different fantasy to play as.

Even Legion didn’t go far enough I feel, I recently leveled a Worgen Rogue (the character I’m posting as right now as it happens) and I played through legion, and the story? GREAT! I loved the quest to unlock my class mount, stealthing through Horde cities and assassinating certain characters who were actually spies implemented by the Dreadlords, it was cool as hell!

But why did Tess Greymane never acknowledge I was a Worgen?

and going forward from Legion too, why does any one trusts Death Knights after that expansion?

The more I think about it, it’s not that Wow doesn’t offer alot of RPG ideas, it’s that their so loosely connected and rarely acknowledged that those choices are almost never met with any weight, they feel meaningless.

I think more of those core choices need to be more regularly acknowledged, maybe NPC’s calling me by my Class title from Legion, or just by my class would be a solid start, with more of the “main cast” npc’s remembering my past actions, acknowledging if we’re friends.
They actually did a really good job with that in 9.2.5 with Genn Greymane, I’m usually a Horde player, and those resolution quests, while narratively, as with everything in SL was really weak, but Genn talking about Sylvanas and saying to me “…You have much to answer for, aswell…” genuinely gave me goose bumps.
That was probably the first time since Legion I felt like quest npc actually acknowledged my existence.

Emotes, customization options and higher quality casual transmog’s is definitely an area to improve on too, like I said in the original post it’s not just about how the games’ narrative barely treats you like an active participant, it’s how you can paint your own identity onto your character too and how FF goes to great lengths to accommodate that, where Wow doesn’t.

Also I genuinely apologize for rambling on lol.
I’m not a game designer, just wish I had more choices in game and wish they had some genuine weight to them, and I wish those choices weren’t so heavily dependent on “is this the META right now?!”

Dragonflight does seem to be taking steps in all the right directions for most of this, by and large apparently the questing feels natural and good, talents are back, and while they’re nothing mindblowing right now, it’s a platform for them to build on and add more choices/abilities going forward.
Dragon Riding and all of it’s options look to be a complete gamechanger in how we view minute to minute questing and traversal.
From what little we know the new reputation system is just going to be some fun stuff to do, rock climbing, pokemon snap, with some cool quests and transmogs as a reward, no player power at all, and that’s great too!
The professions revamp is looking really good so far too, it’s own viable endgame, and fundamentally adds an optional Role for you to Play, it’s moving away from a constant focus on dungeons and raids, which is great.

I think a next step on that could be removing auto-phasing, and give us a sense of partition between servers, whilst still allowing people to voluntarily travel between them, like FF does.
Maybe even one day if we all like the new rep system they could remove the player from being fixed into Alliance or Horde, keep them as major players in the world, but let us choose between them as our preferred race, or let us not choose them at all, with our class order being the only “faction” we are strictly loyal to.
It would let them have big narrative moments and set pieces involving our character without needing to have the horde and alliance magically team up at the end of an expansion (like they’ve literally done since TBC) and just give us more choices.
Maybe even then adding a “relationship” system like SWTOR has, where we have different standings with certain characters and they can approve or disapprove of certain choices we make/who we ally ourselves with etc.

AGAIN, I’m not a game designer and I’m really sorry for rambling lol.


This will be hard, WoW’s writers seem to love going with a story and then suddenly changing it and giving themselves even less time to write the new story which then has negative effects to other parts of the WoW team. This is also why Shadowlands felt so disjointed.

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Just want to point out too.
This topic of conversation is EXTREMELY subjective, none of us are necessarily wrong, we all just have ideas of what we want to see in World of Warcraft.

Some of you or others may be die hard fans of Mythic+, and to those people , THAT is what World of Warcraft is, to others M+ is a boring progression treadmill taking precious development resources away from what we want.

Kinda fascinating that so many people can have such differing and contradicting views on the same product really.

Plenty of supertraditional RPGs give you predetermined characters to play as, think Gothic, or whenever a D&D master hands out sheets to new players. Character creation is a welcome but not necessary part of RPGs.
But I gave those examples because mechanically you have as much agency in XIV as you have in AC2. In fact, in AC2 you probably have a little more of it.

I understand completely, it’s my experience too, and I agree on your criticism of the misuse of the RPG label. And I also completely support the concept of facilitating RP simply by giving the player enough space to identify the character and make stuff up.
In fact, I don’t even think the story’s linearity is an obstacle to this.
My problem with your argument is that WoW technically does this to a much greater extent. There can still be conflict between the forced story and the player’s intentions (e.g. my character shouldn’t have set foot in the Shadowlands), but you’re not the Warrior of Light, you’re just an adventurer among many others, and the story never gets personal.
This technically allows the player’s imagination more space to roam free, compared to XIV, where you spend more time pretending stuff never happened. In fact, you’re basically forced to pretend most if not all of the MSQ never happened if you ever want to roleplay with other people, which is quite important considering it’s a multiplayer game.

I’m not sure I agree with you here. I wouldn’t say no to a more involved and curated narrative experience, if they really want to continue on the route of the linear main quest. But I’d much prefer it if WoW went back to offering narrative space instead of traditional, linear storytelling. Imagine MoP, where you had all these little questlines that told you something about the world and you had all the freedom to place your character in that world the way you wanted to.
But of course class quests would be great, because they’d reinforce the most fundamental RP choice you make in the game. It’s too bad both WoW and XIV did away with them.

I don’t think there’s a single correct choice in WoW. Icyveins guides are just that, guides, but each character is subject to a synergy of variables complex enough that the ideal configuration is often different for characters of the same class and even spec. In fact, it gets so complex you literally need sims to optimise your build, because no prebuilt configuration is going to be 100% perfect, and different content/playstyles often require different stats, talents, conduits and so on.
Imho the idea that you can just read icyveins and pick that build only applies if you don’t care enough about both creativity and optimisation.
But all this doesn’t change the unavoidable fact that WoW allows choice, that choice has a relevant impact on the gameplay and it often conveys narrative flavour or reinforces a fantasy. XIV doesn’t.
You can’t choose talents, you can’t choose gear or stat priority (materia does not count), you don’t target specific gear, you don’t have racials, and so on. Hell, XIV is so flat and uniform all tanks use the same exact gear.
World of Warcraft has a much wider range not only of choices, but of interactions that reinforce the fantasy, compared to XIV. As an extremely trivial example, think DHs gliding off heights.
Players, of course, have the freedom to ignore this potential and simply choose what somebody else told them is optimal. D&D players do this too, this is a simple clash of approaches between a game designed to allow RP choices and players informing that decision through anything but roleplaying disposition.
But I wouldn’t say choices are forced, you can easily get KSM or curve after building your character in a completely random way.
I’d say choices capable of impacting gameplay exist in WoW, while in XIV they don’t.

It’s hard to disagree with this, I too hope we’ll see more recognition of baseline RP choices like race and class. Hopefully we’ll get some more now that we’re done with borrowed power? :pray:

Hard agree, it would be amazing to see WoW put more effort in this department, but forgive me for stressing this: these problem only arise because WoW offers choices, and then you obviously expect them to be represented in dialogues, and they often aren’t. But if we’re drawing a comparison with XIV on RPG terms, XIV lacks those choices to begin with! While in WoW they’re at least presented in gameplay and sometimes in dialogues.

Hard agree x2. Emotes do a lot to give XIV characters personality. Transmog too, WoW has a lot of options, but they rarely serve a RP purpose. They’re more oriented towards the cool factor than anything.

Don’t worry xD I enjoy this topic, and I’m not a designer either, I’m just a player with opinions.
But I really don’t think those choices are so dependant on the meta. Maybe it’s because I don’t do mythic raiding or anything like that, but I don’t see how we could ever have stat /gameplay based choices without there being a min-maxing mentality to an extent.
The only solution is having the content clearable with any configuration, but this is already true for 99% of the content, and I always made my choices purely based on RP or flavour.
I mean, my paladin runs Inflorescence of the Sunwell because I think it’s a cool name, and it was never an obstacle to my enjoyment of the game. I don’t even know what Icyveins thinks about it lol.

Had I an “agree” button, it would be in pieces right now.

In the end it seems like we have similar ideas on how to improve the RP component in WoW, I just really think it’s still way more developed compared to XIV. In fact, I can’t think of a single MMORPG with less RPG than XIV. xD


Well, SW:ToR kind of/sort of managed to achive that with the NPC interactions ,flirts choices in dialouge and so on
Or at leats the illusion of that
It could work in WoW too

In terms of systems, you’re absolutely right on all fronts, and now you’ve explained your perspective in such detail, I do find it hard to disagree with… just about anything you’ve just said lol.

FFXIV definitely has superior character driven writing and dialogue that makes the player feel included in that story, and you can imprint your own emotions into that story, but there’s almost no way to ACT on that emotion, especially in Endwalker your character does tend to react in a forced way too, often with emotions I wasn’t feeling (by far the games’ worst expansion narrative/quest wise imo)

But yeah, in terms of systemic and gameplay choices Wow definitely takes the cake.

There seems to be a big gap in the market for a true RPG in the AAA MMO space, each one has great ideas, but none of them nail it, Wow has a beautiful world with tight combat and (until BFA) beloved lore and characters, FF has strongly written characters and tons of player-expression, SWTOR has dialogue choices and a whole relationship system, ESO’s content is super accessible and you can almost always spontaneously jump in and play with friends immediately, but none of them hit the mark with a relatively full RPG experience in an MMO environment.

That’s a gap in the market Wow could easily fill if they play their cards right.
Hell, that gap isn’t just limited to MMO RPG’s either, as I mentioned earlier most singleplayer “RPG’s” aren’t RPG’s these days either.

And yeah phasing and a tunnel visioned focus on raiding and mythic + ruined Wow in my opinion, you rarely see the same face twice, so people don’t talk.

Wow story time: the other week on TBC classic I started leveling an orc warrior, vibing my way through Durotar, eventually got to the crossroads, a Troll gave me a spare 2 handed sword he had, he was a Mage so he didn’t need it.

5 hours later or something like that I saw him struggling against some Quilboar so I went in and pulled aggro and we killed them all together!
that kind of thing rarely happens on retail because of the constant and irregular phasing.
phasing and layering is good, it can keep servers from outright crashing like it did when Wow Classic launched, but alot of the time it’s just completely unnecessary and splits up the player base.

Also y’know what? you, good sir, have changed my perspective.
when Talent tree’s drop on pre-patch I’m going to build my character how I want, I recently tried mythic+ and it really isn’t for me, and if I’m not doing that then my chosen talents most probably won’t be a hindrance.
I think looking on Icey Veins is a behavior ingrained in most of us because player power has just been so god damn confusing since Legion, I couldn’t even tell you what a damn soul conduit bind thingy majyg does XD


Seems more like an advetise for FFxIV to Wow players more than an identity crisis of roleplaying.

you’re entitled to your opinion but that is certainly not my intention.
If you’ve read everything discussed in this thread you’ll know both games have been criticized for their downfalls and praised for what they do well.
I, personally, believe Wow could stand to be inspired by FF’s character writing and casual/social systems.
I’ve not at any point said FF is objectively better as a video game, I’ve even pointed out that this topic of conversation is incredibly subjective, and that none of us are inherently wrong in our opinions of what we want added to Wow.

To reiterate, yet again, I love and actively play both games, I just believe they could stand to be inspired by eachother.


Oh, well, uhm… this is unusual :flushed:
But it goes both ways, it was a fruitful exchange :slight_smile:

chaddest decision lol

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