Garrisons are a military base, not a house

Wildstar and World of Warcraft are both introducing “housing” systems into their content. Warcraft just released a post about how their garrisons will work. I wanted to take a minute to talk about how Warcraft isn’t actually introducing player “housing” into the game. Instead, the garrison feature is a military base. While I am more likely to stick with WOW due to my long-term investment, and I have issues with other aspects of Wildstar that make it less appealing to me, the one thing I do like is the Wildstar housing system. In that respect, Wildstar delivers a more traditional take on building your own aesthetic house. Blizzard, on the other hand, is allowing us to have some amount of choice in building our military base, but that choice is still largely limited compared to Wildstar’s full customization of your own plot of land.

Wildstar housing:

  • Starting from low levels (around level 14), you can build and customize your own house. You gain materials and items for your house from the early leveling experience thru max level.
  • If you want to build a house in a tree, you can have your very own treehouse.
  • There is a wide variety of enhancements for the decor, so that your house won’t likely look like someone else’s house. There are, however, general themes in terms of being related to various races, for example. So, houses will likely share some features with other houses, especially early in the content release.
  • Want to build your own bar? Sure, not a problem!
  • You can even customize the color of the sky if you really want. The important part is that your own house will feel unique because it’s unlikely that anyone else will have built the exact same thing. In this respect, you build a cosmetic house that serves the purpose of driving intrinsic motivation related to finding new treasures you can use to personalize your home.
  • You want guild housing? Well, you might actually get to decorate a house with your guild members, and hang your raid boss’ heads in a communal space.

World of Warcraft Garrisons

  • Starting at level 90, building a garrison is integrated into the leveling experience from 90 to 100.
  • In the various zones, you will be given options to choose from specific pre-fab buildings. There are three levels of each building, with the stables (for example), getting bigger and fancier as you level them up.
  • You can’t currently customize the look of any of the buildings. If you have a stables at level 3, it looks just like everyone else’s stables at level 3.
  • As you level, you will be prompted to pick 1 of 2 buildings that impacts your leveling experience in a particular zone (though recipes are available later on to pick up those buildings you skipped, if you change your mind!). This might be neat the second time you play an alt in the zones, since your building choices will impact your questing experiences – perhaps your alt will choose all the opposite buildings in every zone.
  • While completing the quests that give you access to building types is incredibly important for the leveling process if you want access to garrisons, you can also potentially skip this process and buy blueprints instead, meaning that on your 4th alt, you can still avoid the feeling of “chores”.
  • A focus of your garrison is on the people that inhabit your base, not on actually building and customizing the base. You will send your garrisons on missions, and you will basically serve as the commander to this army that you accumulate as you strengthen your base. They may make your world feel more populated, but your garrison won’t be your own personal retreat to hide from the world. While your base will feel populated, they won’t be populated with your guild members, since there is no guild housing.
  • These followers and rewards include content related to the extrinsic rewards of gaining access to crafting materials and bonuses that enhance your solo questing experiences. While garrisons may be fun, the point is to get things you need for completing other content. So, your crafting needs may shape some of the decisions you make related to your building plots.
  • A benefit of the garrisons is that there will likely be a great deal of content tied to this system, allowing for more solo play related to trying to defeat the Iron Horde.
  • Your final garrison can have up to 10 of the 21 buildings, meaning that most people will have roughly half of the available options once their garrison is complete. Thus, while you and your friend may have different choices you made along the way, the general aesthetics across a couple dozen garrisons (of the same faction) may have a really similar look and feel. You get to customize your garrison, but only to a certain point.

So, in the end, World of Warcraft isn’t really introducing housing, in the traditional sense. Instead, they are introducing military bases that allow you to have some form of customization. The garrison system is going to probably be a fun system; but if you want to build a house, you may have to look elsewhere. Maybe I can still keep my Lord of the Rings Online house for a while longer to have my own sense of home.

My hope is that they may eventually introduce more hooks for aesthetic customization in the World of Warcraft garrisons. Until then, I’ll enjoy building my military base, and wishing I could change the color of the wallpaper.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Posted May 28, 2014 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Agreed. I don’t believe Blizzard has labelled Garrisons as player housing, but something along a similar vein. I’m likely going to enjoy Garrisons as a gameplay mechanic, given I love those kinds of games on iOS as well. With Blizzard’s softening of their staunch stance against player housing (because it would be invisible to pretty much everyone else), I wonder if we’ll see them eventually implement housing a la most other MMOs? They’re already pretty good about re-evaluating stances (ie: character silhouettes versus transmog), so I wouldn’t count it out yet.

  2. Posted May 28, 2014 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been seeing more and more people comparing WildStar’s housing and Garrisons, and I agree that they are fundamentally different types of gameplay. WildStar is focused on customization, and as a bonus you get some perks for xp, crafting, etc. WoW’s garrisons seem pretty focused on crafting and the mini-game of collecting and sending your followers off on missions. I am interested to see how it really works once we can get our hands on it!