We’ve highlighted the importance of having well-established franchises on Wii U. We’ve also indicated how vital it is for Wii U to be open to new ideas and intellectual properties.
This time, we’re saying that in order for Wii U to keep in-line with the competition, exceed it in fact, then it needs to make the first move into uncharted territory. It needs to be doing things that nobody else is doing.
Perhaps the game we’re talking about is overly ambitious. Perhaps we’re taking things one step too far. One thing is for sure, nobody can deny that this addition to the Wii U library would make jaws drop and systems sell. MMOs (massive multiplayer online) are an untapped resource in the console space — with the possible exception of Minecraft on Xbox 360 — but World of Warcraft can definitely change that mind-set. It will prove to critics that complex MMO titles are possible on consoles, and that there's more to this system than meets the eye.
Thanks to the GamePad, World of Warcraft is a plausible and possible fit on Wii U. Here’s how…
There are two ways this can work. The left analogue can easily move the character and the right analogue can adjust the camera. We doubt that navigation has ever been an issue in bringing MMOs to consoles.
Need to attack an enemy or talk to an ally? Simply tap shoulder buttons to cycle through targets, touch the second screen to highlight the character and then A to interact with them. Roaming NPCs or foes would be fairly easy to tap and then tap again for an attack, or double tap for an auto-attack.
With Wii U however, we have options. Another way to control the game would be to combine the use of the Wii Remote with the GamePad. The Wii Remote can easily be used to point, click and move. The nunchuk could then be used to rotate the camera while playing. Meanwhile, the touchscreen would control everything else. This enables a closer experience to a mouse, though perhaps would make for a clunkier interface.
Either way, controlling your toon in WoW is no longer an issue.
The touchscreen presents a wealth of possibilities, but most importantly, makes the combat interface entirely useable and easily manageable. Tap a button to unleash an attack, drag and drop to alternate between different modes of attack and defence, and freely navigate the action bars. This enables the dynamic action that a game like WoW needs and makes it completely possible.
This also enables players to access their backpack, move items between slots and equip them to their character. They’ll also be able to look at their achievements, follow the map and track mission requirements, join dungeon queues, look into their guild happenings and get involved in PVP (player vs. player). The touchscreen can also be used to tap and collect items for quests.
Perhaps most excitingly, because of the potential touch-screen virtual keyboard, macros are also very achievable in the Wii U Miiverse; once created they can be assigned as hotkeys to make seemingly impossible actions a simple button press away. As long as players become familiar with in-game coding they can, theoretically, do anything they please and then assign it to the D-Pad or a button. What’s more, through Miiverse, players can share their macros, enabling others to download them to their Wii U. This creates an exciting community for sharing and understanding the game in new, amazing ways.
This is just the beginning. The touchscreen is so diverse and capable that it opens up the realm of possibility on Wii U where it’s never been achievable on any other home console.
A key part of the WoW experience is interacting with people. Interacting with the guild, interacting with strangers. It’s a crucial game element; it can be in WoW Wii U as well. A virtual keyboard has worked on Wii in the past by using the remote, but it’s even easier with a touchscreen. Tap a button to enter a text box, bring up the virtual keyboard and off you go. This can also tie into the Miiverse, making WoW a more social hub than it has ever been, taking screen-grabs, setting up raid chats, getting guilds together, exchanging dungeon strategies, voice chat etc.
WoW features party channels in all of its zones and these can be switched between with a screen tap or an assigned button. Want to chat while on the move? With any of the free buttons, WoW Wii U can allow for an assigned button to enable autorun and then type away with the touchscreen.
WoW is 8 years old and Wii U is as capable as current technology. There’s no doubt, on a technical level, that Wii U is more than capable of the graphical and sound output the PC already enjoys. WoW would run absolutely fine on Wii U, whether it’s a 720p or 1080p standard. Graphics and sound are in no way an issue, so the biggest headache is down to the online infrastructure on the system. If it’s as good as Nintendo suggests it is, then it should be workable, and we know that the system is packing a decent amount of on-board RAM for developers to use.
Potential Wii U Functionality: 9/10
There’s a risk that responses in PVP may be far slower than the standard on PC. There’s also a gamble that the very same philosophy could hinder groups in dungeons and raids where timing is everything. Then there’s the subscription scheme. How will that work with Nintendo Network? Would players on Wii U be able to connect to battle.net and converse with PC players? Nintendo says that it’s going to be more open to the needs of the developer and publisher, but would it allow a subscription based system on its network? Would WoW have to be F2P? Would Blizzard agree to that?
There are many questions. All are major points, but these things are impossible to answer without extensive playtests or further knowledge. What seems clear, however, is that the Wii U gamepad and the system itself are the ones capable of finally bringing World of Warcraft to consoles. After 8 years the MMO still thrives, but it remains confined to one format. This would present a great opportunity to reinvigorate the brand and attract brand new audiences to its charms; bundle all of the expansions into a Battle Chest edition and this would be an attractive package.
It’s a great fit for a Nintendo console and an important package for its library. Is it a gamble? Yes. However, we think many Nintendo owners would welcome this world with open arms.
Yet, despite all of this, the idea seems to be a pipe-dream. WoW Wii U will probably never happen, but it absolutely definitely should and we see no reason why it can't work well and control expertly.