Every iteration of WoW has had its own particular gathering places for each faction. Looking back on these, it actually makes me a little nostalgic each time I visit one of the “old” capitols, remembering the game when that was the hot spot to hang out.
While Hordeside it was all about Orgrimmar, for Alliance, Ironforge was the place to be in Vanilla WoW, because that’s where the auction house was (back before the auction houses in Stormwind and Darnassus even existed, let alone were linked to one another). I still have my banker there, because the Ironforge Bank and AH just seem like the place to be, even if that’s not the major hangout anymore. Ironforge was also conveniently located right nearby to Blackrock Mountain, home of both Ragnaros and Nefarian, so it was the primary Alliance “raid stockpile” spot and where you went to repair/buy more arrows (you know, back when hunters had to carry ammo and it only stacked to 200).
Of course, with Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King we had cross-faction capitols with portals to all the other major cities, so you were kind of silly not to hearth EVERYONE to that location – even your lowbie alts could get summoned to Shattrath or Dalaran and then set up a hearthstone there. These major hubs were the defining spots of the expansions, located near most of the raid content, and there was a good bit of RP that happened at least in Dalaran. (I still maintain that Dalaran is an excellent city for RP, because of the variety of environments and taverns there.)
Now we’re back in the “old world”, and it’s Stormwind and Orgrimmar for the two busiest cities. Both have portals to take you to the new content areas like Vashj’ir and Twilight Highlands, and the booming trade market has moved from Ironforge to Stormwind now that there are two auction houses there. It makes sense to keep the Horde capitol in Orgrimmar, especially with the prominence that Garrosh has had in leading the Horde – it’s always been the central location for the leadership. Alliance side, things didn’t really solidify until Varian Wrynn returned, and so it made sense for the major city to switch to Stormwind, since that’s where he is (we first saw that switch with the attacks on Stormwind Harbor).
I’m curious how this will all shape up in Mists though, whether we’ll still have the major faction capitols (Stormwind and Orgrimmar) as the biggest hubs of activity, or whether there will be a new capitol city in the new content, more like Shattrath and Dalaran were.
Having a faction hub in the old world, with portals to the new content, worked well for Cataclysm because it was such a spread out expansion. Hyjal, Vashj’ir, Deepholm, Uldum, Twilight Highlands and Tol Barad are all spread out around the world, with no coherent “center” to them. There isn’t really a good place for a new capitol city that would work out, especially not from a cross faction standpoint.
For Mists, we’re looking at an entirely unexplored new continent, much like Outland and Northrend, so a “new” city capitol makes more sense, especially if Blizzard is going to put in teleporter locations back to the old world content. If so, it’ll be fun to explore that new city and find places for RP. While I don’t think the Riders will ever stop hanging around the Pig and Whistle (Tarquin DOES basically own the place…), it’s fun for new expansion RP to happen right in with the action when it’s action oriented.
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