How garrisons introduce offline progression to World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft's upcoming Warlords of Dreanor expansion is taking the long-running MMORPG in some bold new directions. One of the most intriguing new features is the inclusion of player-built garrisons, which adds the idea of player housing to the game for the first time.

"We have two styles of garrisons, based on whether you're Horde or Alliance," senior producer Ray Cobo told Shacknews. "What's going to make your garrison unique is how you lay it out: how you set up the plots in each of the garrisons, where you put your inn, where you put your lumber mills, where you put your barracks. How you spend time leveling each one of those buildings is also going to change the look of your garrison, in general. You might have an inn that's tier 3 and you might have a barracks that's tier 1, so that's going to make your garrison look different than somebody else's."

While garrisons can act as a cosmetic feature, with players decorating their homestead as they wish, they also add a new way to play the game. According to Cobo, you'll be able to use garrisons as a new way to level up and find rewards, even after you've logged out of the game.

"When you build a garrison, you're going to have access to followers," Cobo explained. "You will collect followers, kind of similar to how you do the pet battle system these days. You'll be given certain things for the followers to do. You'll be able to send them on quests, you can send them to dungeons or raids, and each one of those is going to take a certain amount of time."

Cobo says that Blizzard is playing around with how much time each task will tie up followers for. For example, a quest could take a half-hour, while a particularly difficult raid could keep your followers busy for a week. However, the key to this idea is that followers will work even while the player is offline. When players log back into the game, they'll receive any rewards that followers retrieved or an update on their current status. If they're lucky, they might even find that their followers have retrieved a rare item.

"That's one of the big advantages to the garrisons in World of Warcraft," Cobo added. "Garrisons is really something that's going to compel players to interact with it, but it'll also provide a lot of rewards so that players can level up and increase their player progression. So we want to put in rewards that encourage players to build garrisons and it's going to be completely separate from the stuff that you get as a normal player. There's a level of content and rewards that is separate that you'll be able to access via the garrisons."