Man, where to start with followers?
- They’ll have different levels of rarity, similar to Battle Pets. The rarity will determine how many skills the follower has access to, and since skills translate into success rates on missions (when those skills are invoked), higher-quality followers will certainly be highly desirable.
- Followers will gain levels (going from 90-100) and then start raising their iLvl once they reach 100, similar to players.
- They’ll come from all classes, and among the list of skills will be professions so that they gain access to profession-specific missions and can work at profession buildings.
- Followers, as you accumulate them, will be visible around your Garrison, working at buildings when you assign them there, or potentially just idling around. Collecting followers thus plays into making your Garrison feel like a living place.
- Apparently they’ll come not only from playable races, but from NPC races as well: the mockup slides showing the followers included what looked to be a High Elf Death Knight. And a direct question to Stockton about the possibility of arakkoa as followers got a response of “For sure.”
Followers as Future Content
Building off that last element, what non-player races are then possible as followers? Assuming that certain races would fall into faction-aligned or faction-neutral categories, I can imagine it looking like this:
Of course, the sky’s the limit when it comes to suggesting follower races; whether Blizzard decides to do it or not is another matter entirely. Coming up with a narrative for why an Ethereal Priest would roll up onto an unshattered Draenor to take orders from flesh-bags like our PCs is perhaps too big a question to leave unanswered. But the big thing I feel makes this suggestion handy is the possibility for seeding new playable races by having adventurers of those races show up as followers.
Yeah, I know that there are no new races planned for Warlords, and that’s fine; but if the old concept about “seeding” races as playable within the world before introducing them has any gravity to it, then followers would be a good method to do it in advance of future expansions.
Interplay with Buildings
While many buildings will simply be places that followers work (when you don’t have them assigned to missions) many of them will directly effect the abilities of those followers: for example, the Armory will provide melee followers with a damage buff, while the Mage Tower will likely do the same for caster followers. The Academy will apparently allow them to level faster, but thinking about that made me wonder:
Followers have an XP bar that’s purple, just like the PC’s XP bar, right? Why not assign followers to the Inn to get Rested, so that they then get a Rested XP bonus when they go on missions, just as characters do? The Academy, then, could serve a different purpose; allowing followers to learn different skills through study.
That’s currently one thing that appears to be missing in the rest of this system; if followers have randomly generated skills when made available for hire, or when they’re acquired as quest rewards, faction rewards, or dungeon drops, then there exists the possibility that you might not get access to a skill you want if RNG is unkind to you. So having an avenue to teach your followers specific skills, whether it requires a large time investment or resource investment (or both) would be beneficial.
Alt Characters as Followers
Some people have floated the idea of alt characters playing into the followers system. I’m of two minds on this, so let’s go pros/cons:
- It encourages players to keep a stable of alts, since they’ll be visible while you’re rolling about your main’s garrison, and vice versa.
- It encourages leveling those alts, since they’ll potentially get to 100 more quickly than normal followers would, since you can log into them and quest to gain XP instead of relying on missions.
- It encourages the profession diversity that many alts tends to have, since that adds greater flexibility in what you choose for your profession buildings.
- It trivializes the process of hiring new followers if players with a full stable are able to very quickly get into doing group follower content.
- It raises a lot of questions about how followers get skills. If a follower is keyed off an alt, does the game randomly choose skills? Does the player choose skills? Does the follower get both profession skills or just one?
- The inherent confusion of logging onto your priest main, dispatching your warrior alt-based follower on a quest, and then logging onto that warrior and doing actual questing sounds straight-forward at first, but it’s also very easily double-dipping if the follower is keyed of your alt’s XP level, but gain XP both from quests AND from your actions actively playing that character.
- If there’s a permanent-death mechanism for followers (which as come up in some discussions but doesn’t seem confirmed by any official source yet) then having alts auto-generate a follower token would be cheating the permanent-death mechanism, since there’s no way that a follower death would translate to an alt’s permanent death.
- If followers become a tradable commodity, alt-based followers would need to be soulbound.
Overall, I think that having alts becoming full-on followers would probably introduce many more problems with the overarching follower system than the novelty would be worth. Especially if the novelty can be accomplished simply by allowing same-faction, same server alts to have the same NPC behaviors around the garrison without actually being followers. For as many people as have been asking for this addition, I’ve seen plenty just asking for alt visibility over actual functionality.
Follower Actions as NPCs
A few choice suggestions about stuff for followers to do around the Garrison:
- Unassigned, undispatched followers could be at the Inn. Drinking, dancing, socializing, playing Hearthstone. Seriously, the Hearthstone table has got to be in our Inn. ^_^
- Followers could be hanging about at the Blacksmith / Engineer / Tailor / Leatherworker getting their armor repair. Have a random piece of gear visibly removed (i.e. pants) and emphatic gestures to demonstrate that the follower would very much like to get covered up again.
- Followers could be patrolling the walls, occasionally checking the territory with a spyglass.
- Followers could be gathered in front of the Barracks, drilling or practicing against target dummies.
There’s obviously a lot more to talk about regarding followers, especially as more information about the Garrisons systems become more evident. Expect a LOT of iteration.