I do a podcast from time to time about World of Warcraft, and as a result I tend to talk about the game, instead of just play it or even writing about it. One of the conversations I've had about the game that I've never really sat down and explored is this - Mists of Pandaria has seemed like a gigantic experiment in terms of how we receive our content. From the original Golden Lotus daily questing hub, which in turn unlocked the Shado-Pan and August Celestials, to patch 5.1's daily quests that unlocked regular, one-off quests that further advanced the story, to patch 5.2's progression on the Throne of Thunder unlocked unique solo scenarios. Patch 5.3 brought us no dailies at all, but a short series of quests that led to an unlockable weekly quest that was, frankly, one of my favorite ways to get the Lesser Charm of Good Fortune in the numbers needed for my weekly raiding.
Now in patch 5.4 we've lost dailies (the Golden Lotus have been pared back to a few in the west of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, now the Vale of Eternal Sorrows) and we've gained a content hub which is mostly about exploration and good old fashioned grinding in the Timeless Isle. Over the course of this expansion we've seen all sorts of delivery systems for content - scenarios, heroic scenarios, flex raiding - and we've even seen some complaints from players about older, tried and true systems like five man dungeons not getting the emphasis people might want. And this leads me to wonder what we've got in store for us down the road. How will the next expansion present itself to us? I expect there will be the usual leveling quests, they work pretty well overall and there's room for flexibility in their design, but what will the max level content look like?
If I had to guess (and I do, since I'm writing a big speculation about the topic) I'd bet that elements from patch 5.1 and 5.2 will show up somewhere. Something that combines the Dominance Offensive/Operation Shieldwall's storytelling quests and uses the Isle of Thunder's solo scenarios as another tool in the arsenal. I also expect we'll see something that's more of a generalized zone to explore like the Timeless Isle, but larger - imagine an entire zone the size of Kun-Lai or the Storm Peaks that was mostly for players to tool around on and make discoveries on.
But one of the biggest missed opportunities in this whole expansion was the decision to make Scenarios max-level content only. Frankly, I'd like to see more scenarios used as we level, and then five man dungeons take more prominence as we achieve max level - scenarios should still exist and be useful to players at max level (they're a godsend for DPS players) but I really think this expansion has shown us the players like five mans, that for at least some players they are a big part of endgame. With challenge modes in existence, we could even argue for an increased focus on five man content so that there's more for challenge mode hunters to do - I'd definitely hope for at least one patch that focuses primarily on new five man content.
As for raiding, I think we may right now be looking at the format we'll see for at least the first few raids, just as the last patch in Cataclysm gave us the format for the first tiers of raiding in Mists. One thing I'd like to see is more raid tiers, as contradictory as that may sound. But I liked Wrath of the Lich King having that extra raid tier even if it ended up being Trial - if we don't get an extra tier of raiding I'd at least like it if we broke the raids up more, instead of having one big raid that's doable in LFR style wings I'd like it more if we had two raids, ala Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Caverns or the introductory tier of Mists. As much as I personally like Throne of Thunder, sometimes it's nice to have a break from clearing twelve or more bosses in one place.
As for something entirely new, while I'm sitting here making stuff up, I'm going to say that we'll see more class quests, perhaps in scenario form like the warlock green fire one.
So now it's your turn - how will we digest our meal of content in the future? In neat pill form? With a stein of mead? Let's have your ideas.