There's no question that Blizzard's cornered the MMORPG market with World of Warcraft. The release of Cataclysm has all but sealed the deal, with none of its competitors coming even close to challenging the behemoth. Back in '08, there was a slight flicker of hope that EA Mythic's Warhammer: Age of Reckoning would come to rival WOW. If not with its great setting–of which Warcraft is most undoubtedly inspired by–then certainly for its PVP-focused gameplay.
History will show that WAR, like LOTRO and the countless other MMORPGs ended up being nothing more than small blips on a radar dominated by WOW's overwhelmingly large signature.
The World of Warcraft can't go on forever. Although the game remains stronger than ever, Blizzard has plans for the future and that future involves the creation of a brand new game, one not of any existing franchise–or so they've said. The game they're making may well be a World of Warcraft 2, or even a World of Starcraft, but we can only speculate on the theme at this point in time.
With that said, we can talk about what we'd like to see in the next installment of Warcraft or whatever their next MMO might be.
#9 Better Graphics
It's time to put World of Warcraft's ancient graphics to rest and embrace something better. Keep the art style if you must, but a step towards making WOW resemble its cinematics would be a huge incentive for most players to pick up the new title. Just think about how cool your mount would look with high resolution textures. If Morrowind can get a new lease of life with the fan-made "Morrowind 2011" upgrade, there's no telling how good a huge graphical update to World of Warcraft could look.
#8 Better Animations
Let's be clear on this: World of Warcraft's animations are really well done. The problem with them is that there's far too few attack animations, and on top of that, the movements play out independently, disconnected from the rest of the environment and characters. Blizzard could take a cue from Grand Theft Auto IV (or even the upcoming Diablo III) by implementing a physics engine into their next MMORPG. Admit it, you think it'd be cool if you could decapitate enemies with a sword. While you're at it, throw in some facial expressions for the characters.
#7 Cut Down Travel Time
The flight from Darkshore to Gadgetzan may be pleasant to watch–mesmerizing, even. But once you seen it for the first time, there's little desire to spend fifteen whole minutes watching the scene every time you make the trip. There's a reason why players prefer teleports. But beyond the ability to teleport, which simply exists as a workaround to a much bigger problem. Simply put, they're a waste of time.
#6 Less Grind
Cataclysm was a step in the right direction when it made gaining experience a much less tedious process by increasing the experience rewards for quests. Even so, the whole system is a throwback to the MMOs released ten years ago. It's a new decade, and that calls for a new system to be put in place–one that doesn't require players to grind pointlessly for days just to get to the next area. An MMORPG should emphasize role-playing and socializing, not grinding. Grinding is not fun. It's not even in the description.
#5 Fewer Servers, Larger Communities
There's a reason why World of Warcraft's community is so split up — there's too many servers. The reason for that is technical, of course. Servers can only hold so many people at once. But the existence of so many servers creates the problem of not being able to play with your friends who've rolled on multiple different servers. It also creates the problem of being on a server with a very low population. Blizzard has attempted to solve these problems by offering players the ability to transfer their characters for free to more populated servers, while other companies have merged servers when their playerbase was simply too split up. These are workarounds. Their new game should be made to support more people per server, if not house them in a single server the same way EVE Online does.
#4 Adding Voices to Characters
Many of the NPCs in World of Warcraft remain largely unmemorable in no small part due to their lack of voices. There's only so much character that an NPC can exhibit through a limited amount of text. Giving these characters full voices for each of their lines would go a long way towards making them more than just simple quest givers.
#3 Full Equipment Customization
World of Warcraft has decent amounts of equipment customization. You can deck yourself out in gems and enchantments, for instance. But these add-ons don't really show up on the way your character looks unless someone's curious enough to click "Inspect". You can't exactly inspire fear into the hearts of your opponents on the other side if they don't know what you're wearing aside from your Tiered gear. Wouldn't it be cool if all these enchantments showed up on your character? Hell, why not go the distance and make it so that you can equip trophies as rewards for getting achievements? Warhammer did this in a half-assed way, so I'm counting on Blizzard to really deliver on something like this.
#2 Guild and Player Housing
Ultima Online was the first MMORPG to ever feature player housing. As you would expect, players could keep their spoils of battle, decorate their homes with trophies and even break into other houses for loot. While I'm not advocating for Blizzard to allow this sort of gameplay (though it would certainly be awesome, and a huge break away from the traditional MMO), it would be awesome if players could indeed have homes in the form of apartments or houses. I've always wondered where the NPCs and player characters are supposed to stay in the lore of the game world. This would be an answer to that nagging question.
Giving guilds the ability to build guildhalls to upgrade and conduct their business in would go a long way towards making World of Warcraft a more social experience–even more so than it already is.
#1 Full Fledged PVP Battlegrounds
Alterac Valley is fun. Well, at least it used to be back when it took hours to complete, before it became a short affair. Blizzard seemed to have the right idea with it, but they didn't really go all the way. Warcraft has always been about huge battlefields, and if there's anything World of Warcraft lacks, it's those huge battlefields. A battle that spans across several zones in the open world–something like the Hillsbrad battles in WOW's closed beta (You'd know what I'm talking about if you've ever played it) would certainly put the "war" back in Warcraft.