3.2 – The Filler Patch

So we’re getting more information now about the next content patch for WoW , which has been named Call of the Crusade.

This would be a great name if we actually were off on a crusade, but it sounds more as though we’ll be sitting around a warcamp boozing and fighting tame bosses while our characters wait for the next actual phase of the story to occur.

I can’t really get excited about this one. But I’ll be happy to be proved wrong.

So how about that story then?

I’m increasingly frustrated at Blizzard’s ability to set up cool storylines at the beginning of the expansion and then totally fail to deliver on them. We had some great stuff going. What happened after Wrathgate? What exactly is the Lich King up to – we dealt him some kind of a blow, is he not retaliating even when we are IN HIS BACKYARD? We hunted down Mal’ganis (more than once) but where is he now? Oh, and how about Malygos? Was that it?

I had hoped that they’d drop a bit of storyline into every patch but no, it seems as though we’re off on unrelated random goose chases until they feel like dropping patch 3.3 (which is apparently going to be the Icecrown one).

I’m not mollified by pets, mounts, scads of daily quests, and making alting easier. They aren’t bad things per se but they don’t replace the game I actually enjoyed in the expansion.

Having said all this, we have been promised two new quest hubs. Question is, will they be just another ton of daily quests or may we get some cool phasing plotlines as well?

So what’s in 3.2?

From the horse’s mouth (2 new quest hubs):

A new Cult of the Damned camp now sits overlooking the Tournament grounds and spying on the activity below.

Located on an island north of Icecrown, the former tuskarr village known as Hrothgar’s Landing is a mist-shrouded staging point for Sea Vrykul raids upon the ships of the Silver Covenant and the Sunreavers in the waters between the island and Icecrown.

What could this mean for plots? Well, the Cult of the Damned are associated with the Old Gods. However, raiders have just put down Yog-Saron so it isn’t really sounding like a good time for cultists. There isn’t really much else for them to do in the game apart from worship tentacled horrors – which they have done every other time they’ve ever cropped up — so I’m not seeing where this one will lead. Maybe they’re going to try to resurrect him?

edited to add: Thanks everyone for the comments! I’m totally wrong with this and I stand corrected. The Cult of the Damned are the human branch of the Scourge so they’re good to go 🙂

I’m not so sure about the Sea Vrykul either. Or why they’d be making sea raids when Arthas could just send frost drakes.  I don’t entirely see why the Dalaran factions need ships anyway, they have an entire city of mages who can teleport stuff. Hoping we’ll get some semi-reasonable explanation.

Just when you thought you had seen and done it all, the Argent Tournament throws out the gauntlet once more and adds a new line of quests and rewards for players who have become exalted with either the Silver Covenant or the Sunreavers. Earn seals by participating in three additional random dailies and earn brand-new rewards.

New dailies. New tabards, mounts, pets. Yawn. I guess some people will get excited about the mounts, tabards, and pets. Not me though.

It is interesting what they’re doing with the Silver Covenant/Sunreaver reputation though. Up to now, it has been something you gained through other activities. The Argent Tournament gives reputation with those factions, for absolutely no good reason (surely the Argent Tournament should give Argent Crusade rep since they’re running it). And there’s nothing to buy with those reputations anyway.

But no, all it does is give you access to still more daily quests.

A new line of dailies and rewards for players who have earned the title of Crusader will be available with two random seal-awarding dailies.

Some rewards for people who actually enjoy grinding out faction and daily quests. It’s not for me, but I approve of the idea. Reward people by giving them more of the content which they evidently like enough to get the initial requirement.

Crusader as a title requires lots of exalted factions and suchlike. I won’t be getting that on Spinks, as an old character it’s too much hassle for me to work on those city factions. If the quests or rewards turn out to be awesome, I expect one of my newer alts has better reps.

One thing’s for sure, it’ll be a lot of rep grinding for new Death Knights.

Just when you thought you had seen the last of the Black Knight, he makes his astonishing return to the Tournament. Wait, didn’t you kill him?

This was the somewhat weak storyline that we got with the Argent Tournament. Wait, didn’t we kill him? Yes and wait, aren’t we fighting against the most powerful necromancer in the universe who happens to have his base IN THIS ZONE? This would bother me less if the very first quest I’d been given in Northrend had not sent me out to burn the bodies of casualties of war so that they couldn’t be revived as undead. How quickly we forget.

Raids and Instances

From Bornak:

    • New epic 10- and 25-player raid dungeon with five encounters, with each encounter being unlocked one week at a time
    • A more intuitive structure for harder encounters. This raid dungeon will have four different versions: 10-player, 25-player, 10-player Heroic, and 25-player Heroic, with each one using a separate lockout.
    • New 5-player dungeon with three encounters that will include Champion’s Seals as each one is defeated
    • New tier of armor and weapons that are modeled with Alliance- or Horde-specific themes

OK, minor change in how hard modes are going to work. Instead of there being something you do in the encounter to set the hard mode, you’ll actually zone into a hard mode instance. And if you really really really like this Coliseum, you could run it 4 times a week! (I’ll be in the corner, slitting my wrists.) There are also extra rewards for not wiping which may please the hardcore.

The 5 man in particular isn’t sounding very thrilling. In an astounding change of direction, instead of us running into a room and killing a boss, the boss will now run into the room where we’re standing. I’m curious as to how they’ll pitch the difficulty of this one. Will it be fairly easy so that new 80s can use it to gear up, or will they aim it at raiders who already have Ulduar gear and tons of experience?

In any case, the new tier of armour and weapons means that it’s likely going to be better than Ulduar gear. I cannot get excited about this raid instance, but maybe they’ll do something cool and blow me away.

And why is the Argent Tournament building raid instances instead of fighting the Lich King? This is just going to bug me.

Levelling Perks

Mounts become cheaper and more accessible. More heirloom gear (bind on account stuff that you can send to an alt, and that has stats which adjust to the character’s  level) will give even bigger xp bonuses.

These are all reasonable changes. People don’t have to use the heirloom gear if they don’t want to and there’s no point making newbies go through the mount cash grind that was partly designed to keep old characters busy at the level cap.

Class Tweaks

Ghostcrawler has started a series of in depth discussions on class issues recently. I think this is brilliant. As a player, I very much want to know what devs plan to do with my class. If only because it gives me the chance to swap characters if it’s going in a direction I don’t like.

We know that druids are getting some new forms, and we also now know more about upcoming shaman changes. They look to be more ‘quality of life’ issues than huge redesigns. But I’m glad to see them, and looking forwards to seeing what warriors have in store. (Whatever it is, expect a huge outcry.) I wonder if they’ll look at block in this patch or if it’ll get left for the next expansion.


Class tweaking patches are like Christmas

I’m  still underwhelmed at the prospect of a class tweaking patch when we’re bored of heroics and rapidly getting boreder (is that a word?) of the raid content. And colour me massively underwhelmed at the prospect of no more casual/ 5 man content due for the Ulduar patch (post is about halfway down, sorry I suck at links) too. That raid had better be dynamite.

This is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed Naxxramas, I think it’s been a super introductory instance in many ways. It’s a shame that Blizzard fell into the same trap as they did with Molten Core — put better gear on the last boss, but force you to kill 13 other bosses to get to him. Not especially fun to keep going through the motions for hours just for a chance at your weapon of choice. Hint: a shortcut or teleport for the last two bosses would be nice at some point.

Class Tweaking Patches are like Christmas

Have you been naughty or nice? What does <game developer> have in store for you, all wrapped up intriguingly in stripey rumours? Will it be that super dps bike that you’ve been angling for? The killer buff you’ve been leaving heavy hints that you wanted? Whatever it is, you won’t find out for sure until patch day!

We’re all used now to the MMO model in which our characters are guaranteed to keep changing over time. Tweaks will be introduced, new things will be added, there will probably be some nerfs along the line also. It is not guaranteed that you will always be able to play your character in exactly the same way, nor that you will always enjoy the changes that are made.

It’s a rollercoaster. It’s a risk. We can’t see what the future holds, except by reading between the lines of what developers say and what they do via class tweaks.

And historically, MMO developers have not been good at balancing classes in a timely fashion. Sometimes a class or spec will be out of favour for months. Often players, with their desire to minmax the fun out of everything, will decide that a class/spec is out of favour just because it makes things less easymode rather than because it’s actually weak or incapable.

Larisa makes a very good point that people shouldn’t stress over class changes, and yet, it’s such a human thing to do. In games, we’re never really sure if we get invited to fun group content because people like us, because we’re good players, or because our class is useful (most likely a mixture of all three). So if the class is perceived to have less relative utility, we worry not just for raid spots but for the whole social environment around them. These are silly concerns with the current content. But people are still nervous, looking to the next harder raid instance, hoping they’ll still be worth a spot on progression nights.

That part is the stick.

And then the carrot: Are we going to get something new and shiny? Is some long standing class issue going to be changed? Will we suddenly be topping the damage meters? Have the developers heard our pleas and decided to answer them?

I’m quite sure that most players do not sit around thinking about their classes strengths and weaknesses and what they’d like to see come out of the next class tweak patch for them. But for those who do, there’s always a frisson of excitement about the class tweaks.

An insight into the minds above?

I think part of the reason for the excitement is the uncertainty about where the developers see the roles of different classes, and how they should be balanced. We merely get insights from reading patch notes, following developer comments on bulletin boards, and trying to interpret them the best we can.

I do think MMOs in general are getting better about keeping the balance cycles shorter. WoW in particular is no longer in a state where you might as well just reroll if you aren’t happy with how your class racks up against others.

Do you have faith?