One week ago, after months of anticipation, Patch 7.0.3 finally dropped in-game. Having had the opportunity to play at length, I have to say that this is the most fun I’ve had in Azeroth for quite some time. Ironically a lot of my unbridled joy has very little to do with new content either: if you were expecting this to all be about Demon Invasions and shiny loots? Well, there’s a bit of that, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are 5 Great Things about the Legion pre-Expansion Patch, starting with one that’s very personal indeed.
I Can See For Miles…
There has been a lot of muttering of late over the changes Blizzard has made to its UI in terms of camera function. Many players have complained of vision issues and motion sickness, and I’m discovering that if I ride one of my bigger flying mounts, it gets a bit uncomfortable after a while. However, it is not something that is insurmountable, far from it, and if this means that I’ll be on the ground in Legion, that’s no great loss to me. The biggest improvement here is draw distance, and this weekend while on a scheduled flight, the true beauty of Azeroth really became apparent.
Even the oldest content looks better in this engine, it must be said. Wandering around Karazhan in search of new things (see below) exposed the realization that there is an amazing level of detail in even the oldest of Blizzard’s instanced creations. Molten Core has new Core Hound models too, which look absolutely amazing in comparison with their low definition ancestors. For some Hunters, however, these changes have been hard to swallow, and I’ll freely admit that however great some upgrades become, a lot of us would rather stick with the pet we trained than end up with a high definition descendant. Fortunately for those of us who feel this way, the old skins will still be available as rare spawns.
Like a lot of players, the first day or so of the Patch was spent sorting my inventory. I still haven’t learned everything about the Appearances ‘system’, but I’m getting there slowly. The joy of being able to hide shoulders means I suspect my Mage will be changing costume with frightening rapidity. I’ve not thought how I’m going to farm on multiple classes simultaneously, and there are some genuine issues with DPS reduction in even the Cataclysm dungeons which are giving me serious pause for thought, but no matter, there’s a ton of new items just waiting for you to farm, and despite what you might hear, ‘normalizing gold’ from Legacy content is not the end of the world. You still make money, and the process remains a worthwhile use of your time.
It’s the additional goodies that really make this worthwhile. There are new vanity items that drop for Tailors in Karazhan and Molten Core, for starters. It also appears that a ton of great ‘hidden’ content has been inserted into the patch, just waiting for people to discover it. For instance, specialist tomes have been placed on vendors across all five continents that grant spell abilities for many things that have vanished with the changes to Glyphs. Most exciting, however, at least for me, are the new form of Weapon Enchants. These aren’t increases in power, however, they’re simply cosmetic effects and drop from a number of Classic and upcoming boss fights (including, I am reliably informed, LFG versions). Just check your Appearances tab for weapon enchants and see where you’d like to start. I can confidently predict multiple runs of many Legacy instances in my future.
The Loot Remains the Same?
You might be forgiven for thinking that running 7.2 content in Tanaan is only going to be for those of you with freshly minted level 100s who have no idea what they’re doing, even without the changes to specs and talents. But if you think this way, you are most definitely missing out on stuff which could have a very positive impact on your Broken Isles leveling success. Kazzak’s loot table has been updated, allowing loot well past the normal ilvl 705 threshold to be rewarded; I now own a 720 trinket and a 730 cloak after lucking out on day one using my Hunter, and this means that as you read this I’ll be making sure everyone else who can play has a spec chosen and talented so that I can make the most out of this opportunity. There will be those of you wondering why this has happened now, and that’s quite simple: it’s a precursor to the changes in Legion, where any item, regardless of where it drops, has a chance to increase in item level up to the current patch’s item ‘ceiling.’
It’s also good management for the upcoming Invasions, which should have at least begun happening by the time you read this post. The last week has seen people throwing themselves from great heights to their collective demise to earn a ‘hidden’ Achievement to collect Doomsayer pamphlets, foretelling the end of all things. I like the irony of this, on reflection, but I’m still collecting them every time I log in in the hope I’ll finally have them all without having to die once. I’m not a big fan of cheesing stuff when all is said and done. It must be the Grumpy Old Woman in me…
The Sound of the Crowd
The first thing I noticed when logging into Stormwind last Wednesday: people, and lots of them. In a move that was a surprise to me, everywhere has now become a Cross Realm Zone. It has also been more than a little laggy for many players, but this will diminish in time after everybody’s Transmog wardrobes have been assimilated. It was amazing to sit and watch the achievements actually update in real time, as the server counted every item I owned. It shows how far the technology has come in what really is quite a short space of time.
Also, there is now the means by which longtime and persistent verbal offenders can be banned from chat channels with the introduction of a ‘Silence’ penalty, which is similar in scope to those used in Blizzard’s other games. It is still not 100% clear how this works in practical terms, but I for one heartily welcome our new policing overlords, and whatever can be done to address the issue of toxic behavior in-game is okay with me. It still won’t stop stupidity in Trade channels, because whenever two or more people are gathered together in one place they will make a gratuitous Thunderfury reference. That’s just how this thing works.
I have my own very personal reasons for being excited for Legion, and most of them revolve around the fact that Professions have finally become relevant again. I’m already working my way through crafting all the Leatherworking items that I don’t currently own the Appearances for, and once that’s done I’ll do the same for all the other crafters I own. I cannot tell you how excited this makes me feel, that I’m in a position to recreate some of the classic recipes of my past: Hide of the Wild, Onyxia Scale cloaks, the Dragonscale set that I used to make my money with back in the days of Vanilla. It’s like I’ve come home, and suddenly all these old patterns have a new and significant relevance.
Having seen the future of crafting on the Alpha/Beta client, I know exactly how much effort has been sunk into this endeavor, and it did make me sad that some people decided that Blizzard weren’t being fair to those players with their design choices. However, I’m more than happy with everything I know is presented, and the fact that Fishing, First Aid, and Cooking will have exciting things associated with them for the first time since Pandaria. I will own the Fishing Artifact (oh yes, it will be mine) and the complete lack of data on how this works just makes me more excited still for the Expansion’s arrival.
There are far more than 5 great things about the Legion pre-Expansion patch, but I’ll be honest with you. I don’t really want to be sitting here writing articles in what little spare time I have. I need to be playing, and that hasn’t happened nearly enough this week. In fact, I spent all of yesterday doing just that: organizing alts, setting specs and clearing banks. I ran classic instances and grabbed a ton of new Transmog looks, and as you read this there’s a better than average chance I’m designing a new outfit for my main. I am, in that regard, nothing but predictable.
There has been a lot of change in the last seven days, but it is only the beginning. Legion brings a fairly substantive shift in terms of tone and storytelling, quite apart from everything else that alters. These are genuinely exciting times for those of us who’ve been waiting to see if the developers can really change the course of Azeroth’s history, and I for one cannot wait. In fact, I’m due to go on holiday in two weeks and to ensure I don’t miss anything I will, for the first time ever, be taking a laptop with me to ensure I don’t miss a minute of the countdown action.
If you want me, therefore, I’ll be in-game.
PS: Go roll a Gnome Hunter. You won’t regret it. 😀Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Column, Expansion, MMORPG, Update, World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday