I’m going to interrupt my effort at NaNoWriMo this year (20k words and counting) to go back over the events of this last weekend in Anaheim, California, which didn’t look that great for Azeroth when World of Warcraft didn’t even get a mention in the traditional Opening Ceremony. However, there was very little to worry about because the new game lead for Azeroth, Ion Hazzikostas, took to the stage a couple of hours after proceedings began for Blizzcon X and effectively blew the bloody doors off. I’m here, therefore, to tell you what’s coming for Warcraft in 7.1.5 and beyond.
If you’re one of those people who doesn’t think there’s enough content currently? You’re gonna love just about everything the bloke below is about to tell you.
7.1.5: A ‘Small’ Patch Full of Big Things
Although described as ‘small’ there is an awful lot to look forward to in practical terms once 7.1.5 appears. Not unexpectedly, considering the continued interest in the dungeon type, Pandarian 5 mans will be added to the Timewalking roster, plus you’ll also see a reintroduction of the hugely popular Brawlers Guild (Season Three, for those of you keeping score). It will include a new mount and shirts, plus a ton of new bosses to defeat, one of which will end up summoning everybody in the Arena for a mass brawl with joint rewards. There’s also a currency too, which will allow you to, presumably, buy a ton of lovely new stuff to fill up your bags with.
Then we’ll be seeing the introduction of Micro Holidays, which are exactly what they sound like; events particular to Azeroth that are celebrated across the continents. There’ll be no list of achievements or currencies to collect, just special days that will show the people playing this game that the whole of World of Warcraft remains a living, breathing world, regardless of where you are at the time. This is an idea I’ve personally advocated for a long time; a day when you see a change from the static, repetitive nature of NPC interaction, where you can take part with events in a unique way, just for fun. It’s effectively organized Roleplay when all is said and done, and I hope that non-RP realms will have as much fun with this as I know I will on a PvE server cluster.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly for many players, a lot of the changes to class and spec formats are being given a look over, and in some cases a complete do-over. For Hunters that means that trap utility will be returning (internal squeeing) which I have to say will be a welcome relief, especially as being unable to CC in Beast Master spec is genuinely a hindrance in dungeons at present. It’s not just class changes on the board either; secondary stats are being looked at, talents will be further assessed, and rotations are being reviewed in a very clear attempt to address some very real criticisms over the ‘Class fantasy’ reboot that Legion brought for all players. You can expect to see 7.1.5 on the PTR Soon (TM).
7.2: Going Back to the Broken Shore
The first big surprise of the presentation was that 7.2 is going to stick us in the Tomb of Sargeras: a nine boss raid with, rather amazingly, a rather significant last boss (no spoilers, go look it up yourself). As this is also the place where we use the Pillars of Creation to seal off the Legion’s invasion of Azeroth, there’s a bit of an ‘end of expansion’ vibe about this whole thing. This feeling is rather borne out by the fact that you’ll finally be able to fly in 7.2, on (amongst other things) your very own class-specific mount. I felt the collective explosion of excitement over these things from across a continent and a major ocean, and it is apparent that the designers understand only too well the significance that providing
more cowbell a flying mount does for the average player.
On that front, there’s also a phenomenal amount of new content planned around the 7.2 PvP season, including a new form of gameplay in PvP Brawls which will see the return of such staples as Tarren Mill v. Southshore, plus fun twists on old favorites. Spending all your time on ground mounts in Eye of the Storm, for instance, sounds like it might be worth at least one run with mates. Then there’s a new 5 man dungeon to complement the Tomb (Cathedral of Eternal Light) and the Mythicization (totally a word now) of Karazhan into two ‘wings’ (both Heroic, Mythic and queue-able) to allow players to use their Keystones in every Legion dungeon. On that front, both Heroic and Mythic dungeon difficulty rewards will be increased, and the Arcway and Court of Stars will added to the Dungeon queue.
That’s not all, however. You’ll see new traits for Artifacts, a continuation of the questline to unlock new appearances, including some rather unique new skins based on a series of solo-only challenges. There’ll be new Keystone affixers added, Relic changes and catch up mechanisms put in place to allow players new to the game to gain Artifact power in other ways. All of this, it must be said, really does have a ring of ‘end of expansion’ finality about it… and I might have believed that was the case, had Mr. Hazzikostas not thrown the mother of all curveballs onto the field in the last five minutes of the presentation. I don’t ever remember being given details of multiple patches in this way before, but we already know where we’re going once the Tomb of Sargeras is sealed.
We’re taking the fight to the Legion’s homeworld.
7.3 and Beyond: Mum’s Gone to Argus
The collective gasp when this was revealed was, it has to be said, fairly impressive. Blizzard were very smart with the announcement, and there’s not actually confirmation whether this is 7.3 or 8.0. At this point, I’m going to state for the record that I think if we’re going to Argus, with a new map and locations, then there will be a new suffix after the World of Warcraft name, but whether it will be what we currently consider an expansion or not remains to be seen. There’s a lot of stuff that changed in the last few months that might suggest that the fabric of Azeroth’s gameplay is about to permanently shift away from the accepted norm. We’ll talk about that more next week, but for now, here’s Ion and his lovely artist’s impression of Argus to keep you salivating.
So, if you’re one of those people who just came here for the raiding, you can probably expect to see the Nighthold as the content that covers you up to the end of 7.1.5. After that, you’ll be in the Tomb and presumably after that point, there’ll be a 7.2.5 to keep everybody occupied until Argus is actually ready… which by my shonky mathematical reckoning should take us just about to Gamescom in August. In the meantime, anyone who thinks that Blizzard aren’t taking the criticisms from Warlords seriously should probably think again, because this isn’t just about a constant stream of content, it’s a ton of things that players have not only asked for but which they can also make their own.
In fact, this whole presentation is as good as I think I can ever remember content being for Warcraft. In over a decade of playing this game, I’ve never seen this level of forward planning or organization from a development team. If they can manage even half of what’s been promised here, we’re doing incredibly well indeed, and there really should be no criticism from anyone that there’s no longer a desire to keep both long term and new players both engaged and enthralled. The best news of all, however, is that there is something for everyone in these promises, from the most hardcore to the utterly casual, everybody can find at least one thing that’s being produced with them in mind.
Yet still, there are the detractors who seem to think that all Blizzard continue to do is focus on their own desires and care little for the thoughts and feelings of ‘real’ players. I hate to break it to those of you who think all of this is just pointless, this is the best things have ever been for everyone in Azeroth, of all abilities and interests. I’ve decided that life is far too short to let other people destroy the enjoyment I have and take from this job, this MMO, and the people who I love and play alongside. I’m just going to stop listening to you haters over there, I don’t care how much noise you make, because 7.1.5, 7.2, and beyond, look like the absolute best thing to happen to this title since the glory days of Wrath of the Lich King and The Burning Crusade. I said this was my favorite expansion of all time, and that’s been utterly reinforced in the last couple of days.
Honestly, it does not get better than this.Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Column, Legion, MMORPG, World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday