On October 14th with little fanfare and to the surprise to many a commentator (myself included) Blizzard announced that patch 6.2.3 was being deployed to the PTR. It’s there right now if you want to play it, and contained within are changes that, if you’re of the belief that Blizzard made a wrong turn or two in Warlords… Well, there are many who have concluded that the reintroduction of Valor (NOT VALOR POINTS, I hasten to add) shows that the Blizzard supertanker can u-turn if circumstances allow. It’s not just the V-word that’s returned either: item upgrades are back too, plus a significant improvement to the loot that drops from current end game content.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s go though the Patch Notes and see what players can expect (I would argue) not that long after Blizzcon’s done and dusted on November 7th.
New Timewalking Dungeons
This really shouldn’t be a surprise, but it actually is, because I’d expected Blizzard to wait for Legion’s release until this feature was expanded. End Time, Grim Batol, Lost City of the Tol’Vir, Stonecore, Vortex Pinnacle and Throne of Tides are all added as Cataclysm Timewalking destinations, with a new slew of ‘appropriate’ rewards that include (surprise, surprise) yet another mount. Plus, as a bonus, that lovely Infinite Dragonflight mount pictured above can be yours if you’re lucky enough to get one to drop from your random travels across Azeroth’s glorious past adventures. There are some who are already crying fowl as this is content that’s hardly radical, but I’ll remind everyone that you don’t get any ‘new’ content at the end of Expansions, period. There’s a whole blog post on why this has to change (a rant or two on podcasts have already happened, if I’m honest) but for now? This is your lot. More surprisingly is that Magister’s Terrace and the Pit of Saron have been added to the list of appropriate and previously placed Expansion Timewalkers… except, I have a theory on this, and it ties into Legion quite nicely.
I think these dungeons are amongst the range of places you’ll be visiting to upgrade your Artefact weapon
My biggest complaint about Timewalking is that, at this point, nobody’s actually presented a legitimate reason as to why we’re doing it. We’ve already been told that in Legion you’ll need to visit places in Azeroth’s past in order to unearth the components needed to make this Mighty Weapon of Awesome: well, this could be some of the places where you’ll need to visit. If you look at what you actually get in these dungeons, you’ll notice that there are some pretty key figures in Azerothian history tied to them. The addition of Saragosa from the Pit and Mr K. Sunstrider from the Terrace makes me think these ‘instances’ are already being prepped to reinvent themselves AGAIN once Legion rolls around. If I was a betting woman, I’d see you being able to solo them with NPC ‘accompaniment.’ Think a solo scenario, with you and a healer/tank NPC (in my case as a DPS) or if you’re a healer, a tank and some muscle (see below) Most significantly of all, you could see loot tailored to your needs that scales past L100 in these places, allowing you to gear yourself for the new end game in the process. Anything’s possible now Blizzard have cracked the process to their satisfaction.
Let’s see if I’m right. For now however, I’m digressing from the Patch Notes.
Cross Realm Mythic Raiding
Considering how many people are still raiding, this is a no-brainer. Opening the killing party to everyone however negates Realm Firsts, so you can expect some changes to achievements and the like as a result. More significantly, the much-coveted Grove Warden Moose mount (which had been scheduled as a real world money purchase) is now only available by killing Archimonde on Heroic difficulty or higher. That’s a really rather significant carrot to dangle at non-raiders, and if my Twitter feed is any indicator? It is already reviving interest. However, and this is vital, Blizzard also understand that if they’re going to dangle such incentives, there needs to be better catch up mechanics to get players ready to raid.
And fortunately for the Moose lovers amongst you still in LFR? Blizzard has you covered.
Valor Returns, Item Upgrades Return and Loot Improves
You’ll need to check the patch notes for full details, but the bottom line is simple: Mythic Dungeons and Baleful Items from Tanaan now create a range of differing items in 5 level increments:
Mythic goes from 685 to 725
Baleful goes from 655 to 695
The Valor upgrades allow you 10 extra levels on existing gear, and most importantly of all there’s no hard cap on grinding it. Anything from a Draenor dungeon can be upgraded, plus Baleful, but only raid items from HFC are eligible If it wasn’t for the Legendary Ring, this move would probably condemn all other LFR content to extinction fairly fast. There’s also been complaints from existing raiders that this means they’ll need to grind Valor to remain relevant. People, let’s be honest here> You’re already good at this, and 10 extra iLevels is not the difference between success and failure. We all know this. However, for a causal player that’s the difference between playing in organised content and logging off. Nobody’s making you grind anything, and this isn’t a Patch for raiders. This is a Patch to encourage people to start raiding.
I’ve actually stopped playing most of my 100 alts in Tanaan because of the Baleful change, though on consideration stockpiling Tokens might not be a bad idea, assuming Blizzard don’t make only ones that drop in 6.2.3 with the chance. However this still isn’t enough to get me back into raiding: I’ve admitted I’m an addict, and am in recovery. Going back would be a terribly bad move for my life and everything in it, and it isn’t going to happen. For now, the Moose is simply a casualty, and I’ll survive with what I have in terms of mounts. Everybody has a limit, and I know where mine lies, and however attractive that Grove Warden mount might be? No. As an interesting PS however, if you run Mythics you’ll have a chance at a scaling Heirloom Trinket that will take you to level 110.
That I’ll admit I might be tempted into.
PvP Season Three
If you wanted a genuine indicator of how long we’re likely to be waiting for Legion’s pre-expansion event and even the beta itself? This is it: a whole new level of PvP gear, new title and (presumably) rewards for a play-style that will effectively vanish come the new Expansion proper. It seems odd that having announced a massive change to the entire fabric of this side of game-play, there’s this little coda tacked onto the end of proceedings. But, this is how things work, because as is now abundantly apparent, 6.2 might mark the end of raid content being added to the game, but it certainly doesn’t give us an indicator that Draenor’s done with as our base of operations.
I know a few people who, when 6.2.3 was released, looked at me and shook their heads, because they knew we had plenty of life left in Warlords. Just because the raiding was done didn’t actually mean that the Expansion was over, far from it, and although nobody likes a smartarse, these people have a very good point, well made. With Blizzcon nine days away at time of writing, there’s little indication (if at all) of what we can expect to be presented with either. It’s not like an Expansion title’s gonna leak in the next week or we can expect a massive burst of Legion publicity. All that’s been done and covered back in August. In fact, if I’m honest, the silence right now is particularly frustrating. But that’s the way this is going to be from now-on in, and I think finally the Warcraft community have accepted that there’s no point complaining, we just need to sit and wait to see what happens. The last line of the Patch Notes informs me that Felblight will drop 20% faster than it does when 6.2.3 hits, and I know from an official @WarcraftDevs tweet that you’ll also be able to update crafted items with Valor. That for me is the most telling change of all: items that were going to be fit for purpose back in August now won’t be, and the only way to keep those items relevant is to allow them to be upgraded. I joked a while back on my blog that Blizzard needed three more months to get done what they’d though could be completed by now, and I’m pretty much sticking to that assertion. I think we’ll be lucky to see a Beta this year, and I’m genuinely hoping that I’m wrong in that, but more and more I see January 2016 as when the Legion countdown really begins.
At least there’s not that long to wait now until we know for certain what happens after 6.2.3.Related: Beta, Blizzard Entertainment, Column, Patch Notes, World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday