One year and five months after the launch of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, we are getting the final major patch of the expansion. On the one hand, it feels like this expansion has just flown by, but on the other, it has at times seemed like it languished. Mainly the arrival of some class fixes, azurite armor updates, and essences felt like they took too long to be implemented and perhaps should have been part of the core systems since the beginning of this expansion. That said, it feels like 8.2 has only been out for a short while. Either way, I’m happy to finally faceoff with N’Zoth and to be one step closer to putting this expansion behind us. However, I do have some concerns.
One of the key additions coming with 8.3 is the addition of the legendary cloaks we’ll get from Wrathion. Setting aside the fact these are literally crafted using the scales of his kin, the way these cloaks are upgraded bothers me. The only way to get the items needed to upgrade is by doing Horrific Visions, which players will have a limited amount of time to complete due to not having much corruption resistance until they get the cloak upgraded a bit. Additionally, players are limited in how many times they can do Horrific Visions by how much coalescing visions they can farm up.
See, players have to buy a Vessel of Horrific Visions from Wrathion, which costs 10,000 Coalescing Visions. Depending on how often a player can log on and do things every day, getting between 25,000 – 30,000 coalescing visions is a reasonably straightforward process. If you want more specific info, check out this guide on WoWhead. Either way, players who can’t log on every day can count on about two keys every week, while players who have more time to devote can easily count on three keys every week. Yes, you can grind more but the rate at which they can be collected drastically drops after the main acquisition methods have been completed.
Since players can only, reasonably, expect to have 2 – 3 tries at upgrades every week, making the most of your time is essential. In fact, Blizzard seems to have designed Horrific Visions with this in mind. For the first five ranks of the cloak, the item players will need to collect is looted off either Alleria or Thrall, depending on which vision you are in. Additionally, both of these bosses are located right near players spawn in, so getting to them to kill them right away isn’t a huge deal. Unfortunately, the scenario ends as soon as they are killed so there’s no chance to explore afterward. Of course, exploration time is also limited by how little corruption resistance players will have in the beginning.
The reason this bugs me a bit is it’s a complete inversion of what we generally do in MMOs. Most of the time the goal is to fight your way through a mess of mobs to get to the boss at the end. In Horrific Visions, the bosses are upfront, and only after killing them a few times do you get to explore and take on the rest of the vision. It’s not a bad idea to change things up, but I sort of wish the scenario would go on until you get too much corruption so after killing the bosses, I could see how much exploring I could cram in.
My guess is, at the higher tiers of the cloak, it takes a substantially longer time to get to the corruption limit and be pulled out of the scenario. Mostly having the boss’s death be the end gives players a quick way to end things at the higher ranks when they don’t need to kill the boss, instead of having to wait around on the corruption. For instance, it’s possible to get the pages needed in the 6 -11 Ranks reasonably quickly in a run. At that point, players are faced with the choice of either wandering around and killing things until their corruption gets too high or just going to kill the boss so you can get out more quickly. I like the inclusion of player choice for the higher ranks; I just wish there had been some choice incorporated into the lower ranks as well.
Everything Old is New Again
Something which had been percolating around in my head while playing on the PTR, but I hadn’t put into conscious thought until a guildie asked about it is, there are no new zones with 8.3. The Assaults all take place in old maps, we go to the Halls of Origination a ton, the Horrific Visions are reworks of Stormwind and Orgimmar, and even the lesser visions aren’t new places. This is a complete 180 from 8.2, where we got two whole new zones.
Don’t get me wrong; I like repurposing old areas for new things. There’s so much in the world we never see as max players because once we finish leveling, there’s not a lot of reason to go back outside of achievement hunting. So, having new things in old zones is excellent in that aspect. Plus, I like it when old zones get updated and things change. Yeah sure, sometimes things I loved go away in this process, but it makes the game world feel that much more real. Having everything locked in one eternal state is just artificial, and special things become less special if you can always go back and see them. Impermanence is what gives things their meaning.
As someone who is not blessed with an overabundance of free time, having both Nazjatar and Mechagon show-up in the same patch was a bit much. Most of the time, I only had time to do the dailies for one zone. Heck, I didn’t even go to Mechagon for the first time until I was already well underway with Nazjatar. I just finally reached exalted the mechagnomes in the last week. Part of this is the fact I don’t like that island and I always had to twist my arm to go there, but a more significant part of it is I don’t want to spend my limited game time on things I don’t enjoy.
It almost feels like having Mechagon with 8.3 would have made more sense. Nazjatar feels like a fuller, more complete zone, whereas Mechagon always has felt like an add-on to me. Of course, Nazjatar would probably have to of been expanded on a bit to be able to carry the whole seven months on its own. Might have needed its own dungeon as well. Rather than having artificial stopping points in the story, i.e. gain 3000 rep with a follower, we could have just had a complete storyline. Perhaps there could have even been a bit more story after killing Azshara but before the campaign update in 8.2.5.
Either way, it would have been nice to have old mixed in with new things instead of “omg all the new things ahhh” followed immediately by “oh look, everything is just in old updated zones.” It almost makes this patch feel like a letdown, but it really shouldn’t be. As for the Horrific Visions, I’ll suck it up and do what I need to ensure I get all the upgrades I can the first week. I would have preferred to have some choice in how to go about things. However, I’m still looking forward to the new patch and mostly, I’m ready to start working on a new raid. Woooo!