Patch 3.2 in Review

Patch 3.2 in Review

bucket heads

Warning: Fanboys and Fangirls beware, as this is not a post you will like. I am about to criticize Blizzard, and if that offends your sensibilities, go ahead and mark as read. I don’t mind.

For the rest of you who are still reading, I want to take a hard look at a few aspects of patch 3.2. I am going to try not to wax poetic about how wonderful the BC patches were–in a sense, that was a different game for a different time, and I was also a different player. What I am going to do is talk about Blizzard’s successes and failures under the current design ethos, which I will sum up as Time Sinks for All Players.

Under the somewhat tongue-in-cheek category of the time sink, I comprehend raiding, dailies, instances, and overall reward structure. Let’s look at each of these aspects of patch 3.2 and examine whether Blizzard succeeded in their global goal of keeping their millions of players interested in their game. Notice that I’m not going to talk about class balance, which is a necessary part of any patch and which will be ongoing. I’m talking only about the New Cool Stuff that came in last Tuesday.

The Crusader’s Coliseum

Let me use my Mystic Orb of the Walrus (actually, a bouncy rubber ball full of green sparklies) to channel for you the Crusader’s Coliseum development meeting.

“You know, we really should make a raid instance for this patch.”

“Yeah, something like Zul’Aman. That was really great.”

“Nah, that took us forever to design. We need something easier, like a 5-man.”

“We put a lot of work into those 5-mans! I just don’t think that we can spare that much time.”

“I’ve got it! Why don’t we design an instance with just one room? We can make one room in like, a week.”

“Yeah, YEAH! And oh, let’s make them run it four times per week instead of just two.”

“Excellent. Also, we should make it take four weeks to get each tier piece, even if the bosses are pretty easy. Let’s require an emblem turn-in for each tier piece–that way it will be like old ZG rep gear, and some of them will never get it!”

“Aren’t they going to riot?”

“Well, as long as we let them get some emblems from the heroic daily, we’re good.”

When I walked into the Crusader’s Coliseum, I had a moment of panic as I realized that I was going to be spending 4-5 months of raiding within its hexagonal walls. When I panned my camera upward, I noticed that, far off center in the Alliance cheering section, there were 6 identical Syds cheering me on. I was so creeped out that I got a haircut right after the raid. In an instance where design has been reduced to brown walls and even the spectators are not individuated, how can I have any hope for interesting boss mechanics?

The Crusader’s Coliseum is, quite simply, lazy design.

The Daily Drudgery

Daily quests ought to be fun and easy. If I’m a farming type player, which many are, I’m much more likely to repeat something I find pleasant. I like the Dalaran cooking dailies, for example. They don’t require too much running, and the rewards are sufficient for the time spent. The gold standard of dailies will always be the SSO dailies of Quel’Danas. They used to be so quick, fun, and convenient that I did them on three characters. I will admit that my interest in the game is much lower now than it was back when my guild was working on Illidan. However, I’m pretty sure I’d grind at least one character through similarly well-designed dailies. The Coliseum-area dailies do not measure up. They are quite widespread and hard to do on one’s own. I particularly find the revised version of Battle For the Citadel a pain in the arse to solo. In order to kill 3 commanders, I have to clear any number of lieutenants and get my ass kicked multiple times by respawns. Don’t even get me started on Threat from Above! Dailies should be a solo operation, as they’ve historically been one of the few things one can do in WoW at 4am. As for the new dailies, I’ve only done a couple of them, and they take you a bit far from the questgivers for my taste. Out of ten or so possible dailies, the only one I really love is Among the Champions, where I get to school some NPCs in the joust. I particularly enjoy beating the stuffing out of the uppity Undead guy–if, indeed undeads have any stuffing left after the whole decomposition thing.

The trend in Wrath seems to be to design dailies which take more time and return proportionally less gold. In turn, the non-currency rewards (pets and mounts) are much better than they were in BC. The dailies are almost a pure time sink–and regrettably, I just don’t have that time. For earning money, the AH is the only way to go. I don’t think 6 or so dailies per day, four days a week, would actually pay for raiding, while two hours a week of selling flasks certainly does.

5-man Instances

I hate to say that I haven’t tried the new instance yet. I’m glad there is one, and I’m sure I’ll get there if it ever comes up as the heroic daily. Because of the reward structure, I try to do the heroic daily whenever I’m on (which is….not that often). I don’t want to be the absolute last person in my raid to buy a tier piece (though truth to tell, I’m in competition for that bottom spot). The thing is, Blizzard de-incentivized their 5-mans during Wrath. Naxx 10 was very easy and accessible compared to the heroics. However, its design was ugly as mud. Meanwhile, the art design for 5-mans was excellent. Most of us saw this beautiful dungeon art only a few times due to the lackluster rewards compared to Naxx. From all reports, the new 5-man is pretty easy, so it’s no Magister’s Terrace. I found Magister’s Terrace to be both challenging and beautiful, and I ran it with all three of my characters (one in tier 6, and two in…crafted purples and Kara gear). I think that Blizzard has–to their own detriment–gone away from the older design of heroics, which allowed some to be much harder than others. I find the hardest Wrath heroic to be Oculus–and I managed to complete that one the day I turned 80.

Rewards and Other Phat Loot

Developers be praised, we’ve got another armor tier to acquire! I love gear. I’m glad that the stats for the three iterations of Tier 9 are actually an upgrade on Ulduar gear. My greatest disappointment with Ulduar (which I love on all other points, including art and gameplay) is that the stats on the gear were such small upgrades from Naxx stuff that I actually didn’t get to see my character improve in noticeable ways even after equipping my new pieces. The only real performance upgrade that I was able to feel was the 4 pc bonus–which for resto druids is widely considered OP. This new patch is just the opposite–I can tell that at least the middle and upper varieties of T9 are going to make a difference in my power and sustainability. I’m jazzed about that. It’s too bad the armor designs themselves are, well, lazy. Many people have commented on this, but suffice it to say, in a few months of work and struggle, Syd is going to go from a gorgeous, glowing creature whose attire includes motifs of branches, leaves, moonlight, and starlight to, well, a Buckethead. Morever, we’re all going to be Bucketheads. I refer you back to the article header should you have any question as to what one’s head looks like when a bucket is equipped in that slot.

Well, let’s say that I can ignore the ugliness of the “new” armor art. There are still many non-gear rewards to be gained in 3.2. The one thing I actually care about, the Ulduar drake that I’ve been working for, is still available (thanks!). It will take a lot of hard raiding to get there–my guild, for one, is not anywhere near done with Ulduar hard modes. There are also new horsies from the Coliseum, mounts upon mounts from Champion’s Seals, more cute pets (even a wyrmling of a different color–who cares, but thanks), and even more tabards (that look pretty much like the old tabards). The game seems to be focused on acquiring volumes of things right now. It’s not “let me get this one beautiful unique mount” but “let me grind for 10 mounts so I can add to my achievements.” I have to say, I’m not too excited about all of it, because too many things seem to be reskins of the same old stuff. My preferred mount grinds are Winterspring Frostsaber (the only kitty with no armor), which I’ve done on one character and started on another, and the Stratholme speed run for Rivendare’s horsie, which I’ve put a few tries into on Syd and ultimately intend to acquire.

How could WoW have hooked me into grinding for new rewards? Well, they could have made them…really new. Let me grind for a raptor mount, and let the horde grind for a Winterspring Frostsaber. That would be pretty sweet. Let me buy the horde mounts for Champion’s Seals. Better yet, make me an entirely new mount–how about a rideable Jormungar? I guarantee you, my play time would have gone up! The new orphan quest is an example of a “good” reward. The gorloc and wolvar pets are pretty unique, and I stayed up an hour later than usual to get my cute little baby oracle.

No More Lazy Design!

The take-home message here is that developers need to spend time and resources on their game. Period. No game is so good that a patch can bring out more of the same and expect to reinvigorate the masses. I think the art budget in particular for WoW needs to go up exponentially.

What is the one thing that I love in patch 3.2? New druid forms! They’re really quite nice (and no, I was not one of the people who complained that they weren’t done right). In my mind, Pink Kitty is pretty much the best thing ever, and I even changed my much-beloved seafoam hair in order to gain access to it. The druid forms are a good example of what happens when you give the community something they’ve asked for and actually spend a little time on it. You get Syd, happily running around in cat form, which has pretty much never happened before. I can has cheezburger naow?

Here’s hoping that the devs announce something astounding at Blizzcon. Something must be done to make up for the overwhelming mediocrity of 3.2…unless, they really do want us to run out and buy Aion come September.

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Comments

  1. First things first: 10-man raids are not there for 25-man raiders. I see this thought process put out there so often and its very frustrating. 10-man raids are there for guilds that can’t or don’t want to put together 25-man raids. No one is forcing you to be on both 25 and 10 man raid teams (or they shouldn’t be). I, for one, wish they had put the 10 and 25 man raids on the same lockout. Then maybe the developers would finally realize that some people only do 10-man progression and we would no longer be treated as second-class customers.

    All tier gear available for badges is good. Tier gear only available for badges is bad. The decision to do it this way is incomprehensible.

    I like all of the new dailies so far. They don’t take you that far afield other than the one that takes you to Storm Peaks and you should be used to that side trip by now. There are places where the Commanders are not as closely guarded but this is definitely better in a group, which you should have because you should be coming here with your Chillmaw group.

    Speaking of which, I’m confused why you rip on the one non-lazy design. It’s the one real unique thing that you in all of those dailies.

  2. I won’t lie.. “In an instance where design has been reduced to brown walls and even the spectators are not individuated, how can I have any hope for interesting boss mechanics?”
    That made me roflmao. 🙂

    And.. “unless, they really do want us to run out and buy Aion come September.”
    yeah… it’s working! I’ve already stopped playing WoW and have been reading up on Aion heh.
    Least it’s something different and the developers seem to hold an interest and keeping their vision rather than selling out (yes I know it’s early yet), so here’s to hoping!
    .-= Middea´s last blog ..Puzzle of the Week =-.

  3. Canegardriene says:

    @Kevin, I agree except for the fact that to turn in the 25man tier tokens requires Emblems of Triumph, and if they were on the same lockout, you lose out on those precious badges each week.

    My one gripe with the article is the praising of BC Content. Its easy to look back on someting and remember the good times but you forget the bad.

    Isle of Quel’danas dailies for example, ganking was rampant. I once saw a full Sunwell guild just run through all the alliance on the isle for fun. At least at the tournament its more spread out so getting ganked happens less often.

    Also anyone who says the new 5-man is easy, hasn’t done it on a lesser geared character. It takes a decent healer to do the Black Knight, and a better one to do his P3 if the dps are slow. Its no Magister’s Terrace for sure, but its not as easy as everyone seems to think

    Also I like the Coliseum and only ever needing to be in one room. No long distance runs after wipes, minimal trash(if any). but thats just personal preference. Also, rideable Jormungar, THAT is a great idea

  4. @Canegardriene: when I get my riding Jormungar, I want to see my character hanging on with two slender little hooks like in Dune 🙂

  5. @Kevin: I take your point that the dailies are truly new.

    I do have to say, though, that dailies can be new and cool without being inconvenient.

    Ganking, on the other hand, never entered into my thoughts. I do play on a PvP server and get ganked all the time–just doesn’t bother me. I think the area around Crusader’s is a sanctuary, though? That’s a pretty neat solution.

  6. I thought there was a new grindable raptor mount?

    Regardless, I think that the new patch actually offered a lot. The gear reset is amazing – especially on smaller servers or for guilds that aren’t pushing server first kills. Heck, it really has let us expand the raid capability of our hybrids.

    I’ll agree that the new 5 man is a bit bleh in design. I’m honestly not excited about running it all the time – but, I love the fact that Heroic and Normal raids are now different.

    One of the biggest beefs with Ulduar was that for many of the hard modes, you couldn’t kick it back down if you weren’t getting it. Or if someone accidentally sent a keeper down, you couldn’t send them back up.

    I think Blizzard did drop the ball to some degree, but in other aspects the patch is pretty nice.
    .-= Adgamorix´s last blog ..Working as intended? =-.

  7. Ill admit I’m disappointed in the raid being a single room (oh but Anub drops you down into another room…oh boy…).

    However as I’m GMing a re-roll guild currently, the badge change and new 5man will be a godsend to us getting back into Ulduar. Naxx is easy, yes, but you can only clear it for gear once a week. With conquest badges, 5mans and N25, we should be able to hit our goals much faster as far as gear capabilities go.

    So from my current situation, it’s bittersweet.

  8. @Prexie: I’m totally on board with the emblem of Conquest changes.

    It’s the requiring massive emblems of triumph for Tier 9 that gets me down. I figure, with my current investment in the game (lots of 25 man raiding, no other stuff) that it will take approximately 20 weeks to get my 4 pc tier 9. So, I guess I won’t, unless I start doing 10 man and the heroic daily as well. I’m guessing that I’ll get a hard mode piece or two before I complete 4 pc regular–but I will understand if the Loot Council chooses people to get them who put in more 10 man and heroic effort.

  9. Kevin hinted at it; I’ll spell it out. Once you’re mounted up for the 3 Commanders, hang a left on the road as you exit the stable area. Get rid of the scouts as you come across them (don’t be shy–hit the ones that aren’t real close too). You’ll soon find a commander on patrol. Get him.

    Then head over to the left, in the general direction of the “end of the road.” There are (at least) 2 more commanders in relatively static location. No lieutenants anywhere. Easily soloable.

    All that said: I pretty much agree with you on the patch. I didn’t have a lot of enthusiasm before patch day, and it’s less now. The 5- and 10-mans are certainly challenging. And the 5-man is TOUGH to heal for a Holy Priest, at least; I expect if/as I repeat it, it’ll get easier, but the first time in, replenishment was nil and mana got to be a serious issue at the end. I was about to scream at the tank for an Innervate when the BK went down. All that epic healing…and nothing to show for it but a couple emblems. 😛

  10. I know that we have had some pretty dissapointed players in our guild with the this “new” less than challenging content and we are only hoping that the 25 man hardmode versions are well, much harder. It feels so dirty getting these epics for very little effort and the short learning curve. Not to mention the way the tier tokens are dropping; We don’t have anyone excited to bid on them currently as no one wants to spend the dkp and sit there with a useless piece in their bag having to farm daily heroics once a day obsessively to get their gear.

    I agree with your comment on the dailies as well. I am nortorious about not starting daily quest lines etc at the same time as the rest of my friends; this time I started picking the Argent Crusade ones up with 3.2 . Just as quickly as I started I completely lost interest due to the distance between objectives. The Isle quests of TBC beat these new “money making” dailies hands down.
    .-= Napaeae´s last blog ..Would you like your Guildies’ sunny side up or poached, Sir? =-.

  11. Yep the extension of the tournament grounds is pure ganking territory – no more Armistice to lull you into a false sense of security.

    I, too, am very disappointed by the raid and instance offerings with this patch. It’s scary how similar our thoughts are – although you probably posted this first and I’m a day or two behind!

    The mounted combat jousting “first boss” of the new instance… you’re not missing out.

    Also, if you raid in a 25 man guild, and the 10 man raid instance provides some worthy reward in terms of Emblems or loot, 25 man raiders will try and spend the time to do both. We don’t assume that’s why the 10 man has been implemented in the game – even though that’s how it might come across – but we will do double time so to speak.

    How’s your new hair do btw?
    .-= Cassandri´s last blog ..Post 3.2 Disillusionment =-.

  12. You can say what you want, but it’s been a long time since I saw people this eager to run heroics, and daily dungeons.

    I can get runs done on my main, alt, and other alt and still it’s no problem to find a group for the next alt.

    On making money. I actually make my money through raiding. Throw a naxx 10 group together, and go have fun. Pick up a mountain of conquest emblems, a pile of money, and have a relaxed evening of fun. Buy gems or orbs for the badges, and sell it. Honestly so much better than spending 2 hours at the AH selling stuff. And as profitable. (One naxx run can net you about 1000G that way on my server).

    If none of this attracts you, go level an alt through BGs. It’s a new way of levelling and can be a lot of fun.

    Not to mention extending raid lockouts, the fact that you can trade dropped items around (non enchanters are now getting their needy and greedy), and a different type of instance then what we have ever seen before.

    Sure the design of the location might not be as amazing, but so far I have to say that the northrend beast encounter is well designed and a lot of fun to do.

    Lots of new stuff and lots of design time, and though the art department might’ve been focusing on Icecrown already, I personally think that this patch has brought a lot of changes to the game. A lot of good ones as well.
    .-= Shy´s last blog ..Cataclysm =-.

  13. @Cassandri:

    I had green hair for so long that I don’t recognize my avatar with the white hairdo. At first, I looked like Phaelia, and I wasn’t happy with that, so I put the “bear” tattoo on my face and I’ve been happy since.

    However, since the advent of Pink Kitty I’ve been in cat form for my strolls around Dalaran.

  14. @Shy: The AH is much more fun to me than a Naxx run. You remember the old Lemonade Stand type games for the Apple II-E? That’s why I like it.

    I don’t think there’s any force that could get me back into Naxx on either of my characters. There’s too much gray cinderblock covered in green goo.

  15. Amen. These are the reasons I quit raiding – well, I quit raiding when they first announced that no instance would be as hard (and in my opinion, as rewarding) as Sunwell. I just said screw this and play casually…only, all the stuff aimed at casual sucks too. So I level alts and do quests (old quests for money) with my boyfriend.

    Also, I would like to say what someone else said: looking back on BC is like looking back on a pile of garbage. BC was NOT Blizzard’s best by any shot. I miss Vanilla WoW. However, BC did have fine points, and honestly…it saddens me to hear someone say it was better than something else.

    Good article! Kudos.

  16. I got a feeling that this patch seems kinda weak for a reason.
    I think they might announce IC to go live a lot sooner than expected by some.
    At least I cannot see people hanging on to this for months and months. It feels too much like a filler, just to throw us something while we wait.
    .-= Wangari´s last blog ..Reticent Crusader =-.

  17. My main problem with 3.2 is that I didn’t care enough to even give it a shot. I read the patch notes, and I kept up with the development and news at various sites even though my account was canceled, and nothing ever seemed special enough to come back for. It’s like the entire patch exists as a big “more of the same” value meal that I’ve eaten every day for nearly 5 years.

    I wish there were something in 3.2 that was new and exciting, but there isn’t. The closest thing to it was the new Druid forms that almost made me resub just to get my Druid from 70 to 80 and be all pretty while I did it. But such vanity isn’t worth the time for something I stopped considering fun a while ago.

    I feel bad because I had really hoped that 3.2 would revitalize me so that I could play again and experience Icecrown when it’s released, but even the news on IC makes me go “bleh.” 31 bosses is a few too many given the MTV-generation attention span I’ve garnered regarding WoW lately. I’d love to be able to raid a few nights a week to see IC, but with 31 bosses and the “bleh” treadmill I’d have to run on to get geared to even walk in the door, I don’t think that WoW’s my thing anymore.

    And that makes me really sad. Because I had high hopes for 3.2, but they were shattered by the very lazy design you talk about. I wanted something new and fun to make me care again, and instead, I get…this.
    .-= Beej´s last blog ..True Blood – Wait, Who’s Doing Those Bad Things Again? =-.

  18. “unless, they really do want us to run out and buy Aion come September”

    Pretty much my entire guild agrees with everything you just said and the majority are already playing the Aion beta weekends. Unfortantly this means that we are losing alot of really good raiders which is making it harder for those few of us who are still interested to actually raid…

    There isn’t even that distinction in gear that comes from being a regular raider when you know that people who dont put in the team effort are grinding heroics and ending up in the same T8.5 that you have been rocking.

  19. I agree with you completely Sydera.

    The Coliseum and this entire patch is pretty much a gear reset for Icecrown. In some ways this is good – recruiting for Sunwell sucked when you needed to find people who didn’t need gear from MH/BT any more.

    Unfortunately they screwed it up. 25-man bosses that you can kill on the first pull should not be dropping better loot than Ulduar hard modes. Grinding the heroic daily should not get you better loot than the Ulduar hard modes. What should have been an amusing interstitial between Ulduar and Icecrown has been turned in to an annoying grind of a poorly designed instance and heroics that were old news the week after I hit 80. Icecrown better be damn impressive after this.

  20. Sydera, I think you missed one key thing with the new version of Battle Before the Citadel. They added a bunch of new Commander spawns that are nowhere near the big pack of guys with Lieutenants and such. Go near the edge of the courtyard area, and you should be able to find Commanders that require only clearing a few Scouts, and come with just 4 of the Footmen. I happen to know there are at least 3 on the east side, some north and some south of the path. There is also a Commander pat that you can pick up and kill fairly easily.

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  1. […] much I missed the Isle of Quel’Danas Dailies with their speedy, easy, free-money qualities (as Sydera on World of Matticus pointed out, I could get several toons through them all with ease…every day!), and, when all else failed, […]

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