Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hop on the 4.1 Train! Toot Toot!

ZG and ZA are back. Because there can never be enough "troll" in your WoW play experience.

Ya see that headline up there?  That's pretty well all the enthusiasm I have been able to muster for Patch 4.1. Please enjoy it.

I'm not sure what to make with this patch. They call it a "content" patch, but really... I'm not sure what the real content is going to be. There's no new raid. The new dailies zone has disappeared into a fog of ones and zeroes.

The "new" content: Re-purposed troll instances from two and three expansions ago. Really? Is that the best we can do? I was reading the back story about what's going on in Trollville these days. It turns out the Zandalari Trolls are causing the problems. Gosh, that's disappointing. I mean, for years now, they have been "the good trolls." And it's Vol'jin of the Horde rallying BOTH FACTIONS against the rising threat in the various Zul-'s.  I'm honestly not sure what to make of that. Y'know, the Alliance and the Horde are kinda in the midst of a full-out war in most areas of Azeroth.  It's increasingly well-documented that Vol'jin is not alright with this war, but he's not leaving the Horde either, and reaching out to the Alliance seems like a real long-shot.  Nevertheless, the blues say Vol'jin's people will be waiting for Alliance players in SW Harbor come patch day.

Anyway. Troll dungeons are visually interesting, but pretty limited in style, really. And I'm bloody sick of them. It doesn't help that I have a special room of hatred in my heart for ZA, which was far and away one of the most punishing raids Blizzard ever made. "Self," I told myself the last time I ran ZA back in the day, "At least this is done and there won't be any need to come back here." Oh how naive I was.

If there was any consideration about how much "new" was going into these dungeons, I was reading the preview of the new Troll thing going on and ran across this quote in the blue post about Zul'Aman: "For those who fought Zul'jin back during The Burning Crusade, much of the dungeon will feel similar..."


There are still rumors on the horizon of new daily questing in the greater area of Mt. Hyjal, but no details have appeared for that either yet. I suspect this won't happen until Firelands is really ready either. Otherwise, this patch seems to mostly be turning out to be a feature patch.

The Features.  
Y'know, I put that heading and then jumped off to find some patch notes and realized that Blizzard has actually said very little about many of these features. For example, the new "Looking for Guild" interface.  I know that this is a feature in the works (though maybe it's no longer even for this patch) but I haven't actually seen or heard much about this other than The Daily Blink's pass at the new UI window for the feature. Which is to say that... who knows if this is happening or not?

They have patched in a new "Guild Achievement" feature. It extends the weekly guild experience cap. Um. Yay. That might help active guilds level a little faster finally, but the dynamics of the "challenges" seem a lot like weekly raid quests. Only, they have dungeon and BG quests as well. (And hey... they haven't announced any weekly raid quests. Is this what they are going to do instead?) I could be mistaken, but this only looks like a guild XP boost for doing stuff that you might be doing with your guild anyway, which is fine, I suppose. It doesn't seem like anything I need to pay attention to though.

There are the Valor Point changes, and this is fairly good: Instead of having a daily heroic, we now get seven weekly heroics, so we can do it all in one beautiful afternoon, or one a day like in the good ol' days. This is something that affects the casual players really, but not hardcore players so much. Regardless, it's a welcome change for the most part.

But really, there's the guild finder, there's changes to how we collect valor points from the heroic dungeons and ... well, not that much else.

So, maybe, what kind of patch is this?

Class Balance Gone Wild!
These things happen each and every patch, but the long list of class changes leads me pretty close to the pronouncement that the attempt, in Cataclysm, to rework character design is a failure.

They have misplaced the heart and soul of some classes. My shaman has quit using buff totems altogether in raids because somebody else always has another buff that does the same thing (and their buff is not dependent on my health and well being, range or if I need to switch out a buff for a major CD totem). Hell, I don't even get to use heroism anymore because goddamn hunter pets can manage that now. A character class that was a shining star of support classes is now just redundant.

On a similar note, although I'm not sure how much they are complaining about it, warlocks no longer really need soul shards anymore. There's this whole mechanic sitting there at the top of their UIs, unused by PvE 'locks who have no shard abilities designed for use in a boss fight.

They change the dynamics of so many spells so often right now that many classes don't really know what their speccs do anymore. Hunters are being told every other week that "No, that other specc does better dps now."  Priests are getting all schizo between discipline and holy healing.  Developers seem to be looking at DPS warriors, taking a little bit of everything, and throwing it against the wall to see what sticks. And then doing it all again for the next build. Between balance patches, and hotfixes, and proposed stuff for the PTR, I really don't know what most classes really do anymore.

Bashiok made an interesting post in regards to Frost Mages, which was that, at very highest levels of PvP play, frost mages balance very well against most other classes. On the other hand, he indicated that everybody else fails to use their dispels as effectively as the elite and as a result, frost mages do appear relatively OP as a result. Christian Belt at WoW Insider further noted that the developer instinct in these cases is to nerf frost dps, and thus... frost mages continue to be unwelcome in raids. This is basically the same problem Frost Mages had in the Burning Crusade, and despite perhaps dozens of changes in the intervening years, and developer protestation that they are going to make all speccs viable, nothing really has changed.

These things are beginning to affect the "fun" quotient of a number of players I know and I agree with them. It's affecting my fun too. I'm a strong supporter of needing to learn your class, but not "relearn your class every few weeks."

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