Patch 7.3 first week impressions

We have had close to a week to explore Patch 7.3, and I am still pretty neutral about it. On the one hand there are some interesting and fun things to experience, and on the other the never-ending grind on the same-old same-old is really wearing very thin. Let me get to some specifics.

Timed content release. In general, I am not a fan of this Blizz policy, because I think it is basically one of in loco parentis — they are saving us from ourselves because we are apparently too dim-witted to pace our game play. If they release an entire patch at once, so the Blizz reasoning goes, some of us might play it all through in the first week and then begin to whimper and whine about there being nothing to dooooooo! in the game. Can’t have that, so — like mom doling out Halloween candy a piece at a time — they feed us the patch content in small pieces.

That is my thought in the abstract. In the concrete reality, though, I find I do not mind it. I would probably play the same amount of time whether or not the entire patch was immediately available, but I find nothing in the stretched out release that hinders the way I play. In fact, it encourages me to get a couple of my alts into Argus this first week, since really all there is to do on my main is try and grab as much rep as possible with the new factions and gather some of the currency — all of which can be done just by cranking out the Argus dailies.

The quests. I have found them interesting so far, but I think that is just because they are not the exact same ones we have all been doing for almost a year now. And of course they occur in new territory, so some of the interest is in finding just how in hell to get to this or that world boss or quest area. That said, I haven’t yet found any really new or innovative quests, just the same old gather-20-of-this or kill-10-of-these patterns.

Some of them, in fact, are pretty blatantly just dressed-up versions of the same ones we have been doing in Broken Shore for months now. For example, you know the one in BS along the shore where you have to point your camera up to scan the skies for big menacing birds to shoot down using a special gizmo, all the while dodging mobs on the ground and picking up supply chests? Well, leave out the supply chests and substitute spacey looking fighter craft for the birds, a different icon for the shooting gizmo, and you got one of the world quests on Argus. Exactly. It’s not just the same idea, it actually seems like the same code with a few cosmetic changes.

Zone art. This, too, so far seems like a repurposing of the zone art used in Broken Shore. The two Argus areas we have access to thus far are, like BS, nothing but stretches of rock strata punctuated by green goopy fel rivers and pools, with a cave or cave-like building thrown in once in a while as a place to park an elite or a treasure chest.

Unlike BS, however, the venue of another planet allows Blizz to dispense with some of the more pleasing and/or “normal” geography we found in Azeroth — even on BS — like a few sparse bushes or blades of grass once in a while, or a shoreline with actual ocean and maybe a few islands. And this dispensation is made even more acute by the fact that we cannot even travel between zones ourselves, we can only transport to them, thus Blizz has eliminated the need for transition zones. Argus so far is just a collection of disconnected venues for killing stuff. Which brings me to my next point,

Flying. More specifically, NO flying. Blizz has told us Argus is essentially Timeless Isle, and there will be no flying on it ever. So those cool flying mounts you worked so hard to be able to use in Legion? Forget about them, they will be consigned to waddle about through rock canyons and abutments. Those nifty class mounts Blizz so generously allowed us to earn? Same thing, unless of course you are a druid, in which case you cannot even use your class mount on Argus, since Blizz has decided druids are too stupid to choose their travel form for themselves, and there will be no flying druid forms in no-fly zones.

In the past, Blizz has given us two condescending reasons for not allowing flying. One is that certain zones are too small for it. The other — and their preferred excuse — is that flying precludes “immersion” in the game. (The real reason, I am fairly certain, is that disallowing flying makes the zone design simpler/cheaper and also serves to stretch out a player’s time.)

See, the “immersion” excuse actually makes a little sense to me, especially in the beginning of a new patch when you want to get a sense of the detailed art in the game, or you just want to do some exploring to find hidden pathways or little gems of idyllic beauty off the beaten track. But Argus has no real beauty spots, and the art is the same version of designer hell we have seen for months in BS.

All “immersion” means in 7.3 is that you get to fight your way through mobs every time you travel, every step of the way to and from quests. And Blizz has saved even more on overhead by pretty much making roads the only way you can travel — the place is chock full of invisible walls everywhere you try to go. And while I am at it, whatever happened to the old “You are much less likely to meet monsters if you stick to roads”? The reason Blizz has roads now is to funnel everyone into mob after mob after mob. Not much fun, but it sure as hell racks up the Monthly Active User stats…

Class hall and champion missions. Blizz is still cramming these down our throats. Did you breathe a sigh of relief, feel a sense of accomplishment when you finally got all your champions to gear level 900? HAHAHAHA! Well guess what, now you get to grind them up to 950! For the classes lucky enough to be granted the class hall research permitting work orders for champion gear, this is annoying but doable. For the classes that have to rely on missions only to bring back RNG-determined gear, this new requirement is disheartening in the extreme.

Make no mistake about it, this is nothing more than a naked attempt to boost the use of the WoW mobile app.

Artifact Power and artifact relics. Sigh…. Prior to the release of 7.2, Ion Hazzikostas made a big fat deal out of lecturing us on the proper approach towards collecting AP: It was supposed to be just something that just gradually happened, not meant to be chased after, not meant to overly reward those who played many hours every day, and therefore Blizz was making the AP requirements for additional concordance levels go from ridiculous to impossible. Cool it, he said to us, just play the game and don’t worry about grinding AP. (“If you play it, it will come.”)

Well. What a difference one patch makes. Now, it turns out, in order to maximize your weapon relics, you have to achieve certain (quite high) concordance levels. And to encourage you to do this (in fact, just to make it possible for you to do this) we are going back to ever-increasing levels of weapon reasearch that permit ever-higher AP rewards! Grind your little asses off, maggots! Bwaaaahaha!

Bottom line. I am happy to get some new stuff to do with 7.3, and I kind of like the idea of taking the battle to another planet. And even if the new world quests are just reruns of the Broken Shore ones, at least they are a somewhat new variation. But I can’t escape the feeling that Blizz is funneling us down a narrower and narrower chute in terms of game play — no flying, no esthetic exploring, keep up your champion missions, grind your butt off for AP again. I feel like they are sacrificing their enormous capacity for creativity all in the name of cranking out “content” at a blistering pace. And that they have begun to view players as nothing more than Monthly Active User statistics to be manipulated for the bottom line, not as customers who play their game just because they take pure delight in it.

Personal note: Thanks to the well-wishers for my family in Houston last week. It was a week of little sleep for me, along with a lot of phone calls and micro-organizing, but it ultimately resulted in a satisfactory outcome. And not for nothin’, but I come from good stock — my 80-year old great-aunt and uncle weathered hardship that would defeat many, much younger, people. Uncle Bertie and Aunt Ellen — you guys rock!

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

8 Responses to Patch 7.3 first week impressions

  1. Alunaria says:

    Well said. How I miss exploring. There has been nothing, that has peaked my interest on the new planet.

    I get it has to be demon-y, but still. Every zone seems so packed after Cataclysm.

    I don’t mind time gating, but I hate when class hall missions interrupt my questing.

    Yes. Quantity appears to be the drive now, instead of quality.

    I wish we would get more open spaces in the future.

    I wonder what it takes for the game to change direction like that.

    • Fiannor says:

      “I wonder what it takes for the game to change direction like that.”

      I think the answer is, a new expansion. I worry, though, that Blizz may now feel they have a terrific, cheap formula for design, and that they will be tempted to use it for all future expansions. Just change a few variables in the code (replace all instances of OrcMobX with DemonMobX), and voila! — tons of new “content”!

      It’s clearly efficient to reuse/repurpose the complex code that powers WoW, and the designers would be stupid to not do so. Certainly this is not a new or unusual practice. What is a bit of a change, though, is not only the degre to which they seem to be doing it, but also the sheer laziness of not bothering to disguise it at all. Last night I did a WQ that was, for all intents and purposes, the exact same WQ we have been doing forever in Felsoul Hold — same open-walled pavilion-type chamber, same small adjoining cubbyholes with quest stuff inside them, same staircase leading up to a second floor, same partitions on the second floor with the same artwork, etc. The area even seemed to have the same guards at the same locations as the one in Felsoul Hold.

      I hope this trend is a consequence of Blizz having over-promised on content in Legion, and that they are cranking it out any old whichaway just to keep the promise — NOT that they think they have stumbled on a way to keep the game going with far fewer resources, thus allowing them to concentrate on all their other franchises, the ones they think will make more money for them than WoW.

      • Alunaria says:

        Thank you for an in depth response. I see, yes.

        One can only hope, that a new expansion will sort of draw a line in the sand, and then things change.

        The 77 days between “patches” seem bizarre to me. I much rather wait for quality. And the time gating to prevent us from ending up whining about “too little content”…Bizarre. It is as if they try to please those that have 24 hours to play the game, which is just odd, and a recipe for failure, in my oppinion.
        And it leads to what you describe above, which comes across as lazy design.

        Ah well. Heres to hoping for a brighter future 🙂

  2. Grumsta says:

    I’ve only taken two characters to Argus so far: my HC-geared Mage (924) and my LFR noob Warrior Tank (902). No prizes for guessing who was by far the easiest to churn through the content with. It’s Suramar 2.0 but without the Mask.

    Yes Argus is a destroyed world, yes I get that we’re invading them now and the roads should be safe for them, not us: but it doesn’t feel like that. It’s just a dull and annoying extension of the Broken Shore.

    I’m hoping the later zones will at least have some different terrain to experience, but I’m not holding my breath. Currently I’m only on Argus when I absolutely have to be.

    If you get a 10-second break from being attacked by mobs the sky box is a thing of utter beauty, that’s the best thing about Argus and 7.3 for me so far. Early days but my excitement is firmly in check currently.

    To me, Argus is the worst elements of the Broken Shore and Suramar rolled into one. Add on another AP grind, more rep, new mats and more new currency and it’s getting towards WoD’s feeling of Job 2.0 to do when I get home from the one that pays.

    • Fiannor says:

      Yeah. I really wanted to like Argus and 7.3, but the whole thing just smacks of a rushed, lazy, reroll of all of the worst aspects of Legion. As I noted in a comment above, it seems pretty obvious that Blizz over-promised on the idea of constant new “content” in Legion, and while they have technically kept to their ambitious schedule, it has come at the expense of quality and creativity.

      I thought Broken Shore seemed like a hastily-concocted patch that offered very little in terms of game enjoyment, but Argus is even worse since it is, as you say, “a dull and annoying extension of Broken Shore.” I, too, will venture to Argus only when I absolutely have to. And I am not expecting the introduction of invasions this week to change that opinion.

      Legion is indeed approaching the WoD “Job 2.0” feeling. I truly believe that is a consequence of Blizz’s near-total obsession with forcing higher and higher MAU numbers. They are shamelessly manipulating their most loyal players, literally and figuratively forcing us down paths that have none of the creative, whimsical beauty and delight we have always loved about the game.

  3. gnomecore says:

    1. Whistle upgrade to use on Argus comes with Revered with Krokuul which currently have one 75 rep quest daily. It’s the worst solution ever: by the time we would be able to transport, we won’t need it that much.

    2. I’ve been expressing my concern about Argus many years before we saw it: you don’t really want Argus. It’s a mess, it’s been under Legion for hundreds/thousands of years. What else would you expect of it?! Now people saw it, and we should expect whining. Guys, Legion has 1 (one) terramorphing option: black scorched rocks and green fel puddles. Deal with it. I never wanted to come here.

    3. As an LFR raider, I’m having no concern with relics and AP now. I’ve leveled all 36 weapons (for all specs of 12 classes) to 52 so far, and I quit tracking this progress. I draw the line with my grind here – AP will come naturally from now on without my special attention. If I have a new relic option – hooray, here we go. I’m just gonna be enjoying the specs I like to play. I just let it go.

    4. Got no worries with upgrading my followers to 950 – I’ve never met any mission so far that couldn’t be completed with my 900 followers with at least 150% chance 🙂

  4. I think that the designers are all working on the next expansion. Argus could have been incredible, a whole new planet with cool little bits in odd little corners (the kind of thing that we expect in WoW) but I really think that this was done in haste a while ago. The timing for them is different than for us, they need to get over to the next expansion pronto. So, we see recycled ideas and offerings of things that were successful in the past like invasions/assaults and BoA gear to mail to Alts.
    In a strange way, I feel like the bosses rolled over and made decisions to satisfy the design team and not the player themselves. We are on the ground and immersed and can enjoy the detail in the little jumpy imp.

    • Fiannor says:

      I completely agree, both 7.2 and 7.3 have seemed like hastily-created patches done solely to meet a deadline. If there has been any real design quality involved, it has been with the dungeons and raid tiers for these patches, but even those seem ploddingly devoid of Blizz’s usual creative genius.

      I am not sure the bosses are trying to satisfy the design team over the players, to me it seems more like they are aiming only towards the stockholders and their Activision-Blizzard corporate bottom line. As I noted in my reply to @Grumsta, MAU now seems to be the only driving force for game design — if something stretches out the time players have to play in order to obtain it, it is good. If not, forget it, no matter how esthetically pleasing it is or how much players would enjoy it. The game is no longer about fun for players, it is all about forcing the remaining players to spend more and more time chasing game goals.

      As an aside, the whole re-introduction of more grinding in class halls and for champion gear fits in with this. Since time spent on the WoW mobile app counts towards MAU stats, the more Blizz can get us to check in during the day with it, the higher the stats for them.

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