WoW Factor: Examining World of Warcraft’s 7.2 update

Patch 7.2 is the first real content patch that we’ve gotten for World of Warcraft post-Legion. Obviously, 7.1 wasn’t devoid of content, but it was far more a patch about nudging in the things that just barely missed launch… and frankly, Karazhan (which was the centerpiece of the patch) didn’t really have a whole lot of staying power. It felt thin.

Mind you, 7.1 is still more of a content patch than 6.1 was, so I’m arguing more that it wasn’t substantial enough to really sell itself rather than dredging up some truly awful comparisons. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

Regardless, 7.2 is a meaty update with a whole lot of stuff going on all at once, including a whole bunch of storyline content bringing us into the actual war against the Legion proper. I haven’t been testing a great deal of it myself because I tend to prefer putting most of my effort into stuff that’s not getting wiped so that I’ll have to do it all again, but let’s take a look at what we already know is out there.

More artifact power

I glamoured over these, like, forever ago. Oh, yes, it's technically ''transmogged'' I DO NOT CARE.I’m kind of torn on the increase in artifact traits. On the one hand, hey, I’m happy to have the game offering us more stuff to do and more means of advancement because that’s fun stuff. On the other hand… well, the problem is that the vast majority of these advancement options aren’t all that much more exciting than what we have now, just more ornate.

Most artifacts have a handful of interesting powers mixed in with a whole lot of powers that work without being terribly interesting. No one, ever, has been excited by a 4% damage boost to a workhorse ability. It’s useful, but it’s not exactly interesting. And the new talents, with only a few exceptions, are largely in that same line of improvement, offering you further marginal improvements to the abilities that you use most frequently without causing your character to actually play differently or change your rotations at all.

That contributes to the idea that the artifacts really are just going to float away after this expansion, which seems intensely limiting. One of the things that I’ve thought would be a fun change of pace was to have multiple artifacts for a single spec, each one providing a different sort of boost for a slightly different playstyle. If most of the abilities are just straight power boosts, though, that really ties into the idea that in another year and a half, we’ll just be going back to the first quest green we can find for our weaponry.

All of the numbers also strongly support the idea that these new ranks are going to be a real bear to achieve without more ranks in Artifact Knowledge, which means that you’re in for a less-than-thrilling process on the way to where you must go. I like the Artifact Knowledge system in broad strokes, but the execution often leaves something to be desired, I’m sorry to say.

Still, I’m happy that we are getting more advancement for our artifacts beyond the useful-but-drab ever-escalating power trait at the end. I’m also glad that a quest chain is involved, as it adds a little more mystique to the process; yes, there aren’t 36 distinct chains for the upgrade, but that was always asking a lot. Frankly, a lot of the various orders overlap enough that it feels pretty natural.

Let's do this old gag again.

Back to the Broken Shore

I really liked the Isle of Quel’danas back in the day, but it did have a pretty glaring problem insofar as the project to build up the island was a one-time thing. That’s not a dealbreaker, obviously, but it means that going back doesn’t feel resonant in the same way; it’s just a daily quest hub and a pair of dungeons, not something that you worked with your fellow players to establish over time.

The fact that the Broken Shore structures appear to be temporary, then, is an important change and a worthy one. You have to work to make sure that the buildings go up and stay up, and concentrated efforts at first are going to make all of the difference. It also means that the island is going to feel different when there are people constantly questing there instead of just flitting in and out as the urge strikes them. All of these are positive traits, and they help make taking part in the offense feel more important.

Unfortunately, a lot of what’s going to make the Shore work (or not work) isn’t actually in place just yet, so a lot of what we’re seeing is speculation. The Legionfall reputation is in place, but it doesn’t actually do anything yet, so it’s functionally just a placeholder. Will everything feel like it ties together nicely, or will we all just be staring at the isle and feeling that it was a wasted effort?

I don’t necessarily like that the game is going back to the Timeless Isle sort of structure this soon in the expansion cycle, but I do like what we’ve seen so far of the Broken Shore. It feels like it could be a good area to adventure in, both thematically and mechanically. More refinement is needed (and fewer placeholders) before we can really be sure about it, though.

New champions

Having more Class Order stuff to do meets with my approval, even if a lot of it tends to involve getting new random lore NPCs back in your corner. It’s an eclectic assortment of options that we’ve got right now, ranging from Magatha and Kanrethad to Lady S’theno (who should have been a champion in the first place, really).

Some people are rather upset about the fact that some of our recruits are, well… awful. I can understand why a Shaman wouldn’t want Magatha Grimtotem hanging around. But I also kind of like that aspect of things. From a roleplaying perspective, my Shaman most definitely does not trust Magatha and thinks she should be sealed away… but she is a powerful shaman, no matter how awful she might be. It’s the Godzilla Threshold in action, where you need all hands on deck for the Legion, even if you just know some of them are going to wind up selling you down the river later.

Plus, we’ve all had our full roster of champions maxed for months, right? We needed something to do.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time around, we’ll probably have a clearer picture of 7.2, and there’s a whole lot of stuff I haven’t touched upon yet. So naturally, I’m half-tempted to just take a sharp turn in another direction and talk about where the game can actually go after this expansion.

War never changes, but World of Warcraft does, with a decade of history and a huge footprint in the MMORPG industry. Join Eliot Lefebvre each week for a new installment of WoW Factor as he examines the enormous MMO, how it interacts with the larger world of online gaming, and what’s new in the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor.
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5 Comments on "WoW Factor: Examining World of Warcraft’s 7.2 update"

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Leviathonlx

The story spoilers from the voiceovers alone are making me excited for 7.2 and 7.3

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Rottenrotny

There’s been plenty of content in Legion.
How many patches do they have to release before they out from under that ‘content drought’ cloud? Frankly I suspect that MMO gaming sites will continue to claim otherwise just for clicks.

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Nathan Aldana

Honestly artifact power feels like blizzard looked at the ffxiv relic weapon system, borrowed the grind but never really examined how to make that grind feel unobtrusive or manageable. The fact the relic weapon comes in stages that lead to discrete jumps in power , along with being able to make a little progress a day or big heaps if you wanna grind but with a solid per-cap patch, makes it feel a lot more manageable and fun imo

Polyanna
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Polyanna

All of the numbers also strongly support the idea that these new ranks are going to be a real bear to achieve without more ranks in Artifact Knowledge.

The AK cap will be raised to 40 ranks in 7.2. That won’t help a ton right away, since you will again need to do time gated work orders to get your knowledge level maxed out. But if your weapon is at 54 points when 7.2 arrives, then you will have a head start because you will get a bunch of AP refunded, due to the old paragon trait being eliminated, so that you can buy ranks into the new traits right away (probably the first 4 points, before hitting the two new elites).

For what it’s worth, it’s pretty clear at this point that Artifact Knowledge is Blizzard’s response to the old “play for a month, unsub for four” routine that used to be so popular. It’s clear since 7.1.5 that the catch-up progression express lane only will be open from now on to those who stay at least minimally in the game continuously, in order to maintain progress on time gated mechanics like AK, where you need, for example, maxed out AK on at least one character in order to buy the most aggressive (and cheapest) catch-up boosts for your alts.

That’s different from how Blizzard has done catch up mechanics in the past, where anyone could come back after months and get caught up near instantly, to the same level, or nearly the same level, as people who have been playing (and paying) the whole time. You still can get there, but you may have to be back in for a month or more to get the same amenities that others who did not take a break have right away. In Legion, if you want the quickest and easiest catch ups for alts and re-rolls, then you’ll have to pay for them, one way or another.

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Bryan Cole

This would be a fine way to do content and keep me playing IF this were to continue into the next expansion. Taking away my weapon after all this hardwork however…is not my idea of fun and I’d rather play another MMO that rewards me for my time whether I’m casual or not on a more permanent basis. Like ESO.

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