Of course, the picture that it pains thus far also isn’t a pretty one, and there are a whole lot of question marks without solid answers. That’s part of the nature of this exercise. So let’s take a look at what we’ve learned from patch 4.3 and both what has gone said and gone unsaid. Fair warning, if it wasn’t obvious from context alone, there will be unmarked spoilers below. If you haven’t finished the story, you may wish to look away or resign yourself to spoiling.
What is unambiguous is the fact that the developers held a contest to show off your fashionable operator in a promotional video, which also fuels speculation about the next storyline update in the near future. The submissions on that particular contest closed on May 16th, so it’s quite possible that the story update could be any day now. Maybe even today! (It’s not today.)
Regardless, the important thing here is that we’ve got our next patch date and we’re ready to go with all of the corresponding anticipation. We’ve also got the spoiler-filled trailer that’s going to prove almost impossible to decipher until we watch it again after playing all of the stories and say, “oh, that’s where that scene is from,” so that helps too.
So let’s piece together what’s going to be our last column working from partial information, before next week we have patch notes to look over and analyze in greater detail. There’s even a 24-hour maintenance cycle to prepare for, you know.
If you love trying to speculate about the next title coming from Blizzard based on vague job postings, you’ll be happy to know that another one is there, asking for a director with a passion for PvP experiences. Of course, Blizzard’s last three titles have all been PvP-focused experiences, but combined with the focus on unit abilities and the promises that this will be a first-person title, the game sounds a lot like…
Well, actually, that sounds a lot like Overwatch. Which is already a thing that exists, so perhaps that’s not it.
Speculation can, of course, go in almost any direction; it could be Blizzard’s version of a battle royale title, a new version of the aforementioned Overwatch, or almost anything else. We simply don’t know at this point. But have fun speculating down in the comments and/or grousing about the promise of another first-person PvP-focused game getting released. It’s a very original genre.
People liked the 50v50 mode in Fortnite, but it had some issues. Fortunately, it was only a limited-time mode, so the developers could take it out back when its time had come. Polish it up, refine the systems, double-check everything, and bring it back as the new and improved 50v50 mode version two. That name might not sound terribly ominous, but it’s the huge matches people enjoyed coupled with new improvements and refinements. And it’s starting… today, actually.
The patch also has a number of other features, however; there’s a new cyberpunk story chapter in the Save The World mode, and a new high-capacity machine gun available in Battle Royale. So even if you don’t want to go big, you will not be forced to go home. Meanwhile, some players are obsessed with a comet that they think is going to destroy Tilted Towers, so it’s possible that everyone will feel really silly about worrying over the size of battles.
If Allied Races show us anything, it’s that World of Warcraft is really in no danger of running out of new races to throw at us. This particular system is adding nearly twice as many new races in one expansion as we’ve had added during the entirety of the game’s lifespan thus far, there’s another one that looks to be set up for this as well (hello there, Vulpera), and there’s a deep roster of other options that people have asked to have for ages. Yes, it would take some work to retrofit Vrykul and Ogres, but considering the work going into new male orc poses, Zandalari Trolls, and Kul Tiran Humans, it is definitely not insurmountable work.
Of course, as I alluded to a while back, we sort of have a disconnect right now where we’ve got far more race options than class options. And while we’re awash in races, we seem to be in danger of running out of classes that can’t be pretty cleanly modeled by what’s already in the game. That doesn’t mean we can’t get any new classes, of course, but it’s hard to justify the inclusion of a Pirate class when we already have a Rogue spec doing everything such a class would theoretically offer. The inclusion of mechanical Hunter pets alone basically short-circuited talk about “Engineer” as a class.
Not that this means we’re out of options, of course; in fact, there’s still plenty of things left in the bank of known or reasoned class options that we can’t play just yet. So let’s talk about some of those options, and along the way I’m sure we can fit in some fun discussions about the difference between classes and hero classes.
Is Call of Duty the next Activision franchise to migrate to Battlenet? Very likely. As Eurogamer broke earlier this month, players are now able to link their Call of Duty accounts to Battle.net – no doubt in anticipation for Black Ops 4.
I bring this up to MMO players because of the potential impact on World of Warcraft – specifically, token prices – as WoW players buy and sell their tokens to spend down their Blizzard balance to buy up the new CoD title (or cash in on the flurry). Redditors are current speculating about the incoming speculation, arguing that tokens prices have been relatively stable over the past few months, spiking for the Battle for Azeroth hoopla but ultimately settling back down. In fact, just covering the potential for a spike can cause a spike, one poster points out. Gamers will recall a similar situation last year when Destiny 2 landed on Battlenet, sending the token to record heights.
And that leads us to some Leaderboard fun. Do you speculate on WoW Tokens or other legal MMO RMT currency (like PLEX, C.R.E.D.D, etc.), or do you stay the heck away from that noise? Multiple responses are allowed!
One of the important things to note about World of Warcraft lore is that it’s never been static. It will retcon itself six ways from Sunday letting you know that the stuff you thought was true was never actually true, and it’s something the franchise has been doing since the second installment of the series was launched. (Remember when Azeroth was the name of the human nation, not the freaking planet?) This is not a game where the lore has been carefully planned out so that you can make reasonable predictions much of the time, this is where the lore repeatedly changes as new installments come out.
This is fine. I really like games where all of the lore is written out and planned well in advance (obviously) but I also have appreciation for the way that WoW’s backstory does change with the tides. It rarely outright invalidates the past, but the past is not static as we learn more about it.
Enter the speculation about Druids in Kul Tiras, speculation that seems to be getting backed up with increasing amounts of evidence. And as I look at all of this, I can’t help but note that even a moment’s consideration reveals that this is an enormous mess for the game’s overall lore.
One of the big features of World of Warcraft’s next expansion is available for testing now, the island expeditions. If you’ve wondered what it’ll be like to venture into randomly-generated regions in the hopes of finding spectacular rewards (meaning Azerite), you can try that out right now! Assuming you’re in the Battle for Azeroth alpha, anyhow. Everyone else is just going to have to wait.
The latest build for the alpha test also contains the long-awaited posture switch option for male Orcs, allowing them to stand upright rather than hunching over perpetually. It also adds in a new cat form for the Zandalari and what appears to be a bear form for Kul Tiran druids, fueling speculation that Kul Tiran humans are both on their way as an allied race and that they will address the imbalance of Druid options currently in the game. It’s not confirmed, obviously, it could just be a weird bear, but what’s life without some fun speculation?
It’s funny to me that people had such an aggressive reaction to the changes coming to Hunter pets and damage formulas in Battle for Azeroth. The latter in particular should be both invisible and completely immaterial for actual play; the only real change is that they now use weapon damage on abilities which were previously disconnected from weapon damage, but these formulas have always taken into account, say, the difference between two-handers and dual-wielding options. The former is, at its core, an opportunity to make pet families relevant again after most of the pets of Legion were more or less difference in appearance only, which is a far cry from the days when your choice of pet was significant.
To make it clear if it’s remotely ambiguous: Yes, these are changes I support and ones I think are good for the game on a whole.
And yet all of this does prompt a pretty salient question about World of Warcraft because even if these are intelligent choices, the weapon damage issue has existed for ages now. The time for fussing about with Hunter pets was also ages ago. It’s a big change to functionality being tossed into the mix more or less out of the blue with no other prompting, and that raises the question that’s been relevant ever since Cataclysm rolled around: Why is it that Blizzard can’t stop messing with everything?
Not so long ago, our editor-in-chief was talking about how World of Warcraft needs some form of multiclassing system. So let’s talk about how the game could do that, yes? That’s something we haven’t talked about.
It’s actually one of those weird things that has, for various reasons, never actually come up at all as a promised feature of any sort, especially as the various specs within a class have become more and more diversified. In the earliest days, an Enhancement Shaman and an Elemental Shaman both had the same tools and had talents to emphasized different ones; these days, they share a minority of abilities and mostly get their own unique kit. You can swap between specs pretty freely, but not between classes.
But that’s not to say we couldn’t get some form of multi-classing. Heck, it felt like the various spec-bending talents for Druids were already halfway toward this sort of support, and Druids themselves sort of lean into the direction of multiple classes under one roof. So with absolutely no indication that such a feature has ever been seriously discussed beyond fan theories, let’s look at how this could work in World of Warcraft.
We’re not going to blow anyone’s mind by stating that pets are pretty central to the experience of playing a Hunter in World of Warcraft. You can eschew one altogether as Marksmanship, but they’re still pretty darn important. The developers have put together a long post discussing the mechanical changes coming to hunter pets with the Battle for Azeroth expansion. No, you won’t be able to choose your pet’s specialization any longer, but that’s because all three specializations are now meant to simultaneously tank while solo and provide DPS through other means, while pet-specific abilities are becoming more varied and potent across the board.
But there’s plenty to discuss even outside of official announcements as datamining has uncovered what appears to be broadcast text for the siege of Lordaeron and the attack on Teldrassil (i.e., the events that kick off the expansion as a whole). There are also new bits of datamining suggesting that First Aid may be rolled into the Tailoring profession, as well as a new mount that strengthens the hints of a mag’har allied race for the Horde. All unannounced thus far, of course, but still exciting fuel for speculation.
The thing about datamining is that it doesn’t always paint a picture of where a game is going; it paints a picture of where the developers considered directing a game. Sometimes there are hints that never wind up going anywhere more substantial. But we can hope that the latest round of datamining for Pokemon Go is accurate, because it points to what would be a huge change for the game with the addition of story quests.
Yes, there are hints about a full quest system complete with a complete rework of the previous daily spin/catch bonuses. Those had always been labeled as quests, but the latest patch adds in several other categories of quests complete with objectives and potential rewards. Obviously, none of this is active in the game at the moment and there’s certainty of when or whether it’ll be rolled out, but the prospect alone should be enticing to fans of the game.