Patch 3.1 is no different, and as such I’ve had a couple of days to mull over the notes. The obvious big features like Void Ark and the exploratory missions are things to be discussed as the patch is actually played, and you know that’s going to be the subject of the column over the next few weeks. But some things can be analyzed just from the notes, and so I’m going to examine the notes, consider what we know, and rant about a colossally dumb decision that has been made.
The problem with Neverreap and Fractal is not that either dungeon is inherently bad; they’re solid dungeons, and I would vastly prefer to have the two of them on tap instead of, say, Sastasha (Hard) and Pharos Sirius. (I know those two were never contemporaries, bear with me.) The problem is that we’ve been running those two as our sole expert choices for months on end now, and Yoshida has acknowledged in the past that having just three dungeons in an expert led to a certain amount of contempt for that limited rotation.
And now we have another two in the rotation, and we’ll be stuck with those two for another several months.
On the one hand, I should not be complaining; the rate at which we get new dungeons in this game is absurd, especially if you consider the Hard modes to be almost entirely new dungeons (and they really are). We are spoiled for dungeon content, and the constant stream of new dungeons has to get exhausting. At the same time, yes, three months of running the same two dungeons over and over is going to be better than the past five months of running the same two dungeons, but it still wears on you.
I can’t find it in myself to get too angry about this chiefly because we’ll also have at least one run of Void Ark a week plus the new roulette for Neverreap and Fractal; we won’t be seeing as much of Pharos Hard and the Arboretum, I imagine. It’s still kind of a weak design decision, and the fact that it’s being made to facilitate content that currently seems to have a less clearly defined role fills me with mixed emotions. It remains to be seen how the Diadem content will play out in the long term, but if it’s essentially more FATE content for better loot, I don’t feel we got a solid trade on investment there.
Shield Swipe everything
I am intensely happy to see Shield Swipe get yanked off of the GCD for Paladins. Putting triggered abilities like that on the GCD always makes them that much harder to use; the threat boost from Swipe often didn’t justify weaving it in on bosses, and against larger pulls I rarely wanted the Pacify badly enough. Now it actually has tactical use, and it makes Shelltron a bit better on top of that. It’s hardly the biggest ability change being made, but it’s noteworthy.
Ninja has had a wild ride with TP costs for a while now; the job has gone from having low consumption to uncomfortably high consumption, so dropping a couple of abilities certainly can’t hurt. I’m unsure about the mudra changes at this point and will have to play with them a bit. As someone with a solid connection who still occasionally runs afoul of network issues that kill my ninjutsu, the presence of fixes is not unwelcome.
I feel that tuning is still being a bit conservative at the moment; issues persist with stuff like Living Dead and Bard/Machinist DPS, and while gear and practice have mitigated some initial balance issues they still exist. Tuning needs a bit more attention than it seems to be getting, overall. Still, I know some people will be happy to turn off Darkside on others, so that’s there.
Housing improvements, housing fixes, housing problems
I have my eye on at least two houses that I suspect will be demolished in a month and a half. That’s a good thing. The fact that players no longer have to sit and stare at houses no longer being used by players who no longer play is definitely positive. But will that fix the situation with housing? No, it really won’t.
Fundamentally, what’s damaging housing – what has always damaged housing – is that there are too many people who want houses (at least half of the players on a server, plus free companies) and not enough space. This isn’t even necessarily a matter of size, although that’s a real consideration. We have a decided dearth of places to actually add new houses along with a decided overload of people who want houses, a problem that the designers are tacitly acknowledging when discussing the problematic parts of adding houses up in Coerthas.
Ultimately, I don’t see an easy answer to this; while I had hopes that personal housing would use a better system than has been employed, the existing system has been ground into the game at this point until it’s not something that can just be removed. The best thing that could be done comes down to adding more wards, and that brings with it different issues in both the game and the real world. My hope, if anything, is that all of this is considered and improved before people get to move up north.
All that having been said, the housing additions do make me very happy. Adding housemates can create a comfortable halfway point for players who don’t have a free company but still want some of the fun of houses, while the lighting feature is something players have wanted more or less since the introduction of housing. I know I’ll be turning down the light in parts of my main’s house to make things feel more comfortable.
And, you know, new furnishings. I like furnishings. There are a lot of them in place already, but more are always welcome.
I have high hopes and expectations alike for this patch: It has a whole lot of ground to cover to avoid feeling like a letdown, and it’s the patch which will set the tone for the remainder of the expansion patches. With a few reservations, it all looks good on paper, but we’ll find out how well it delivers on those promises starting tomorrow.
Feedback, as always, is welcome down in the comments below or via mail to email@example.com. Next time around, you can guess what I’ll be talking about: It’ll be a week with patch 3.1. I don’t mind being predictable like that.