Well, folks, I hope you’ve made your pre-purchases of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth and started playing your allied races. I found out about the opening of pre-purchases when I was busy being out of the house and unable to buy anything, so I admittedly managed to get a bit of schadenfreude out of the fact that everyone else was equally unable to buy the expansion in the interim. When I actually got home I decided to give it a shot mostly for a lark, at which point it went through without a hitch.
The lesson here is that very mild patience is rewarded, and if that patience is a result of not having any alternatives that’s close enough, I guess.
The opening of pre-purchase brings along with it plenty of fun stuff to discuss, ranging from the actual unlock quests and scenarios to how the release date compares with predictions and existing data. So let’s all put down our moose-cows for a little bit to think about thing in a larger context, and then we can collectively get back to tearing up low-level zones with our allied race alts.
The date is early, or it’s not
So, it has only been a couple of weeks since I predicted the expansion release date as sometime in October or November based on a whole lot of math. What’s the deal? Was my math wrong? The answer, in short, is no; that’s the nature of statistics and math. It gives you a window of likely results, and it’s up to you to interpret that data and provide meaningful information based upon those results. Getting the interpretation wrong based on available evidence just means there was more evidence you didn’t have at the time.
Looking at the math using September 21st as a launch date, we wind up with just about 11 months from announcement to release, a roughly 25-month lifespan for Legion as an expansion, about 10 months after the last raid was released and 13 months after the last patch. All of these numbers are well within the margin of error for that data, and all things considered it feels more to me like being slightly off by aiming at late September instead of early October.
Of course, we don’t have an exact date just yet, so it might turn out being a little bit faster than all of that. But my suspicion, based on the fact that we’re just now moving into alpha testing, is that this roughly lines up with everything and still feels in the right ballpark. I went with later estimates and wound up betting a bit later, but it still feels like the core was solid.
If we all get wildly surprised and it comes out in July, of course, then that’s a massive departure from the past and should be called as such. We’ll cover that road when we get there; for now, I wouldn’t bet on anything significantly earlier than September 21st. (I imagine it’s more likely to aim for the Tuesday before, but that’s a couple of days in one direction.)
Hope you don’t like collecting
Objectively speaking, looking at the other entries in the game’s cash shop and comparing them to the CE pricing, this isn’t so egregious. After all, $20 for a mount and a pet is pretty standard (and before you argue that it’s two mounts, I would hasten to point out that each one is faction-locked and presumably does not fly), on the cheap side. It does rankle, however, that the majority of the goodies for the order are for games I do not actually play and do not wish to play.
Seriously, the promise of a Hearthstone cardback is a completely value-neutral addition. I don’t play Hearthstone and don’t want to. It’s a bit galling when you get a whole bunch of cross-promotional stuff for games you don’t actually want to play when you’d prefer more of that gets focused in on the game you’re literally buying.
The digital CE and pre-purchasing in general also still locks you out of getting the physical CE, which is just baffling to me. Square-Enix lets me get all of my pre-order bonuses when I order the physical CE instead of the digital one, and it always has. Of course, this is also part of the reason why I’ve basically given up on buying physical editions of Blizzard’s games, so… mission accomplished, I suppose?
Grabbing the races
The requirements to unlock the races, obviously, take significantly longer than the actual unlocking process. That’s not to say that they’re by any means tremendously difficult, mind; I returned to the game back in November and had been more or less sitting on the unlock requirements from that point on, but they will take you a little time if you’re starting from zero.
Once you have those accomplished on any character, it’s almost trivially easy to take care of the unlocks. You have a few scenes and bits of dialogue, you have a very basic scenario to clear through, and then you get the mount and the unlock. Thus far the Lightforged scenario was by far the most annoying one of the batch, although there’s the possibility that the Highmountain Tauren have one that’s even more tedious.
Yes, I said “tedious” for a reason there. It’s not difficult, just time-consuming. The characters I’m doing the scenarios with are not obscenely overgeared, but they do have more than passable equipment; then again, if you’ve done the stuff necessary to unlock all of the races, you’ll probably have at least acceptably comparable equipment.
The individual races do have a nice spread of customization options, but they really do just drop you into the mix; if you were hoping for more information about how the Lightforged operate, for example, you’ll be sad to know that you don’t get any of it. This bothers me slightly, as they’re the branch that felt most ill-defined up to this point and the one most in need of some explanation. You don’t get that; you create your character, hop to Stormwind, and then the game assumes you know what you’re doing from that point with a suite of decent gear for your level.
Which you will probably replace immediately with heirlooms, of course, because you had to be level 110 and put in some playtime to even get this far. Still, it’s not the usual guided experience of lower-level questing for World of Warcraft, and I feel like a little more examination might be welcome.
This does, however, nicely solve the issue that people have complained about in the past of having questgivers from new races retroactively filled in. No, there aren’t a bunch of new Lightforged questgivers floating around and offering me quests, because the Lightforged don’t exist in great numbers and they are a new addition to the ranks of the Alliance. I can appreciate the sense of being somewhat… off to one side, like you’re still not really a normal part of the team just yet, even if you’re welcome.
It also served as a good chance to test out all of the experience changes and such. For all that people complained about levels feeling slower now, I honestly didn’t notice a significant slowdown, and a handful of quests brought me up a level with my usual suite of heirlooms. You start out with some particularly good gear to get you moving, so the challenge is light, but it still felt like actual input and action were needed instead of optional.
So, hey, that’s all good. And since we’re going to have a few months until the expansion actually releases, it’s for the best that we’ll have something fun to do during that span.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now I just have to figure out how I’m redistributing all of my classes, which is going to take a while since I’ve got a remarkably large group of characters at high levels due to an old project; still, I’ll take almost any excuse not to level up through the Broken Isles yet again right now.