The first bit of news relates to Wildstar. Megaservers are coming next week, so you’ll be able to find people to play with again. Yay! Also, Drop 3 & 4 are being combined and targeted for November. It’s making it hard to figure out what is in and what is out of scope of that change. The Reddit feeds are good enough to try and keep track but there’s still some mystery to be had. Of interesting note, January is Carbine’s timeframe for “solo friendly” content. I could write for miles about that topic. MILES I say. But in short, delaying all your content until after WoW and SWTOR have launched their expansions is an odd play of hands.
WoW is dropping patch 6 today, which is the precursor to the actual expansion. This includes all the system changes but not the actual new content (zones, dungeons, level increase, garrisons, etc…). So you get to see item squish, removal of guild levels (yay!), removal of reforging, changes to glyphs (you now get a bunch at default), removal of some difficulty achievements, a new group finder (not LFG/LFR), the new Flex raid model, massive class balances, new stats, new character models and just plain cleanup. Though they are removing one type of Anti-Aliasing that was a GPU hog, in order to accommodate the players with scientific calculators. It’s a rather significant downgrade to fidelity, if that means anything to you.
You can read the link for all the notes and there are plenty but the core of the matter is that this is the stage-setting patch for the expansion – where Blizz applies the final tweaks to the system to make sure that the swap from Beta makes sense. I fully expect the raid scene to take a dive for 2 weeks, a few emergency patches and a trainwreck of “I can’t faceroll anymore” posts to result from the squish change.
What I find odd as lacking, is a revamp of the heirloom items or experience normalization that typically happens near expansion time. Where 1-85 is pretty quick (you can do 80-85 in 2 zones), the experience from 85-90 isn’t up for debate. It’s arguably a fun experience, at least compared to the junk of Cata (thank goodness for flying) but if they are selling level 90 characters… then you’d think there’d be some QoL changes to this experience as well. I am expecting some post soon that changes that to everything working until at least 90, at least by 6.1.
Quick math… level 25 guild + heirlooms until 80 = 60% increase to experience from quests and kills. Which also combines with rested experience. And these items are fairly easy to acquire (except the ring…damn that fishing derby).
I am quite curious to see how all these changes play out.
EDIT: I am putting dollars to donuts that Blizz implements a system similar to SWTOR’s Legacy framework, or Marvel Heroes’ Synergy section. And therefore completely removes the existing Heirloom function. And for 6.1. Any takers?