Ion sat with PC gamer to talk about lessons learned from BfA, and what’s coming up.
The big take aways for me are thus:
- The devs thought the fact that Legion artifacts were front loaded in terms of skills, then only minor increments over time was some something players disliked. That was a mistake. (Extrapolating here – but the enemy of legion was RNG, which BfA went all in for.)
- Azerite gear is a large enough misstep that they are putting in a new system. Instead of unlocking skills on gear, you unlock it on the neck (permanent item). So they learned that they should not take stuff away from people while leveling. Odd that was even a lesson to learn in the first place.
- 8.2 will be akin to 7.3, in terms of horizontal features. I liked the content in Argus, it was just unfortunate that it made everything before that completely irrelevant. Also begs the question if this is the last patch of the expansion. That would be pure folly, due to the next point.
- The lack of testing and feedback collection in beta sent them down the wrong path. While I can understand that Azerite gear was very nebulous up until the last month or so, it does bear mention that all the issues were fairly clearly stated in the beta forums before launch. Pretty much every complaint from then grew into a wildfire. That’s like being put between a rock and a hard place, you have a set release date and a you know a key component cannot be fixed in time.
- If Blizz really wants longer lead time on system development, there’s no way 8.2 is the last patch… and I’d bet that there are 2 more to come.
- Blizz has also come to realize that making decisions now to avoid an issue in 3 years isn’t practical. Either that issue never really existed, the market will shift and it won’t matter, or the decision causes major negative feedback that you lose players.
- Related, there are some pieces of the game that just should not be changed for the sake of change. (I mentioned Pet Battles are relatively untouched).
All in all a relatively good read, and a rare occurrence of a dev admitting that their design decisions were poorly received. I’m generally curious as to how 8.2 will be received. A lot of the pain points from launch have been, or will be addressed. There are some clear lessons learned from the devs, as the feedback on this particular expansion has been some of the most vocal I’ve ever seen.
Quite important to note that when the core of the content is based on a particular foundation, and that foundation is considered a flaw by the players… it is a whole world of pain to make the necessary changes without causing everything else to fall apart. We’re about 9 months out since launch, in terms of dev work, that’s a pretty quick turnaround for such big changes.
Here’s hoping it sticks the landing.