I love a good conspiracy theory. For me few things beats fanciful speculation based on cherry-picked facts and impossible to prove or disprove motivations. It makes for grand entertainment.
For example, it seems to be almost a given in certain quarters that Blizzard’s decision to drop the WoW 5.0.4 patch today is an attempt to distract attention away from the Guild Wars 2 launch.
If you ignore the fact that major patches and launches always happen on Tuesday in the US, that there are only so many Tuesdays between now and the Pandaria launch (which itself had to launch before the WoW year long subscription deal started to expire), that Blizzard always drops this sort of new content about a month before an expansion launch, and that it is a freaking patch that really only impacts people who are already playing WoW… with all of that irrelevance out of the way, you can clearly see the conspiracy unfolding.
So let us look at what the evil masterminds at Blizzard have deployed to spoil the Guild Wars 2 launch! What bits of candy and other tasty tidbits will become to WoW in this spoiler patch. The patch notes tell all!
Details after the cut to protect the young children from these stunning and graphic revelations!
Are you ready to go down the rabbit hole?
Well, then lets start from the top. What is the first item on the list?
Account-wide Achievements, pets, and mounts
- In Patch 5.0.4 and beyond, the majority of your character’s Achievements, pets, and mounts will be shared with your other characters.
That is interesting I guess. I suppose I should be happy that I do not have to do every achievement with every character in order to feel complete. But I wasn’t really doing that in any case. I suppose the only question I have here is about mounts I got for referring friends. Do all my characters get them now? I suspect those are not in the majority.
World Event: Attack on Theramore Isle
- Warchief Garrosh, obsessed with assuring the Horde’s supremacy over Kalimdor, launches an all-out attack against Jaina’s island home of Theramore. Though valiant Alliance defenders rush to repel the sudden onslaught, they’ll soon find themselves unprepared for the terrible scope of Garrosh’s true plans…
- This Scenario will become available in the weeks leading up to the launch of Mists of Pandaria on September 25.
We have plans for a world even… which won’t actually be available until September 18th, and will be for level 85 characters only. Not a big draw today I am going to guess.
- Area of effect looting comes to World of Warcraft with this patch. After killing a group of enemies in close proximity, when you loot one of their corpses, the loot window will include items from all of the nearby corpses for which you have loot rights.
Put this under the heading of “about time.” Anybody logging in just to AOE loot?
BattleTag support in World of Warcraft
- Players who have enabled their BattleTag will now be able to:
- See BattleTag friends in your friends list.
- Add and remove BattleTag friends.
- Send BattleTag invites to other players via right-click.
This is a needed item. I had a couple of odd instances where people I shared Battle Tags with in Diablo III could see me in WoW but I could not see them. This was apparently because they were also using Real ID. Not really a game changer though, more of a late to the party again item.
- In some zones, players are now able to form a group with other players from a select pool of realms.
- When a player is in a zone that is set as a “cross-realm zone”, in addition to seeing other players from their native realm, they’ll also seamlessly see (and be able to play with) players from other realms.
- Players will always be able to group and quest as they normally would with players from their native realm.
- This functionality will be enabled for a limited number of realms at first, and will be granted to additional realms as we near the release of Mists of Pandaria.
On one level, I guess this is neat. One of the biggest problems I have had with WoW in the past is that I know a lot of people playing it, but we’re all spread out over too many servers. However, the “select pool of realms” aspect means that I likely won’t group with my friends. And how often do I ever need to group in normal zones in WoW in any case? I guess for Pandaria that might been neat, but what I need today is cross-realm groups for dungeons and raids with people with whom I have exchanged Battle Tags or some such. This doesn’t give me anything really.
All classes have been updated with a new talent system, improved abilities, and spells (accessible throughout levels 1-85). Your character’s talents have been reset.
- Many old talents have been converted to specialization abilities.
- Druids now have access to a fourth class specialization: Guardian.
- New spells are now learned automatically. Class trainers are only needed to change talents, glyphs, class specialization, or to utilize the dual specialization feature.
- All characters now take 40% less damage from other players.
Because we all love learning a new talent system. Bleh. That might just be me though. And it gives the WoW fan sites a chance to write survival guides to help the non-enthusiastic.
- Valor points have been converted to Justice points, and Conquest points have been converted to Honor points.
- Neither of the resultant currencies (Justice and Honor) have an enforced hard-cap at this time.
- Players are no longer able to earn Valor or Conquest points (bosses drop Justice, and arenas are closed).
- Items formerly purchasable for Valor/Conquest are available for Justice/Honor.
Another currency revamp. I don’t even know what currencies I have at this point outside of gold.
- Spell Penetration has been replaced by PvP Power on existing items.
- Head enchants removed
- Enchants that modify the gear in your head slot have been removed from the game. This includes older head enchants of every type.
- Relics, ranged, and thrown items
- The slot in which ranged, relics, and thrown items were previously equipped has been removed. All weapons should now be equipped in the weapon slot.
- Ranged weapons, including wands, have been adjusted to be more powerful.
- Ranged weapons no longer have a minimum range.
No more head enchants. No minimum range on ranged weapons. The ranged weapon one is good if your focus is on that I suppose… which probably makes you a hunter. Another simplification.
- The glyph system has been updated. Many class glyphs have been added, altered, or moved to different glyph types.
- Prime glyphs have been removed.
- Chef’s Award and Dalaran Cooking Award have been removed. Existing awards have been converted to Epicurean’s Award.
More changes I will need to figure out… if I go back to play. And now we have consolidated another currency, creating a unified cooking award. Yay.
- The cap for daily quests has been removed.
- There is no longer a displayed count of daily quests completed.
No longer will you be limited to just 25 daily quests. I am sure there is a giant sign of relief going out across Azeroth over this one. I think, maybe once, on a particularly ambitious day where I was grinding faction, doing Argent Tournament, and working on cooking, I managed to do 20 daily quests. Maybe I am just a low achiever.
- There is a new user interface for your mounts and pets.
- Character creation screens have been updated.
- Buffs have been consolidated in the UI.
- New roll results frame added. This new feature can be accessed by clicking the word “[Loot]” in chat, or by typing “/loot”.
- The PvE queue frames have been unified. You can now queue for dungeons, raids, and other queue-able content in one handy place.
- Vendors now offer item filtering.
- Spellbooks have been updated to reflect changes to core abilities, and now include a brief overview of specializations.
- The Dungeon Journal has been expanded with information on all pre-Cataclysm encounters.
- A new help system has been added to many frames. You can toggle this on and off by clicking the “i” button in the upper left corner of the frame.
This looks like part of the traditional “break all the addons!” preliminary portion of the expansion. This is where we find out how many addon authors no longer play WoW I suspect.
- Mac OS X 10.5 is no longer supported.
- Added full support for Retina displays.
- Added support for game resolutions that match Mac screen aspect ratios.
- Switching between Windowed and Fullscreen display modes should be faster.
- A “Help” menu has been added, so that players can quickly navigate to support pages.
- A menu item that allows players to copy system information to the Clipboard has been added.
- A menu item that reveals various game files and folders in Finder has been added.
Macintosh issues actually impact our household. My daughter plays on an iMac. But none of this will likely be incentive enough to come back and play WoW.
And then, not actually in the patch notes, but an item promised in the 5.0.4 patch:
With the release of patch 5.0.4, we’re making all the races of Azeroth playable by anyone, no matter which version or expansion of World of Warcraft they own. This includes the enigmatic pandaren, who will become available for play when Mists of Pandaria is released on Tuesday, September 25. We want the entire World of Warcraft community to be able to embrace their inner goblin, blood elf, worgen, draenei, or pandaren from the moment they step foot into the world of Azeroth.
If you play WoW and haven’t purchased the Burning Crusade (blood elf, draenei) or Cataclysm (worgen, goblin) expansions, you should be able to create characters of those races now. And when Pandaria hits, you will also be able to create Pandaren characters without buying the Mists of Pandaria expansion.
Which is kind of cool. I think Blizzard is at the point where they ought to be rolling up everything into their latest expansion. Expecting new people to show up and buy the base game plus three expansions in order to be able to play the fourth expansion is beyond the state of reasonable expectations.
In fact, I think the winning move would be the Mists of Panderia box, digital or otherwise, giving you everything from the base game forward. Even EverQuest, the king of expansion boxes, found they needed to roll things up once in a while, while EverQuest II went for the “expansion plus all previous content” pretty early on in their expansions.
And if we’re going to throw everything on the plate, I should also bring up that the WoW remote app is now free of a monthly fee as well.
And that is about it. This is Blizzard’s couter-stroke against the Guild Wars 2 launch.
Aside from the opening up of races… and they key race, the Pandas don’t show up until September 25th… there doesn’t seem to be a lot there that would legitimately appear to be a temptation to bring players back to Azeroth.
The best I can come up with is that Blizzard is somehow trying to clog up the internet by patching on… well… patch day. And I think Microsoft is more likely to cause problems on any given Tuesday in that regard.
But that is just me… and there is the distinct possibility that, because I am not playing either game, I really can’t muster up the energy to care. Honestly, a new talent system makes me want to stay away from WoW.
What do you think? Now, in the calm light of day, what was it all about?
And, of course, do you think this patch influenced anybody to change their MMO path this fall?