Tag Archives: WoW Legion

WoW Battle for Azeroth Sales Stacked Up Against Past Releases

Fortunately I did some of the groundwork for this post back with the WoW Legion release.

It is here and it is selling

Blizzard announced today that the Battle for Azeroth expansion for World of Warcraft, which went live around the world on August 13th and 14th, sold more than 3.4 million copies.  From the press release itself:

Heroes everywhere turned out in force, and Blizzard Entertainment today announced that as of Battle for Azeroth’s first full day of launch on August 14, more than 3.4 million units of the latest World of Warcraft®expansion had sold through worldwide—setting a new day-one sales record for the franchise and making it one of the fastest-selling PC games of all-time.*

I was a little worried about that asterisk at the end, but that just points to this:

Sales and/or downloads, based on internal company records and reports from key distribution partners.

So nothing dramatic there, just a clarification without much information.

To put that number in perspective here is how it shakes out relative to past launches:

  • Battle for Azeroth – 3.4 million
  • WoW Legion – 3.3 million
  • Warlords of Draenor – 3.3 million
  • Mists of Pandaria – 2.7 million (first week)
  • Cataclysm – 3.3 million
  • Wrath of the Lich King – 2.8 million
  • The Burning Crusade – 2.4 million
  • World of Warcraft – 240,000

That bodes well for the expansion.

Of course, you have to have some perspective when looking at that list.  Back in 2004 people had to go buy a physical box to play World of Warcraft and it has only been over the years that the process has become mostly a digital download experience.  But back then even that 240K number set a record for single day sales.  That number could have been bigger, but they effectively ran out of copies.  At BlizzCon they told the tale of the truck load of collector’s editions meant for employees being diverted to the retail channel because the game had sold out.  And that was US sales only, as it didn’t expand to the rest of the world until later.

The Burning Crusade number is probably the most impressive on the list, since it is made up of people who went out to a store and bought a physical copy on day one.  I went down to Fry’s on launch day… not at midnight for the launch party event… that used to be a thing back in the day… but closer to noon, to find pallets of the expansion out in the front of the store.  Blizzard was not going to run short like they did with the initial launch.  The cashier told me that people had been lined up outside the store for a copy earlier, so it was a pretty big deal.

I think the last time I went to the store to buy an expansion was for Wrath of the Lich King.  It has either been digital or Amazon discounted pre-orders since then.  WotLK was also a big seller considering how much of it was physical boxes.

And then there is Mists of Pandaria in the middle there, which they extended out to the first week of sales because it had to fight against both the sense of betrayal that some felt after Cataclysm and the lightweight perception that people had about it because it featured Pokemon-like pet battles and pandas as a race.  It turned out to be a fine expansion, but it had some work to do to overcome that.  I didn’t buy a copy until almost a year after it launched.

Anyway, the 3.4 million number is impressive, though the there ought to be an asterisk after it as well to remind people that the number includes all pre-launch digital sales.  You’ve been able to buy a copy of Battle for Azeroth since late January, so they have had a lot of time to pack in the sales, making the “fastest selling” claim a bit dubious.  (I am pretty sure that title really belongs to The Burning Crusade.)

But there were reasons to buy the expansion early, aside from the usual max level character boost (and mounts and pets if you bought the digital deluxe version).

There were four allied races to unlock (for which we received four more character slots per server) and level up, with special transmog gear if you hit level cap with them.  So, as a “giving people something to do” option it had some additional pull relative to past expansions.  And even that was only worth an additional 100,000 sales I guess.

The real number we’d all like to know, how many people are actually subscribed to World of Warcraft, remains hidden.  Once a staple of the Acitivision-Blizzard quarterly reports, they have kept it hidden since the dark days of late Draenor, when the number dropped to 2006 levels.  I suspect that if the subscriber base passed 13 million they would issue a press release, but the days of being able to track that quarter by quarter… or even pick out WoW‘s revenue from the financial statements… are long gone.  The irony of being a public company; they are required to report important data, but they get to decide what is important.

We will see how Battle for Azeroth does in the longer term.  A lot of people are very happy with the open world story and quest lines and the look of things in general.  But there is still the whole question of Sylvanas, a story line that upset some people in the pre-launch events. (#notmyhorde) And then there are the recycled bits from WoW Legion that pop up pretty quickly.  Those aren’t bad, but they aren’t new either.  Blizzard has had time to learn how to keep people engaged with an expansion.  They did well enough with WoW Legion, even if they did open up the Battle for Azeroth pre-orders seven months before it was done.  They will get to show us what else they have learned I suppose.

WoW and the End of Legion

We are in that transition time.  The World of Warcraft 8.0 patch lands today.

This heralds the start of the run up to the Battle for Azeroth expansion launch in the middle of next month.

From the Blizzard site

With Blizzard planning a world-wide simultaneous launch, we’re actually going live mid-afternoon of August 13th here on the west coast of the US.

It is also the official end of the Legion expansion for the game.

WoW Legion farewell tour

It isn’t as though Legion is being purged from the game. If you have a character that levels up into the expansion’s range you can still get your artifact weapon and run through all the zones and dungeons and what not. If you haven’t purchased Battle for Azeroth you can hang around at level 110 and work on faction and unlock flying just like many of us did before today.

However, Legion will no longer be the focus of the game. The bulk of the player base will be moving on. Right now the pre-expansion events will start taking people away, and once the new expansion itself hits Argus and the Broken Isles will be much more quiet. Using LFG for dungeons may take some time, and LFR for the expansion raids will likely be untenable. Class changes coming with BfA will also alter the Legion experience. And, of course, some achievements and events will no longer be accessible. The Legion experience is over and the game is moving on.

So I am going to take a bit and reflect on Legion in its first moments of being part of WoW‘s past rather than present.

Zones

I still think it kinda looks like Outland…

I liked the zones. Each of the initial four had their own flavor. I think I liked Stormheim the best. After that Suramar was an adventure in and of itself. The stealth/disguise game play could be a bit much after a while, but it gave the zone its own dimension. Moving beyond that, Broken Shore wasn’t anything special, but Argus was good, in its own no-flying sort of way.

World Quests

I liked those, at least as a variation on the standard daily quest mechanic. The Emissary Quest aspect of it gave a nice, compact set of daily quests to do without burning yourself out griding. The Kirin-Tor quests were perhaps the most problematic. At least the ones where you had to teleport around, though they became incredibly easy once you unlocked flying. And I was happy to have pet battle world quests available.

Dungeons and Raids

I don’t have much to say on this really. Lacking a regular group with which to run the group content I had to rely on the Dungeon Finder. That tends to be an unsatisfying experience to me. Groups are focused on getting the dungeon done and moving on as fast as possible, while I like to stop as see what is going on. You can’t do that when you’re chasing a tank who is running at full speed to get to the last boss and get out. But I wouldn’t be able to do the dungeons at all without LFG, so there is that.

Raids I am less concerned about. I have never been a raider in WoW. They tend to be slower anyway, and I am only there in LFR in full on tourist mode, so things work out.

Still, I ended up not doing much group content during the expansion.

Artifact Weapons

I was okay with the artifact weapon idea. As a player I am not very good at keeping my gear up to level, but my weapon is always the exception. I want the best I can get and will hunt down upgrades or stalk the auction house. The artifact weapon meant that I didn’t have to keep track of that even.

Some of the artifact weapons looked good… or would have if they hadn’t been literally everywhere.  I transmoged my Ashbringer to a Mists of Pandaria model that looked about the same shape just to see if I could confuse anybody.  Other weapons were pretty bland.  I wasn’t keen on my hunter weapon.  I had a pile of transmog options that looked better than any variation of Titanstrike.

Flying

Blizz is still firmly on the fence about flying. You can’t have it to start with. You have to run through the expansion without it. Then at some point they unock it and then you and your alts can fly, but not in every zone. This time around there was no flying in Argus.

However Blizz giving us that whistle that let us recall to the nearest flight point fixed a lot of the drudgery aspect of not being able to fly. You have to be on the ground to do the quest, fight the mob, collect the thingies, or whatever. It is just getting back to the nearest settlement or on to another one that concerns you most of the time. Especially when you’re doing world quests in order to unlock flying! This made the lack of flying much nicer.

Classes

I ended up with seven characters at 110 in Legion, so I guess I ought to have some opinions about classes. Paladin and Hunter remain my favorites, though the spec split for Hunters didn’t do much for me. I was excited about the split when they announced, then stayed with beast mastery the whole time because ranged weapons and pets are what the Hunter class is all about for me.

The Death Knight and Warrior classes also worked well for me.  I am good at running up to things while wearing a pile of metal and beating on them.

I am not so good with squishy stuff.  I leveled a combat Rogue from 1 to 100 during Warlords of Draenor, then struggled to play him during Legion.  I boosted a mage to 100 and then died so much I leveled him to 110 via pet battles.  I helped my druids, one Alliance and one Horde that way as well.  The Alliance one still isn’t 110 yet.

And somehow I never quite got around to working on my Demon Hunter.  I rolled him up early in the expansion, yet he is still in the starter story.  Never finished it.  No gliding about for me.

Order Halls

An attempt to fix/refine the problematic garrisons of Warlords of Draenor. It was tough to pretend you were anything special when you’re running around in an area with a lot of people all wielding the same “unique” weapon as you. How many Ashbringers are there?

I’m with the bland

Still, having only a few followers and missions available removed the follower management mania of garrisons. I never felt order resources were as critical as garrison resources.  I did run down all my class quests for my Pally, but never felt the need to do it with alts.

I liked the Paladin order hall the best.  It was likely the easiest one to get around.  It was certainly the one I spent the most time in.  But for travel to and fro, nothing beats the Warrior order hall.  When I told my daughter that you simply jump into the sky to get there she thought I was kidding.

Trade Skills

Again, after Warlords of Draenor pretty much made trade skills pointless by giving everybody access to everything in their garrison I know they had to do something.  But I guess there was no going back to the harvest and grind.  Instead they went forward with quests and multi-level recipes and what not.  When I found I had to do dungeons in order to advance trade skills lost interest, even with my Paladin, who is an engineer and who I always max out.

Here is what I did for trade skills during Legion.  I sat my tailor in his garrison after he hit 110 and had him make hexweave bags, so now all my characters are loaded up with 30 slot storage.  And then I did Darkmoon Faire.  I suspect I advanced more via the latter than I did in the Broken Isles.

Overall

A while back I tried to quantify which WoW expansions I enjoyed most based on factions as a metric.  The theory was that the more time I spent doing something like grinding faction, the more likely it was that I enjoyed the expansion.  It was probably as good a metric as any.  In that list I worked the number so that Wrath of the Lich King, my gut favorite expansion, came out on top, with 8 of 11 major factions exalted, or 86%.  Now it is time to look and see how I did with Legion.

Legion Faction Count

I guess by that metric I have a new champion.  Unless there was some major faction I missed, I am 9 for 9, which gives me 100%.

Now there were some special circumstances.  I had to get revered with six of those in order to unlock flying in the expansion.  And, later on, I had to get revered with four of them to unlock the four pre-BfA allied races.  Still, I did do my bit for grinding, largely thanks to world quests and the emissary quest system, which put it all into daily bite size pieces.

By another measure, time spent playing, Legion is only average.  I spent about a year playing Legion out of its near two year run.  I played WotLK from its launch to the launch of Cataclysm, the only expansion I stay with for the full term. So, as it goes, Legion is likely mid-pack in my favorites; behind WotLK and Mists of Pandaria certainly.

Now a days for somebody like me who doesn’t have a regular group, who doesn’t raid, who doesn’t do any PvP… I know there must have been at least one new battleground introduced with Legion, but I couldn’t tell you the name…, who did a bit of Time Walking, but who mostly plays solo and does some pet battles and works on some alts, there is about a years worth of content in a WoW expansion.

Which is fine.  Taking a break is good.

Anyway, tonight is probably the last night for the Legion login screen.

One last look

When I get home tomorrow it should be version 8.0.x and have the Battle for Azeroth logo.  But what that brings is another story altogether.

Return to Azeroth – Summer 2018 Edition

Coming and going from the game is pretty much the norm in my own personal history of Azeroth.  It was, in its way, a precedent started when I first tried the game back in early 2005.  I played a bit then went away for about a year.  Then I came back with our EverQuest II guild and it has practically been a revolving door since then.

There have, over the years been stretches, long and short, away from WoW.  Sometimes I and some friends would pop off for another game for a bit, as we did with Lord of the Rings Online or Warhammer Online.  Sometimes the game drove me out, as during the Cataclysm and Warlords of Draenor eras.

But somehow I always end up wandering back in to pick up with whatever new content Blizzard has to offer.  While I bitch about how things have changed at times, WoW does seem to be a soft landing to return to when compared to other MMORPGs.  I have been back to LOTRO and EverQuest II a few times, but the effort required to become basically knowledgeable as to what you’re doing is so steep and has changed so much over the years that it is very difficult to shake off the feeling of being completely lost unless I just start a fresh character and begin again from square one.

Not that such a venture isn’t fun.  I’ve probably run levels 1-40 or so in LOTRO more than a dozen times and have quite enjoyed it.  But mucking around in the Lone Lands for the fourteenth time doesn’t get you to Mordor.  And character boosts, something I’ve tried in both LOTRO and EQII tend to just compound the feeling of being lost, both in how to play your character and where you lay in the context of the story.  Being lost in a zone can be fun, but being lost when it comes to how to play or what your purpose is… that is decidedly unfun for me.

There is probably a whole comparative study waiting to be done about how various fantasy MMORPGs welcome lapsed users back and get them up to speed again.  I am not even sure how WoW manages to get me back on the right path.  But I now take it as read that I am going to come and go from the game as part of every expansion release and that I’ll just get by.

And so it has come to pass, one of the milestones that brings me back to Azeroth has arrived, the start of the pre-launch activities for the next expansion.  I knew the time was coming and had the Battle.net launcher… we’re back to calling it Battle.net right… up to get the pre-download going before the rush.

12.57 GB remaining to download

Since we were also hitting the first week of a new month I decided to resubscribe a bit early in order to get in some time earning prize tickets at Darkmoon Faire.  I still have my eye on that Darkmoon Dirigible mount.

But on logging back in I found that the pre-expansion activities were warming up.  There was a quest that popped up automatically that sent me back to Stormwind to speak to Mathias Shaw, the leader of SI:7.

I’m still not sure how he is speaking to me…

I headed off to Stormwind where I received the update that in turn sent me off towards Silithus.

I had to think for a moment about the best way to get there.  I discarded my old school impulse to get on boat when I remembered that Stormwind got a series of portals during Cataclysm, on of which sends you straight to Uldum, which is just a zone over from Silithus at the south end of Kalimdor.

On arriving in Uldum I went right to the flight point looking for a lift to Silithus only to find that the flight point I was looking for was missing.  I took a ride to the flight point at the north end of Uldum and then flew over into Silithus on my own.  Things there had changed.

That’s new…

Sticking out of the ground in the center of the zone was a giant sword with a pulsating point on its hilt.

Zone map for the event

I flew on to my destination where I set about a series of quests to gather information about what was going on… through the usual method of killing things… until Khadgar finally showed up.  After being used so much over the last two expansions he is feeling a big worn out as a narrative device.

But Khadgar was mostly just a sign post this time around, sending me off in search of Mangi Bronzebeard, with whom I eventually settled in to speak with on a Stormwind airship near the offending sword.

Aboard the airship…

Mangi had a plan.  He wanted to contain the power of the titanic offending weapon stuck into the middle of Silithus, a zone so unpopular that I am a bit surprised anybody noticed the thing was there, with my artifact weapon.

You want me to stick my sword where?

I guess I really only have a Malaysian knock-off Ashbringer.  You can tell by the faux Asian style when looking at it.  So I figured I ought to go along with the plan.  So I  went along and raised my weapon with a crowd of NPCs around me.

Ashbringer is absorbent

After that Mangi declared that the op was a success, that the giant dingus in the sands had been neutralized for the moment and they’d be in touch if they needed anything more from me.  Dismissed.

I was sure I much have missed something.  I logged my hunter on to run through the whole thing again, paying closer attention this time.

Mangi explaining how only my gun can contain this now…

I trigger the event and watched myself and the same set of NPCs try to absorb the power of the thingy.

An absorbing broadside

And, in watching this cut scene… one of those on the fly cut scenes that puts your character into the action… I though this time I noticed a change.  The event seemed to transform my hunter!

It turned me into a newt!

Then I realized that those were my shoulder pads, so outsized that when I turn a bit sideways they hide almost the whole of my head.  After that it was “off you go” and that was it.

What I was missing is that this event fully levels up whatever artifact weapons you have.  I didn’t notice that on Vikund, my paladin, since Asherbinger was almost there already.  But when I did the event with my mage, whose staff had barely anything unlocked, there was an accompanying achievement that clued me in.  I also did the Horde side of the event, which starts a little differently, but ends up with the same result, just on a Horde airship.

This time for the Horde

So that was it, a little bit of a lead in and/or closure as we hit the expansion transition, along with the usual catch-up mechanic that Blizz likes to throw in for the laggard crowd.  Use it quick, because that artifact weapon won’t be around after Battle for Azeroth hits.

Now I have to go and figure out what I need to do before the 8.0 update hits.  I understand that pet battle tokens and the shop are going to change.  I’d better look that up and spend my currency to upgrade whatever pets I have still waiting before the change.

And speaking of pets, at least when I was in Silithus I was able to pick up the last pet I needed in Kalimdor for the achievement.

That was the Qiraji Guardling that appears outside of AQ, but only during the summer.  So if you need one of those as well, now is the time.  You cannot get them near the wall because there is a phasing transition in the zone for the event, but if you go further in you can find them easily enough.

WoW Allied Races, Alpha, and Taking a Break

As expected/predicted previously, I have hit something of a saturation point when it comes to World of Warcraft.  I am good for six months of sustained play generally, after which I tend to reach a plateau and start to look into playing something else for a while.

I usually have a set of goals when I start out.  This time around getting flying in the Broken Isles was a key item.  I managed to unlock that back in December.  As usual, a task that looked like it would take some time actually went faster than I thought it would.

First Flight in Legion

I also worked on pet battles some, growing my menagerie beyond 600 collected and finishing the Celestial Tournament finally.  I also leveled up quite a few pets to 25, so I now have quite an army to select from.  But pet battles do tend to lose their charm if all you’re doing is leveling.

When that was tapering off we had the Battle for Azeroth pre-order show up, which included the ability to unlock allied races.  I was already set for the Highmountain Tauren and it did not take me long to get the Nightborne unlocked as well.

Moose on moose action outside Orgrimmar

However, the Horde really isn’t my thing.  I just happened to have finally leveled up my Tauren druid to level 110 this time around, the first time I’ve bothered to get a Horde character to max level, which enabled all of this.  But I wasn’t sure I needed to level up another Horde character, especially not from level 20.

Meanwhile I was somewhat out in the cold on the Alliance allied races.  They required exalted status with the two Argus factions, Army of the Light and the Argussian Reach, and I wasn’t close on either.

That, however, gave me a new goal.  I hadn’t spent much time on Argus, where flying is not allowed.  So I dug into that and, this past weekend managed to get to exalted with Argussian Reach one day.

Also the 50 faction achievement

And then, having collected up a pile of faction tokens, went exalted with the Army of the Light the next day.

Another exalted faction

I waited for Darkmoon Faire to show up to use the boost to faction you get from riding the merry go round, but I didn’t really need it.  I had collected enough tokens to have gotten there without it.   But now I was set.

Allied Races unlocked

I went and ran through the missions to get the Lightforged Draenei and Void Elf options… the quest chains take about 20 minutes each, but that was about it.  I wasn’t keen to roll up new characters.  I have seven characters at level 110 already, and could get an eighth there pretty quickly, but I wasn’t feeling it.

One other goal I had was to get a character to try out the scaling leveling they put in with the 7.3.5 patch.  I did do a bit of that in Northrend with a Horde character, but did not get too far and never quite got around to doing a post about it.  Probably the biggest impact level scaling has had on me is that now all the mobs in Warlords of Draenor scale up to 100, which isn’t gray for level 110 characters, so for the Darkmoon Faire quest for 250 grisly trophies I can run around Draenor one-shotting mobs with impunity.

That helped me make some progress towards another minor goal, to get the Darkmoon Dirigible mount.  I’m still working a bit on that this week as Darkmoon Faire is up.  But I am not going to make it this month.

Meanwhile, my account renews at the end of the month so I think I am going to let it lapse.  I have other games I want to pay attention to at the moment and my zeal for Azeroth is in decline.  It is probably better that I take a break now and come back with fresh enthusiasm when the Battle for Azeroth pre-launch events start to kick in.

Of course, as soon as I decided that was probably the best course, Blizzard threw something my way, and invite to the Battle for Azeroth Alpha.

Come test our game!

Fortunately I long ago discovered my own problems with alpha and beta access.  Nothing diminishes my desire to play a game once it goes live than playing it before it goes live.  One of my pet theories is that the “it was better in beta” crowd that inevitably becomes vocal after launch is partially driven by the fact that at launch the game is no longer fresh and new to them.

That is certainly the case for me.  So playing in the Battle for Azeroth alpha now would only make me less likely to care about it when it did go live.  This is why I no longer do alpha or beta or even early access in some cases, though for some games early access is almost all you ever get. (e.g. Landmark)

So I’ll likely let WoW run down for now and come back to it when the time is ripe.

Argus and the Alliance Allied Races

With the coming of the Battle for Azeroth pre-order I was in and had one of the allied races, the Highmountain Tauren, unlocked straight our of the gate.

Moose on moose action outside Orgrimmar

Furthermore I had a second allied race, the Nightborne, pretty close to being unlocked.  You can go use WoW Head’s Legion Attunement page to see how close a given character is to unlocking the allied races.  As it turned out I fell off the final quest line about three quests before it was done.  Once I got back on that track I was able to get the requisite achievement.

Suramar achievement achieved

That, in turn, unlocked the Nightborne Elves for me as well.

More elves, wheee…

So I had the Horde allied races covered.  The Alliance allied races… is being allied with the alliance make you an ally ally or just part of the Alliance… were not available to me.  In what I will claim is yet another example of residual Horde favoritism from the Chris Metzen era, you could unlock the Horde allied races in the core areas of the Broken Isles, but the Alliance allied races required you to go to Argus.

Argus.

Argus, like Gaul, is divided into three

It isn’t so much that Argus is bad.  In fact, it follows closely the zone design philosophy for WoW Legion, where zones are actually small but feel big due to good design.  The problem is flying.  Once Blizzard gives you flying it feels like they’re punishing you when they take it away.  We’ve been over that many times, but it is still true.  Once the genie is out of the bottle you’re cooked.

I ran once character up to the level cap, went away for months, came back once flying was made available, worked to unlock that, and only then started on alts.  Flying makes running through a zone trivially easy as you avoid any unwanted entanglements.  This is doubly handy when you just want to zip in and get a few world quests out of the way.

And then you get to Argus and there is no flying.  There are not even flight points.  You just unlock what are essentially teleport nodes to get around.  So, while I started in on Argus, I tended to leave it alone in order to concentrate on efforts elsewhere… like in places where I could fly.  Also, Darkmoon Faire, and Love is in the Air, and pet battles kept me busy.

Eventually though I hit a point where I had some time and Argus was still there waiting for me.  In fact, getting the Darkmoon Faire “Test of Strength” quest done prompted me a bit to get out a slay some stuff on the ground.

As noted, not so bad.  The usual amount of stomping about the various land masses and occasionally trying to figure out how to get from point A to point C when mountain range or chasm B is in the way… stuff you never worry about with flying… but otherwise not an excessive amount of schlepping along in the usual knees bent running about advancing behavior.  And the story sticks you in the cut scenes now and again, which I always seem to enjoy more than I should.

Some guy wearing green googles showed up…

A couple hours of quiet time with my wife and daughter out of the house was all it took to get the achievement side of unlocking the Alliance allied races.

An achievement has never been so wrong about me…

So that both Alliance allied races are unlocked by the same Argus achievement is good.  That they need me to get exalted with both of the Argus factions is… less fun.  As noted above, flying and world quests… and world quests are the way forward for faction… go together like two things clearly meant to go together actually going together.

And my having ignored Argus for a while means that I have a ways to go on both factions.

My current standing with allied race unlocks

And I am only that far along with the Alliance allied race faction unlock effort because we had a faction bonus week that overlapped with Darkmoon Faire and its bonus faction merry-go-round booster, which I renewed liberally, and that I am doing this all on a Human character that gets its own boost to faction accrual.

Riding for a faction boost!

Still, I don’t have to unlock the allied raced TODAY.  I can move along, wait for the emissary quests to roll around for Army of the Light or Argussian Reach or Kirin-Tor, the latter which gives you a boost to the faction of your choice, and end up unlocking both in time.

Because the next question is what to do with these unlocked allied races.  I am not sure I need four more alts.  I am not sure I what classes I would make them or if I really need the overlap that would come with making yet another character of a class I already have.  I still haven’t finished the Demon Hunter starter quest line, leaving my Demon Hunter lingering about waiting for me to get back to him.

And then there is the usual problem of the level 110 booster that came with the Battle for Azeroth pre-order.  Do I want to use it straight out on one of these allied races?  Do I want to get any of them to level 60 first to fill in any sort of trade skill gap I might have when I boost them, because boosting from level 60 also means boosting trade skills as well, or is there some other character I should boost instead?

And then, of course, there are two more allied races to be unlocked once the expansion hits, the Zandalari Trolls and the Dark Iron Dwarves, the latter seeming an odd choice for an Alliance allied race given all the trouble they’ve cause in the past.  But the lore is malleable.

These questions will probably linger until summer when the pre-expansion events kick in and I come back from playing Rift Prime or whatever I am likely to try a couple months down the line when I tire a bit of Azeroth.

Battle for Azeroth before Fall, Pre-Orders Now

World of Warcraft news is always big news.

Today Blizzard put up the next WoW expansion, Battle for Azeroth, up for pre-orders at the usual price points, $50 for normal and $70 for digital deluxe, which generally nets you a mount and a battle pet.  With my current battle pet mania going on I know where I might be headed.

Battle for Azeroth

Of course, it is always the details that capture my attention, especially anything that might indicate a ship date, and the pre-order page delivers with this line:

Pre-purchase: Battle for Azeroth will be released on or before September 21, 2018.

September 21, 2018 just happens to be the last day of summer on the calendar here in the temperate northern hemisphere.  It will still be warm where I live in any case.

Next on this list is, “Why should I pre-order this today?”

Well, you get that level 110 boost.  Given how long it took me to use the level 100 boost I got with WoW Legion… I think I used it finally in December… that isn’t a big draw for me.  I wouldn’t begin to know which character to boost at this point.  I already have four characters at level 110, and two more fairly close.

The battle pet and mount may take a while to show up.

Digital Deluxe items will be available on or before the release date of the game.

That is a bit vague.  Ah well, some day.

Gilded Ravasaur and Seabraid Stallion mount plus the Baby Tortollan Pet

So the only possible draw is really the promised Allied Races.

Pre-purchase of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth makes available the questlines which enable players to access the Highmountain tauren, Lightforged draenei, Nightborne, and Void elves. To unlock Allied Races quest lines, players must have a level 110 character and have met specific questing and reputation requirements on the factions that each Allied Race is aligned with.

Currently I am ready to go on the Lightforged Draenei, not that I need another alt.  The one I am interested in, the Highmountain Tauren require me to get all that rep again with a Horde character.  Fortunately, for my first time in WoW, I actually have a Horde character at the level cap, so it is doable.  More on that later.

As noted, the pre-order page is up and ready to take your money, though beware there is one small hitch.

Requires World of Warcraft and Legion.

Since WoW Legion is still the current live expansion, and has links right into Battle for Azeroth, you can’t just skip ahead if you do not have WoW Legion yet.

Anyway, you can pre-order today though, as with any Blizzard release, there might be a queue.

And for those keeping score, if the release goes on the last day that will put the time between that and the WoW Legion release at 752 days, which puts it pretty much mid-pack for duration.

  • WoW Launch to The Burning Crusade – 784 days
  • The Burning Crusade to Wrath of the Lich King – 667 days
  • Wrath of the Lich King to Cataclysm – 754 days
  • Cataclysm to Mists of Pandaria – 658 days
  • Mists of Pandaria to Warlords of Draenor – 778 days
  • Warlords of Draenor to Legion – 670 days
  • Legion to Battle for Azeroth – 752 days (estimated)

I suspect that Battle for Azeroth will ship sooner than that however, maybe another August release.  My prediction was that they would get that shipped and be done far enough ahead of BlizzCon 2018 that they could safely talk about WoW Classic with stealing any of the spotlight from the expansion.  We shall see.

Meanwhile the Battle for Azeroth Q&A broadcast has been going on, so I expect all sorts of additional details to pop up today.

A Bit More Bag Space with WoW Patch 7.3.5

I do not write about World of Warcraft patch updates the way I do the ones that come for EVE Online.  Maybe the changes, or the game itself, doesn’t mean as much to me, or maybe the changes in New Eden have more impact.

But this patch is different.  This one has a few items in which I am interested.  And, at the top of the list is something they mentioned in passing back at BlizzCon, that people who have an authentication scheme hooked up to their accounts will get a boost in the size of their default bag.

This grain of sand has been an irritant to many, that one bag slot has been eternally locked in at 16 slots.  It was a fine situation as recently as 2007, but certainly since Wrath of the Lich King and the advent of 20 slot player crafted bags, being stuck with that one sixteen slot bag has felt like a bit of a cruel joke.  I’m busy filling up the bank storage on alts with 30 slot bags, but I still have that 16 slot bag mocking me in slot number one.

So now Blizzard could turn that grain of sand into a pearl, to complete the metaphor I started a paragraph back.  Now they could make us all rejoice rather than grouse and glare at that archaic sixteen slot.

So imagine my reaction to this line in the patch notes:

Accounts protected by an Authenticator and Blizzard SMS Protect gain four extra backpack slots.

Four slots?  That’s it?  We now get a 20 slot bag instead of a 16 slot bag?  Did I mention how many 30 slot bags I have on hand already?

Plenty of 30 slot bags on hand since Draenor

Color me a bit disappointed at the paucity of this size increase.  If Blizzard wants to play the nostalgia card, 2009 bag sizes is not the way to go about it.  Or 2007 bag sizes if you want to count the Harris Pilton Gigantique bag from Burning Crusade.  The game is littered with larger bags, none of which you can put in that first bag slot.  Ugh!

I won’t grouse too much.  My main is literally hauling around so much stuff of late that four slots actually matters.  But don’t expect me to be too thankful given my overflowing supply of 30 slot bags.  I should have known Blizzard was off the mark when it came to bag size when they threw away the name “portable hole” on a 24 slot bag.

Anyway, enough of that.

Also part of the patch is something else I have had my eye on, which is the expanded zone level scaling.  Zones throughout World of Warcraft will now scale, withing set parameters, so you need not worry about out-leveling a zone you want to finish… at least not as quickly as before.

The basic story, which I am stealing from the Icy Veins post, is:

  • All starting zones scale up to level 10.
  • World of Warcraft Vanilla (Eastern Kingdoms & Kalimdor) scales up to level 60.
  • At level 58, players can choose between Outland or Northrend (capped at level 80).
  • At level 80, players can choose between Cataclysm or Pandaria (capped at level 90).
  • Zones still have a minimum level requirement.
  • Dungeons also scale
  • Quest rewards scale up to your level.

Further details, like the zone listing and minimum level requirements for specific zones are part of that post (or this one at Blizzard Watch which also has the dungeon levels) .

Why am I interested in that?  Well, on my long Azeroth “to do” list there are entries about running through some expansions on the Horde side of the world.  I’ve already done post-Cataclysm 1-60 and most of The Burning Crusade as Horde, but would like to run through Wrath of the Lich King and Mists of Pandaria on that side of the divide as well.  Being able to go straight to Northrend at 58 will be a big help, as will being able to spend 22 levels there.  I have a level 57 orc hunter ready to go on that front.

On the other hand, I am not sure how this will play out for anybody coming to the game for the first time.  There are still people who do that.  My daughter is trying to recruit a dungeon group from some of her friends, most of whom have never played WoW or any other MMORPG. (Still a niche market.)

This does change the nature of the leveling experience yet again and I am not sure if the freedom of action as to which zones you can play through will have enough structure to it to keep people on track.  But then the old “if you are level n to n+5 you must be in zone x!” system wasn’t always that great either, and Blizz has gotten better at telling you where you ought to go and all that.  We’ll see.  The only thing I know for sure is that somebody will hate the change because somebody always hates every change.

In addition to zone and dungeon scaling, all dungeons now use the “personal loot” option, where you no longer roll for loot… or have a master looter… instead the game picks people from the group at random and gives them a loot drop appropriate to their class and spec.  Again, I am sure somebody will hate this.

And with dungeon scaling all holiday dungeon events will now be available for anybody level 20 and up.  I will have even more shots at the headless horseman’s mount this year.

I was interested to see that, as part of this, Blizz also decided to simplify the whole “I have to buy yet another flying skill” issue by rolling all the simple, level gated flying options into the Expert Flying skill.  With that you’re good to go, no more Cold Weather Flying and what not.  You still need achievements for Draenor and the Broken Isles, but that unlock is account wide, so if you main has it you’re good with any alts.

With all of that there is also now Ulduar Timewalking and some achievement changes related to that, some class tweaks, a new battleground, updates to the S.E.L.F.I.E. toy (while some other toys have had their ability to cause other players to take actions restricted), and a new WoW Legion quest line that will take you to Silithus.

So that is another WoW update.  You can peruse the patch notes yourself and find analysis on all the sites that cover WoW.

I am still waiting for them to fix the spiral ramp up to the flight master in Thunder Bluff to stop it from dismounting you, the way they fixed that stretch in Stormwind that used to do the same when you were riding to the flight master, but I suspect my waiting for that will be in vain.

This being a WoW patch with some significant changes, other people in the neighborhood are also discussing it and what it portends.

Addendum: Bag space upgrade confirmed.

Four more slots

I want more, but I’ll take four.