Tomorrow is seeing the release of patch 6.0.2 for World of Warcraft and if you're familiar with the way they number their releases you'll know this is a big one. There's a new expansion coming out in a month and this is the patch where they bring in most of the systematic changes in the expansion as a sort of trial run. It's genius, really... Content has been mostly exhausted for a lot of people from the last expansion so there's not a lot of danger to screwing people over if some sort of brutal bug or balance issue exists with their changes. They get a month to fix things before the actual expansion comes out, when tons of people will want to be playing and where systemic issues would be a real problem.
Now, I haven't really played the game since the last expansion came out two years ago. I got a few months of fun out of that expansion and I feel like the same will likely be true for a new expansion too. WoW is just such an incredibly polished game that the idea of getting a ton of new quests and achievements to plow through and new mechanics to fool around with is very appealing. Probably more appealing with enough other people to run challenge modes or raid or something, but still pretty fun mostly alone too I would think.
Anyway, reading the patch notes and the upcoming features in the expansion has me pretty excited. They're making a bunch of changes that feel like they're for the better. Reforging is gone because while it sounded like a good idea it just forced everyone to have someone crunch numbers for them and it always felt like a chore to get an upgrade. Along that same vein they took hit and expertise out of the game completely and are changing the way haste works with dots to remove all those silly breakpoints and caps that you needed to hit if you wanted to be optimal. They're also streamlining gear to get rid of 'holy paladin' loot drops by making all plate have strength and intelligence on them. Sure, only one of those stats will do anything for you, but if every item has both of them it's not like you can find one with a better stat mix for you. It'll feel a little silly for my warrior to be a smart guy but it's a change that just makes sense.
They're finally doing something about the insanity of number inflation that comes from having 5 expansions worth of power jumps. Everything is being rebalanced so there's a smooth line from level 1 to 90 and then it'll start ramping up again. Along with this they're trying, once again, to fix healing by inflating health pools. I don't play a healer but I've heard this song and dance before. Maybe they'll actually make it work this time? The claim is they're going to make health keep scaling over the expansion at the same rate as healing does so you won't get to the point where you can just fill someone up with your cheapest heal.
They're also cleaning up tool bars by removing a bunch of abilities from the game. Including a lot of the instant heals and crowd control abilities in an attempt to reduce clutter and make PvP work better. Feels like it's probably a good thing. There wasn't really a need to have 3 runic power dumps for a death knight... Removing rune strike and just tweaking death coil for tanks seems like a fine idea.
Then there are the stuff that came in this expansion after I quit or that will be coming in with the next expansion. Things like flexible raid sizes so you can bring all 14 people who show up to your raid one day and then just 10 the next day and no one has to be benched. Apparently you can also invite people on your friend list from other realms to join your flex raid. Both of these are things that probably would have kept OGT raiding back in Cataclysm.
The big thing in the expansion is player housing where you get to build up your own garrison with your choice of buildings and followers who will work with you. It sounds like a return to Warcraft roots where you build a little town and then the buildings do things for you. It sounds really cool. You can have something like 25 followers in your town, and they all have internal experience bars, and you can level them all up to 100. So many numbers to make bigger! BIGGER NUMBERS! WOO!
They're adding in a 'toy box' where all the cool junk items you find can get stored to play with on a whim without being forced to fill up your inventory with them. This makes me way happier than it probably should. I used to carry around a bunch of silly little things (mostly from archaeology) to use and not having to waste bag space on them will be awesome. Dancing Dwarves ho! They're also making it so crafting reagents stack to bigger numbers (and they're making it so professions have no stat boosts anymore so you can just do what you want) which will be nice.
One cool thing they're doing is giving everyone a free boost to level 90 with the expansion. This is nice because it'll let people try new classes or reroll to play with friends on another server.
Realm first achievements really do seem to be gone. Unlucky. I'd have wanted to try for the realm first cooking threepeat!
Anyway... The actual expansion is coming out Nov 13th. I feel like I'll be there with bells on...