Recently, Blizzard took to Twitch and to Reddit to discuss a wide range of improvement measures it plans to bring to the aging MMO's latest expansion, Battle for Azeroth.
Players have been decrying the implementation of some of the expansions biggest headline features as being overly "grindy," and sometimes, overly dull. Competitive balance has also suffered immensely, with protection warriors, elemental shamans, and others, struggling to compete with other classes. Blizzard also introduced changes to the global cooldown which rendered some combat rotations awfully clunky to play. These are just some of the issues dragging the game down at the moment, but Blizzard is gearing up to improve the situation with the announcement of Patch 8.1.
Tides of Vengeance, Patch 8.1
Announced on Twitch, the next big patch is called "Tides of Vengeance," and will introduce a wealth of new content while improving some of the existing mechanics.
The "War Campaign" overarching story will continue, moving forward plot threads introduced in Battle for Azeroth. We'll find out what happens next with Saurfang, locked in a Stormwind dungeon, and what happens next with Vol'jin's ashes, which have mysteriously vanished. We'll also find out what Tyrande does next, filled with vengeance after the destruction of the Night elf city prior to the expansion.
Speaking of which, the next 20-player Warfront content will take place on Darkshore, near the ruins of the fallen Night elf city. To complement the Warfront, Darkshore will be updated with new visuals and content for max-level players.
The war between the Alliance and Horde will escalate further, with new war-themed world quests, story quests, and zone-wide events called Incursions, which will plunge entire areas into a faction war-themed conflict.
Blizzard will begin adding new cosmetic armor sets with race-specific themes. So far, only newly-added Allied races have received heritage armor sets, but now, it will expand out to other races too, starting with dwarves and blood elves.
Island Expeditions will be updated with new maps and events in an attempt to make them more interesting. Existing islands will be tweaked to address the criticism that the Islands are less about exploration and more about zerging mobs down as fast as possible.
Blizzard is adding two new raids in Patch 8.1. The first is Siege of Zuldazar, which, for the first time, will have a different experience depending on whether you're playing Alliance or Horde. The raid will be comprised of nine new bosses in total, with six that are faction-specific. Alliance will battle the Horde towards the Zandalari King Rastakhan, while the Horde will fight the Alliance back, culminating with a naval battle with Jaina Proudmoore.
The second raid is a smaller, 2-boss event which will launch a little later. It will be accompanied with new quest content, possibly referencing the Cthulhu-like N'Zoth and the Queen of the serpentine Naga, Azshara.
Blizzard is also making a wide range of general improvements to the game. These include reducing the pressure to grind faction reputation tied to the Heart of Azeroth necklace, meaning it will be less painful to start a secondary character than it has been previously. New Azerite traits are coming to replace some of the boring, underpowered ones, and the studio will also add new profession recipes since professions seem to have been rather neglected so far in this expansion. Blizzard is also planning some more sweeping class balance passes, and has already detailed how it plans to make elemental shamans more effective.
Tides of Vengeance is promising
Some of the finer details will have to wait until the patch hits the public test realm in the next week or two, but some of the updates detailed here are quite promising.
Blizzard shot itself in the foot by rushing Battle for Azeroth out of the gate, putting a dampener on the momentum it had built with the successful Legion expansion. Despite that, interest in the game seems as big as ever, with Method's first Mythic difficulty Uldir raid taking the top spot on Twitch, beating Fortnite into second place.
In our review, we found that while Battle for Azeroth has some of the best core content we've seen in an expansion launch in years, the underlying systems are incredibly faulty. Hopefully, Patch 8.1 will go some distance to repair the damage. Battle for Azeroth is available on Amazon for $50.
Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
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