Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Magic Bus


As if I'd predicted it (*cough*) I wake up this morning (DUH DUUUH DUH DUH) and what do I find all over my twitter feed? It's the 5.4 PTR Patch notes! What a surprise! Actually, that's something of an understatement, because there is so much stuff to pick and choose from in this data dump it is quite easy to see why Ghostcrawler had trouble choosing a favourite. Quite apart from a Corrupted Garrosh (no surprises) and what looks like a double decker bus-load of new pet and mount models (see that graphic is relevant!) we have lots to think on. Let's do the contentious one first.

If you want the full patch notes, they're here.

New Feature: Virtual Realms

Virtual Realms are sets of realms that are fused together, and will behave exactly as if they were one cohesive realm. Players on the same Virtual Realm will be able to join guilds, access a single Auction House, join arena teams and raids, as well run dungeons or group up to complete quests.

Players belonging to the same Virtual Realm will have a (#) symbol next to their name.

Coming as this does so soon on the back of the 50% Server Transfers 'offer', there's going to a few people cynically raising their eyebrows at this announcement (someone on MMO even speculated a feature like this could be coming well before it did.) The fact remains, the 'problem' of low population Realms was something that needed to be addressed in a robust manner. I know there'll be many who'll bemoan this, that low population realms have their advantages, but in purely practical terms this game isn't single player. What will be making many Gold Farmers either celebrate or hang up their Auctionator 9000's is the merging of AH's. I'd expect the AH's to go absolutely mental in the next few weeks as a result. You have been warned.

Next up:

New Feature: Proving Grounds

Proving Grounds is a new feature for individual players to test and improve their combat skills.

At the Proving Grounds, players may undertake trials, designed for Damage, Tank, or Healer roles.

It provides a great opportunity to learn how to Tank or Heal, without the need of a group.

Each trial is available in four separate difficulties: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Endless. Harder difficulties include more difficult and varied enemies.

Endless mode allows you to test your mettle against increasingly difficult enemies. Compare your best scores to friends and guildmates!

This feature's been floating around for a while, and (with my Dev hat on) I suspect utilises a lot of the same tech that the Brawler's Guild currently employs. The decision to scale difficulties and award ranks to them is a very shrewd move. Consider this something to add to your Guild Application, it's like GCSE's in Tanking and Healing, folks! You can have a physical representation of your ability to perform a specific role, and people can see how good you are at doing that. DPS... you're all DOOMED. Re-roll actual utility and forget those meters, you're old news...

There's also another fairly significant change, hidden right down the bottom of the patch notes.


All permanent item enhancements provided by Enchanting, Engineering, Leatherworking, Tailoring, and various vendors and quests are now able to be applied to items of any level. This means all enchantments can now be applied to heirloom items.

High level enhancements applied to items equipped by low level players have their power scaled down to be similar to enhancements intended for that level range.

Low level enhancements applied to items equipped by high level players do not grow further in power beyond their intended level range.

This one, frankly, is HUGE. Scaling isn't just happening to instances, folks, items are going that way too, and part of me thinks this could have a hugely significant effect on future Expansions. It will be Great News (TM) to all the people I know who've been pushing for this change (some for years) but it is going to mean a fairly massive market in old enchants could well go the way of the Dodo. Yet another reason for Gold Makers to not bother sleeping (if they're US-based) and get all those items up for sale ASAP... ^^

There's a ton of other stuff coming out of the data-miners websites, quite apart from the PTR details. I'll do a separate post on that later, but for now here's the rest of the highlights, quite apart from the already sizable changes to certain classes (Druids, looking at you, crying quietly about Hunter changes...)

  • Flex raiding, but you knew that. WE DID THAT LAST WEEK.

  • New area called the Timeless Isle. TITAN TECH INCOMING.

  • Vengeance gains from being critically hit have been halved (start the QQ now.)

  • 'Players that don’t have a coin or elect to not use a Bonus Roll when defeating one of the world bosses (Sha of Anger, Galleon, Nalak, and Oondasta) can come back later that same week to use the Bonus Roll. The limit has not changed and remains one attempt and one bonus roll per boss, per week.' Yes, you can choose to COLLECT YOUR GOLD ANY TIME.

  • NEW PET BATTLE TOURNAMENT OMG I've not done the last one yet DAMMIT.

  • Many Battle Pet ability changes. Many, many changes that make my brain melt.

  • MOAR GOLD BAG CHANCES in Instances (hooray! *cough*) In good news, bags should start dropping Haunting Spirits in 5.4 so those 5.3 patterns will finally be of use \o/

  • New temporary titles for Challenge Modes, so people on your Virtual server know how awesome you are.

  • 'The vestigial Use Hardware sound option has been removed.' Sorry :(

Blimey, so much stuff. I need a cuppa after all that... ^^

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Not at all surprised at Virtual Realms, it's alwys felt like a natural extension to Battlegroups and a sensible way of 'merging' servers. Actually merging was never going to happen because of all the hassle and ill will it would cause regarding character names (they can pry my main toon's name from my cold dead hands).

I like the idea of Proving Grounds; my secondary toon is a tank and healer, but I'm always wary of taking him into LFG or anything non-guild as a tank because ZOMG THE STRESS. Anything that gives me a chance to hone the very different skills for those roles is A Good Thing (tm).

Interesting news on item enhancements. The low-level PvP-ers will no doubt be crying already about imbalance.

Sad about the hardware sound thing, as I've clung to my Creative X-Fi because its sound quality is better than onboard sound. Am hoping the software workaround for using sound hardware will still work.