Initial thoughts on patch 8.3

MANY SPOILERS AHEAD!

Intro Questline

There’s a LOT going on here, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I was definitely a bit underwhelmed by the Nazjatar intro questline in 8.2, which seemed to boil down to “oops, we fell into Nazjatar. Azshara won’t let us leave. Suddenly FISH PEOPLE. Raid opening soon.” The new quests are an evening-long globe-trotting extravaganza of N’Zothery, titan machinery, and familiar locations turned into corrupted hellscapes. For the most part, I found the experience compelling, with only a few small issues to mar the experience (why does the light beam puzzle sometimes work and sometimes not? Why do we have to buy a Vessel from Wrathion when we already have a free one?). If anything, the vast scope of the quests became a bit wearying as they drew to a close: after hopping from Uldum to the Chamber of Heart to Boralus to Stormwind to Pandaria to the Chamber of Heart for the umpteenth time, I was starting to resent Magni and his habit of teleporting away without taking me with him. It started to feel like all the travel time was being used to pad the “running time” of the experience, which didn’t seem terribly necessary. Still, I had a lot of fun and think it was a good way to enter the final patch of the expansion.

Old locations, revisited

Unlike Warlords (Tanaan Jungle) or Legion (Argus), Battle for Azeroth doesn’t have a new zone for the final patch of the expansion. This isn’t surprising, since we got TWO new zones (Nazjatar and Mechagon) in 8.2. Instead, the bulk of the new content is focused on Corrupting several old zones: Uldum and Vale of Eternal Blossoms (for Assaults), and Stormwind and Orgrimmar (Horrific Visions). I’m fine with this, as it makes sense for us to be fighting N’Zoth’s devilry in established areas; it makes the threat feel closer to home than if we got shuttled off to a new zone (the upcoming Ny’alotha raid looks to serve this purpose anyway). We revisit several dungeons and raids as well, including Blackwing Descent, Mogu’shan Vaults/Palace, and Halls of Origination. It may seem “lazy” to reuse content in this way, but the locations themselves make sense in the scope of the overall narrative and didn’t bother me at all. My ONLY complaint involves Uldum, and is simply that the zone, being a vast desert, gets very tedious to navigate for Minor Assaults and dailies. I’ve loved Uldum since Cataclysm, but the same sense of desolate isolation that gives it an atmosphere I love makes it a royal pain when circling endlessly looking for a Rare or Elite to kill; there’s sand, and ruins, and sand, and a river in the middle, and did I mention sand? It definitely illustrates the danger in retrofitting a relatively new system (assaults/world quests) to an older zone, when compared to the “denser” feel of putting the same systems in Legion or BFA zones. We’ll see how it feels when Uldum becomes the victim of a Major Assault.

Legendary!

In case you haven’t heard, you get a legendary cloak near the end of the intro shenanigans. Luckily for us, it’s MUCH easier to get than the cloaks from Mists or the rings from Warlords (No. More. Apexis. Shards.). With a starting item level of 470, it’s a nice upgrade that will only get better with time (it can be boosted up to ilevel 500, with abilities added as it goes up in rank). It’s nice to have a piece of gear that won’t become obsolete the moment you step into a new raid, and it doesn’t look like it can become so overpowered that you’re at a serious end-game disadvantage if you don’t endlessly min-max your Corrupted Core grinding. Thanks, Wrathion!

Horrific Visions

These seem interesting, and since they’re the only way to upgrade the legendary cloak, I have a feeling I’m going to get very familiar with them in the coming months. My initial impression was that they feel repetitive, but I’ve also done nothing but rush the boss, so there’s a LOT of gameplay I haven’t seen yet. The system seems designed to be relevant for the remainder of the expansion, with increased rewards as you delve deeper, hard modes involving hideous masks, and some good old-fashioned time-gating via Vessels. I look forward to having my Sanity shattered many times in pursuit of loot!

Allied Races

Vulpera are cute. Vulpera are awesome. Vulpera are Horde, so I won’t be getting one. I don’t even have a max-level Horde toon, so I simply don’t have the time to do all the leveling and rep grinding it would take to unlock them. Maybe in Shadowlands? I did take some time to unlock Mechagnomes, which was pretty quick since I’d completed all of the prerequisites months ago. I suspect he will languish at level 20 until Shadowlands, unless something like the recent Korrak’s Revenge event appears to streamline alt leveling before then.

Corrupted Gear

After my initial reaction to the announcement of the system (revulsion and despair), I’ve come to better appreciate the developers’ intent (and maybe even the implementation). I’m probably one of a handful of people that liked war/titanforging, and this seemed like a poor substitute, created to quell the cries of mythic raiders. Why would I want to trade getting higher item level gear for gear with raid-wiping negative effects? Luckily, the reality is that the Corruption system isn’t THAT drastic, and fits well within the aesthetic of the patch itself. The negative effects don’t look incredibly nasty, and the positive effects can be quite nice if you get the right ones (though, it’s nearly impossible to min-max them given the nature of RNG). We’ll see if I even get enough Corrupted pieces to fully experience the mechanics of the system; I have one piece so far, and RNG has historically NOT been my friend.

Transmogging

Thunderfury tanking. Dual-wielding Shadowmourne. ’nuff said.

Miscellaneous et cetera

There are a LOT of new mounts, pets, and toys to collect in 8.3, some of which require extreme luck and/or patience. I’m all for that, as long as they remain available going into Shadowlands and beyond (this would necessitate keeping the Assaults rolling indefinitely, since a lot of things drop from Assault-only rares). I suppose this extends to the Warfront system as well, for similar reasons. I’ve NEVER been a fan of limited-time item availability, though in the case of final patch Ahead of the Curve mounts I’ve had to accept that it’s now A Thing. I’m cautiously optimistic that the new Mythic + affix will be better than Beguiling (oh, how I hated Beguiling). Finally, give us Legacy Loot for Legion instances already, you cowards! <shakes fist at the cold, unfeeling skies>

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