Over a month into the new WoW expansion and the dust and hype has finally settled.
So, now that we’ve stormed the entrance of an ancient titan facility, helped two separate kingdoms deal with usurpers, and established yet another foothold in an unknown land – it’s time to take a wider look at what Battle for Azeroth has to offer to its player base. And truthfully? It’s a bit of a mixed bag.
When the unwashed masses first stormed the shores of Zandalar and Kul Tiras, there was much enjoyment to go around – and with good reason. Hot on the heels of what was arguably one of the most successful expansions the game has ever had – Legion – expectations were quite high for Battle for Azeroth.
Now, over a month after launch, it’s time to take a fresh look at the expansion as a whole and determine whether or not it’s lived up to the hype. Spoiler alert: it hasn’t.
Far be it from us to throw the entirety of BFA under the bus – it’s not that bad – but one can’t help but escape the sensation that the expansion could have benefited from several more months in development before it was unleashed upon the content-hungry crowds.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of Battle for Azeroth, we need to look at its predecessor – Legion – and just how high of a bar Blizzard set for themselves.
Legion was as much of a love letter to what has made World of Warcraft great over the years as much as it was an apology to the fanbase for giving them no new content for over a year during the Warlords of Draenor era. New systems such as Mythic+ dungeons, a focus on class fantasy, and a steady stream of content for the duration of the expansion convinced fans that Blizzard had learned from their mistakes. And then BFA happened.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the root cause of the issues plaguing the latest expansion is, but one can’t help but think that Battle for Azeroth could have benefited from several more months under development.
The majority of the systems that were introduced in Legion are still in place, but nothing of significance has been added to them to feel as if they’ve been iterated upon. No new talents or skills are acquired during the levelling process, making the ten added levels feel as if they’re nothing but superfluous.
Adding to the fact that many of the innovations that were added in Legion via the artifact weapon system were simply tossed out in favour of the currently broken “Azerite Armor” system is only rubbing salt in the wound.
The system was intended to keep the best of the Artifact Weapon system but infuse it with a sense of discovery and progression throughout the entire expansion. Unfortunately, the currently implemented system has become so borked that folks have been holding on to gear even after receiving a “better” piece – simply due to the reason that they’d have to re-level all of those artifact traits all over again.
No matter what way you cut it, that’s just poor design.
In a bid to stem the rising tide of hatred that began to pour forth from the community, game director Ion Hazzikostas took to Reddit’s coveted AMA format to attempt to dissuade any worries that players had. It hasn’t worked. Despite the developer’s best efforts, the best answer he was able to muster regarding the player’s qualms has been “wait until the next patch.”
While it’s true that sometimes it takes time and multiple patches for a mechanic to reach its full potential, such a process should never be the response to players wondering why a feature wasn’t fully fleshed out at launch.
Blizzard has provided countless hours of fun across decades to players around the globe. For them to drop the ball so hard is incredibly beneath them.
Ultimately, we won’t know what caused Blizzard to fumble their way into this launch – and we likely never will be given the layers of PR that exist between the company and their developers, but one thing’s for sure: this can’t keep happening.
Blizzard has had far too long to learn from their mistakes, yet they seem to keep making the same ones over and over. There’s a running joke that Blizz releases expansions the way that Microsoft releases operating systems: you’ll have to suffer through some painful iterations before you get the release version you always wanted.
Let’s just keep our fingers crossed and hope that Blizz can correct their course by the first incoming patch – because, at this rate, they may not have much longer