..and then there was that patch thing

And so patch 3.3 hit, and there was much rejoicing and soforth. Actually, I found it rather perplexing that people sounded like they’d be interested in my opinion since for all the bang it’s supposed to carry, 3.3 has felt suprisingly.. small.. to me. A new instance, a new raid, some new gear. Sure, lots of content and all, but for me it really hasn’t been any new toys per se to play with. Shadow priests get some interesting changes – the change to Vampyric Embrace sounds absolutely smashing, but for disc? We’ve largely remained the same throughout most of Wrath, really – there’s the odd bug fix, there’s the odd time they decide to move the Penance cooldown around, but 3.3 landed with a complete absence of “Yay, new fun ability change to play with that will change my play style so much for the better”; of course, it’s nice to play a class that is considered fairly well balanced and complete and therefore stationary, but I can’t help but to look at some classes and envy how much new shiny things they get to play with while I just get to fall into the same practiced routine.

This, of course, doesn’t mean the patch is all drab boring sameyness – it actually contains quite a few fun and interesting things, but it really hasn’t changed anything for me beyond a new instance (well, three, but they’re part of the same whole) and a new raid. New places to go yay, but so far it hasn’t really compelled me to make use of old Moonfall outside of raids and instances. Nothing to really discover or explore outside of the instances themselves.

Before we move on to said instances though, there’s one thing I’d really like to congratulate Blizzard on with 3.3 – the map. As much as I resent how they keep changing the UI API around in only half documented ways breaking half my interface with barely a change to show for it, I’m actually really impressed with what they did to the map in 3.3. Sure, some people will probably complain how it’s far too easy to find where you’re going to go now, but I quite like how it gives you something of an idea of where you’re headed. Seeing the many people who manage to get lost looking for this or that, it’s a good change, and I really like the convenience factor when you’ve temporarily forgotten the location of or otherwise misplaced the NPC you were supposed to find.

This along with the additional upgrades to the quest tracking is a very nice addition to the overall logistics of questing, and if nothing else, Blizzard definitely deserves props for taking steps in that direction; especially with how few seem to actually be reading the quest texts themselves.

Of course, then there’s the additions of the adorable Core Hound Pup, and the long awaited ground animation for Hippogryphs. Yes! They can walk at last! Elune be praised! Once more, I have to hand it to Blizzard for a top job with it – the Core Hound Pup is adorable and have some really endearing animations, and the Hippogryphs.. let’s just say the Gyrocopter was finally taken from its throne as the one flying mount with the most personality for me. The hippo will look around, stretch and even peck for food – it’s a huge step up from trying to fly on the ground, and finally you can actually tell whether you’ve truly landed or not. It might seem a minor thing, but this is definitely one addition to 3.3 that I like.

Now, yes, there are new instances and they’re great and Blizzard have outdone themselves and what do you expect of me, here? Alright, alright, I can be a tad more descriptive than that. I have to admit, the new 5-man dungeon actually left me really impressed – not due to the encounters or loot, but due to the overall design of it. It steps completely away from the typical dungeon crawler layout and goes into a full on mission narrative where you have three seperate on-end parts of a mission into the Icecrown Citadel, each narrated by a support character who show up time and time again to drive the story forward and provide an emotional response, as well as a great deal of other characters and events that take place as things go. And then the very final stretch where you run into the Lich King and essentially have to run for your life is a fun twist from the typical method of just slaying everything you come up against.

In a way, it seems almost as if World of Warcraft has now gone full circle compared to its real time strategy roots – World of Warcraft vanilla being the first Warcraft: Orcs and Humans that establishes the settings and the basic idea behind the underlaying mechanics, but being somewhat stilted, not completely player friendly and having only a basic narrative. The Burning Crusade expansion pack being the Warcraft 2 where the mechanics are expanded upon and made somewhat easier to work with, and the narrative presented somewhat better with a slightly greater focus on a few key cast of characters, and then Wrath now being Warcraft 3, the flagship of ease of use and having a narrative that’s driven largely by characters. While a good old fashioned dungeon crawl can be fun at times, and the additions of running narratives in and the streamlining of dungeons have often come at the expense of free and open exploration, overall I think it’s a good change. It’s easy to grow detached and just shrug as NPCs die in large heaps – having one of them delivering a hopeful speech only to be cut off halfway through due to reasons of dying, and then hear another character exclaim frustration and despair over all this dying actually gives these characters identity and gives you something you might care about.

Also it’s mildly challenging on heroic and some of the loot doesn’t look half bad, but pft.

Then there is the raid, and I don’t have quite as much to say about it yet since Yelnenu has only done one tentative poke into there as of yet, taking down Lord Marrowgar after some trying and one-shotting Lady Deathwhisper with only one death and then leaving it at that for the night. It was a fun visit and interesting visit, and I suspect we’ll take some time before we can tear down the whole place in any expedient sort of manner; I’m actually quite curious what the gunship battle will be like, and overall interested to see how the whole place develops as we go. The place is obviously not quite as .. shiny.. as Ulduar was since Ulduar was largely in orange yellows while the Icecrown Citadel is a pretty cold and bland blueish tone, but it’s definitely impressive, and the bosses seem quite creative, visually speaking. I also like how the entrance is full of places to repair and obtain things, and how it again starts with narrative elements, and seems like it’ll continue having them throughout much of the journey.

It’s quite a step up from the Argent Tournament, I’ll give them that. Some of the set gear design however..

It’s not all smiles and giggles, of course – there was a hilarious bug with the Alliance 5-man dungeon that was thankfully hotfixed where you would generally disconnect if you walked up the walkway to the last loot chest. Levitate could help it – if you were lucky – but it was a rather strange and bothersome issue. There also seems to be quite a few oddities with NPC placement where they’ll often walk through a tank or otherwise stubbornly attack them in the rear, leading to hasty tank or other party/raid member death. I’m also torn over their idea of having traps rogues can disarm in atleast the starting entrance of the Icecrown Citadel raid – on one hand it’s nice that the ability actually gets used, on the other.. 10-man raids aren’t quite as guaranteed to contain a rogue as 25-man ones are, so there’s some question whether someone has to fetch an alt for that one particular stretch just to avoid sudden instant adds that cause grave owies or otherwise wipes the raid.

As for the LFG tool, what do you expect me to say? I have PUG allergy – I haven’t touched the thing. Some of my braver Yelnenu cronies say it works great, though.


4 Responses to “..and then there was that patch thing”

  1. 1 Grannd-ArgentDawn
    December 12, 2009 at 17:26

    I found the LFG tool to be absolutely brilliant. I love it, really. So long as I don’t run into Crushridge italians it’s fine. With it easy to get T9 now you get well-geared people too!

    I understand your alergy to pugs, though. I tried it with a sense of dread, but as a tank I got a group in 3 seconds, same with healers too.

    It’s more fun than doing it with my friends, as sad as that sounds. I find myself talking to the people and asking them how they found the patch, generates some fun conversations. 😀

    • 2 Gordrake Thunderhoof
      December 13, 2009 at 09:23

      I gave it a test run, myself, just having a look into it: Found myself a spot straight away but never got a healer. Spent the time cleaning out the Isle of Quel’Danas instead of dailies. Good for tanks and healers, I think, that there’s a random generator like that to get people involved in groups, but there’s gonna be an issue for instances where the quests you got have ended up in the grey. Other than that, I think healers are going to be in high demand from now on in random groups like that. Tanks, I expect, as well, but I don’t think as much as a healer.

  2. 3 ThatGuy
    December 13, 2009 at 01:44

    You must do the Gunship battle soon, I have to say it is the most dynamic and fun enconter in all of WotLK. I hope they make similar events in the future.

    The best way to describe it is FL done very, very, right!

  3. 4 Lahis
    December 13, 2009 at 16:01

    The Gunship Battle really is a fun encounter and it has presented me one of the most hilarious moments in Wrath (and WoW) so far:

    I was doing and alt ICC10 -run, and during the Gunship Battle, I invaded the Orgrim’s Hammer in order to bring down the Battle Mage freezing our cannons. After the Mage’s been dealt with I was heading back to the Skybreaker, but literally slipped at the edge and fell of the deck. I tried to save my ass by propelling myself onto the Skybreaker’s deck with the Goblin Rocket Pack™, but instead of arcking up to the deck, I slammed against Skybreaker’s hull in a cartoony manner and fell down to my death.

    I bet those Horde forces who were fighting the scourge at the Citadel’s Terrace had a good laugh when they saw a draenei shaman falling down from the sky 😦

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