The Patch 6.0.2 is now firmly deployed, and with the returning Millions it is going to be busy in Azeroth for the next month.
My first impression is just how good the graphics and character artwork upgrades are. Your favourite character is bobbing along with new facial features and the world seems sharp and in focus. I liken the process to renovating a painting, and showing the original painting in all it's glory after having the years of grime stripped off. Unfortunately not all the characters benefit the same. I am still systematically going through all my characters and have so far only done four:
- Dwarf Male - big improvement, the nose is about half the size, and the hands are no longer the size of shovels. Did Leonardo never invent the Vitruvian Man?
- Draenai Male - I can't detect too much change. Probably centred around better looking face tentacles
- Orc Male - What a surprise Blizzard did an excellent job remodelling this class! No more round featureless faces all looking like Shrek or an average plain Peon. "Job Done".
- Gnome Female - I am still finding the face somewhat disturbing. It is very similar to that strange look of young girls wearing heavy makeup.
New Dungeons, new PvP, my content of choice is the quest chain. Move the story on and allow me to partake in a few quests.
I follow the breadcrumbs and make my way over to the Blasted Lands. The Fortress is in ruins and the Alliance are gathered on the beach. There are Orcs nearby which I shoot at. It only then I notice that rotation is shot to pieces. No Serpent Sting! This was always one of the first spells in the rotation and unless I switch to Survival it is now gone forever. There are other gaps in my bar, my damage is miniscule and yet the mobs go down as soon as I look at them.
I am curious as to whether the difficulty is pitched correctly. It certainly appears on the low side. It makes a mockery of the whole scenario, if I can multi-shot the entire Iron Horde on my own and come out without a scratch. Even the final boss is laughable and you get help by whichever faction hero sent you there. I don't want difficult, but I don't want a boss to roll over and die, merely because I turned up.
I was curious earlier in the week when I found the loot table for the UBRS 5 man level 90 style. The gear is iLevel 550 Rare not even Purple in colour. Who is it designed for? I have dug out my often used table yet again to highlight the problem:
Using comparisons with other content it is more than SoO Flex and less than SoO Normal (Don't get started on the new naming conventions). The problem is that UBRS is Rare and not Epic and it is not upgradeable. The others are for four more weeks and the upgrade table looks like this:
It is essentially a minor upgrade for anybody in LFR SoO gear which is fully upgraded (possibly) or more likely for anybody in Timeless Isle 498 (+16 fully upgraded) gear. This is not designed for the people who have kept a continuous subscription but is aimed at a last chance for gear for the returning masses. Already we know that subscriptions are up and we are still a month away from the WoD release.
UBRS offers up 4 different weapons:
Dripping Willow - 2 Handed Strength Mace
Finkle's Shanker - An Intelligence dagger
Tharbek's Terrible Charge - 1 Handed Agility Sword
Tharbek's Horrific Posessor - 1 Handed Strength Sword
That by my reckoning would give most classes with the exception of one a reasonable boost if they are only in starter or Timeless gear. The missing class? yes of course it is Hunters, with no ranged weapon.
Weapons and Trinkets are traditionally the hardest items to get your hands on. But MoP has taken this torture to new lengths. It started with the Thunderforged weapons that you could but huge gems as a gift from Wrathion, if only they ever dropped. Then LFR scattered weapons throughout the Siege of Orgrimmar so that after people had failed to acquire the weapon with both chances they would drop from the raid. New people would not stay because they had already missed a chance at the weapon and the queue went on and on. It took six months to get a ranged weapon on my main and only 5 out of 12 characters have got anything better than the 20,000 Timeless Coins version. yet they have average iLevels above 550 and weapons at 484 iLevel. Weapons make the biggest difference to DPS of all the gear slots. So a big thank you from all my Hunters to Blizzard, and at a time were Hunters are doing less damage than the
Apart from the weapons (and exempting Hunters) there is no need to run the content more that once, which it could be argued that Blizzard don't care about because it only lasts for 4 weeks. At this rate it might last less than a week. Thankfully the UBRS is not wasted content because it is already being recycled and will be recycled again come the expansion. Clever of Blizzard to re-use content, no wonder it took so long for the expansion to be created.
The new Group Finder UI was introduced to make finding groups easier. Unless of course you want to do Ordos and Celestials. The old system may have been hidden and in a stupid place, but at least it was usable. The new system means that no-one knows exactly where to put the custom group. I don't ever create a Random raid group, but judging by the number of Raid groups, people have not embraced this new feature yet, or perhaps it still needs to be modified. Surely Ordos and Celestials should count as Open Raids and not clumped with people farming Emperor Shaohao rep.
The interface looks so much better and it is now in the right place, but it would not have been tested for current content and only for the Beta and PTR content. That suggests that the grouping for Open World Bosses will be different in Warlords of Draenor than the 5 World bosses that appeared in Pandaria.
I am liking all the bagspace that we now get by stacking in 200's instead of 20's but it would be nice if we had a button that would automatically do it for us. I am sure with all the programming might at Blizzards fingertips that this would not be a major task.
Overall I am impressed but the loss of framerate is a real worry 60 FPS down to 30 FPS is making me consider my options. I have a newer PC available but I really need to find a decent SFF Graphics Card that will hit the spot in terms of price and performance, which will mean trawling through benchmark scores again to find the right card. It would be nice to turn up those graphic options to max and see the game in it's true glory.