These are critical days for World of Warcraft. From the players' perspective Cataclysm wasnt the overarching success Blizzard hoped it would be, with the constant hotfixing of boss encounters and the recycled content. Rage of the Firelands offers a lot of promise but can it make up for past mistakes and revitalise Blizzards flagship MMO?
The list of 4.2s new features is impressive: the Firelands, the new daily content, the storylines revolving around Thrall and the Blue Dragonflight Then theres the Encounter Journal and all the other little tweaks, including the personalised phasing which still allows you to play with friends while you restore Hyjal.
This is the point where Blizzard can get its players excited again. 4.2 is about to hit and offers plenty to do and seven new mammoth bosses to kill. The dailies themselves will take people a good few months to do, longer if youve not done the original Hyjal questline.
Right now, the raiding and new endgame content will lure players back into Azeroth. The dailies will keep them there for a time but Blizzard needs to make 4.3 even more spectacular to stand a chance against the new MMOs on the horizon.
While I maintain that 4.1, Rise of the Zandalari, was a slap-dash attempt at a patch, Rage of the Firelands did need extra time and added awesomeness. Rise of the Zandalari tried to plug the hole made by RIFT. Instead, the patch backfired and players were even more irritated by the fact that the promised raid - the Firelands - was moved back. To add insult to injury, rather than getting to fight Ragnaros, we found ourselves back in the accursed Zuls of the Amani and the Gurubashi.
Is this going to be enough to save the World of Warcraft?As major content patches go, this one is not actually that big. Seven bosses might be the perfect number for the Blizzard devs but Im concerned a lot of the hardcore raiders will do it within a week with the rest of us following a little way behind. Will it be enough to keep people occupied until 4.3 hits? If you dont have a fully geared level 85 then it might inspire you to get there and if you do, it should keep you a busy. Even if you dont raid, the dailies are the big draw, even if its just for the flying mount you get at the end.
Theres normally one big patch per quarter which means were looking at around three months before we see the next chapter in the Cataclysm storyline. Right now we dont know anything about it and Blizzard hasnt dropped any hints which is probably a good thing as they want our attention fully on Rage of the Firelands. Indeed, you only have to look at the recently released trailer to see that the production values have tripled and they really have pulled out all the stops.
These are rocky days for Azeroth, the Cataclysm has shattered more than just the world we knew and loved, its left us - the players - unsure of where the future lies. 4.2 has certainly had much more work put into it than 4.1 or the expansion itself; bosses have been tested, dailies have been played but its just a start and Blizzard do need to keep the momentum up or risk their subscription numbers dropping even further.
Regardless of what happens in the future, we can now say that Blizzard is actually trying. Whether its too late, well thats something only time can tell us. The Firelands is opening, Twilight is coming and Deathwing is beginning his final descent. Whether we - and whether Azeroth - survives this turbulent period, remains to be seen.
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