The Firelands, the next big raid and conclusion of the current Hyjal storyline when we kick Ragnaros’ arse … again, has been moved from Patch 4.1 to 4.2. The World of Warcraft playerbase is furious and many are confused by the conflicting responses given by Blizzard blue Bashiok and developer J. Allen Brack. As a result, there's been a revolt, just take my server, for example. The queues for content continue to be insanely long (especially if you are, like me, DPS) and many of my friends have quit WoW or just burned out in frustration at the amount of reused content or changes wrought by Cataclysm. The Firelands change has been, for many, the final straw.

The news came in a GDC interview last week with EU site Eurogamer. Prior to this, other than mumblings about legendary weapons, there had been almost nothing in the patch notes about the raid. As a result many players began to wonder where exactly it was, especially given how Blizzard focused a lot of attention on the Firelands as being THE raid of 4.1 during last year’s BlizzCon.

The thing is, this decision was not a carefully debated, well thought out one. Oh no, it smacks of a last minute “er what are we doing” decision. Take this admission from Zarhym:

A good amount of development progress had already been made on Firelands by the time we decided it would be better to release it in the following patch. Because of that, a lot of information about what is now considered 4.2 content was already in the game files for the initial 4.1 PTR build. This just reinforces what Bashiok said about 4.2 being scheduled for release on the PTR shortly after 4.1 goes live.

Development for both patches is currently well in progress. :)

So there you have it, 4.1 is on the PTR but stocked full of content not going live until 4.2. But the thing which has been annoying many players (including me) is the line up of recycled content that we can expect in the next big patch. In my mind it actually defeats the point of having a big content patch.

You see, there’s been a tradition in MMOs. You buy the game or its expansion and over the story arc, the developers give you a wealth of free content in a series of large content patches spaced more or less evenly through the game’s life cycle. Just look at DC Universe Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Aion and a dozen other games. They all follow a similar format and this includes WoW. Until now at least. Here’s what Bashiok said shortly after Eurogamer’s original news article referencing their chat with J. Allen Brack popped up on the internet:

Our goal with each major patch release, and especially with each expansion, is to learn from the past and use that knowledge to improve the game as we move forward. One of our biggest regrets in the pacing of Wrath of the Lich King was the Crusaders' Coliseum. The Trial of the Champion 10- and 25-player raid was released while many raiders were still busy with Ulduar, which meant a premature end to Ulduar raiding -- and a lot of players didn't get a chance to experience all of Ulduar's content during the normal expansion progression.

Having learned that lesson in pacing from Wrath of the Lich King, we don’t feel Cataclysm needs a new raid tier just yet. We’re close, though, and Firelands will be part of patch 4.2, which is expected to hit the PTR very soon after 4.1 goes live.

One of our long-standing development goals has been to release more regular content updates for you to enjoy. Our plan is to package features like raids, dungeons, and daily quest hubs into smaller content updates and release them as soon as possible, rather than wait and release them as large but infrequent updates. Our first significant step in this direction will be Cataclysm patch 4.1, and we hope the rest of our content updates moving forward follow this model.

This new flexible approach to updates allows us to release content like Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub so that you'll have more challenges to overcome while we make the flames of Sulfuron even fierier and this second showdown with the Firelord even more climactic.

Huh? To break that down he’s basically saying a) you’re not prepared and b) we want it to be epic. Personally, I think he actually means c) we’re behind and we didn’t want their tier to be as untested as Nefarian/Sinestra/Ascendant Council/Al’Akir/Cho’Gall/All of the above.

As a player, and a journalist, I would have been much more willing to listen had Blizzard just been open and honest about their intentions. I don’t believe for a second - and I’m convinced the amount of 4.2 content in the PTR is evidence of that - that Blizzard panicked after the elite guilds took down all their endgame bosses so quickly and then critiqued them on how to make the encounters better by pointing out the many, many flaws in the encounters.

And, of course, the unfortunate side effect of this is the annoyance of the players, many of whom are seeing the reimplementation of so much recycled content as the death knell of WoW. They’ve moaned on the forums, accounts have been canceled and players have been keen to announce how they gone to explore other games, like Rift. At that point WoW is going to die not by being supplanted better game but because of the lazy lies of its developers who seem to truly believe they can lie, straight-faced, to the people who give them $15 each month. They’ve forgotten that, the most important part of running a business, and ignoring the people who pay your bills is tantamount to professional suicide.

The other problem is when the playerbase does complain, those that whinge are usually labeled by the community as a rather vocal minority. And players whinge a lot, about the most trivial things. Unfortunately, in this case, the vocal minority is right and justified. They're complaining because they spent money on an unfinished game, they're complaining because corners are being cut and they are complaining because they feel short-changed and lied to by the people who created WoW.

The community as a whole would have a lot more respect for Blizzard if they just stood up, raised their hands and admitted that a) Cataclysm was unfinished when it was released in December, b) that the decision to move Firelands was a snap one made very recently because of c), that Blizzard never finished testing the endgame raid content, like Sinestra, Nafarian and every other boss that was hotfixed after the initial encounter by high end guilds like Paragon or Ensidia.

At the end of the day, WoW relies on its players and Cataclysm's success is not measured just in first day/week sales but by the content patches which serve to reignite flagging interest and, of course, the storyline itself. We've heard the venting on the official forums but how do you, our readers, feel about the unfinished state of Cataclysm and the conflicting reasons Blizzard has given for moving the Firelands raid? Are you disappointed by the amount of recycled content? Tell us in the comments box below.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016