Patch 5.4 brought with it several new features, zones, and changes that were put in place to help players jump right into the Siege of Orgrimmar raid. What are they, how do you make use of them, and maybe most importantly have they rendered all old content useless?
While it is common that usually patches render some older content irrelevant patch 5.4 seems to impact a lot more content that normal. What makes the changes that this patch applies so much more devastating to old content?
There are several changes as of patch 5.4 that makes it significantly easier to gear up your character and get into the newest raid. Just a few of them that we will discuss here are the Timeless Isle, Justice and Valor gear changes, and crafting changes.
The Timeless Isle
The Timeless Isle is a great place to get gear, but it's too easy.
The Timeless Isle is a new zone was put into the game to provide a new high-level zone for players to adventure in when they are level 90. It hosts several outdoor boss fights, as well as provides a place to continue the Wrathion legendary quest chain. It also provides high-level items to players as they adventure there.
The items that you can find on the isle come in the form of Timeless Armor Caches which drop as either a generic armor type, for example plate, or a more specific type such as mail chest. These can then be used to generate a piece of gear of the appropriate type and geared towards your current loot spec. The items will be item level 496 making them upgrades for almost anyone who has not completed the raids leading up to the Siege of Orgrimmar. Being item level 496 also means they meet the item level requirement to enter Siege of Orgrimmar.
While being able to get new gear is awesome, the Timeless Isle almost gives it away. The requirements to earn gear on the Isle seem to be: 1) breathing and 2) being able to click the mouse well enough to play the game. Seriously there is no challenge, no test, just free loot.
Justice and Valor gear changes in Patch 5.4
This change is fairly significant for the gearing process as well. Much of the older valor gear is now available for justice points, and much of the remainder of the valor gear has been decreased in price. This makes if far cheaper to purchase items and to be able to pickup any upgrades you still need from the justice and valor vendors.
Additionally a significant selection of the pieces that had reputation requirements have had them removed. This has two in game effects. The first is that reputations have become largely insignificant and will no longer be pursued by players. Secondly, since reputations were largely gained through daily quests, this means that daily quests will no longer be completed.
I can not say that I am that upset about daily quests going away, as they were fun for a while, but after having to try and complete a huge number of them on your fourth or fifth character they get to be a drag very quickly. Blizzard really should have made rep an account wide feature and not a character specific feature. That would have helped by allowing players to do dailies and earn rep for all of their characters at once. The bonus rep for characters after one character earned enough rep was a compromise, but not really enough.
Profession Changes in Patch 5.4
The other significant change for gear with patch 5.4 is the addition of several item level 553 crafted pieces. These are available as belts and legs for each class and spec through the appropriate profession.
There is a long lead up time before you can actually make your new piece of gear since it requires at least 20 of the new crafted materials and each is on a daily cooldown, however being item level 553 makes these pieces a must have upgrade for any serious player that is not a hard core raider.
You can find out more about them in our Patch 5.4 Profession Guide.
These profession changes can help jump your item level pretty significantly as they are over 50 points above the required 496 item level that you will need to get into the Siege of Orgrimmar raid in LFR level. Sure they take a long time to create, but this is an upgrade that has an effort for reward component. Sure the effort is only really making sure you log on each day, but that’s better than a “breathing” check for the Timeless Isle rewards.
What happens when a non-raider with no experience at all with difficult content, but meets the item level requirement gets into a LFR group and faces off against Hellscream himself? Can you spell "Wipe"? I knew you could.
Is being able to gear up this quickly a good thing?
For many players yes, and especially for those of us with alts. There is an issue with it though. In theory you could get a character to level 90, hit up the Timeless Isle, collect some justice and valor for a few pieces of gear, and potentially craft a piece of gear or two and be into the top level of LFR raids, having never participated in any previous raid.
That fast gearing process for me is a pretty bad thing. LFR raiding has always been a hit or miss proposition. Sometimes you get players in your group that are really good and the raid is fun (if a little easy), and other times you get players that can barely play their class which makes the raid impossible to complete. By making gearing for the newest raid so simple and easy that almost anyone can meet the requirement with a few hours of non-effort will mean that the chances of getting that second type of raid composition much more likely. This will make it far more difficult for players to actually complete raids.
Has Patch 5.4 killed off all older content?
To be brutally honest, yes, it pretty much. At this point there is almost no reason to go back and complete any of the older content because you can get higher level items far easier through the new patch 5.4 content. Also in many cases it is nearly impossible to find groups for the older content now because of this. I tried queuing the other day as a DPS or Healer for any of the old raids and the queue did not even bother to show a time. I left it open while adventuring on the Timeless Isle and even an hour later I had no time displayed and had not received an invite to a group. As a tank it was slightly better, since I could find a group in about 40 minutes, but that is almost the same as never, since tanks generally get a group in a few minutes and not the 20-40 that DPS generally need to wait.
Is there any way to fix the issues?
As outlined above the issue created is really two fold. The first being that old content is rendered obsolete, and the second is that LFR will be full of failure groups.
The first issue could be resolved by upping the rewards from the old content to match the item levels given out on the Timeless Isle. Sure the items will be above what those bosses would have given out in the past, but it would still grant set bonuses and other perks, while still pushing players through older content.
The way I can think of to fix LFR getting full of groups with no playing ability and causing wipes that would still allow Blizzard to get people geared up quickly and still have a chance for LFR groups to complete the raids has to do with the new Proving Grounds feature.
My idea is that in addition to an item level requirement to enter new raids, there was a Proving Grounds requirement as well. While Proving Grounds doesn’t prove a whole lot, if it was reset every time there was a new raid and then you needed to prove that you could handle your role against a new set of enemies in it to either the gold level or a certain set of waves on endless, it would in a more meaningfully way show that you are capable of completing a raid.
I have voiced my opinion and view on the patch 5.4 content killing of the old content and outlined one of the serious issues I see it creating. I have even offered up a suggestion on fixing the issue that it can create for LFR groups. Now it’s your turn, what do you think of the new gear progress in patch 5.4 and what it does to all older content? How would you fix it, or is it just inevitable with each patch to make everything old antiquated and unused.