World of Warcraft's Help Menu Upgrade in Patch 5.3
If you have ever entertained the thought that all World of Warcraft really needed to be totally perfect and make it complete was an in-game web browser, Patch 5.3 is the answer to your prayers...sort of. Datamined from the game files, this in-game browser has been in the back of our minds for awhile now. However, it is only recently, with the release of Patch 5.3 for testing on the public test realms, that we have had a chance to actually see this new feature come to fruition. Coupled with a handy post on Blizzard's official blog, we can get an excellent feel for this new addition.
Patch 5.3 In-Game Browser Help System
This new in-game browser has replaced the old help menu system. Instead of the dusty old system seen in the last few patches, players will find a sleek new interface that will allow them to access a direct portal to the Battle.net Support site. A direct quote from the blog post states that this web browser help system was implemented:
...to give players in-game easy access to the site's robust knowledge base and support contact system.
That is right ladies and gentlemen, for
the first time ever, players will be able to access every tidbit of
knowledge available on the Battle.net Support site from the comfort
of their game. Forget about opening a browser in the background
followed by a stream of frantic alt-tabbing, or making use of a
second monitor to get your questions answered. Any question that can
be answered on the Battle-net site will soon be just a few clicks
away without ever having the need to leave your game.
Limitations, Limitations, Limitations
Of course, all good things typically have their limitations and this new help system in World of Warcraft Patch 5.2 is no exception to that rule. This new in-game browser a.k.a help system is extremely limited in the fact that players may only access information found on the Battle.net Support site. Any address typed in outside of this site will automatically open an external web browser.
Which is handy, but also a little
disappointing for those of us who would love the option to access
other World of Warcraft knowledge bases from in-game. Currently there
has been no talk of being enabling access to other domains, however,
the potential for this feature to be opened up in future patches is
Thoughts and Conclusions
If you haven't jumped in to Patch 5.3 and seen this new web browser system for yourself, let me assure you that you are currently not missing much. This new feature is clearly only in it's infancy and has very limited functions. However, I think that an in-game web browser could have the potential to be a real game changer.
Think about it. Everything you could ever wish to know from the Battle.net Support site available to you right in game with just some clicks and a few typed words. Having that kind of knowledge at your fingertips is nothing to turn your nose up at. Still not impressed? Consider the fact then that the Battle.net Support site may only be the beginning.
Imagine what could be if Blizzard eventually opens up access to external domains in future patches. The sky really becomes the limit and this new in-game web browser could be the start of an in-game knowledge base that most of us have only ever dreamed of. Think of what it would mean to have access to knowledge bases like Ten Ton Hammer and other World of Warcraft related sites. Pretty impressive right? With these knowledge bases available easily, no player will have the excuse that they don't know how to craft something, don't understand a boss fight, or can't find where a particular item drops.
Where this in-game web browser will ultimately lead is anyone's guess. However, I think it is a giant step in the right direction for Blizzard and will be a saving grace, especially for players new to the game. I truly hope to see it taken above and beyond it's full potential in the future. Hint, hint Blizzard!
What are your thoughts on this new help menu system in Patch 5.2? Do you think Blizzard will eventually open up the ability for players to access domains outside of Battle.net? Would you use the in-game browser over an external browser if this option became avaiable? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!