WoW v4.3: One Week Later

I WASN’T INITIALLY OVERWHELMED with WoW’s 4.3 patch, released one week ago today. But as I’ve been playing through the new Hour of Twilight dungeons and Dragon Soul raid, I think I’m on board. The changes seem to bring WoW back in line with what it needs to be: friendly to the casual player, but plenty of depth for the hardcore.

The three new 5-man dungeons, with one exception, are exactly what they needed to be: quick and painless. Of course, people are already complaining that they’re too easy, but I disagree: I’ve seen plenty of random groups wipe to trash and bosses alike. Thankfully, when you get a semi-competent group, they’re much shorter than the existing Cataclysm heroics, and you don’t have pug-killing trash like ICC’s Pit of Saron or Halls of Reflection.  I’ve said it many times: dungeons are not supposed to be mini-raids. They are a means to an end, meant to be run  daily, and keeping them in the 30-minute range is right where they should be.

If anything, there are some pretty fun fights in the new 5-mans. The best by far is Murozond, where you get to rewind time over and over, resetting all your cooldowns each time. Getting to use Heroism five times on a fight = awesome. The only clunker for me is the Mannoroth event at the end of Well of Eternity, which, once you’ve done it a few times, feels like it takes, well, an eternity. Otherwise, I really like the new dungeon bosses and the fact that they don’t take forever to complete.

I was initially skeptical about the new Looking For Raid feature (“LFR”), as I pugged a lot of 25-man raids in Wrath and couldn’t imagine how randomly assembled groups could possibly get through bosses without a dedicated leader coodinating things. But so far, LFR has been a pleasant surprise. Granted, the fights are extremely simple, little more than tank-and-spanks with a few wrinkles, but as long as you have one person calling out basic directions – hide, stack, kill the purple ooze, etc – they’ve gone well.

As expected, transmogging and void storage were an instant hit, although 25 gold per slot feels a bit rough. I’ve already maxed out storage on my rogue and warrior – 2000 gold apiece – but I really had no choice, as seven years of playing means my banks have long been out of space. The rules on transmogging are also a little restrictive (including a bunch of glitches xmogging legacy PVP gear), but it’s been a fun little diversion trying to come up with outfits to get you noticed while running around. (At some point soon, I’ll post the various wacky outfits I’ve come up with.)

Blizzard also rolled out a revamped Darkmoon Faire over the weekend, moving it from its traveling locations to a new, permanent “Darkmoon Island” and adding a bunch of new stuff to do. It’s essentially more holiday-style grindage, which you’ll do one week a month instead of once a year, with tickets that you can collect to buy new mounts and pets. It’s not thrilling stuff, but it’s at least some single-player-ish content that the patch was sorely lacking.

There’s still more stuff coming: the new PvP season should start this week, and I’m assuming Baradin Hold will gets its third boss today. And somehow, while the individual features probably don’t sound that overwhelming, the patch feels greater  than the sum of its parts. It’s a good chance for people to come back, to get caught up on gear in the new dungeons without a lot of pain, and to actually see raids via LFR. If history is any example, those two things will open doors to players staying to do other content, like dungeon achievements or killing raid bosses they might have skipped over. So for the moment, I’m back on board, although having a mini-content patch lined up for the spring wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.