With Patch 4.3 released for one week, has the patch been living up to player expecations?
As most of you now know and have been playing, World of Warcraft's Patch 4.3, Hour of Twilight, went live last week. This patch brought many new features for every type of player, from the casual to the hardcore. However, are these features large enough to keep the dwindling subscription numbers from plummeting even more?
The first real content scare a lot of people are concerned with is the relatively easy nature of the new raid content. 4.3 introduced the new "Looking for Raid" feature that was supposed to allow every person who wanted to participate in raids the opportunity to do so. The community looked at this feature as the new standard of "casual" and was expecting to be greeted by a harder than average normal mode.
However, this seems to not be the case, as record numbers of guilds are clearing all of the normal mode raid content in a single week, and begs the question: "How difficult are the heroics going to be?" The general fear here is that, if heroic is tuned properly to be a challenge for the hardcore, those looking at a gauntlet of new bosses on week two are going to be in for a headache of attempts for the next few months. On the other side of the fence, if they aren't as difficult as we've come to expect from heroics, are we looking at a Heroic Madness of Deathwing kills in the next few weeks? Would that even be a proper end to the once Destroyer himself?
Many people fear a sense of disconnect with this final raid instance and wonder if its scale will be as "epic" as Illidan or the Lich King. I, for one, am trying to avoid most internet related spoilers and look forward to witnessing the end of Deathwing myself, but am just not as invested as I once was.
Looking into a lighter side of the Patch, Transmogrification has become a hit with a majority of the players. It's very hard to run into a single character that doesn't have at least one of his gear pieces Transmog'd into his favorite piece. However, this feature makes it incredibly misleading the first time you decide to jump into battlegrounds.
While not going into if it is a good, or a bad thing, it's incredibly unnerving to jump into combat with an enemy, without knowing what you're getting yourself into by looking at his/her character. No longer can you decide the amount of resilience someone might have based entirely on the look of their character. I was repeatedly caught off guard when I saw characters running around in Brutal Gladiator gear and thought I was in for an easy kill, only to end up on the floor, wondering what had just happened. It will be something to definitely keep an eye on as the arena season picks up this week.
The part of 4.3 that has probably seen the most exposure is the three new dungeons added to the game. Jumping into new fights and amazing ilevel gear sets is a great break from the mold of running the Zandalari and 4.0 dungeons that came with the games launch. It's a new environment that works really well to keep the story happening in Azeroth moving forward, and making that weekly Valor Point grind a lot easier to swallow.
And finally, as of this week, the first chance to jump into the Darkmoon Faire has finally arrived on the live server. I haven't spent a massive amount of time here; however, I can say it has become a nice little mini game hub to pass the time while you wait for your friends to log on to raid or PvP. There are simply so many different ways to spend your time, for both profit and pleasure, that the Darkmoon Fair just might be the most successful part of the entire patch.
In the end 4.3 has done a good job delivering everything it has promised to us, with only one quick round of hot-fixes. The majority of the content has been stable and the dreaded downtime of Patch Day seems to be becoming less and less. I just hope the raiding content holds up in the coming months while we wait for more news of the Mists of Pandaria.
Mike "Krelumian" Schaffnit, Staff Writer.