There are more than a number of you out there in Internet Land who are a little sceptical that Blizzard can keep pace with the current timetable of deployed content. Well, I’m here to tell you, as 7.1 is happily installing on your computer of choice, that no only are they ready with the timescales, there’s already a plan. Okay, the graphics might not be done yet, but trust me when I say to you ActiBlizz not only came to the table prepared, they’re already WAY ahead of you. To this end, I’ll predict you’ll be seeing PATCH 7.2…. oooh, on or around January 17th, 2017.
How do I know this? Well, let’s take a look at the 7.1 patch notes, shall we?
I’m not sure I can ever remember ActiBlizz being quite so precise at the start of a patch, and telling you exactly how long the latest stage of the Suramar ‘campaign’ will play out. Nine weeks from today takes us to December 27th, right smack bang in the middle of the Xmas break. That’s actually quite smart, on reflection, because anyone coming to the game fresh at Christmas will have a shedtonne of stuff to pile through, whilst the Mythic Raid people will have farmed the Trial of Valor to extinction for relics and will be champing at the bit for new stuff to do. You’ll need to give the people at Irvine the chance to get back from holidays, new year to happen, and then the prerequisite two weeks warning for the PvP Season to end.
That makes January 17th pretty attractive as the first major date to start 7.2. As we know there’s nine weeks of Suramar already coded, they’ll be working to complete the next nine weeks right now, after which one assumes we’ll keep going to 7.3. You see, this time there really is a plan. The first patch after the Expansion is hardly a content-light affair, now is it? This is bringing the A-Game to the table, with bells and whistles plus one of those LED badges with batteries that last forever. When it lights up the message ‘Yes, We Listened’ flashes in alternating red and blue lights. ActiBlizz got the memo. There’s something in this patch for everybody.
However, I am already seeing casualties, and it would be remiss of me not to report this. There are complaints that what used to be considered as ‘solo’ only content increasingly requiring grouping with other people. I’m hearing people bemoan class fantasy as a lie, or a rip-off if you don’t subscribe to the particular aesthetic the designers have assigned to each class. Undoubtedly there are those in any expansion who don’t mesh with the ethos presented and decide to part company with the title, for whatever reason. What commentators won’t have this time around (and why ActiBlizz was keen to play down any sub number reporting from the get go) is an indication of how many players stayed for their free month and have now wandered off to play Civilization VI instead. One assumes that this is no longer about retention and simply focused on maintaining a consistent, high-quality stream of continuous content.
If you don’t like what’s on offer? The choice, as has always been the case, remains yours whether you stay or go.
I’ve still not completed Suramar, but knowing as of tomorrow that when I do what would have been 7.0’s timeline I’ll be able to seamlessly continue onwards makes me really rather excited. For those of us always playing catchup, learning not to stress about what isn’t done is really rather a beautiful thing. It’s also a salutatory life lesson over how you can become complacent when a game stops being just that and becomes either chore or task. This is exactly the right speed of content for me, currently Mrs Average Playtime Girl. It’s pitched at exactly the right level, with enough distraction to keep me satisfied all the way to Christmas and beyond.
I, for one, have absolutely no complaints.