Cast your minds back to Warlords of Draenor, which rather reassuringly was not that long ago. Social media imploded with the news that, on a Friday before a major holiday, Activision Blizzard had the audacity to announce that flying would not be implemented in Tanaan Jungle. I don’t need to remind you of how that changed the face of gameplay, that suddenly players could happily negate all that hard work that the Devs had put into challenging combat on the ground by simply flying over it. Whether you agree with the change or not, the fact remains that ignoring mobs is against the point of playing this game. It effectively devalues a lot of effort placed into development, and whether some of you like it or not, it’s not in the spirit of fair play.
Overnight, it appears that Ion Hazzikostas and his team introduced legitimate means to counter this.
In essence, it’s now impossible to negate content by skipping mobs, because at some point, you will have to attack them and when you do on the Broken Shore, they’ll scale to match your item level. The level of utter indignation and disbelief this has produced is truly unsurprising, mostly because it transpires that in a Q&A from last year, it was promised this wouldn’t be the case.
If you go and take the time to read the blue post from WatcherDev, you may get the feeling as I do that content scaling has thrown up a rather significant consequence that nobody really provisioned for in the initial implementation. In fact, the phrase ‘it’s also not working exactly as we intended’ should be enough to grasp that the plan here wasn’t to make the change feel like a slog or something really tough for players to handle. It is about keeping gameplay a challenge as content progresses, regardless of your iLevel, and using gear as the benchmark makes an awful lot of sense. Ironically, of course, many people are hearing about this change only after having played for an evening, and didn’t notice there was a ‘problem’ to begin with:
However, and this is significant, my mate Rev plays a Paladin. Even in Holy spec he’s more durable than a Mage or a Warlock, and more significantly of all he’ll still have a better time of it than anyone wearing leather or cloth, and here’s where the Holy Grail of content scaling always falls down. Sure it helps if you can git gud, but there will ALWAYS be a disadvantage for those players who’s raid role matters more above all else. It’s the biggest joke in the game, but maybe now you can scale damage to iLevel, they can find a way to scale mitigation based on armour type when in open world situations…
However, for me at least, this development is beyond significant, and that’s because I’m looking forward to 7.3 and beyond. What many players will now be failing to consider is why this change was undocumented, and why data mining failed to pick it up. This is not really that important for current play, but may be highly significant going forward ling term for ALL world gaming content. There was another development overnight that further fuels my theory that 1-100 scaling content could be on the way, and it came from a project I was really rather looking forward to happening being quietly shut down by, of all people, Activision Blizzard themselves.
Instigated by the superb @BellularGaming this Patreon was planning to give players a new slant on the 1-60 play through via the use of an addon, similar to the Starcraft Universe Kickstarter. I happily backed this project even though a part of me wondered whether it would be relevant if the game moves forward in the manner which I believe it could be heading: if content scales regardless of level and is based purely on gear, then it won’t matter at what point you play… but more importantly if this ends up being the case the Devs will be forced to do the job of doing pretty much exactly what Michael and his team have set out to achieve here. That levelling content would then need to be reinvented at code level, just as the Patreon would have provided.
Whether these two events are connect is yet to become clear, of course, but for now, as I wade through reaction on social media one thing becomes abundantly apparent.
This is what many players have asked for since Vanilla, a world where all outdoor content is relevant and challenging. I doubt you’ll see any changes to instanced content and that will remain reassuringly OP as time goes on, but for everything else, flying has now been removed as a ‘cheat’ for negating difficult events. In one regard the Company has corrected an oversight that existed since the Burning Crusade.
On the other hand, they opened a whole new Pandora’s Box to the world.