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I’d set aside time today to do a 7.3 review, but rarely do things go the way you planned. I’ve read a few stories of those with suboptimal systems struggling with the complexity of new textures and when the patch data decided to reset all my graphic settings as soon as I logged in, I was less than impressed. However, once I’d sorted stuff out, everything was fine, or so I thought. Then I had to answer the door mid fight and got locked into an instanced fight without the means to escape, and all that hard work at immersion went out of the window.

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However, a lot has changed in a decade plus, and with fifteen minutes and a cuppa, I was up and running again. 7.3 promises a lot, and complaints that lore was missing for a while back there certainly have not fallen on deaf ears. In fact, if I didn’t know better, Azeroth’s about to get a whole lot greyer in the whole Light/Dark department. In the first hour of playtime there’s an extremely clear message: nothing you previously believed about lore or indeed the entire fabric of Azerothian society is safe any more. Not only have the wheels fallen off the Good/Bad wagon, it’s also on fire.

If you wanted change on that front, you’re going to get it.

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However, relying on cinematics to tell a story should not be what makes a decent patch. In that regard, Argus is robustly challenging, required more than a modicum of thought and is proper hard at my 899 iLevel. I had an upgrade within 30 minutes (which is also quite satisfying) and am able to make new Leatherworking items within an hour. In this regard, pacing seems well pitched. There are elements however of every end game self-contained zone here that some players will find hard to dismiss, especially when we end up with three months to go until the next Expansion. If there were a way to take the game off the rails it seems determined to keep travelling down, I’d love to see it, but right now there are no advantages to being left just to explore.

That’s what I think I miss most about (wait for it) Warlords. LOOK I SAID IT. I miss the horrible Expansion that took Pandaria’s idea of not needing to precisely complete quests in a certain order and combined it with free loot just lying around. Gone now are vignettes and side stories, except when they help you to a buff that stops you dying. No longer does anything you do feel organic and exciting, but all part of the Light’s plan instead there’s a calculated, determined need to make the most of the playtime, without getting lost and distracted. For many people, this was the key: give us the ability to play in small bursts, and not lose the ability to feel more powerful as we do.

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The most enjoyment I gained in my two hour playing window was, undoubtedly, soloing a demon with 112m HP, without anybody else joining in. What this proves to me is that however attractive and blingy the rewards are made in the end game patch, I’d rather be fighting stuff on my own. Fortunately it doesn’t matter now whether I do this or not, as armour tokens have returned to being Battle.net bound, so everything that’s surplus to requirement will find a home regardless. I found the NPC who’s going to give me a mount in exchange for Demon eyes completely by accident, and laughed for a full 5 minutes afterwards when I grasped the Devs finally realised that this is the real way to get people like me to keep coming back, time and again. It doesn’t matter that I won’t complete this content immediately. It just has to be possible to do it in Legacy, eventually.

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In a game where visuals now are more important than mechanics, Argus is a triumph. It really is: tried and tested gameplay paths, familiar rewards, easy to do if you’re solo playing just by pressing a button. Granting the Broken Shore an Emissary is perhaps the most significant master-stroke of all, because now there’s no excuse: the entire game’s on rails, you just have to want to make the journey, and there’s enough rewards being wafted for those of us with alts to now make that incentive attractive. If I can level an alt with 10 Invasions plus Professions quests, it’s worth the effort, and as I can now skip the Broken isles completely and just use WQ’s to gear until an alt can survive? There’s no need to go to Argus anyway. The job is done.

This is what people wanted, asked for and have got. There’s no excuse now for everyone. If the game matters enough to play, you have no excuse not to.

Get out there and start grinding.

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