A PHENOMENAL amount of stuff is on the 7.3.5 PTR, so much in fact that I’m not really capable of taking it all in. Once upon a time this would have been Alpha Test territory but with the confirmation that Broken Isles zones are (presumably) going to be phased as race hubs for the Nightbourne and Highmountain dudes one has to think that some of this content’s being earmarked to keep people occupied in the run up to new expansion testing.
However, there are other mutterings on the PTR: how artifacts will be ‘retired’ with a legitimate tie to lore [go spoil yourself, I’m not doing it for you] is only one part of what seems to be an awful lot of emphasis on aesthetics and story content. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d say that the game’s going a wee bit overboard on the ‘look, shiny distraction!’ route… so much so there’s a new ‘mount’ in the datafiles. You know, the kind of thing that gets thrown in when there’s nothing else going on and the company wants to test the waters as to how many people will bite and commit some cash. Or, I could be a cynical old cow and they’ll give a portion of the money to charity. You decide.
All of this is great and all, but is largely irrelevant until someone pops up and gives a definitive idea of timelines. All we have right now as a guide is Antorus: if the environment changes once the last wing of LFR opens, that means we’ll see Azeroth evolve the week of January 16th. This makes logical sense: however, how long after THAT do we then wait for the Allied Races to appear? Most of the artwork for the races is done (presumably) and all the environments already exist, it is setting up the framework of quests before making sure the changes to levelling support the massive influx of L20 players.
The question remains whether we’ll have to pay in advance for the privilege, but the answer should come pretty soon after January 16th. If the plan is to have a retirement path for our weapons already being tested, the Battle for Azeroth may yet turn up earlier than a number of commentators are already predicting.
What this does do, especially with the choice of mounts for Void Elves and the Lightforged, is to make my Warrior the one that a) not only tests the levelling redesign but b) adopts one of these new personas. Whichever one wins the poll I’ll push through the old fashioned way and (depending on complexity) will then do the same with a Horde alt. It is certainly a creative way to keep people like me playing in the lull before Expansion proper. Many snacks to whoever decided this idea had merit, and I am already wondering what ‘classic’ races we might yet see presented to us as incentives down the line. More significantly, I wonder if we could end up paying for them on an ad-hoc basis, not unlike you ‘buy’ new skins in other ActiBlizz games… ^^
Whatever my Poll’s outcome, I will be playing a male character. I far prefer the male skins to the female ones, and think it is time to round out my character list with a bit more diversity. I’m already collecting a set of 880 gear in anticipation, and the names I want are already reserved… now all I have to do is wait.
The question remains however: how long?