With 5.2 coming out today we have now experienced one full raid cycle of warcraft and I look back and say, without a doubt, that blizzard has really redefined itself.
Many people will point out the fact that a new raid is coming out so soon, in comparison, as a change in the right direction. Even if it is a little too soon as I see it, we were due for something new. Lets face it, if you are a normal or heroic mode raider and are stuck somewhere you have most likely been stuck there a while now and even if you do move along it is moving a lot slower now and you are still repeating the things you can down easily over and over and over. Yeah, the new raid was needed even if we are not finished with the previous one.
The real key to what I believe shows blizzard is moving in the right direction is not the raiding itself. It is the little stuff. Lets take pet battles for example. They added them for this expansion and could have let it fly as is. Made no updates to it, upgrades to it, additions to it, until the next expansion and advertise it as a new feature. But no, they did not do that. They added stuff in 5.1 for pet battles and they are adding stuff in 5.2 for pet battles. They are not in set it and forget it mode, which actually is what blizzard has an excellent track record of doing. Make it and forget about adding to it. Not so here, pet battles are now important, and updated, and that is one of the things that is redefining warcraft. They are adding things and keeping them relevant past one patch.
Even the tillers are seeing themselves with some adjustments for easier planting and even getting to run the farm yourself and not just be a helper to yoon. Nice little upgrades there, one even being a side step to helping characters with reputations by taking work orders. Once more, redefining warcraft by paying attention to what would have once been a create and abandon part of the game that they have done over and over throughout their history.
Adding a daily hub, and an excellent story telling one from both sides of the fence, in 5.1 and adding scenarios to support them was another moment in time that we will all look back on and think of as the moment where warcraft really took a huge turn in redefining itself. The dailies were not just for reputation, for valor and for coins, it was to tell a story, something that sometimes feels a little lacking in warcraft when you need to look outside for the lore all the time. It gave us a horde side and an alliance side. It gave us scenarios for each side to support the story.
But the redefining warcraft moment comes in 5.2 when speaking about this particular 5.1 content. The alliance only scenario will be capable of being played by the horde and the horde version will be capable of being played by the alliance, so they can each see the other side if they are not someone like myself that is maxed on both sides. This is a huge change in warcraft design, a break from the create it and forget it motto that has been around since the inception of the game. They took 5.1 content and rolled it into 5.2 a little bit to allow it to become new content for many people that never experienced the other side. Great choice blizzard.
There have been some adjustments to their claimed intention of choice they boasted about this expansion as many people really did not see the choices. They were there, they were just not that attractive to some. I like to quest so getting some valor while doing dailies and waiting in queue was a nice way to boost up my earned valor for the time I am playing, but many do not like doing quests or in some cases, were not capable of it. My healers heal and while I could switch specs and quest that was not what I wanted to do, thus, there was a choice, just not one I would actually want to take. That is like asking someone to choose between a glass of orange juice or milk when they are lactose intolerant. Sure, they could choose either, but one really is not something they would want to choose because it would leave a bad taste in their mouth and make them feel sick because they really do not like it. So, lets face it, that is really not a choice.
They added things to help with reputation, to limit the number of quests required in 5.1, as soon as you got one character to revered you could buy something to speed it up for your others, and it carried over from server to server. That alone was something you could call redefining the game. They didn't just leave it and say deal with it. They didn't just remove the requirements for reputation and admit a mistake. They didn't just make a flat increase to the reputation gained. They attempted to fix it. Something blizzard rarely ever does.
I don't think that many people really considered that a fix however. If you did not like to do dailies and already did them on one character even if the second character gets double reputation it does not change the fact they do not like doing dailies. Old school warcraft meant, you are stuck with that. Be happy they made one adjustment to it. But not this time around, in the new world of warcraft, the redefined warcraft, they attempt to fix stuff, even if it is from last patch.
With 5.2 you can now get reputation by working your farm. Something you can even do as a healer in healing spec, with the exception of the rare vermin to deal with. You can choose to champion a faction for your first dungeon and first scenario of the day too now. You can get over 1500 reputation per day and never do the dailies for that faction, now that is what options are. That is what choice is. The original concept of choice they offered was, in a word, lacking. Now, as the expansion goes on, adding the double rep in 5.1, the farm and champion things in 5.2, they are actually adding choice. That is very unblizzard like, wouldn't you say?
Another little change that some people like, myself included, are the attention to the little things. Like the rare mobs and their drops. Making them spawn a little more often and be a little less rare was a stroke of genesis in my opinion. It gave people a choice of things to do, some people just fly around rare mob hunting. I know I have done it, but now look at the updates. 5.1 added three new alliance only rares and three new horde only rares. 5.2 is adding a whole slew of different type of rares, and stuff you can gather from rares to summon other bigger group rares and some other spawn rares. Mounts from rares, bones from rares that can buy stuff. They did not just add the rares at the start and that is it, they kept up with it, and kept stepping it up. Redefining rare hunting this time around. Now add to the rares that the new ones can be shared and grant you valor. Awesome.
That is once more a case of not just creating and forgetting about something. They continue with it and roll with it and even get to the point were the rares now allow more choice on things to do. They spoke loudly and often about choice at the start of the expansion but quite honestly I did not feel it. Now, I am starting to feel it, now I am starting to see choices come to the table. Now, for the rare hunters out there, you can earn valor while killing.
You can just look around and see that it is taking some time but blizzard is really redefining warcraft to be more than just PvP and raiding, or at least they are trying to. They are trying to give extra ways to earn thing, like reputation or valor. They are trying to give us some toys so we can remember that it is a game and we should just chill out and have fun sometimes, even if they seemed to forget we are going to need a lot more bag space if we want to carry them, so there are still some oversights. They are trying to give us things to do otherwise, like being a rare hunter, a pet battler, or a fashion maven with transmog and some of the restrictions being lifted.
They are releasing things faster, they are not making create it and forget it additions, they are redefining what we think of warcraft of.
Is it good or bad? That is for you to decide.
I, for one, am looking forward to my healer now being able to get reputation without needing to do dailies. I, for one, and looking forward to killing some rares and earning valor while doing it. I, for one, am not ready for the new raid at all but think time wise, it was due. I, for one, really like what warcraft is being redefined to be. Lets hope they keep it up and blizzard keeps letting Mists redefine warcraft.