Has this patch been a mistake by Blizzard?

By all appearances, World of Warcraft is still rolling along, with large number of subscribers.  Dalaran is laggy, which is no fun for us but is a sign that its filled with players.  Cataclysm is on the horizon.

And yet, I have a feeling that not all is well.  I have no scientific data for this, only anecdotes.  This is the third pre-expansion patch that I have experienced.  They always bring frustration and annoyance as add-ons break, abilities change, and mains become alts and alts become mains.  However, unlike past expansions, I don’t find that there is a corresponding sense of excitement as new shinys are introduced.  This feels different to than the previous pre-expansion patches.

In guild chat this weekend, here are some things I’ve heard.

Once person in my guild has played a hunter since vanilla WoW.  He said, “I just can’t motivate myself to log onto my hunter right now”

There is a druid in my guild who loves to heal so much that she never even got dual spec, sticking completely with resto for all of Wrath.  Her resto druid is her only level 80, also.  She decided to check out moonkin spec this weekend, not because she’s excited about the new Eclipse mechanic, but because she’s frustrated with resto.

There are an assortment of players in the guild who are less than thrilled with the state of their mains, and are exploring which alts they should switch to.


All of that is anecdote.  Now we get into speculation and hypothesis on my part.

I think that there are a number of factors at work here.

(1)  The two-year wait between expansions is finally wearing on people.

There are a lot of people out there who are bored with WoW.  Some of them have been playing since beta, which is more than 6 years now, and they are just plain worn out.  Others started playing in Wrath, but have been running ICC several times a week for nearly a year and are simply fed up with the repetition.  I think that some of these players have been hanging on, hoping that Cataclysm would revitalize their interest in the game.

Instead, what has happened is that they now need to re-learn their class.  Or maybe they are a ret paladin and they have watched in post-patch raids as mages and warlocks double or even triple their damage output.  I fear that for some this is the “last straw” and is the final factor in their decision to give in to their waning interest.

And don’t get me started on the druid tree form debacle.

These players were on the verge of quitting, anyway.  This might just give them the final nudge.

(2) Wrath was too easy, and players are spoiled.

As we all know from the QQ in Trade chat, blog posts, forums, etc.. Wrath was too easy.  Players who knew essentially nothing about their class could still muddle their way through raids.  Players who did know a lot about the game still didn’t have to work very hard at picking up a new class or spec.  Attack rotations were easy, mana unlimited, threat limitless.

Now, in the post-patch world, its all changed.  Rotations are not simple or obvious.  Tanks are having mobs pulled off of them.  Healers are finding it hard to keep tanks alive.  Raids are wiping on farm content.  Classes that once led the damage meters are falling behind.

The frustration that this has caused, on top of the buggy instances and add-on nightmares, are making the game very difficult to play.  Still, all of this has happened before.  So why is this different?

(3) The kicker is that Blizzard didn’t give us the fun that we got in previous pre-patch expansions.

Lets look at the previous expansions for comparison.

Vanilla -> Burning Crusade:  In the pre-expansion patch 2.01, talent trees grew from 31 point to 41 points.  New spells and abilities were added.  Players respecced into their 41-point talents right away, which tended to make them overpowered for current content.  Most classes got significant overhauls, but most of them were improvements over previously existing flaws.  It was the first expansion, so it had a sense of novelty to it.  Much fun was had playing with new abilities.  The fun distracted us from the frustration.

Burning Crusade -> Wrath:  In the pre-expansion patch 3.02 talent trees grew from 41-point to 51 points.  New spells and abilities were added.  Players respecced into their 51-point talents right away, which tended to make them overpowered for current content.  Also, existing raid bosses were nerfed which allowed guilds to run content that was previously out-of-reach for them.  Much fun was had blowing through Black Temple and Tempest Keep in advance of new content.  The fun distracted us from the frustration.

Wrath -> Cataclysm: In the pre-expansion patch 4.01 talent trees were reduced from 51 points to 31 points.  Some new abilities and spells were added.  Players respecced, but found that it didn’t make them any more powerful than before, and in some cases less powerful.  Existing raid bosses are not changed (although Chill of the Throne was removed) so we’re still playing the same content at essentially the same difficulty as before.


And there is where I think Blizzard messed up.  They didn’t give us anything all that exciting to balance the frustration of relearning our class.  All we got were mostly lateral changes, with not a whole lot to get jazzed about.

What motivation do players have to re-learn their class?  Are they going to study Elitist Jerks and pore over talent trees and reforging options just to go kill Marrowgar for the 200th time?  Once the expansion is here, we’ll learn our classes through the leveling process.  We’ve just got to hold on until that point.

Sorry, Blizzard.  This patch hasn’t excited us.  You’ve got a month and a half of damage control to do now.  You need to find a way to hold onto people’s interest until Cataclysm gets here.


14 Responses to “Has this patch been a mistake by Blizzard?”

  1. 1 Hamacus
    October 18, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I for one am feeling the lack of incentive that seems to be prevalent in the current state of WoW these days. Having four 8o’s I have already given up on my Druid which was supposed to be a healer. The task of relearning a class I was already weak at is too much take on at the moment and the loss of tree form was the coup de grâce.

    My Priest is pretty much setup and got to Raid this weekend but the results are mixed at best. My Rogue is setup and ready to raid but my Warlock is still a work in progress. As stated by you, what is the motivation?

    That said I am optimistic that come Cataclysm that things will all work out and those who really love the game will still be around to play it.

  2. October 18, 2010 at 10:50 am

    It doesn’t help that it was released with bugs that were reported to Blizz back in the beta as well as on the ptr.

    But yes, having one of every class myself, it was an exercise in frustration to get them all back where they needed to be… and frankly, they’re not going to be back there for a long time. I will say, this patch has cured my desire to raid on my alts at all [even cured doing more than Naxx weeklies]. I’ve been playing over on LotRO. Hubby’s been playing some FPS games on Steam instead of WoW some evenings. [My hubby is especially disgusted… he develops software for a living, so the lack of quality of the patch just really ticked him off]

  3. 3 Para
    October 18, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Yes, making some of the classes weaker has been a disaster.

    My guild made a few attempts on lk25 after struggling through some of the hardmodes. The lk fight (which is normally a breeze) became a nightmare.

    It ended the week so badly that the officers of my guild cancelled all raiding till cata. On top of that, there is now behind closed doors talk of splitting off 10 people for a new cata raid group. Our once healthy 25 man raid guild has killed by blizzard.

    Back on topic, I’ve read the pre cata events. They don’t sound that interesting. I have no desire to log on till cata.

  4. 4 Nerftastic
    October 18, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    From what I’ve seen, ICC was nerfed and some class/specs did get buffed. The groups I’ve been in have run through more content faster than ever. It’s not just Chill of the Throne. If possible, it has actually made the raid less interesting.

    • October 18, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      Some classes are definitely buffed (although temporarily until Blizzard rebalances them) – mostly casters. However, the obstacle of relearning your class makes it difficult anyway. Our 10k dps hunter is now a 6k dps hunter while she relearns her shot priorities. Same with ret paladins and some others.

      So even if there were small nerfs to ICC, I don’t think it is in any way easier than it was before.

      And there is no way to make ICC more interesting if its all you’ve been doing for the past year.

  5. 6 ringa69
    October 18, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    dont get me wrong here but i think blizzard may have done the right thing for the wrong reasons. for example. cata is over a month away so they needed something for people to do for that time or get people back into the game (or whatever there actual reason was). the problem is that they only gave us half of the pre cata stuff.ie no pre cata events yet. so people are looking at the current content and going “IM NERFED FIX ME NOW” “THIS SUCKS HAVING TO LEARN MY CLASS AGAIN” not realising that is patch was a prelude for cata and that there is more to come. ie pre cata event, lvling to 85 via quests and dungeons then raids.

    i might be the 1 in a 100000* people that actually likes this patch. does everybody want to continue to play the same way for another 2 – 2 1/2 years? i definitely dont want to. its probably the fact that most people dont like change. they get used to something and it becomes comfortable to them.


    (* the actual numbers may vary from the made up ones ive put here)

  6. 7 Stonedrake
    October 18, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Oh man, I’m completely in the opposite camp.

    I’ve been playing since the middle of BC, but didn’t do any raiding beyond badge-runs until Wrath. I took this patch as an opportunity for a “do over”. I tossed out all my macros and addons (except Bartender and IceHUD) and I reconfigured my UI to visually match the physical shapes of my Logitech G13 and my Razer Naga.

    My rogue, whom I have not played since I got his Crusader title, is suddenly all exciting for me. I want to play with the changed Assassination tree. I want to go back to Combat for the first time since I hit 71. I want to play SUBTLETY for the first time ever. I ran him through Heroic CoS and I was not in any way disappointed with my performance. Maybe the problems people are all a matter of scaling?

    My Shaman, the toon I’ve been levelling just so I could have a jewelcrafter, I’m having ridiculous amounts of fun. She’s Enhance specced. I don’t know if it’s the changes Blizzard made or if it’s because of the ‘do over’ I mentioned above, but I’m doing better DPS and using more of my class abilities than ever before. She’s a total blast. I’m looking forward to trying an Elemental build too.

    On my druid, my only character who has raided ICC, I’m cautiously excited. As you might guess from my other two toons, she’s a Cat. Sometimes she’s a bear, but only for solo content (I don’t EVER tank). I understand we’ve been nerfed DPS-wise and then it was addressed in a hotfix. I’ll end up testing with her by going to Icecrown and soloing Chillmaw over and over.

    I don’t know, but I’m enjoying it all. I should log on to my baby troll hunter and see what he’s like these days. 😀

    • October 18, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      Like you, I was TOTALLY excited when the patch dropped. I rushed home and logged on as soon as the servers came up.

      And then my Mutilate rogue aplyed almost exactly like it did pre-patch. Meh. And of course my add-ons didn’t work, but that was expected. Then I had to reforge and re-gem just to get back to where I was supposed to be, performance-wise.

      And all that work so we could go into ToC, of all places, and wipe because of buggy encounters and malfunctioning UIs.

      I tried doing 5-mans as subtlety, and then I remembered why I dropped it back in BC (positional requirement of backstab).

      I’m much more excited to play my paladin, actually.

      There’s some stuff to be excited about, for sure, and for some classes more than others. But other than a few earthquakes, its all been lateral changes. Nothing has advanced the game toward Cataclysm, which was my real point.

  7. October 18, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Am I happy that my hunter’s dps is very low? Not really but I went out and spent a long while at a target dummy and I think I’ve found about a third of what was missing. But focus is a real joy and eventually Blizzard will get around to balancing out the damage issues.

    I think the answer is that WOTLK was just too easy. The encounters were rough but the skills were a bit easy. The dumbed the game down and now that they’re trying to smarten it back up again its a problem.

    Its 6 weeks, we’ll live and get to the business of trying to level before the holiday shopping rush.

  8. 10 Vordan
    October 18, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    I have been playing since launch of the game and every time an expansion comes out there is always the good and the bad. We deal with it and move on. This time however, it is a little more difficult to forgive because I feel the game is totally alien now. All my 80’s no longer resemble anything I liked within the class to begin with, not to mention its difficult starting alts now like mages…you don’t get the spells you use to get until now sometimes 20-30 levels later, its horrible. I play a holy paladin as my main. I have always enjoyed playing this class/spec because it was unique compared to the rest of the healing classes. Don’t get me wrong this patch didn’t change the unique-ness but it did make my interest in it drastically lower. Nothing like getting your healing output as a whole nerfted so hard it makes me uninterested, and frustrated, all the while some other healing classes got buffed. I have fallen back to playing alts, even that is frustrating. My sub ran out yesterday. Not even sure I want to renew it until Cata, or even then I might not even do that.

  9. 11 Lifeguard
    October 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    The patch was a mixed bag of treats for me as well. I had 4 toons to pour over talent-wise, the most significant being the swap from Frost to Blood for tanking (i’ll forever miss, HB…) but prior to the patch, i was losing my interest in the game for an entirely different reason…faceroll content (with the exception of some bosses) and easy rotations.

    I removed the examples from my 4 toons. It wouldn’t be useful information; instead i post questions…would people be happy playing a game that is static? Where the expansion only required u add another 2 key strokes to your existing rotation? Do people only ever want bigger dps numbers and another couple action bars??? Had Bliz not collapsed the trees thats where we were headed. If DPS is only increased and never nerfed (across the board) do people not understand that all Bliz will do is give the raid boss infinity bazillion HP to compensate for u doin’ 10k dps single target?

    • October 19, 2010 at 10:52 pm

      You’re absolutely right about the necessity of collapsing the talent trees, and also the impending mana nerfs.

      However, I would have liked something to keep me interested until Cataclysm. Nerf ICC so we can run through it as a last hurrah. Put in a cool pre-expansion world event (I know that’s coming, but it can’t get here soon enough). I just wanted something, anything to give me a reason to worry about spec and gems and reforging and learning new abilities.

      • October 22, 2010 at 9:18 pm

        The problem is the timing of the patch. It dropped the weekend before Blizcon so they figured most of us would be distracted by that. I’m figuring after the Halloween event pre Cata hi-jinks will hit the servers.

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