I would love to be a fly on the wall in the Blizzard offices. As recently as September 1st, Blizzard was announcing that the Gaze of the Black Prince buff would be returning for the final time before the release of Warlords of Draenor, running from September 2nd to September 16th. Players looking to get their cloak quests completed before Warlords launch (or even 6.0.2, with all the changes it will bring) were rushing to capitalize on Blizzard’s ostensible generosity. Then, on September 17th, just slightly more than two weeks later, Blizzard announced that the buff would run until Warlords release, and that the entire Legendary cloak quest chain would be removed in the coming expansion. I have complained about Blizzard’s problem with making announcements before they were ready, and then having to rescind them, but I am struggling to understand the course of events that lead to this.
The Gaze of the Black Prince buff and its sibling Heart of the Valorous buff, while a boon to players, seem to have caused Blizzard nothing but trouble. Earlier in the summer, when the buffs first were released, Blizzard seemed to enjoy springing them on players mid-week, when some players had already run their raids/dungeons or valor-capped earlier in the week, and as a result could not capitalize on the event. Blizzard seemed to get better, announcing prior to the Tuesday resets when the buffs would go live and for how long they would be available. That sort of courtesy seemed to be occurring when Blizzard announced the final implementation of the Gaze buff.
As usual, players were disappointed that the buff had a shelf life, and there were pleas and demands that the buff should last until Warlords release. Blizzard seemed determined to let players earn those last few Titan Runestones without any additional aid. Then suddenly the announcement came that the buff would be extended until Warlords release, because the ENTIRE LEGENDARY QUESTLINE IS BEING REMOVED. For all the questionable things Blizzard has done in 2014 (*cough*Azeroth Choppers*cough*), this is the most incomprehensible decision they have made. I can only give Blizzard the benefit of the doubt and assume that there is some technical reason to remove the quest, because there is no other justification for this action.
This was the first time that a legendary item was both accessible to all classes and gated behind a series of quests that ran for the entire expansion. While some legendary items (like Atiesh) have been removed due to content being redone, there is no such limitation applicable here. Valor points are being removed in patch 6.0.2, and so the part of the quest chain that requires 3000 points of valor is also being removed in that patch. The raids (even the raid finder versions) where all the items drop will still be available come Warlords. The fights may play out slightly differently due to shifting player mechanics, but the worst case scenario would require players to wait until level 100 to come back and grind out their cloak. One of the great things about World of Warcraft is that during lulls in content that may last for over a year, players have the time and opportunity to go back and do quests and seek out loot that they otherwise may have missed. As much as I want to believe that there is a technical reason for pulling this questline seemingly at the last minute, I cannot fathom what it would be.
Blizzard is claiming that the restriction in availability is what will make the cloak legendary since prior legendary items were restricted either by class or an extremely rare drop, if not both. The problem with this is legendary items are not transmoggable. Players can earn prior legendary items, and take them out of the bank to show them off in Stormwind or Orgrimmar, but there is no way to use them at max level outside of their native expansion. A fully upgraded cloak is ilvl 616, but the Highmaul Raid (which is just the first raid tier of Warlords) drops items starting at ilvl 640.
The cloak and its dazzling effects (I’m jealous my hunter didn’t get the green tentacle effect!), while prevalent throughout patch 5.4, will slowly be replaced out of existence as players progress through Warlords levelling. By the time patch 6.1 is released, the cloak will be less a sign of a legendary player and more a sign of someone who is taking their time with the new content. Personally, I’d like to see Blizzard allow the legendary to be added to the upcoming toy box, so that we can have whatever cloak we equip randomly flash the imbuement of the August Celestials even if there is no related buff.
Instead, the recently announced solution is that players will get a title, Legend of Pandaria, if they have completed the quest chain in Patch 6.0.2. While a title solves the issue of being able to show “you were there,” the fact that it is coming this late in Mists, the expansion that provided the cloak, suggests that Blizzard is making these decisions arbitrarily, despite Bashiok’s insistence.
The other major loss that comes with the removal of the cloak is the loss of the questline itself. Wrathion’s exploits in Mists of Pandaria were part and parcel of this expansion’s experience. It was disappointing, after completing the Badlands quests that introduce the uncorrupted Black Dragon egg in Cataclysm, to find out that the hatching of that egg was only for rogues to play through on their quest for the legendary Fangs of the Father daggers. In Mists, all players could begin the tale of Wrathion’s quest for the power to save Azeroth, and his interactions with Anduin and Lorewalker Cho helped emphasize the theme of the expansion.
Lore-seeking players who missed out (Mist out?) the first time will be able to run through all the original zones and even see the raids to get a sense of the plot progression, but the events that lead to Wrathion and Anduin’s interactions in War Crimes will forever be lost. As mentioned, this is exactly the kind of content that keeps players engaged when all the new content is completed, and it is disheartening to know that these moments will be unrepeatable. That said, as someone who missed out on the Battle for Undercity, after I saw the Wrathgate cinematic and could not find the quest to follow up on the story, my impression of those events certainly makes them feel legendary since I was unable to complete them myself.
I want to believe there is a valid technical reason for Blizzard removing the questline, but upon examining the situation, it is not clear how there could be. If Blizzard had taken pains to adjust the quests to account for the removal of Valor points, one has to think Blizzard could have adjusted the chain to leave it in going forward. Seemingly, someone at Blizzard decided within the last two weeks that the quest chain served no purpose in Warlords of Draenor. The cynical Warcraft fan will assert that this is one final gasp from Blizzard to encourage people to remain subscribed for the next two months until the expansion is available. Given the company’s use of the Gaze of the Black Prince buff, as well as the ‘log in before 9/30 for your Azeroth Chopper’ scheme, that assertion appears to have merit.
Blizzard has already said that they expected to have Warlords out already, so whatever their subscription projections for this quarter were, they have surely been adjusted downward by now, and this could be another attempt to recoup unintended losses. That said, Blizzard has mishandled almost every announcement about Warlords and the related content since Blizzcon, and this announcement is just another error in a line of errors. It is disappointing, but at the very least, Warlords will soon be out and we can stop complaining about what Blizzard is going to do and start enjoying what Blizzard has done.
Still, it has been amazing to watch over the last year how Blizzard squandered all the good will from the player base after releasing such an amazing expansion so quickly by angering players with announcements about the coming expansion and taking an excessively long time to deliver it. The longer it takes Blizzard to release Warlords, the more opportunities they give themselves to put their foot in their mouth. The worst part of this is that while Blizzard had only been nerfing our ideas of what the new expansion would be (by restricting flight or moving the capital cities), they are now nerfing the greatness of their own existing content. Mists of Pandaria was an amazing expansion, and I am sad that it be less amazing the day that Warlords of Draenor is released.
Brewfest is going on now until October 6th. I must have gotten really drunk because I thought I heard Blizzard say they were removing the Legendary Cloak quests… http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/7237858/brewfest-9-20-2014
The Legendary Cloak will no longer be needed to fight Ordos as of patch 6.0.2. To Blizzard’s credit, at least they aren’t removing Ordos as well. (or the Timeless Isle, or Pandaria. . .) https://twitter.com/muffinus/status/511942709092052993
Lords of War IV is up. I’ve been in situations where I wanted to stab myself in the eye, but not literally! http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/15975234/lords-of-war-part-four-kilrogg-9-19-2014
In an amazing move I’m still trying to comprehend, Blizzard released ALL the cinematics from Warlords of Draenor on their website. I sorta suggested Blizzard do something like this a few weeks ago, but I never thought they’d do it! http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/15968415/spoiler-alert-warlords-of-draenor-in-game-cinematics-9-19-2014
Blizzard debuted the Engineer’s Workshop, a column about the technical effects that go into producing World of Warcraft. Start reading now to learn all about aliasing technologies! http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/15936285/engineer%E2%80%99s-workshop-engine-evolution-in-warlords-of-draenor-9-17-2014
Old character names will soon be made available! If you know someone who hasn’t logged in since 2008 but wants to keep their name locked up, let them know they need to resub before 6.0.2! http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/15910697/release-the-names-character-name-reclamation-coming-9-15-2014
Facial recustomization is coming to the barbershop in 6.0.2. So now everyone worried that they won’t like their new model can rest their weary heads, whatever they may look like. http://wow.joystiq.com/2014/09/11/warlords-of-draenor-beta-face-re-customization-via-barber-shop/