Blizzard today activated the 1.10 patch for World of Warcraft, which promises to make the game less repetitive for veteran players. Also, new content such as better armor sets and realistic weather have been added and several dungeons have been altered to provide more of a challenge to players who have completed them several dozen times in a row. But while the new content may temporarily satiate WoW's six million plus players, the patch also tries to balance out the game by modifying several classes and significantly altering the player-on-player battlegrounds.
Weather effects, in the form of rain and falling snow, are perhaps the first changes players will notice after the patch is installed. These effects will happen in 11 zones around the world and while are great eye candy, don't actually affect a character's movement or their ability to aim - something you would expect a raging blizzard to do in real-life. Blizzard promises that more zones will get the addition of weather graphics and claims in the patch release notes that "this is simply the beginning." For owners of less-capable computer systems, the weather effects can be toned down and even deactivated by tweaking the video settings.
One common complaint among players who have reached the highest game level (60) is that the game tends to get repetitive. This is because much of the dungeon content is static and after completing the dungeons for dozens of times, players typically know how to complete certain tasks. For example, the patch makes many dungeons much more difficult to master by reducing the maximum number of players a group entering a dungeon. As an incentive for the increased difficulty, there are higher drop-rates of valuable loot in those dungeons.
Blizzard also addressed a concern of casual WoW players that old armor isn't exciting enough when compared to the gear that can be obtained in the ultra-tough dungeons like Molten Core or Blackwing Lair. Occasional players often cannot spend hours everyday running these tougher dungeons to get better gear. In addition, they may not belong to hard-core raiding guilds that practically mandate their members to play everyday. To solve this problem, Blizzard has introduced the new "Heroism" armor set which can be obtained by trading in old armor pieces and completing fairly simple quests. This move will force players to spend even more time in the game.
Battlegrounds also received a significant overall modification. Alterac Valley is a battle zone where up to 40 players from each side try to kill each other and the opposing general. In what is often called WoW's version of World War I trench warfare, Alterac Valley battles can often take several hours to complete. Players gain "reputation points" and once enough points are accumulated they can purchase better gear.
Before the patch, players could simply run off to the far side of the map and automatically collect the points, much like a taxi meter continuously running up. There have even been reports of players putting a small weight on their cursor keys to make their characters continuously run against a wall. Now, Blizzard is now forcing players to engage in combat to gain those points.
The patch weighs in at 24.4 MB and is automatically downloaded when players log into their World of Warcraft accounts. In what is becoming an increasingly common occurrence that underscores the difficulty of implementing a game patch, several servers were still down for maintenance at 3:00 PM PST.