It has been a bumpy road for Activision-Blizzard and even more so for their desperate fans who’re just waiting for something good to finally latch on to. While the Dragonflight pre-patch comes packed with a list of new goodies, is it truly a step in the right direction? Here’s what I think.
Talent Tree Revamp
Strap in, because this is a big one. We’ve had our lackluster talent rows ever since the release of Mists of Pandaria back in 2012. The old talent trees were retired and forgotten—but not so much by the players. The players never forgot. We’ve been waiting, praying for its miraculous return. The time has finally come…and for the most part, it’s glorious.
Every class, every specialization got a completely new and revamped talent tree. Unlike the old one we had back in classic, here every point has an enormous impact on gameplay. Moreover, you have a tree dedicated to your class shared through all specs, as well as one specific to your chosen spec. In my time spent testing them out, I was excited for every new talent I got. It opens up so many possibilities and different build paths depending on what you need from your character.
I absolutely love the new talent trees. Just by themselves they’ve made this Dragonflight pre-patch breathe new life into the game for me. I feel like a kid in a candy shop whenever I try a different class again. It’s fun: something the game has lacked for a long time.
Customizable User Interface
The age old problem of World of Warcraft: addons. By themselves, addons are a wonderful addition to the game and helps players customize as they see fit. However, the reason we need addons in the first place is because the game itself does not fulfill our requirements. The Dragonflight pre-patch aims to address some of these issues by giving us a new and completely customizable UI.
It’s great news that they are trying to address their outdated user interface, but unfortunately I feel it’s quite lacking. Don’t get me wrong, it’s clearly an upgrade over its ancient predecessor, but even disregarding the many bugs…the amount of freedom you have just does not compare well to addons.
I don’t see it replacing the need for UI addons, but for the casual player it’ll be a godsent. The style is nice and it’s easy to use—much more so than its addon counterparts. There are still a ton of issues to be sorted out and it’s clearly not ready yet for Dragonflight, though luckily this is only the pre-patch. I hope to see them flesh it out more in the near future, as the less addons we need, the better.
New Race-Class Combinations
Have you ever wanted to play a big, bulky Tauren rogue? Well, now you can! Forget for a second that it makes no sense at all and just relish in the fact that the players have gotten more freedom to play what they want, looking how they want.
Every single race can now play as a priest, mage and rogue. It’s a good change and I hope to see more of it in the future, especially regarding shaman on Alliance and paladin on Horde.
Quality of Life Improvements
We’ve all had our mobs snatched away by someone from the other faction. It’s even worse when they’re a group and you’re lucky to snipe as much as one away. But, what if I tell you that’s a thing of the past now? The pre-patch does away with that irritating feature, meaning that there will be no mob tagging frustration in Dragonflight at all. Well, at least if you’re one of the first 5 people tagging the enemy and you’re not in “War Mode”. Still, it’s a good change that helps everyone. Speaking of, you can now merge your bag interface into one big bag. It only took them nine expansions to add this…impressive.
Aside from that, they’ve also added a few accessibility features. Instead of needing to click on interactive NPC’s, you now have the option to press an interact keybind instead. I’m not sure how useful this is unless you’re physically unable to use both hands…or if you’re just plain lazy. “Press and hold casting” is now a thing, allowing you to hold in a button to have it repeatedly cast without you needing to do anything extra. Now if only mages had this back in classic.
Tab targeting in WoW is pretty good. Other MMOs always frustrate me with it, but WoW just does it great. They are now giving us another option, however: action targeting! Without needing to select anything, your spells will be cast on the enemy you are currently hovering over. While it works in tandem with tab targeting, I feel like it’s nothing more than a downgrade. The game just does not really allow it in higher difficulty content. But I can see it being fun for the more casual player.
Bugs and Balance Issues Galore
Did anyone expect anything different? If so, maybe dial back the hopium a bit. Dragonflight is still a ways away and this is only the pre-patch. Balance changes and bug fixes are flowing in frequently, which is a good sign. However, there are a lot of bugs flying about.
Shadowlands fell so that Dragonflight could soar. The former lost an entire patch of content to give more room for the latter’s development. That time and effort has to show and a vast variety of bugs is not a good way to start. From simple little UI bugs to much more serious ones…they have their work cut out for them.
I do not see the balance issues gone any time soon, as it has ever plagued the game. Every specialization will only ever be considered equal in a perfect world—which this is very much not. Still, I pray they narrow the gap between the classes substantially before release. There’s nothing quite as life-draining as waking up to see your favorite spec nerfed into the ground.
Phase one of the Dragonflight pre-patch has personally been really fun for me. I’m enjoying the new features a lot and am excited to try out the new “Evoker” class in phase two, even though the race attached to them is not my cup of tea. The bugs and slightly-unpolished feeling does dampen the fun a bit, but not too much. If I had to sum up my experience so far, it will have to be: hesitantly promising. Just like everyone else, I want them to succeed. They have this one final chance to prove to the world that they can deliver quality. Their fate is in their own hands.
If you want a rundown of what’s included in the pre-patch, you can find a good overview in their own video below:
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