Battle for Azeroth has now been out for a bit longer than when I shared my first impressions of it and my feelings on the expansion have crystallized somewhat even though it is still early days and I won’t know how it all turns out until the end of the expansion.
So far, doing dungeons has been rather fun in Battle for Azeroth. We are still very much in the learning stage and tend to run into some packs or bosses whose difficulty or mechanics surprise us—third boss in King’s Rest comes to mind as an example. I had barely noticed the DoT from the axe lady before this week with tyrannical and now that boss seems to be one of the hardest ones in the dungeon since it combines heavy movement due to the axes with heavy damage on one player due to the DoT.
As noted though, the fact that we are all still learning does mean that the rate of mistakes being made can mean that keys unfortunately don’t get played in time that very well could have been. But that is a part of learning and becomming better which in the end is what makes all of it fun. Sure, the accomplishments as well, but those mean so much less without the learning process and obstacles that come before.
Now azerite gear is a strange thing, and I touched on my early impressions of it before. Going from Legion to Battle for Azeroth, we lost tier sets, our artifacts (with their relics) and the legendaries from Legion. All of these things provided different bonuses to our character that either made them play different or provided utility for certain situations—as a Priest, the cloak legendary for Holy stands out as an excellent example of extra raid utility that was very nice to have.
With Battle for Azeroth, all of these things in a way get rolled into a single system: Azerite Gear. Now for me, this system has a few flaws that stick out rather obviously:
- Limited sources of gear.
Since azerite gear is only available from sources with a weekly lockout, there is a very limited amount of the gear you can try to acquire in a week.
- This becomes a big problem, when the trait(s) you need might only be available from the weekly mythic+ chest, meaning the chance of you getting the right item are very low.
- Certain traits are just more fun.
And when you gain a performance upgrade that then removes those traits, it’s not a great feeling.
- Traits are selected per character, not per spec.
This means in order to play many specs on a single character, you actually need multiples of the same difficult to get gear in order to perform well or intentionally make all of those spec potentially significantly weaker by selecting generic traits.
- Utility traits will probably be locked when you get new gear.
Some of those traits that are fun or just give nice utility—like the Prydaz trait—might not be available to you when you get a new piece of gear since your neck isn’t yet of a high enough level.
Now all of these problems kind of feed into each other except for the last one. But the limited availability of gear just makes it really hard to actually get an azerite piece of decent item level and even harder to get the right item level along with the traits one wants. This along with an upgrade meaning a trait one enjoys potentially disappering just makes acquiring new azerite gear feel kind of bad; the system inherits the worst traits of the three systems it’s replacing: the slow progression of the artifact, combined with the difficulty of acquiring gear sets comined with the frustration of the randomness of acquiring legendaries. Sure, with raids the third point is largely diminished since you know what the traits are on the piece of gear this specific boss drops, but considering how late into the raid some of the pieces are it may not be a realistic way to get that piece of gear anyway. Also assuming the raid piece is actually the one you want as far as traits are concerned.
Now they are working on the acquisition part, which hopefully fixes some of these concerns but we don’t know what the plan is yet and when they are going to implement it. Hopefully it ends up being something good since the current state seems to be frustrating a lot of players. But I don’t think anything less than a rework of the system can get rid of the bad feeling of getting a numbers upgrade that removes a trait you enjoy having.
Preach also made a video raising some other concerns, namely regarding the balancing of the traits and how some of them can be rather unstraightforward to figure out if they are good or not. Now this specific point doesn’t really matter much to me personally—since I would probably be looking up the ratings and rankings of the separate traits anyway and not just go by gut feeling—but it still does mean that I can’t just go and equip a new piece of gear and select the traits therein in any meaningful way without having to do that which also doesn’t really feel right.
I’m excited to see what if anything they end up changing with the system though, it feels like one of those things where the backlash might be big enough to actually cause some change to be made but we’ll see.
I don’t think I’ve ended up mentioning it here yet, but I’ve changed guilds (again…). This time around it was a bit different though, since it was less out of a desire to leave the old guild—have actually been playing relatively actively with some of the people from there—and more out of an opportunity to raid again with a good friend of mine.
The change has also felt different in a completely other way, namely I’ve felt quite at home here very quickly. Sure, it helped that I already knew a person in the guild and that I’d been along of some of their alt runs with one of my alts previously, but the general feel and attitude of the guild seems to be better aligned with me than in the previous guild. I guess that is to say, I feel like I’ve found my place here quicker and have been enjoying the raids tremendously so far. Hopefully that means I can stay here happily for a long time!
Speaking of raids, Uldir has been out for a while now and we’ve had the opportunity to poke down some of the bosses there, more specifically we are 6⁄8 mythic since yesterday! We had a bit of a surprising stumbling block on Fetid Devourer and one day of somewhat slow reclear—as in, we didn’t reclear in a single day of raiding and needed to continue clearing the next raid day. But despite that, I’d say it’s been going rather well especially our latest catch: Zul.
The Zul fight is a strange one, since it ends up being so short it is quite simple but it seems so confusing on the surface with all the adds going on as well as having to move out of the raid, dispels and then something of a damage race in phase 2 with the AoE on the floor. The fight was really enjoyable though once we started to get it down, since progress was so clear to see and the healing required during the fight was also rather intense, kept me optimizing my cooldown execution at least. The fight also gave me an opportunity to use Divine Star for once, which was a nice change up from Halo since the cooldown is so much lower meaning I have more to do.
Uldir has been really good so far overall once you’re past the first two bosses. I didn’t hugely enjoy Fetid since there is more of a focus on positioning and damage there than healing and execution, but Zek’voz I also enjoyed since it required proper execution of cooldowns on my part for the dances along with playing the dance, eye beam and add mechanics properly. Especially the overlaps with the debuff/eye beam and dance provided some interesting moments in the fight.
Vectis I also found somewhat interesting—especially now that I can play Discipline there—even though it was a somewhat boring fight from an execution standpoint as Holy. Just spamming Binding Heal so that Salvation is ready in time isn’t the most engaging gameplay, but the healing requirement still made the fight interesting. Especially in the intermission where one needs to avoid stacks and still keep ones party topped from the debuff that keeps jumping around.
Now I’ve briefly touched on this before but I’ve also really been enjoying Discipline. It plays a bit better in raids than in dungeons since you can better plan for cooldown usage with more predictable damage, but the spec in general plays quite good at the moment I feel and really fits my damage-happy playstyle as well. It wasn’t unusual to see Smite as my most used spell even as Holy, so playing a spec where it actually contributes to my healing as well makes a lot of sense. As noted before as well, Holy just feels so slow with the changes in Battle for Azeroth that Discipline becomes a even more welcome change to me.