In my Dragonflight Review, one of the things I listed as an unknown was the pace of content moving forward. With World of Warcraft expansions, that is generally always the biggest unknown because although we generally know what type of content we’ll get in each patch, Blizzard’s pace has varied wildly over the years. Patches that stayed around the longest are often remembered as the worst regardless of the actual quality of the content because something that was a blast to do on day seven will become an absolute slog by day 460.
After finishing up my review I was ready to continue diving into raiding and Mythic +; I wasn’t expecting anything new to come up anytime soon. However, Blizzard surprised everyone by posting a roadmap for 2023 on December 21st. I can’t remember ever getting this from the WoW team in all the years I’ve played. At most, we generally will get a big announcement of what the next patch will have, but nothing which looks ahead over multiple patches and lists what we can look forward to in each. Of course, there are no firm dates or anything, but it does give us a general idea of what to expect. Which is huge for everyone still playing WoW.
Outside of what to expect in each patch, some of the content we’ll be getting is also surprising. I know many players have been focusing on their excitement over the Trading Post, new storyline, and white/grey item transmogs. However, another update comes with 10.0.5, which dwarfs all those updates in importance and what it could mean for everyone moving forward. This is, of course, the planned update to Guardian Druid. I know the other Druid specs are also getting some attention, but I play Guardian almost exclusively, so that’s what I know the most about. Plus, the Feral changes are just a… whole thing, and I don’t want to get sidetracked from my main point.
Before you get up in arms that your favored spec isn’t getting attention in 10.0.5, please take a couple of things into account. The first and biggest is that although Guardian was one of the first revealed trees in alpha, we received very little tuning and adjustment during the entire alpha/beta cycle. How we function currently is nearly identical to how we were when the first alpha testing started. Secondly, this is good news for every spec that needs some attention because it means we don’t have to wait for major patches to receive significant overhauls, even when it comes to drastic changes to the talent trees. This means we may see similar changes to another class in 10.0.7.
The downside to this is… looking at the rate of changes and updates on classes and specs makes it seem very much like the balance team likely doesn’t have the staffing to be consistently working on updates for every class, let alone every spec all the time. They seem to focus on one or two classes at a time and then move on to the next after they do updates. This is probably very practical from a cost side of things, but it does mean there will always be at least one segment of players who feel like their concerns are being ignored because it will just take a certain amount of time before the team can switch focus to them. I could be wrong, and there could be dedicated balance people for each class. It just doesn’t feel like that’s the case from the receiving end of things.
Regarding the timing of 10.0.5, 10.0.7, and 10.1, we have a few clues. 10.0.5 is labeled as a winter patch which means it has until March 20th to release. I don’t think we’ll really have to wait that long on it, especially since it has been on the PTR for a while. Originally I hoped we’d get it by the end of January, but I would have expected a launch date by now. Blizzard could still announce a launch date this week and still make the end of this month. Yes, I assume they will give us two weeks notice, but they might only give us a week. However, that feels unlikely considering, as mentioned before, some significant class changes are coming with 10.0.5. With that in mind, assuming there’s no announcement this week, I’d put my money on the next patch being released in February.
10.0.7 is listed as a spring release, meaning it needs to come out sometime between March 20th and June 21st. Throwing in with that, there is no time given for 10.1, but it is listed as being between the spring and summer updates. If 10.0.5 is released at the end of January or sometime in February, I’d expect 10.0.7 sometime in April, with 10.1 sometime in June. I could go further, as they have given us seasons for the follow-up patches as well, but I don’t want to go too far out on the branch. Game dev being the way it is, anything can happen between now and then, but the groundwork has certainly been laid for a good pace of content and class updates this year.
I hope they keep posting roadmaps for us, even if they eventually need to change from a yearly roadmap to a quarterly one. A year is a long time for game development, and when it comes to MMOs, that’s true tenfold. You’ll also notice that only the next two patches have specific names of content listed. Beyond that, it switches to listing the types of content we can expect with each patch. This helps to provide a bit of cover in case things don’t go according to plan. It is also why I think we might have quarterly updates to look forward to.
All that said, the proof is in the pudding. We’ll see how well they can stick to this roadmap, and hopefully, it won’t prove to have been a bad idea to set up people’s expectations. I choose to be optimistic here and look forward to a more reasonable pace of content than we had in Shadowlands.