World of Warcraft: Beta for Azeroth - Not Ready for Primetime
The latest World of Warcraft expansion has been out since August 14th and while it has garnered decent praise for its story and excellent level design, Battle for Azeroth has simultaneously been plagued by more than a few major technical issues, not to mention a -legion- of smaller woes. After the stellar launch of Legion and other past expansions, players are left wondering if Battle for Azeroth was taken out of the oven just a bit too early.
Now let's be clear here: The purpose of the article is not to review Battle for Azeroth or to take on its story, level design or features. What is at issue are the number of technical problems that the expansion faces. The simple premise is that Battle for Azeroth is not up to the standards we've come to expect from a Blizzard product.
Before launching into some of the bigger issues that players are faced with in BfA, it is worth noting that far too many of the things players have discovered have been present since the "official" beta testing period. The fact that many of these bugs were not fixed after being widely reported speaks to the issue that BfA was simply launched too early and that developers did not have adequate time to address the most egregious. All that begs to question where Blizzard's quality assurance is and why it feels like BfA doesn't adhere to the now-meme level statement that "it'll come out when it's ready and not before"?
Every expansion launches with bugs, that's a fact. However, the number of large issues --- something affecting nearly every aspect of the game --- that have come since the launch of BfA is nothing short of astonishing. In comparison to the launch of Legion, it is even more surprising and have made players take notice who might not have cared in expansions-past. Just ask Shadow Priests and Shaman how it feels to know that their class / spec won't be fixed until v8.1 -- which isn't even in sight, by the way (see this June developer Q&A).
It's likely that if you're playing Battle for Azeroth, you have encountered a variety of the smaller issues, though perhaps not some of the larger ones. Most of us have become rather inured to bugs, choosing to overlook them or to brush them aside as "annoying, but not a big deal". Generally, I would agree with that too, however, the sheer volume of big issues is enough that even the most casual player can't overlook them.
So what sorts of things are causing the most discussion on Reddit, Twitter, the official forums and within communities and guild chats everywhere?
Here's a small list of some of the biggest things that players have reported seeing since the launch of BfA:
- when Warfronts flipped from Alliance to Horde, the ability to queue for anything (dungeons, PvP, etc.) was broken
- players received 370+ gear from end-of-Legion Mythic+ chests
- Horde players did not receive Honorbound reputation for completing "Wanted" quests (though this has been corrected)
- players received Mythic+ keys of 27+ after completing a Mythic+0 dungeon when they should have received a +1 or +2
- PvP end-of-season rewards were handed out for the pre-season that ended with the last reset
Placeholder texts that are glaring for being overlooked:
- Alliance Island Expedition interface that says "thank you for beta testing"
- Azeroth Diplomat achievement that lists "zone 1", "zone 2" instead of the actual zone names
- a Dark Iron Dwarf buff that reads "looks bad, will fix"
- graphical issues such as the new parrot mount with the saddle textures lacking collision so that feathers underneath poke through
- plants spawning out of reach or in textures for all players and even more so for "short races" like gnomes and goblins (who, by the way, are also mostly unseen in many cinematics too)
- bosses becoming undefeatable in dungeons due to needed items not spawning or monsters dropping through textures so as not to be able to be defeated and then keeping the party in battle throughout the remainder of the dungeon
- a raid mace that dropped at iLevel 355+ unintentionally. Later, Blizzard changed it to iLevel 170ish (basically cosmetic only), but then changed it back for those who had had the item drop after backlash
To be honest, playing Battle for Azeroth is, as one Redditor put it, "frustrating" from a technical standpoint. I love the look of the world in Battle for Azeroth. I think that the narrative has some interesting directions in which it can go. I want WoW and BfA to succeed, but to get there, Blizzard has to own up to its technical problems and then fix them.