Four months into the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor, the first major content patch has arrived. However, it might seem that, at first glance, there is substantially less to this patch than previous content patches have contained…
And there is.
Devoid of any sort of raid/questing/pvp content, Patch 6.1 instead focuses on a variety of quality-of-life changes designed to make playing the game easier and more enjoyable in a number of different areas, but most notably garrisons. Almost all major patch updates since the release of WoW’s first expansion, The Burning Crusade, were given their own fancy logo and trailer. However, Patch 6.1 was given no such treatment, perhaps an indication of its arguably lacklustre content. For example, here’s the trailer for the last major content patch before the release of WoD, Patch 5.4: The Siege of Orgrimmar.
Although Patch 5.4 lasted an extraordinarily long time, over fourteen months as the most current in-game content, Blizzard stated that they would be changing their policy towards content patches; promising more content patches in a smaller time frame. Siege of Orgrimmar was a large raid with fourteen bosses and people were incredibly fed up by the time the WoD pre-patch rolled around, It’s unthinkable what the response would be if 6.1 ran for anything close to that amount of time. With the delay of Blackrock Foundry until February, leaving Highmaul as the only WoD raid for over two months, players are justifiably dissappointed with 6.1’s lack of bulky end-game content.
So, with no new raids, pvp battlegrounds or daily quest hubs, what does patch 6.1 bring us? Well, there’s selfies, for one. That’s right, with the newly implemented Twitter integration players are now able to use a special toy item, attained through a level 100 garrison mission, to take selfies of their character through various filters. Although it’s a very goofy, and arguably pointless, addition, it is a lot of fun. I’ve seen numerous submissions on the /r/wow subreddit of hilarious selfies taken mid-raid, capturing a single moment before the group’s impending demise. With a new exploration achievement that requires you take selfies in 43 different in-game locations, from The Frozen Throne in Icecrown to the Deeprun Tram between Stormwind and Ironforge, players are given an extra incentive to get out of their garrisons and explore the world. Please enjoy the above selfie of my character hanging out with The Betrayer himself.
Another key change in Patch 6.1 is the long-awaited inclusion of an heirloom tab and account wide craftable heirlooms. Heirlooms are items that level up with your character and grant xp bonuses, so they’re perfect for when you want to level up a new character. Previously, heirlooms could only be bought with max-level currency earned from completing dungeons/raids and could not be transferred across different servers. Now heirlooms can simply be bought with gold, the standard currency in WoW, and are now bound to your whole WoW account. This means that once you buy an heirloom item, you essentially own a license to craft that heirloom item instantly on any character on any server. This is a great change for people looking for a new start on a new server, or people looking to level characters of the opposite faction.
The inclusion of new Blood Elf models finally completes Blizzard cycle of upgrading the visual fidelity of all their character models, as the rest were added in the Warlords or Draenor pre-patch but new Blood Elf models were delayed until 6.1. The new models look great and do a great job of emphasising the Blood Elves’ charm and sophistication. Patch 6.1 also brings a plethora of changes to garrisons, as the patch is so lovingly named ‘Garrisons Update’, that serve to make garrisons easier to manage and enjoy. Amongst these changes includes a jukebox item that allows you to change the music that plays when you are in your garrison, a ‘create all’ option on work orders, new garrison daily quests and a continuation of the legendary questline. These changes make managing followers, missions, work orders and buildings much easier and more streamlined, but more in an improving quality-of-life way, rather than making everything too easy.
The bottom line is, I feel I can only truthfully gauge whether Patch 6.1 is a worthwhile content patch in relation to the release date of the next patch. If, say, Patch 6.2 was to be released in the Summer that would be almost five months of no new raiding content and no new pvp-related content since the release of Warlords of Draenor last November. This drought of content would be a difficult pill to swallow for any player. That being said, all of the changes that come with Patch 6.1 are welcome additions that make playing World of Warcraft a more enjoyable experience. Just looking at the names of past content patches; ‘Rage of the Firelands’, ‘Fall of the Lich King’, ‘The Gods of Zul’Aman’, when juxtaposed besides Patch 6.1: Garrisons Update you can just tell something’s missing. I’m all for quality-of-life changes to the game, but for a major content patch it just feels like there isn’t enough here to justify a major patch. However, if the next major patch is released sooner, rather than later, then 6.1 will turn out to be a quaint injection of filler content to tide people over until the next patch.
In my mind this feels much more like Patch 6.075, than 6.1.