With Patch 8.3 being announced to release on January 14th, the end is in sight for Battle for Azeroth. And while the expansion has been met mostly with negative reception over its year-and-a-half long lifespan, this era of the game is still worthy of a fitting end. And now, as the finale of BfA waits on the horizon, Patch 8.3 could provide an ending solid enough to wrap up an expansion on a high note. However, perhaps the bigger storyline at hand is how the patch paves the way for the game’s newest expansion, Shadowlands.
There’s been a strong period of time these past few months where the game hasn’t lived up to expectations, but it’s important to remember that Battle for Azeroth has still provided the playerbase with some really strong moments. The game’s launch, the release of Patch 8.2, and the upcoming January 14th release date for Patch 8.3 will probably go down as some of the highlights of the expansion. However, those moments were fleeting and didn’t provide longevity to the game when it needed it most.
And now, as we enter the closing stages of the expansion, it’s going to be imperative that Blizzard ends BfA on the highest note that it possibly can, as the game will certainly need a ton of momentum moving forward. Shadowlands is set to release before 2020 ends, and with the new year fast approaching, the clock will certainly be ticking.
It’s understandable that Blizzard would some time keeping the expansion in development, but in a perfect world, the Shadowlands rollout should be initiated no more than a few weeks after the launch of Patch 8.3. Sure, you want to give as many players as much time as possible to experience the new patch, but with a large portion of those players returning to WoW again for the BfA finale, Blizzard should most definitely make it a priority to keep them on board for the next expansion. If too much time passes between Patch 8.3 and the launch of Shadowlands, the players who buy back into Battle for Azeroth in January could potentially bow out of the game’s ecosystem by the time the next expansion rolls around.
And holding on to that hype is definitely something that should be a priority for Blizzard as we move forward into not only the next decade, but the next era of World of Warcraft. Every few years, the game experiences a “rebirth” of sorts. Whether it was the spike in popularity between Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm or the return of a ton of excited fans in between Warlords of Draenor and Legion, the game has shown time and again that it’s capable of bringing new fans in (and bringing back old ones) whenever a new expansion launches. In the case of Shadowlands, it’s going to be imperative for Blizzard to bring in as many new faces to the game for the first time, while simultaneously reigning in the players who have called Azeroth home before.
If the company can get a headstart on that process during Patch 8.3, that challenge will be significantly easier come Shadowlands.
Ultimately, the biggest challenge facing Patch 8.3 is not how it can wrap up BfA, but how well it can serve as a transitional bridge between one of WoW’s most forgettable eras and a new dawn for the game.
Photo Credit: Blizzard Entertainment, World of Warcraft