Patch 8.3’s repeatable content structure is one of the better elements of a patch this whole expansion.
To start with, let me say this – yes, it is a long grind to exalted with the two new factions in question, should that be what you desire out of the patch content. However, it is worth crediting Team 2 at Blizzard for a few things – the grind gates very little player power in the form of essences at Exalted, alongside the forever augment rune at Rajani exalted. If the essences are your best available, that probably feels worse, and I will disclaimer that up front.
But my point in writing this post is to highlight something I actually really like about the patch 8.3 content so far – the pacing is targeted in such a way that you have a burst of content every few days, with a few bits you can do in-between. Daily quests exist for both factions, but they are limited to 3-4 per zone and they are also fairly simple. They are kill quests, item finding quests, etc – very basic and straightforward. As I discussed yesterday with the Horrific Visions, what I like so far is that the quests are you playing your character – there’s no layers of abstraction, no vehicles or anything of the sort yet. You get to genuinely enjoy playing your character, at the point in the expansion where player power is expanding rapidly and beginning to leave orbit of Azeroth – secondary stats at high levels, primary stats creating a ton of power, etc.
The basic repeatable structure is built around a weekly calendar of sorts, doing a handful of daily quests in both zones each day, the Assault quests every 3 days, Horrific Visions 3-5 times (5 times this week for cape upgrades and because of the reward cadence giving you extra Vials for entry, 3 the rest of the patch due to upgrade caps), and a Major Assault once per week.
The thing about this structure is that how much of it you break off depends on how much you want to do. If you feel compelled to keep up with the cape, all you really need to do are the Assault box quests – one Major and 2 minor per week. The boxes will give you 21,000 Coalescing Visions between the 3 events – enough for two full vials. If you do the mini-vision daily quest (5 minutes effort), you can gain an additional 8,000 CVs and be within 1,000 of a third vial weekly, which 3-4 days of the Assault dailies will close the gap on, bringing you to 3 vials a week. (Wowhead indicates just the mini-visions on top of the fill-the-bar on Assaults should bring you into line, but that doesn’t math out as far as I can tell).
Theoretically, then, you can keep raid-ready at 2 hours a week of content, which isn’t awful (of course, if you see it as mandatory, that perception will create a negative connotation regardless). There is a lot of synergy in the content too, which helps ease the way it can feel – the quest objectives for almost all of the dailies in the assault zones will fill the bar for the main assault, so on days where you are doing the fill-the-bar, you can pickup the daily quests and get an easy two-fer out of the deal.
Now, there is more than just noted quests, as you might expect. The assault zones are littered with these strange new map markers for mini-game events, some of which are easy to do (kill the enemies channeling their energy into a bigger enemy), and some are harder (light puzzles). These are not on your main map, instead existing as minimap markers and signaled using the silver arrow of rares. They have fixed spawn points, meaning that a waypoint tracker addon like TomTom can help guide you to them easily, and the daily Wowhead posts on what to do in the 8.3 zones includes those coordinates. These are counted as world quests, so they give additional rep with the zone faction and there are typically 5-6 of these per zone per day. With that in mind, that means you can spend more time farming if you truly want to – flying over to grab each of these mini-events, doing the full slate of daily quests, and doing the Assault when the option becomes available every few days, along with the major assault once a week.
Oh, there’s also a daily world quest for pet battling in each zone that rotates through, so you can do two actual standard World Quests while you are out doing the other stuff, if pet battling appeals to you, and they do offer additional rep, albeit a small amount.
That’s without discussing raid, dungeon, or other commitments in-game.
Earlier, I noted I actually like this model, and I feel the need to explain.
Yes, there is a lot one can bite off of this content block – counting the mini-events, daily quests, mini-vision, and pet battles only, there are 21 different daily activities just in the patch content, plus the twice-weekly minor assaults, once weekly major assault, and we’ll just call it 3 runs of the Horrific Visions. So, on a weekly basis, assuming you do literally everything, you can do…153 bits of content! Yikes!
However, what is nice is that you can effectively whittle this down a ton without losing out on much of anything. If you just want to do the bare minimum for your cloak (bundled with daily quests for efficiency on assault days only) you only need to do 22 pieces of content all week (major assault, 2 minor assaults, 3 dailies per assault, 7 mini-visions, and 3 HVs). That is a decent chunk of stuff to do, but the time investment isn’t that high.
That is the thing I really like about this model – things are paced in such a way that you can go from doing maybe 3 hours of play a week through to playing 3 hours a night farming everything and really aggressively pursuing reputation. Likewise, the gameplay is fluid and flexible to allow you to pursue your goals in a number of ways – Assaults have a variety of things that contribute to progress including non-combat, you can choose your ideal farming spot for completion, maybe you want to kill hordes of easy enemies or a few big elites, and you get to fly to and fro across the zones. Speaking of flying, yes, the Worm from Beyond is present in both zones and if you fly close enough, he’ll zap your flying speed down. However, this is actually far less annoying than the flying aggro mobs in Nazjatar or the air patrol in Mechagon, and it seems on live, he’ll only ever hit you once with a 30% speed reduction, which is barely felt and doesn’t really hinder you in any substantial way. While I know this design is rooted in Blizzard’s not-at-all masked contempt for flight in-game, it does lend an element of realism (if you know we can fly, why wouldn’t you watch the skies?) and while I still think I’d prefer they just not put flying enemies into the game, this implementation is the least annoying they’ve ever done, so kudos (sort of).
Overall, I think my impressions of the repeatable content so far are more favorable than I expected. In many ways, prior to the patch, I was prepared to be a minimum-effort farmer, even debating if I cared enough to keep up with the cape grind. We’ll have to revisit that in a few weeks, but for right now? I really am enjoying all of the content and while the first day was a hectic mess of quests one after the other, after that, Visions of N’Zoth is a relatively smooth and straightforward ride down a path of repeatable content, with all kinds of choices – including the most critical one, which is how long you want your personal path with the content to be.