When World of Warcraft’s patch 9.1.5 comes out tomorrow, November 2, there won’t be a new raid or storyline to explore. Instead, the MMORPG’s director tells us this update is about making a lot of small but important tweaks to some of WoW’s core systems, aimed at improving the game for every kind of player, rather than introducing any significant new content.
“This is a different sort of update from the usual WoW patch,” game director Ion Hazzikostas tells us. “There isn’t the single big thing, there isn’t a new raid, ‘the thing’ to get hyped about. It’s like 50 small but impactful changes that I think will improve the World of Warcraft experience for basically everybody, regardless of what their playstyle is.”
Hazzikostas says patch 9.1.5 is in large part a response to community feedback. Since the launch of Shadowlands, for example, players have let Blizzard know that they’ve felt restricted by the Covenant system, and so the limitations on switching Covenants are being removed in this update.
In addition to allowing players to switch covenants freely once they’ve hit level 80, WoW’s next patch also makes it easier to level up and gear up alternate characters to get them caught up. You’ll also have access to all unlockable covenant cosmetics no matter which covenant you belong to, you’ll be able to skip the covenant soulbind for alts, and there’s an instant renown catch-up for alts, which brings them up to renown level 40.
Wowhead has the full patch notes, and patch 9.1.5 is due for release November 2.
Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit filed in July by the state of California (since expanded for QA and customer service contractors) alleging years of discrimination and harassment. Since then, CEO Bobby Kotick has called the company’s initial response “tone deaf”, employees have staged a walkout, Blizzard president J Allen Brack has left, and the ABK Workers Alliance has demanded change at the company. The lawsuit is ongoing; follow the latest developments here. In September, an agency of the US federal government opened an investigation into Activision Blizzard’s response to sexual misconduct and discrimination complaints from its employees, as part of which Kotick has reportedly been subpoenaed. The company is also facing a separate unfair labour practice suit alleging “worker intimidation and union busting” filed by a workers’ union, also in September. In another, separate development, Activision Blizzard reached an agreement with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “to settle claims and to further strengthen policies and programs to prevent harassment and discrimination”. In a subsequent letter to employees, the company has announced an end to forced arbitration, a $250 million initiative to improve diversity, and a major pay cut for Kotick.