We already knew that World of Warcraft’s 7.3.5 patch will begin Blizzard’s quest to implement scaling across all zones, but game director Ion Hazzikostas offered us some more concrete details on what to expect - including a return to one of Wrath of the Lich King’s most popular raids.
“7.3.5 is more traditional as a ‘.5’ kind of patch,” says Hazzikostas. “As mentioned, players will start to see the first improvements from scaling zones and flexibility with leveling in the old world. We’ll also have a preview of our upcoming Battle for Azeroth battleground in there. I don’t think think this was mentioned explicitly yet - Ulduar timewalking, also coming in 7.3.5.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the new timewalking won’t be significantly different from the existing in-game implementations. “We’re scaling you back down to that level. We’re preserving the hard mode so you can push Mimiron’s big red button, and that’s a thing. It should be a fun experience for new and old alike.”
On the scaling front, old world content won’t remain relevant all the way up for high-level players, Vanilla and Cataclysm content only scaling to level 60. This is “for a baseline sense of progression through the world,” says Hazzikostas. “I think it is important to feel like as you grow in power, there are challenges that you surpass. When you go back to Elwynn Forest, these are ants, they’re beneath you. You are a slayer of titans and dragons, and this is a kobold in a mine who has a candle. There’s a bit of difference there.
“That said, that desire is one we’ve heard reflected in a number of other pieces of feedback. It’s an interesting one. We continue to expand timewalking. We’re starting to add raids, there could be some potential for outdoor worlds, tie-ins there. What if only during BC timewalking week specifically you can go revisit that [outdoor] content, and have it be relevant to you, but that’s not the normal state of affairs, it’s more a twisting of the timeways.”
While the scaling has been one of the most notable features of the update, there’s certainly more to expect, says Hazzikostas. “7.3.5 is also going to really begin to flesh out some of the epilogue of Legion, the events after Antorus, the events that will begin to bridge the gap between the expansions. It’s a proper ‘.5’ patch.”
Does that include the Silithus datamining we saw during 7.3.2? "I don't know what you're talking about, no, there's nothing in Silithus. Twilight cultists, weird crystals, some bugs" smirks Hazzikostas. "Datamined? 'Datamined?!'" adds Alex Afrasiabi, creative director, with a quizzical look - we'll have to wait and see, I suppose.
Yet it seems this is truly the end for Legion, as there are currently no plans for another patch of similar scale until the release of Battle for Azeroth. "We don't have any plans for a major patch on the scale of 7.3."
7.3.5 will be coming to PTR "in just a few weeks." Once that's done, it's time for a Battle for Azeroth beta.