Published on July 21st, 2010 | by prime0
World of Warcraft 3.3.5 – Review
Summary: Real ID is promising and Ruby Sanctum’s great fun
Time is moving swiftly on in Azeroth and something is in the air. Malgyos is dead, and the new Lich King is keeping the Scourge in check. Time to kick back and relax, right? Well, not a chance. Something is stirring beneath Wrymrest Temple, the Black Dragonflight are once more on the offensive and it’s your job as an Azerothian champion to do something about it.
Nameless but for its number, 3.3.5 the penultimate patch and we’re no longer in Wrath territory, rather these patches are adding cool new gaming mechanics and paving the way for Cataclysm, which has just entered its closed Beta. Compared to other patches, this one might feel lightweight but there are some pretty hefty changes, most notably the introduction of Real ID, Blizzard’s take on in-game social networking.
On the offensive
Deathwing is coming, and the new raid which sees players assaulting on Ruby Sanctum offers the first tantalizing hints of the expansion to come. Kirin Tor Mage Rhonin sends you to Krasus, his old friend from the Red Dragonflight, and he gives you the bad news. The Red Dragonflight’s sanctuary has been overrun by agents of Deathwing – Halion and his three minions, Saviana Ragefire, Baltharus the Warborn and General Zarithian. Corpses of red dragons litter the leafy glade and black dragonkin stalk, practically begging you to pick a fight. In some ways, this raid is reminiscent of the Obsidian Sanctum, only turned up to the Nth degree. There are even more trash mobs to clear – and they pack a punch to boot – as well as the dragon lieutenants, before you finally get to face the Twilight Dragon, Halion, the self-proclaimed Herald of Deathwing. The raid set-up might be simple but don’t be fooled, the loot is on the same level as that dropped by the Lich King, so this is not going to be a walk in the park. Yes, the multi-night wipefest raid is back with a vengeance, but the inclusion of the Ruby Sanctum will keep players entertained in those slow months to Cataclysm. At the same time, it should also prompt you to get out of Dalaran and revisit the old world and finish all those epic quests. Time is short and Deathwing is coming…
Real ID has been sometime coming, but has been rolled out with this patch to tie-in with the release of StarCraft II, Blizzard’s other big franchise which will finally be released at the end of July. Battle.net is not new; it’s been the foundation stone for all of Blizzard’s other titles from Diablo and Warcraft III to the original StarCraft. It’s also become an important backbone for World of Warcraft since the introduction of Battle.net accounts and authenticators. Real ID takes this to the next level by allowing gamers to befriend other players and keep in contact with them whether they are leveling in Outland, fighting Diablo or zerging in StarCraft.
Like the systems created by the Big Three console makers, Blizzard has decided mutual agreement is the way to go. To get someone’s Real ID, you need either their email address (yes, the one they use to access WoW) or you can add them by trolling through other people’s lists (which is a lot harder than it sounds). You then add them and if they want to, they can add you and will then appear under their real name in your friends’ list.
You’ll be able to see each time they log on – regardless of game, realm or character – and will even be updated whenever they decided to change whether they are available, busy or away, or broadcast a Facebook-like status message.
Yes, this new system is fun and frivolous, and it’s also ripe for misuse – there’s a profanity filter in place – but also a nice way to communicate in this world of social networking. Want to broadcast your innermost thoughts or just suggest a trip out for an impromptu raid? Go for it.
The only downside to this is that it can be very disconcerting when someone whispers you using their real name and you have to check your friends’ list to find out who they are. If you’re after a private chit-chat you can whisper as normal or invite a couple of players for a chat. It’s worth reiterating that Real ID is voluntary and you can completely ignore it if you want; the old friend’s system remains (you’ll find characters underneath Real ID friends).
As Cataclysm comes ever closer, it’s clear Blizzard are trying to do their best to implement new features that will enhance the gameplay experience as well as keep folk occupied in the pre-expansion lull. Real ID is fun but based on the social networks we know and love – it’s a new fun way to make the game a little bit more down with the current trends of Real ID is promising and geekdom.
The Ruby Sanctum is short and tough. Looks are deceiving but it’s sure to keep people occupied while they wait for those oh-so-precious Beta invites.