As the Intro Dust Settles: The Pace of 9.1. Gameplay & How to Play It

I’m getting the grip of how patch 9.1. works, and it is quite interesting to discuss whether it is good or bad.

There are two major directions where Blizzard went with the patch content, and these are:

1. A session model which does not require you to spend 4 hours every evening to keep up. All the major activities and rewards are pressed into little sessions across the week. Surely you need to accomplish souls, 1k anima, assault, fill-the-bar, dailies, world boss and story on day one after reset – that is a big chunk of gaming time. But afterwards? It’s just dailies in Korthia which take you 10-15 minutes tops. You can run around for events, chests and rare spawns, sure, but it’s weird and counterproductive as I see it – you better do it simultaneously with other activities. So you can easily login for 30 minutes daily (Korthia dailies + emissary) and effectively keep up with the pace.

Well, didn’t we have something like that in BfA and Legion, for example? A daily round for emissary, and you’re free to go, grinding azerite/artifact power/anima if you must, participating in group content or PvP. This is definitely an alt-friendly model too, as within a 3-4-hour daily session you could keep up to 6 toons up to date.

In other words, it’s very forgiving for the time spent – and you can also stretch the weekly quests across the week, no big deal – that is good. On the downside, my main does 3 dailies… and finds herself with nothing to do on her hands. I do not complain at all, I have plenty of alts.

2. An event-based content. All the multiple achievements and stuff to do, like bosses, rares and treasures are very much random, and appear on certain conditions/time ratio. Unlike Nazjatar, for example, you can’t just open an achievement tab and make a tour across the zone, ticking off the checkpoints and rares. No – you need to wait for the events, rares and chests to happen.

This is definitely designed to make the content stretch across months, not done in week 1 and whine “what to do next”. I should say I have some mixed feelings. Of course, I don’t want to complete it all immediately, and the event-based model + rotation makes it interesting to rush to the spawn every time it happens, making the game a lot more vivid. I would say it’s a good thing.

The drawbacks are obvious. Achievement hunters like myself could find it difficult to farm the remaining points – like that freaking rare won’t spawn, I’m waiting for hours! Soundless of Nazjatar, I’m looking at you :) But what do we know so far, by the time we have 5 rares to kill, we may – and will! – very well know on what condition, and where exactly, and when do they all spawn.

The second thing is that this model does not really encourage exploration. Running in circles across the zone in anticipation of a spawn is so counterproductive and uninspiring, so we’re encouraged not to, if we don’t want a mindless grind.

Like I said, the best model would be completing your normal, scripted daily/weekly activities like assaults and dailies, and engage with chests and special encounters on the way. That’s what I’m planning to do anyways. By the way, have you noticed they have zero world quests in Korthia and the Maw?

Long story short, the gameplay pace is as follows:

1. Complete Souls/Fill-the-Bar/1k anima quests during the week.

2. Complete three Korthia dailies every day to keep up – 10-15 minutes tops.

3. By all means complete every Covenant assault once in 3,5 days – two per week.

4. Jump at every rare/chest spawn that you come across during previous activities.

Catch-Up Gear Surpasses All Possible Expectations!

There’s one important thing yet to discuss. The “benthic”, upgradable gear is insane in every sense – in a good sense. Unlike BfA catch-up gear, which was only set/transmog items, it is confirmed now that you can fill ALL THE GEAR SLOTS with it in 9.1. For example, an assault chest just dropped:

Twitter confirmed in comments and posts that you can also acquire weapons, and my other alt got a ring from Assault chest. Also, some trinkets and rings are even rumored to be BiS items in this tier – not that I care about BiS thing at all, but it’s great!

So, by all means the assaults, rares and daily rewards where you get those, as well as archive game for upgrading them later, are totally worth worrying about, casuals or not. And a lucky drop may take you up by-and-to the required ilvl for raiding, mythic+ and what not.

You can also buy basic Korthia gear tokens of ilvl 200 for 1000 stygia a piece from Death’s Advance quartermaster to send to alts. Alas, they’re not slot-specific, so what slot you get from using a token is a random.

Considered they are all upgraded to level 6, technically you can gear up to raid-quality gear without doing any group content at all. The ilvl upgrade levels are: 200 – 207 – 213 – 220 – 226 – 233, only you need like a lot of archive currency. Keyword is: technically. Gearing up in dungeons/raids/PvP will be a lot faster, of course. But if you’re not into a group content, or if your alt does not go for it, you may run LFR once for story, and then just have small solo sessions in the open world all you like, if not in a hurry, while still keeping up with item level. It’s a viable option, and it’s great we have the choices.

Oh, and one more thing: you can now sell your Covenant set items, as they won’t upgrade anymore above 197, and replace them with Korthia gear at will.

Conclusion

The content is totally alt-friendly, not too time-consuming for those who don’t have opportunity to spend hours every day, and relies on random events rather than sit-it-out model.

While an event-based model could take a toll later during achievement hunting, for the first couple of months I’d say we just relax and follow the flow. Doing daily and weekly activities, and the rest will follow. The time for spawn whining is yet to come, if it comes at all – and it’s definitely not now!

Imo, so far it looks like a nice balance between logging in every day and yet very time-friendly for the IRL-burdened players.

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