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WoWDec 9, 2020 10:00 am CT

Is Castle Nathria coming out too soon?

There’s a case to be made that Castle Nathria isn’t launching all that early. I mean, Uldir launched on September 4, and Battle for Azeroth had been out for three weeks at that point. Three weeks is not really a lot longer than two, ultimately. Emerald Nightmare came out on September 20 and Legion launched on August 30, so again, about the same amount of time. By comparison, launching Castle Nathria on December 8 when Shadowlands came out on November 23 is a tight two weeks, but it’s not so much outside the pale and a lot of players have been level 60 for at least a week if not two.

So if you think it’s not a big deal, I get you. It’s one week less. And yet…

Why one week can be a lot of time

But that can be a lot of time, especially in a world where the expansion was delayed and people who would normally be able to book off time to play it had other issues, like a global pandemic and a major American holiday right smack in the middle of that leveling time. Some of us wanted to take a more leisurely time to get to level, or just knew we wouldn’t be able to make that time with trying to convince our relatives not to get themselves sick or worse, and so, I feel comfortable in saying that I think Castle Nathria is coming out too soon. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I think all intro raids have come out too soon since Warlords of Draenor, which saw Highmaul come out on December 2 and the expansion launch on November 13. I would personally prefer all intro raids take at least a month to launch — not only giving players the time to get to level, but to see some of the more egregious bugs and balancing issues to get ironed out.

Two weeks to not only get to max level, but to get your Covenant choice nailed down, to get yourself at least somewhat raid ready, that feels like it’s a big ask for some of us. Now, raiding isn’t for everybody — I’m sure there are dedicated groups out there who would raid the day after release if they could and would be well into Mythic raiding by now if they could. And perhaps that’s exactly how it should be. Maybe raiding should be available on day one, and then, guilds and groups might feel more comfortable waiting until they were ready to go.

We need to put the brakes on this crazy train

I don’t know. But I know for myself that I’ve come to view raiding, and World of Warcraft in general, as something that you should consume slowly. All the rushing to wolf down the content means that you end up done, and bored, well before the next content is ready for consumption, a never ending cycle of hurry up and wait that benefits no one. The fact is, World of Warcraft expansions take about two years from the launch of one to get to the next one, from Wrath of the Lich King launching in 2008 and that two years pace established by Cataclysm in 2010, Mists of Pandaria in 2012, Warlords in 2014, Legion in 2016, and Battle for Azeroth in 2018.

Now there’s absolutely a case to be made for simply putting the content out as soon as you can and letting players consume it at their own pace. I’ve never really been very comfortable with the idea of deliberate gating that slows down or forces us to take it at someone else’s pace — but at the same time, we’ve seen it so many times because the fact is, we can play the game a heck of a lot faster than they can make the game. That’s just the fact of it — even when the content is pre-released, like WoW Classic, people have devoured it as fast as Blizzard could put it out. There’s not much that can be done to stop us from blasting through the content as soon as it is release, but Blizzard can choose when to release it.

This expansion would have benefitted from a longer wait for raiding

So ultimately, I’d be on the side of having released Castle Nathria later. But the problem is of course that another major set of holidays are just around the corner. If Blizzard tried to push back Castle Nathria to the 15th, that’s ten days from Christmas. Another week past that and you’re practically on top of the holidays. My solution would have been to push it back even more, let the raid come in January and let players level over the month of December — but I’m cognizant that for a lot of players that’s an even worse option that having it be a bit too early.

Not for me, though. It would have been perfect for me. I would have had time to get several alts raid ready by then.

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