Blizzard has an ambitious roadmap for Dragonflight in 2023, but we have to wonder what comes after all that. What happens when patch 10.2 (and a potential patch 10.2.5 and 10.2.7, but will there be a patch 10.3? Going to an X.3 patch is typical for modern WoW, and we expect Dragonflight will too. If Blizzard keeps to its schedule, we’ll likely see both patch 10.2.5 and 10.2.7 before spring, which would give patch 10.3 a release date of May or June 2024.
The question is, what would patch 10.3 be, exactly? Shadowlands didn’t have an x.3 patch, so we don’t have a recent model for what Blizzard might plan for such a patch. Would it be the final major content release of Dragonflight, with a raid that completes the expansion story? Or will patch 10.2 wrap up the story, like it did in Shadowlands, leaving 10.3 to either send us somewhere new or remix old content in a Season 4 with mechanics like Fated raids that we saw in Shadowlands patch 9.2.5?
Let’s take a look at Blizzard’s recent content schedule and talk about what could happen with Dragonflight patch 10.3.
Dragonflight’s 2023 pacing feels like it’s here to stay
The game’s 2023 roadmap wasn’t just a new way for Blizzard to tell us about what’s coming this year: it was the first time we’ve ever seen WoW lay out a long-term plan for an expansion ahead of time. It’s a tremendously ambitious schedule, too, with a new patch about every two months. But this roadmap only takes us to the end of 2023, and typically WoW expansions last about two years — which would give us nearly a year beyond this roadmap that Blizzard could fill with content before Dragonflight‘s successor arrives. If Blizzard matches its usual expansion pacing, it feels like there will be about a year between patch 10.2 and the next expansion, which makes patch 10.2.5, patch 10.2.7, and patch 10.3 almost a requirement.
The established content cycle of Dragonflight is to have two smaller patches with a few new features followed by a big patch with a new Season and new places to explore. The model has been going well so far, and I suspect it will be maintained for 2024. And no matter where we wind up going in patch 10.2, there are a lot of potential places we could go, such as the long rumored and barely touched upon Avaloren and Khaz’Algar, mentioned in Uldaman.
Dragonflight really can’t afford a content drought like the ones we saw at the end of Mists of Pandaria or Warlords of Draenor. Even Shadowlands had its content droughts, and one big change for 2023 was content releases on a regular basis. So if we assume that 10.2 is the final raid of Dragonflight, we would eitherneed the next expansion fairly soon in 2024 (early to mid 2024) or we’d need at least one more major patch with something new to do to tide players over. Otherwise we’d be looking at a lengthy dead period with little or no new content: six or more months from the last patch of Dragonflight, and possibly 10 or 11 months from Dragonflight‘s final raid. To keep players engaged, Blizzard needs to keep putting out Dragonflight content through 2024. As I said, patch 10.3 is almost a requirement.
The fact that Blizzard won’t want an end-of-expansion content drought is also why I think that we’ll probably see Dragonflight’s last raid in patch 10.3, not 10.2. While the latter is still a possibility, having Dragonflight’s final raid come out in patch 10.3 in spring of 2024 would mean that we probably wouldn’t have more than six months between the last raid of Dragonflight and the opening of the next expansion. That’s a far more manageable gap, which could easily be palliated by content patches — say, a patch 10.3.5 with Season 5 remixing old content similar to Shadowlands Season 4.
Patch 10.3 is almost certain to arrive in spring 2024
If the 2023 roadmap continues to work well, then Blizzard will likely follow a similar model moving forward, with regular content releases that prevent the content droughts of previous expansions. With that goal in mind, I believe that yes, we will see a patch 10.3, and that it will drop in late May or early June of 2024. I’ll go so far as to speculate that it will release on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 and it will contain a new zone, a new raid, and various class changes and balances to both PVP and PVE content, with a follow-up patch bringing something like Shadowlands Season 4’s Fated raids to give players things to stretch for until patch 11.0 comes out in late 2024.
Of course, we’ll find out more when we get patch 10.2 and see what it has in store for us. But for now, I think the idea of patch 10.3 is the more likely scenario for ending Dragonflight‘s main story.
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