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WoW ClassicDec 18, 2023 2:30 pm CT

Blizzard hotfixes Season of Discovery’s Battle for Ashenvale to stabilize event and boost reputation

While most of World of Warcraft Classic‘s Season of Discovery new additions and activities were found in PVE zones, the season also introduced a brand new Classic PVP event: the Battle for Ashenvale. This event has two parts, starting with a ramp-up in which Alliance and Horde forces fill percentage meter in Ashenvale by getting zone kills. Filling the meter starts the battle, in which each faction tries to occupy the opposing faction’s camps and defeat their general and lieutenants. Players who participate and successfully complete the event earn reputation with their faction-specific PVP group and, based on their standing, can purchase new endgame-quality gear and mounts. However, since Season of Discovery’s launch, players have struggled with the event, reporting long wait times between events, being removed from their groups, or unable to advance Battle for Ashenvale at all. It’s been a frustrating start to this interesting new event.

But Blizzard is trying to fix things. WoW Classic Senior Game Producer Josh Greenfield, aka Aggrend, took to the forums to explain what was mechanically happening in Ashenvale’s layers to cause the issues that were most frequently disrupting players. For those who might be unaware, a layer is an exact copy of everything in Azeroth within a certain realm. Each realm has several layers the playerbase is spread across when they log in to avoid overcrowding, performance issues, and ultimately prevent crashes. When a layer reaches its capacity, Blizzard’s internal system will create a new layer to insert players into, prioritizing keeping players in groups together. In Season of Discovery, layers would close (“retire”) if the population slipped below a certain threshold, so theoretically they would never feel too crowded or too empty.

And since Ashenvale is also the site of the revamped Blackfathom Deeps raid, the zone inherently deals with multiple, large groups of players at the same time. The rules governing the layer system aren’t supposed to clash, but in the live game it essentially reacted in the extreme, causing these issues that would plague players:

  • Due to layers retiring, players who were in a group would be ultimately removed from their current layer mid-battle because it reached capacity and were placed into a less populated layer, separating them from their group and reverting their progress.
  • In the ramp-up phase leading to the Battle for Ashenvale, players would see their completion percentage change due to other players moving to or from a layer with a different percentage completed.
  • If one layer didn’t finish their battle objectives and those players moved into another layer, that layer’s objectives progress would stall and stop tracking properly, breaking the event.

After pointing out the what and the why, Aggrend lays out the changes the WoW Classic team is taking to improve the player experience in Ashenvale PVP. By implementing these changes, the Classic team aims to stabilize the battles at the cost of battles progressing more slowly and having a few hours between battles:

  • The internal system will stop layer retirement in off-peak hours and will work harder to prevent players in groups and combat from being split.
  • Aggregate percentage progress in the ramp-up phase all layers, improving the overall percentage. The aggregate percentage will also not drop below a certain point.

As the hotfixes were rolling out, Blizzard Community Manager Kaivax informed players two more significant adjustments were being made in Ashenvale: the event will now progress about 50% faster than it used to and players will now earn 400 reputation (previously 200) for killing an opposing lieutenant. Based on some of following forum discussion, the faster progression seems to be tied to the ramp-up phase leading into the Battle for Ashenvale and not the PVP event itself.

It will be some time before we see how these changes affect the overall Ashenvale event. While these fixes may be far from ideal to some, it highlights why data from PTRs are so useful, particularly for large group activities. Aggrend himself points this out, adding that the team knew it was a gamble not to have a PTR one they were willing to take. He also re-affirmed the team’s commitment to the player experience while noting that any system redesign would be down the line. There aren’t any easy answers for the team here but considering everything about Season of Discovery is experimental by nature, the season has been well received and fun for many players. It’ll take some time but there’s no reason to see why Ashenvale couldn’t become part of that experience consistently.

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