Patch 5.4 PTR Patch Notes released: Let loose the dogs of (the flame)war

The Patch 5.4 PTR notes are up, with the PTR likely to launch in the very near future, and while there is some stuff we knew already, and there is some stuff not fully clarified, there is a lot of really awesome stuff in the PTR patch notes that are worth mentioning. The patch datamining by MMO Champion has confirmed that this patch will see Garrosh as the final boss of the Siege of Orgrimmar. While I am sure you will hear much on Monday about our views of the datamined model for Garrosh in this raid, let’s just say that many of us really want to see this fight and learn more about the story that has been progressing.

The Flexible Raid Difficulty will be in, but so will the Proving Grounds, which is something players have been asking about for a very long time. This new feature will be for individuals, not groups, and there will be versions for each of the role types, DPS, Tank and Healer. These trials will be based on four difficulties, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Endless, and the harder difficulties will have harder and more varied enemies. Proving Grounds don’t appear to be PTR accessible when the PTR launched, but will come at some later point in the PTR cycle.

Another pretty huge thing in these notes, and one I admit I didn’t notice until someone on twitter (thanks @AlternativeChat!) mentioned it, but it looks like all item enhancements can be applied to an item of any level, including heirlooms! While lower level enhancements will not scale beyond their intended level, higher level ones can be applied to lower level items and will scale down to the item’s level. The big thing this will mean, folks, is that Heirloom gear, which already scales with the character as they level, will be enchantable by max level enchants, and will apparently grow in power as the character increases in level.

What I think is one of the biggest pieces of news this PTR is Virtual Realms. This appears to be the final solution to the low population server problem that many people have talked about lately. While there are still some questions about this feature, which also will not be available with the launch of the PTR, based on the PTR notes it looks like the realms will act exactly as if they were one cohesive realm. Shared guilds, Auction House, and questing, this will take Cross Realm Zones to another level. Based on the description, it can be assumed that this is virtually a server merge, but with the frequent occurrence of names, both of characters and guilds, it will be very interesting to see how conflicts are handled.

While last week’s announcement of flex raiding caused quite a stir, even on this week’s show with Rho and Bella, I have a nagging suspicion that Virtual Realms will be a significantly bigger deal in the community and will no doubt cause a lot of very intense, and often heated discussion across the entire WoW community, and no doubt financial community regarding what this means for the future of Azeroth. While next show is a few days away yet, I can guarantee you that episode 350 will not be one you will want to miss. Don’t forget to read the notes for yourself, so you can be an informed part of the coming flame war.

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