World of Warcraft's latest expansion Warlords of Draenor revitalized the 10-year-old game when it released last November. After years of watching its subscriber base erode, Blizzard announced that WoW topped 10 million subscribers by the end of last year. Blizzard intentionally staggered the release of some of Draenor's end game content, like the raids, over the last three months so that players would not run out of new content right after the expansion's release. But the release of the Blackrock Foundry raid this past month was the last major piece of content players were waiting for.
Luckily for players still eager for new content, Blizzard has taken to teasing a few new features coming to Azeroth with Patch 6.1 on February 24. The patch will bring a new heirloom system, a "selfie" camera, Twitter integration and will update the character models for the Blood Elf race, as well as apply fixes for bugs in other races that were previously upgraded last November.
Heirloom items in the game consist of armor, weapons and trinkets that players can use to level up at a faster pace. The system has been revamped so that players can now use heirlooms up to the current max level of 100. It will take some work, though, as heirlooms now come in three groups: 1 to 60, 61 to 90 and 91 to 100. Players can upgrade a lower level heirloom using various in-game currencies, and they can store the heirlooms in their own inventory system, much like the game's pets, toys and mounts, freeing up much needed bag space for the players.
While most of the races were updated alongside Warlords of Draenor's launch, the Blood Elves are only just now getting the graphical jump. Blizzard delayed the Blood Elves update because they were concerned the upgrade would maintain the original look of the characters, but that appears to have been resolved. The update will also bring bug fixes for all other high resolution textures, as well as better lighting and anti-aliasing.
The introduction of the S.E.L.F.I.E. camera along with a new in-game Twitter client will encourage players to share their adventures in Azeroth with their friends. The camera itself is an in-game toy that can be obtained after completing a level 100 quest called Field Photography. Photos snapped with the camera will be automatically saved to the player's screenshots folder, and players can choose to send a "selfie" or a regular screenshot to their Twitter followers using the new Twitter client. Blizzard has been quick to note that Twitter integration is turned off by default and that players will maintain full control over the new feature, so those worried about privacy can rest easy.
The new features are both functional and fun, and the Twitter integration in particular could help Blizzard recruit former players back to the fold. But it should also be noted that this update does not really add any new major end game content. That's not a problem for now, as most players are still moving through the recently released Blackrock Foundry raid.
But if Blizzard wants to maintain its subscriber base, it's going to need to get the next major raid out sooner than later. The Irvine, CA-based company has said previously that it's goal is to get updates out faster, but this is also the same company that made players wait more than a year between the last major patch of Mists of Pandaria and the release of Warlords. Hopefully Blizzard can stick to the current schedule and keep its player base engaged.
World of Warcraft is available now for PC and Mac.