Patch 5.2 PTR: The return of the unlockable Isle

Anne Stickney
A. Stickney|02.01.13

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Patch 5.2 PTR: The return of the unlockable Isle
Patch 52 PTR The return of the unlockable Isle
For a brief moment in time, it looked as though the Krasarang Wilds in patch 5.1 were going to be a return, albeit a slightly tweaked one, to the days of Halaa in Burning Crusade. This ended up very much not being the case, but the area still acted somewhat like a fond reminder of the days of open-world PvP. However, patch 5.2 seems to be bringing back yet more of that Burning Crusade nostalgia with the Isle of Thunder -- an island that contains elements that will be unlocked over time.

Sounds suspiciously like the Isle of Quel'Danas, doesn't it? Well, there are a few notable changes to the dynamic. Because the Horde and Alliance are working separately this time, instead of united under the banner of the Shattered Sun Offensive, each faction gets their own progress bar towards unlocking goals. You can see a glimpse of the progress bar above. As players complete daily quests and objectives, the bar will fill up. Once it's full, another section of the Isle will unlock for players to explore.

Blizzard recently released an Under Development guide to patch 5.2 that clarifies this concept a little further.

The Isle of Thunder is a gargantuan zone for player characters of maximum level, and its storm-fraught shores are rife with conflict and opportunity. In patch 5.2, you'll advance the war effort on your server through quests relating to the island assault; as your faction progresses, one-time events will open up, allowing you to unlock and explore more of the island. You'll help your faction leaders claim a beachhead, assault the city walls, and forge a path to the front door of the Thunder King's palace. Once you've established a forward base, you'll be able to pick from different types of quests – PvP or PvE – to continue advancing the story.

Loot is plentiful – we've added tons of new daily quests to the zone, with reward satchels that include tokens to summon killable bosses, and keys for the Treasure Room, a single-player loot-grabbing scenario. You'll also be able to unlock new reward areas throughout the island, including the Lightning Forge: once used by the ancient mogu to craft weapons of titanic power, now co-opted by your side's blacksmiths.

There are a few interesting items to note with the summary -- first, players will progress the capture of the island by completing daily quests. But these dailies are both PvE and PvP in nature, which implies that players can choose whether or not they'd like to be flagged -- and that PvP players will have PvE content that may be a bit more appealing than tending a farm or collecting bits of ore.

Second is the mention of a single-player loot-grabbing scenario. Scenarios have always been three-man content, so the idea of a scenario crafted for a single player is pretty intriguing. Will it have a story involved, or will it be flat-out loot grabbing? Will it be more errands to run for NPCs, or will it be a Tomb Raider-esque dungeon crawl with plenty of puzzles to figure out?

The only real concern I have regarding this content is the fact that it is both faction-based and tied to the daily quest system. This worked wonderfully on the Isle of Quel'Danas, and turned the entire server into a united front, determined to unlock all the goodies. But on servers where faction balance is an issue, how will this affect the progression of the Isle of Thunder? Has Blizzard taken into account server population and how it will effect the process, or does this mean some servers will unlock the content rapidly, and others will trail far behind -- much like the unlocking of the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj?

Regardless, this looks like an interesting spin on an old, familiar friend. I can't wait to see what the Isle has to offer, and see how the whole experience works on live servers. For more on patch 5.2 and what it has to offer, be sure to check out Blizzard's official Under Development preview of the next patch.

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