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World of Warcraft's first major patch since expansion pack Warlords of Draenor's launch will be coming in early 2015. Today Blizzard revealed what's coming in Patch 6.1 and the rest of the year's updates.
Warlords of Draenor broke from series tradition by not allowing players to use flying mounts even at max level. Blizzard has indicated that they may reverse this decision. However, this won't be happening in Patch 6.1.
Instead, the development team wants to make the existing transportation system - specifically flight masters - more efficient.
"We have some new tech in the works that will allow flight masters to provide more-direct routes to your destination, regardless of the flight points your character knows," Blizzard said on WoW's forum. "This’ll mean fewer roundabout routes; the flight masters will instead always try to send you on the shortest existing route. Hopefully, this will get you to your destination faster."
Patch 6.1, however, will include the long-awaited reintroduction of heirlooms. These experience-boosting, scaling items will be consolidated into a single collection for your entire account much like Mounts or Toys.
"Heirlooms already on characters will be collected into the new UI (similar to other Collections features), base-level Heirlooms will be purchasable from vendors, and upgrade tokens that can be used on Heirlooms to raise their effectiveness to additional level caps will be obtainable through different forms of content. We’ll be looking for your feedback on the new system when the 6.1 PTR goes live."
The patch will also continue the Legendary ring quest that will run throughout Warlords of Draenor. The next step will give players the chance to recruit a Legendary follower for their Garrison. The identity of this follower is unclear but Blizzard reassures players that this companion will have "suitably Legendary abilities."
Players' garrisons will be further improved by new upgrades and activities debuting in Patch 6.1.
"We’re working on making visiting your friends’ Garrisons even more rewarding, with a daily visitor to set you and your friends on a fun random task (complete with rewards, Achievements, and a meta-Achievement for finishing all of the tasks). We’ll have awesome new items to spend your Garrison Resources on, new Missions to complete with fun new rewards, new items to change your Followers with, a new tier of Garrison-invasion difficulty for the most tenacious of defenders among you (can your Garrison withstand a world boss?), new profession-building Missions, and a whole lot more!"
Patch 6.1 is said to be hitting the Public Test Realm soon so players can test its features for free. The date for the patch's PTR release wasn't announced by Blizzard today, though.
Later in 2015, Blizzard will give players a way to avoid paying a monthly subscription for WoW. Players could buy game-time tokens within WoW using gold and then either use them toward their subscription or trade them with other players. It's similar to the C.R.E.D.D. system seen in WildStar.
"Our current thought on this is that it would give players a way to use their surplus gold to cover some of their subscription cost, while giving players who might have less play time an option for acquiring gold from other players through a legit and secure system. A few other online games offer a similar option, and players have suggested that they’d be interested in seeing something along those lines in WoW. We agree it could be a good fit for the game, and we look forward to any feedback you have as we continue to look into this feature."
Blizzard has some changes in store for the player-versus-player side of the game, too. They want to make competition more balanced in the new world PvP zone Ashran while also reducing queue times. They hope to add more content to the zone throughout the year, too. The spectator mode for PvP will be getting an overhaul as well to make it run smoother in both official and player-run events.
One of the earliest new features coming to World of Warcraft in 2015 will be the Blackrock Foundry raid, though. Today Blizzard estimated that the raid will launch in February. They're keeping tabs on how guilds are progressing through Highmaul now and may adjust the release dates of Blackrock Foundry based on that data.