Archive for Expansion

Ahead of the game

Posted in Guides, News, Shadowpriest with tags , , , , on July 30, 2012 by Natarumah

So, with the annnouncement of Mists of Pandaria to be released September 25, we can conclude that the Beta and PTR have done their job and all that is left is some touch-up points. Sadly, this means that while the Shadowpriest remains a solid class and probably will do really well in the DPS department, we still get shafted with a lack of interesting goodies. The new DPS rotation will probably remain a more simple “keep up 2 dots and hit buttons that glow up” – but at least we’re not broken!

This post isn’t going to be a very long one – my plan for this week is to scour all resources I have (Beta/PTR info and the like) to make a preliminary stat and spell priority listing.

Leveling and Storyline

Mists will have a good old, solid storyline with overall more interesting quests than “slay 12 boars” (although they are still represented, and the Nesingwary Safari will follow us into Pandaria). A lot of phasing makes the questing zones very dynamic, and also means that once you pass certain quests, you leave people behind in their own phase. This spreads the load a bit, and you’re not going to have everyone on a single pile.

The quests are also woven into the dungeons and raids, meaning we will have less “tacked on” raids where the storyline seems only sideways connected to the main plot (Throne of the Four Winds link with Deathwing was tenuous at best, and even Blackwing Descent as fun as it was merely was a son-of-DW event). Some of the dungeons are actually quest hubs on themselves, meaning that the leveling zone and dungeon are directly connected (as was done in Cataclysm).

All in all I am very pleased with how the questing was done – and for the Alliance I truly love how Anduin Wrynn shapes up to be a real leader character.

Dungeons and Raids

Admittedly I have done no dungeons or raids in the beta, but looking at some of the videos on MMO-Champion I have to say that raiding looks to be more interesting – especially for the tanks. I mean, us DPS are happy enough when the numbers fly, but tanks like to have some mobility and survivability challenges, neither of which were properly done in Cataclysm.

Cataclysm saw the rise of some truly bad tanks, who learned very little about mititgation, use of cooldowns, mobility and situational awareness. Hard Mode Spine of Deathwing suddenly jumped up – here survivability and awareness are paramount to survival, and new tanks had to relearn quite a bit to cope with it. Conversely, old school tanks quit in digust at how brainless tanking seemed to be, and even a large portion of tank bloggers and theorycrafters became extinct. Granted, they loved Heroic Spine – but didn’t want to wade through the rest of Dragon Soul to get there.

So to see mobility and awareness become key points in defeating some bosses is a sight for sore eyes – and might entice some of the good tanks to come back. They also hold great lessons for DPS – like adds that must be damaged from the back or they reflect damage. Like with Cayaclysm, it does seem that mobile DPS is more important as well. Expect challenge mode dungeons to be an excellent teacher in reaching for the bottom of the jar.

Preparations for the release date

Of course, there’s plenty to do before the release to ensure a smooth and solid rush to level 90. I have to admit that WoW seemed to be dreary and dull, with little reason for me to log in. I have played at least a dozen games over the last month, and in the end I still return to WoW. So to prepare, here’s a list of things I am planning to do, maybe it will be of value to you as well:

  • Clear out my bank alts and bank alt guilds to get rid of all pre-Cata stuff that is not critical to powerlevelling professions
  • Also throw all bound gear and fun items I haven’t used in more than three months into Void Storage – I paid for it, might as well use it
  • Gather and arrange enough pre-cata materials to level 2 alts worth of two professions (for one Monk of any kind and one Pandaren of any kind)
  • Gather enough materials to level all my characters’  professions another 5-10 points on Cata materials – mileage may vary
  • Place these materials in the alt guild – each tab named after the character it is for
  • Make a list of the pets I still want to gather before the pet battle system goes live – their prices might skyrocket after that if they are powerful
  • Re-arrange parts of this blog to record my levelling experience and screenshots of the areas
  • Make sure all my characters, before they go off to level, have cleared bags and updated gear
  • Install Mists of Pandaria
  • Go!

Conclusion

Despite myself, I am actually pretty excited about Mists of Pandaria. It feels different somehow – more casual and less hardcore, but also just as enchanting as TBC felt when it was announced. To be fair, it feels like a fresh start more than Cataclysm did. Where Cataclysm felt like the destruction of the old ways and the reduction of raiding and PvP, Mists seems more like building it back from scratch. The game has changed, and we have to change with it. As much as we might want things to remain the same (even if for just one expansion) I will simply see if I will fall in love with the new game over again.

Patches, Expansions and the vanishing world

Posted in Fun, Guides, Raids and Instances, Reputation, Roleplaying with tags , , , on October 11, 2010 by Natarumah

As you may know, patch 4.0.1 is right around the corner. With this patch, all of the basic game mechanics changes will be live (talents, glyphs, User Interface, the works). It also might allow us to work on the next pre-expansion event, since they are now on the PTR for testing. According to what I know, patch 4.0.3 would be the Cataclysm itself, changing the old world forever and making everything ready for the expansion. You might not be able to fly in Azeroth yet, but you should be able to get a feel for the place you will be spending the rest of your game time in.

(Spoilers!): This post will contain information regarding questlines which will be removed, changes in achievements and the like for Cataclysm. If you want to be surprised and not know what’s in store – stop reading here.

Out with the old

This also means that some changes will permanently end our ability as player to get our hands on certain achievements, gear and questlines. In other words, some things need to be done now if you ever want to get them done.

Scepter of the Shifting Sands

According to reports from the PTR, this one’s broken. The NPC Narain Soothefancy has been moved, and no longer gives the quests. According to Bornakk the quest will be fine in 4.0.1, but when the Cataclysm hits (4.0.3?) it will definitely break. I myself completed the Red and Green questlines and am a few Elementium Ore away from finishing the Blue questline. I suggest that if you have the intention of doing this line, start now.

Each run in Blackwing Lair has a chance to net you 1-6 Elementium Ore. So far I’ve never seen more than 6 drop, but if you are lucky it can happen. They also can be bought on the Auction House, but usually for ridiculous amounts of gold. As far as show-stoppers, the Elementium needed for crafting the Arcanite Buoy is definitely the worst.

Zul’gurub

The [Zul'gurub] and [Deadliest Catch] achievements become a Feat of Strength, and being Exalted with the Zandalar as well. The whole area has become a leveling zone on the PTR, so it seems that if you want those Trolls to like you and have it on record, you’d have to do it now. The Zulian Tiger and Razzashi Raptor are two rare drops from the bosses, and there’s no telling if they will become available through some other means, or are simply gone.

It’s not all bad, however. Zul’gurub has a 3-day lockout, can be soloed by a tank or 2-manned by anything else, and awards 2.5K-3K rep per run. During the run you will also find rep items (coins and bijoux) which can be turned in from more rep. A combination of 3 coins of the right types awards 25 rep, while destroying a bijou gives you 75 rep. Each of these actions also awards you with 1 Zandalar Honor Token, which you can use to gain another 50 rep.

A good tip would be that if you have well-geared alts, to do multiple runs in ZG. If your character’s less powerful, find others who also need the rep. Between your characters you will easily amass the rep and items to become Exalted in two or three weeks. You can also buy them on the Auction House, but now that people are aware that they are a rare commodity now, the prices are going up.

You also gain some rep by handing in the Head of Hakkar for the first time, and obtaining your class gear from the Zandalar.

Epic Class Quests

It’s not 100% sure to me whether the Epic Class quests (Hunter, Paladin, Warlock and Priest) will vanish or not, but it’s a fact that there’s no better time to get them done than right now.

The Hunter quest begins with the Petrified Leaf dropping from Majordomo Executus in Molten Core, and leads you to a ring of Elder Trees in Felwood. A good write-up of the questline can be found on Wowwiki and WoWHead and at level 70+ the quest is a breeze. The reward is an epic bow which sprouts flowers, a quiver and a staff. While not the most awesome pieces of eye-candy, it does have that “I did that” feel.

The Priest quest likewise begins with Majordomo’s chest and the Eye of Divinity that drops from it. The second part of it is the Eye of Shadow dropping from Elite demons in Winterspring and Blasted Lands. Again, a full description of the quest can be found on Wowwiki and Wowhead.Your reward for this quest is Benediction, a Holy Priest’s staff, which can be transformed into the shadow-staff Anathema.

Paladin and Warlock quests revolve around their mounts, and start at the class trainer. Nowadays you can get these mounts from the trainer without doing the quest, and completing the quest is a Feat of Strength. But with changes to the areas in which the quests are done, such as the Plaguelands, make it impossible to complete it. Even if this is not intentional, it could be a long time until that’d be fixed.

Crafting Recipes

When dungeons and areas are changed, it is possible that loot tables are adjusted for mobs in the area, or that vendors are (re)moved. Examples are the Gnome vendors in Azshara where you can get the engineering schematic for the water-breathing helm. I can imagine that with the Goblins invading the area, they’d be taking up their business and leave, taking the pattern with them.

I’d recommend getting the addon Ackis’ Recipe List and using it. When you open your crafting pane, you see a button called “scan”. It will then give you the locations of each recipe for that tradeskill, if you do not know it yet. Especially in the old world, a lot of Blacksmithing recipes could be gotten via quests started in areas you’d normally not spend time anymore, such as Winterspring. With this, you can be sure to satisfy your completionist’s soul while you still can.

Unusual Questlines

There are tons of unusual questlines, which are very long, expensive or out of the way. Since the design for Cataclysm is to streamline and enhance the leveling experience, some of these are likely to go away. A good list on this can be found here, so you can check if there’s any in there that seem interesting. If you feel bored and want to relive some of the old days, go and do some of these old quests. Do bring lunch however, some of these take more travelling time than actual questing!

Conclusion

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. There’s no way you can predict what will stay and what will go in Cataclysm. Maybe pets and mounts will become available through alternative means, maybe not. If you want to get some of these classic things done, now is the time, because there’s no turning back once the Cataclysm hits.

It is safe to say that the TBC and Wrath quests and items will be largely unchanged, except for no longer offering the special achievements for Northrend raids. So while Invincible and Mimiron’s Head are still to be found when doing the hard modes for LK and Yogg, respectively, you will not be able to get Conqueror of Ulduar, Undying, Immortal and the like.

Best thing to do is make a checklist, in order of how badly you want to get these done along with the Classic stuff, and see what can be done. Others are likely to share your goal, and making this known may spark quite a rush. In our guild, a one-time BWL for the Red scepter shard become a weekend special, as did Onyxia. Achieve your goal, inspire others!

My Cataclysm Wishes

Posted in Diary, Fun with tags , , on May 3, 2010 by Natarumah

Everyone has their own hopes and dreams for what Cataclysm will bring for them, whether they are roleplaying, raiding or PvP’ing. From what we have seen so far, the game will be more casual friendly, which I consider not bad considering a lot of focus was given to (and demanded by) world-class raiders. Those who believe themselves master of the Arena have their tournaments (whether they meet like-minded souls, have fun and not bother anyone else) and Roleplayers will likely be in awe or in dismay regarding the new outfits available when the expansion hits.

But what is it I would like to see?

This is a question that has been in my mind for a while. I am trying to ease my way back into roleplaying, but I don’t PvP all that much on Natarumah (although I believe I should try). I love raiding, even if it’s classic instances. But lately I hit a snag – training for the Hard Modes in ICC is quite draining, I don’t feel like grinding rep (unless I splurge and go straight for the Insane title) and I am not too strict on doing my dailies (still 40 to go until I hit the 1000 daily quest achievement).

What I would like to see is more in the atmosphere. Immersion, a sense that the game is growing, not just expanding.

The Goblins and Worgen are a nice addition – I think I will roll me up a Goblin because they have powerful personalities and concepts. I have seen some of the concept screens for Blasted Lands and Swamp of Sorrows, and I am very pleased with the detail. It’s still cartoony enough to be WoW, but detailed enough that it seems like a world that designers invested effort and attention to make immersive.

For me, the cartoony bit is mandatory. Yes, there are people clamoring for the game to be more “next-gen” and more realistic. But let’s face it, the really realistic games generally fail, either because they are too realistic, or they fail on the tiny details that put people off. It also eats processing power, and limits the number of people who can actually play the game.

I’d also like to see an Outfit and Back system like it had been designed for Lord of the Rings Online. You see, in that game there are two brilliant systems in place to make people do what they like (and look like they want) yet have no influence on gameplay. First off, you can select a set of items to be an “Outfit”, after which you can activate that set whenever you like. No matter what you are wearing, that set is the one displayed on your toon.

Second off, there is a much wider range of items to put on your back (and WoW even has the option to put items in the Shirt slot, like the rockets at the gunship battle in ICC). I’d love to see hunters with unique quivers, or Goblin engineers hurtling around with a barrel of bombs on their backs. Paladins toting around little portable shrines, Tauren Shamen with a giant totem pole, and sneaky night elf rogues with an actual packpack (and the mandatory weapon collection).

Just imagine it. Close your eyes, think about it. Imagine the restoration Druid (now forced into caster form most of the times) with giant potted plant. Imagine the Worgen with a netted pack full of skulls. Imagine the Death Knight and his mining bag full of lovely Saronite. The possibilities are great – and make for another unique addition to one’s character.

But in the end, what I wish most for in Cataclysm is that it makes the game better, the world more expansive and immersive, the quests more interesting. I’ve played this game for over four years now, and I haven’t exactly gotten tired of it. But the life of a game is not measured in how many expansions are made for it, but how well they are received by the players, and how the playerbase loves the game.

World of Warcraft is massive, its community passionate and its capacity for drawing in players greater than what is currently actually in play. I approach Cataclysm with open eyes, mind you, but I will allow myself to be surprised by the wishful little things, that we can have:

  • Outfit styles and more back items than just the old cloaks no one shows anyway
  • Maintain the sense of Warcraft, immerse the players in the changing world
  • PvP being exciting, not something that only a small portion of players actually enjoys
  • Raiding as something that is friendly to casuals, but rewarding to hardcore raiders
  • Path of the Titans and Archaeology feeling like part of a whole, not “tacked on”
  • Greater graphical detail, but keep the average player hardware in mind
  • The game being streamlined so it can run the race for another five years.
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