Archive for Preview

Expanding our Minds

Posted in Fun, News with tags , , , , on March 22, 2012 by Natarumah

Well, pun intended of course. With the release of the NDA and the cataclysmic flood of information on what we (might/will/could) see in Mists of Pandaria you will see blogs all over the blogosphere light up as people try to make sense of it all. Some predict the end of the game because of “Casuals” while others see it as the new hope in gaming. I for one do welcome a lot of the preview material, if only because it makes the game more cohesive and enjoyable.

Pandaren

Well, the debate is reasonably settled on the Pandaren Female form, but the nice thing here is that Blizzard did not decide to go for the Black Panda – Red Panda disconnect. Rather, both will be part of the customization options for the race. This means that rather than picking “sides”, Blizzard decided to allow both the Black and Red Panda concepts to co-exist. I applaud this, since now basically everyone gets what they want.

And besides, how many black-and-white Panda combos can you make, anyway?

Things to do in Azeroth before we die

Thanks to the addition of the 11th Character Slot (Oh yeah!) I would be able to make a Panda of my own (Monk of course) and play it as a fat epicurean. With the sneak peeks on pet battles, exploration, improvements to archaeology and cooking specializations it means we will have plenty to do that isn’t dungeons or raids. And it was about time.

Archaeology improvements include the addition of mob spawns in dig sites which drop goodies, including a convenient teleportation option to the next dig site. This cuts down on the immense travel time involved, and also means that your level starts making a difference while braving through dark jungles into abandoned temples and explorer’s tents.

The various cooking specializations will each benefit a primary stat – other than offering a bit of diversity, it also makes having cooking on multiple characters worthwhile, and dovetails nicely with the Pandaren’s reputation as epicureans. My fun and fat friend in slot 11 is going to be a lot of fun!

AoE Looting

Shamelessly mentioned as an upgrade for the game after it has been included in RIFT and Star Wars. After all, looting individual creatures is quite a waste of time for some of us mass-murderers (Paladin Tanks, I look at thee!). Sure it’s a nice-to-have and not a necessity, but it will certainly make life a lot easier.

Graphics Upgrade

Yes, upgraded character models are on the table, but probably won’t be finished in time (other than what is needed to make Monks). This might be sad news, but it shows that upgrading old content to more modern standards is definitely in the pipeline. I hope this also includes eventually a pixel-upgrade on some of the old sets, especially now that they are being used for Transmogrification. Some pieces can’t match each other simply because their quality diverges between 8-bit pixel style to rendered goodness.

What I was especially impressed with were the videos released with the new models, such as the Sha and the Celestial dragon. I have to say that the quality (while somewhat cartoonish) is very good and I am looking forward to seeing it live. Many people decry the cartoony style of WoW, but so far most games haven’t stood up to the test of time quite that well, and the same goes for WoW’s movement style. For some reason to me it seems a lot more fluid, and this will help a lot once the Monk comes into play.

The Beta and Annual Pass

One of the main topics now is the Beta – everyone wants to see the new graphics, class, game and direction. Many of those bought an annual pass in the hopes of just that, and now that the first invites are sent to people who opted in, they fell entitled to join as well. Of course, the devil is in the fine print. Yes, you will be in the Beta, but Blizzard decides when. This will most likely be in the large Open-Beta push towards the end a month maybe two before release, where only the last bugs need ironing out.

I understand some people feel “meh” about this, but also realize that this was already quite clear before. Yes, it’s a bit misleading, but certainly not a breach of contract or anything else that is cried about on forums. You can still get an invite (if lucky) through the opt-in before the grand public opening, so be sure to have those boxes ticked in your battle.net account!

Conclusion

This expansion will be in part about Pandaria and part about the titanic struggle of Horde versus Alliance. Exploration and hobbies become as important as raiding. All in all I think Mists of Pandaria will be an expansion where we slow down from our daily lives, rather than stay in our modern-24h-per-day speed. Raiding will be big, as ever, as will be PvP.

But the focus will be more on it being a game, and on enjoying ourselves. So that those who call themselves truly casual, or those who are not but relaxing on an alt, can have as rich a gaming life in WoW as anyone else. And I applaud a little R&R before we save the galaxy again…

Stay tuned as I take a fine-tooth comb through the changes and announcements, and see how we as Shades can gain a benefit!

The coming of the end

Posted in News, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest with tags , , on September 20, 2011 by Natarumah

Soon patch 4.3 will be revealed to players, meaning that Deathwing arrives for foolhardy adventurers to try and stop him from his mad plans for the destruction of Azeroth. This post will contain previews of the patch (courtesy of MMO-champion), my feelings about the coming content, and major plot spoilers. So if you want to be surprised (?) by the events to come, I suggest turning a blind eye on this post until the patch has arrived for real.

The main features of the patch, for me at least, are the following:

  • The new 5-man dungeons and the raid are closely interlinked, forming a coherent storyline (like the Icecrown Dungeons and Iccrown Citadel)
  • Transmogrification will become available, allowing us to use the looks of (practically) any set we want without compromising our effective ability
  • LFRaid will allow anyone to step into starter-difficulty raids as practice, stepping stone or to gear up alts

End Time (Preview on MMO-Champion)

The core of this dungeon is the storyline. It paints the bleak picture of what will remain of Azeroth if Deathwing is allowed to persue his self-destructive path – and win. It’s a shattered world, devoid of life and populated by the creatures of the Old Gods. Your part here will be to remove the obstruction in time that prevents the heroes to go back to where the Dragon Soul was corrupted, so that its power may yet be used for good. It’s not going to be a major surprise (for those who did the quests in Dragonblight) that the leader of the Infinite Dragonflightmight turn out to be Nozdormu. In fact, the last boss’ name is an anagram for his own.

Well of Eternity (Preview on MMO-Champion)

This ancient time line goes straight to where it all went wrong in Azeroth – Queen Azshara’s meddling with Arcane magic, allowing Sargeras to attempt entry into Azeroth for the first time. With the Burning Legion alerted to Azeroth’s existence, it was the prelude for its millenial campaign to conquer this place.

Hour of Twilight (Preview on MMO-Champion)

With the Dragon Soul in Thrall’s possession, it is now time to travel to the Wyrmrest Temple and begin the final assault. But not all is as it seems as previously benevolent or neutral personae shed their disguises and show their true allegiance. The Twilight Hammer and its twisted followers have a few cards yet unplayed, and now that Thrall forces their hand, you must protect him from the most unlikely of assailants.

Dragon Soul – Deathwing Raid (Preview on MMO-Champion)

Ah yes – the final confrontation with Deathwing. But not before the last vestiges of the Twilight Hammer cult, and their Faceless allies, have been dealt with. We’ll be flying on the back of Deathwing as he speeds across the ocean, tearing his armor off plate by plate. And if we win, Azeroth will be saved. If we lose, he will end his life atop the Wyrmrest Temple, shattering the resolve and power of the Dragon Aspects.

Of course we’ll be getting help from the aspects – it’s their backard we’re saving this time. And I have a sneaky suspicion that a new Earth Warder will be chosen (as Malygos was replaced by Kalecgos) and that the mortal who now holds the Dragon Soul (Thrall) may be instrumental. Some say he might become the new Earth Warder himself – but mortals turning into Dragons has never been the kind of story with a happy ending…

My feelings on the final patch

I love the story, and I am really looking forward to seeing it unfold. The 5man dungeons might prove to have some interesting mechanics, as does the Deathwing fight. The other raid bosses seem rather bland and photocopied from earlier bosses. It will take quite some convincing and good game mechanics to make me ignore the fact that they are simply a grab bag of previous boss abilities with the re-used image of another NPC.

The patch also seems rushed (and yet uite polished) as if it was pretty far in development already when Firelands hit, and right after it was released Blizzard was taken aback by the response (Reused models, mechanics, raids too easy, and other community whining) and couldn’t wait to release the final patch. I hope the next expansion will be one with a more enduring nature, because Cataclysm has felt a bit like a wet noodle, and this patch is the inevitable wet slap at the end.

Trust me, I will enjoy the story and fight the end fight. But somehow the feeling creeps up on me that Blizzard’s feelings are to get this expansion over with as soon as possible and focus on something else. Maybe the next expansion, that fabled ” Mists of Pandaria”  that was registered as a video game yet was hushed over pretty quick. Or maybe we will get a “Ruby Sunwell Sanctum” raid to end the story. Or perhaps it’s a sign that Blizzard is ready to reveal what Titan’s going to be all about and needs to clear the airways.

So far, I have no idea what ill be in store for us once Deathwing lies broken on the rocky grounds of Dragonblight. But I hope we will be allowed to enjoy it without being hounded by the ghostly pace of hardcore world firsts or the need to release new content every six months. Remember, the faster content is released, the sooner the well runs dry.

 

Lifting the veil on Cataclysm progress

Posted in News, Raids and Instances, Reputation with tags , , on June 13, 2010 by Natarumah

As boubouille has made an entire list of all changes that have been announced (as well as what was scrapped again), I am not going to make a repeat of the entire listing. Instead I am going to pick out the more interesting systems and make some basic assumptions and notes.

Removal of the Path of the Titans and demasculation of Archeaology

One of the biggest things to trigger my interest was the Path of the Titans. Instead of boring glyphs to improve your abilities, discovering the secrets of the Titans using the Archaeology secondary profession would give you access to a specific set of unique glyphs, tied to one of the Titans itself.

Alas, it was removed and replaced with the considerably more boring “medium glyphs”. Medium glyphs, easily the most boring feature ever, will be giving cosmetic modifications to the abilities we have. In other words, green flames like warlocks have been pining about since Classic. Finally they have a spot to put the Polymorph: penguin in I guess. It’s nice, but I don’t see any use for those medium glyphs.

Without Path of the Titans, Archaeology has turned from the Spartacus of all professions to Caspar, the friendly gold sink. As a secondary profession, it will now allow you to scour the world for ancient artifacts, discovering ancient lore or unlocking vanity items. While this may be a lot of fun (ancient pets, outfits or a fossilized dragon mount), it is nothing compared to what it was once made to be. It now adds arbitrary “fun” instead of an actual game mechanic.

Changes to Glyphs

Scribes will now be wishing that these Medium Glyphs are made by them, and they are most likely counting their profits at the funeral of Path of the Titans. As the casket slowly glides into the sallow dirt, they are however up for a rude awakening: Blizzard is considering making Glyphs permanent. Without the continuous influx of cash from the Auction House as glyphs only sell once, and with the Sons of Hodir shoulder enchants having become Bind-on-Pickup, Scribes had better be getting something really good in Cataclysm, or their number is likely to drop.

Death to communities, guilds are what it’s at!

Blizzard has also scrapped the guild talent system, replacing it with a more manageable leveling system. There will be 25 levels to each guild, and rewards you have unlocked are based on the Guild’s level. Once you have, any member can purchase the benefits (mount, tabard, whatever) using gold based upon their “Guild Reputation”. Leaving the guild causes the items to disappear.

This is a wonderful system, very clear and easy to manage. There’s just one thing added that kills it for Communities, like the one I am in:

You grind reputation with your guild  based on (for instance) what bosses you kill in raids, and this is based on how many people of your guild are in the raid. 7/10 or 20/25 need to be guild members or it does not count. I am screwed, because I raid with Unity, but not with my guild. My contribution goes to another guild instead, while I gain no benefits.

All my alts will be able to buy items, because they raid with my guild. My main, however is left out in the cold. This is a serious problem for me. I will be working very hard to down heroic-mode bosses, but all I see is loot and emblems. Many of the other members of the raid will also get nice items from their guild. My guild however does not reward me, because I have not done any heroic bosses according to my guild. FML.

Removal of reforging as a player initiative

Reforging, the ability to convert stats on your gear into other, more desirable stats, has been removed as a function of crafting skills. It will now be done by NPCs at the item’s gold cost. While this is a benefit for all players, it removes a unique benefit from the crafting skills themselves. Since Blizzard will also remove specializations, it will matter even less what crafting skill you have.

This is a good thing to make sure any character could have just about any trade skill (altough a Paladin with tailoring would still be…weird) but removes more of the unique feel of each profession. At least Engineering remains unique, which is ironic considering it being bemoaned as one of the hardest and least useful professions.

Priest preview for Cataclysm

Posted in News, PvP, Shadowpriest with tags , , on April 8, 2010 by Natarumah

Below is the copy of the Priest preview posted today by Blizzard, which can be found here. This will just be a direct rendition of the news itself, my own analysis and feelings about the changes will be contained in a separate post. As always, none of these are final – the proposed changes and abilities can change at any time.

In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, we’ll be making lots of changes and additions to class talents and abilities across the board. In this preview, you’ll get an early look at some of the changes in store for the priest class, including a rundown of some of the new spells, abilities, and talents, as well as an overview of how the new Mastery system will work with the different talent specs.

New Priest Spells

Heal (available at level 16): While priests already have a spell called Heal, the existing version becomes obsolete at higher levels, which is something we intend to change in Cataclysm. Introduced at a low level, the “new” Heal spell will functionally work much like a down-ranked Greater Heal did in the past, adding more granularity to your direct-healing arsenal. If you need to heal someone a moderate amount and efficiency is an issue (making Flash Heal the incorrect spell for the job), then Heal is what you want to use. Heal is intended to be the priest’s go-to direct-healing spell unless they need something bigger (Greater Heal) or faster (Flash Heal). We will be following a similar philosophy with all the healing classes.

Mind Spike (level 81): Deals Shadowfrost damage and puts a debuff on the target that improves subsequent Mind Spike damage. The intent of Mind Spike is to fill a niche missing in Shadow DPS, though it may be occasionally useful for healers as well. Mind Spike provides a quick nuke to use in situations where the priest doesn’t have time to set up the normal rotation, such as when adds are dying too fast or you have to swap targets a lot. Spamming Mind Spike will do about as much damage as casting Mind Flay on a target afflicted with Shadow Word: Pain. The idea behind the debuff is that when you cast Mind Spike, we expect you to cast a lot of them; we don’t intend you to fit it into an already full Shadow rotation. It also provides Shadow with a spell to cast when locked out of the Shadow school. (School lockouts will no longer affect both schools for multi-school spells.) 1.5-second cast. 30-yard range. No cooldown.

Inner Will (level 83): Increases movement speed by 12% and reduces the mana cost of instant-cast spells by 10%. This buff will be exclusive with Inner Fire, meaning you can’t have both up at once. Inner Fire provides a spell power and Armor buff; Inner Will should be useful on a more situational basis.

Leap of Faith (level 85): Pull a party or raid member to your location. Leap of Faith (or “Life Grip”) is intended to give priests a tool to help rescue fellow players who have pulled aggro, are being focused on in PvP, or just can’t seem to get out of the fire in time. Instant. 30-yard range. 45-second cooldown.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

In addition to introducing new spells, we’re planning to make changes to some of the other abilities and mechanics you’re familiar with. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of what we intend for each spec.

  • All HoTs and DoTs will benefit from Haste and Crit innately. Hasted HoTs and DoTs will not have a shorter duration, just a shorter period in between ticks (meaning they will gain extra ticks to fill in the duration as appropriate).
  • We want to bring back Shadow Word: Death as an “execute” — something you do when the target is at 25% health.
  • While we want to keep the priest’s role as a well-rounded healer, we also want to make sure the class is a viable tank healer, which is something priests moved away from a little in Wrath of the Lich King. Greater Heal will probably be the tank-healing spell of choice, though we’ve also discussed giving Discipline a second shield so that they have a small shield to cast on lots of different targets, and a big, more expensive shield to cast on a tank or anyone else taking a ton of damage.
  • Divine Spirit and Prayer of Spirit will be removed from the game. As Spirit will be the primary mana-regeneration stat, we don’t want it to vary as much between solo, small group, and raid play. Blessing of Kings and Mark of the Wild will not boost Spirit either.
  • Mana will be a bigger consideration for all healers. We aren’t trying to make healing more painful; we’re trying to make it more fun. When the cost of a spell isn’t an issue, then casting the right spell for the job is less of an issue because you might as well just use your most powerful spell all of the time. We are, however, getting rid of the five-second rule, because we don’t want to encourage standing around doing nothing. We’re also going to cut back on the benefits of buffs such as Replenishment so priests (and all healers) don’t feel as penalized when those buffs aren’t available.

New Talents and Talent Changes

  • We want to improve Discipline’s single-target healing capacity. One key is to make sure shielding isn’t always a more attractive option than healing.
  • We want to improve Holy for PvP healing. One way to do this is to make sure that Heal’s throughput is similar between both specs.
  • We want to improve Shadow for short fights and reduce its susceptibility to school lockouts.
  • Discipline will finally be getting Power Word: Barrier as a talented ability. Think of it like a group Power Word: Shield.
  • We want to make Holy a little bit more interesting to play. One new talent will push the Holy priest into an improved healing state when he or she casts Prayer of Healing, Heal, or Renew three times in a row. The empowered state varies depending on the heals cast.
  • Since the Shadow tree has a lot of passive damage-boosting abilities — something we’re trying to avoid in Cataclysm — we will need to replace several of the tree’s talents. One idea is to play off of the new Shadow Orbs mechanic (see Mastery section below), possibly allowing you to consume an orb to increase damage from Mind Blast or reduce Mind Spike’s cast time.
  • Misery will no longer affect spell Hit chance. We want players to be able to gear themselves around a Hit cap that isn’t variable depending on group composition.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Discipline
Healing
Meditation
Absorption

Holy
Healing
Meditation
Radiance

Shadow
Spell damage
Spell Crit
Shadow Orbs

Absorption: Improves the strength of shields such as Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis, and Power Word: Barrier.

Radiance: Your direct heals add a small heal-over-time component to the target.

Shadow Orbs: Casting spells grants a chance for Shadow Orbs to be created that fly around you and increase your shadow damage. This will help lower-level characters feel more like “Shadow priests” before they obtain Shadowform.

We hope you enjoyed this preview, and we’re looking forward to hearing your initial thoughts and feedback on these additions and changes. Please keep in mind that this information represents a work in progress and is subject to change as development on Cataclysm continues.

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