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BlizzCon 2011: Mists of Pandaria and What We Know
2011/10/21 at 1:52 PM
Update: we had a huge day of panels on Saturday as well. We also have a
Mists of Pandaria talent calculator
Cheat Sheet for Mists of Pandaria
Rather than force you to sift through liveblogs and official previews, Perculia and Ashelia have broken down exactly what is coming with Mists of Pandaria. Find out what's happening, what you'll be doing, and more with this first peak cheat sheet we've included right here at the top of the post.
And, of course, Perculia got some immediate hands-on time with the starting zone. Word on the street is that she rolled around a lot and had a blast--but maybe you should read her actual preview below!
Pandarens and Pandaria
Leveling in Pandaria
Pandaria has been shrouded in a mist. The alliance and horde wash up on the shores of Pandaria during a naval battle. They immediately want it for their own for the war--so they are going to destroy the pandaren to get its resources!
I was able to test out most of the starting zone in the press room--here's my thoughts!
Pandaria starts off in a similar manner to the Deathknight starting zone--defeating initiates, learning more about the philosophy, completing quests for a master trainer.
Players read four scrolls explaining the philosophy of the four elementals.
You're tasked to fetch a wilting lotus--the first sign of death in Pandaria.
This leads to an epic series to seek out the four elemental spirits, who are faded and must be reunited to be saved.
Huo, the fire spirit.
Master Li Fei teaches you to meditate and strengthen your character--instead of just focusing on physical training to succeed.
Once your character has sufficiently meditated and adjusted, you are able to summon and defeat Huo, who then escorts you to the Temple of the Five Dawns in the center of the zone. It's a gorgeous temple reached by winding staircases.
She, the water spirit.
You'll need to purify her cursed pools, meditate, and find companions for her to play with.
There's some creative questing in there. One quest makes the player hop between poles over water, taking care to watch out for balancing Pandaren hopping around on other poles. Another quest makes you wait patiently for a darting spirit to come over in the water--if you follow it, you will be unable to catch it, but if you learn the spirit's spiriting patterns, you can grab it easily.
Wuguo, the earth spirit
After you fight verming, the Pandaria equivalent of kobolds, you're tasked to wake Wuguo up--but nothing works, including ringing gongs and slapping oxen, until the water spirit helps.
At this point, there were some placeholder quest summaries that hint at fun cutscenes to come.
Dafeng, the spirit of air.
As you reach his secret hiding place, you learn that the Hozu, a type of hostile monkey, have defiled many of the scrolls of wisdom at Morning Breeze Village.
You destroy the bad scrolls the Hozu have instead written with funny sayings like "Peel Banana, Eat Second" and "Wet Fur Not to Sleep On."
This really shows off the use of the Spinning Crane Kick--as mobs are grouped together that have low HP.
After destroying the Hozu in Fe-Fang village, you are ready to reach Dafeng who is scared of the Onyx Serpent.
In reaching his inner sanctum, you learn to be patient and wait for harsh winds to part, which would damage and eventually kill you otherwise. This seems to be a decent way of introducing new players to raid mechanics.
(At this point, I got the special Blizzcon 2011 achievement, Panda Express, for having my Pandaren roll 100 times!)
You defeat the Onyx Serpent, perhaps a bit anticlimactically, by shooting fireworks into the air.
At this point, your trainer returns and you escort him to the Western Grove.
You cleanse the area of bad spirits and hear him talk how his time has come to pass his knowledge down and step down in an extended dialogue.
You learn that Shen'zin Su, the great turtle, is in extreme danger--but nobody has spoken to him for years.
You accompany Aysa and Ji, past questgivers, in a hot air balloon over the water, listening as they ask Shen'zin what ails him. He's in pain, but glad generations have not forgotten him. He talks how a pain is in his side--and the thorn is in the forest.
The Alliance and the Horde enter. The Skyfire has crashed and you're tasked to accompany the curious Pandaren to see what these new invaders want.
I was asked to stop playing at this point to let others in the queue have a chance, but we know that at Level 10, you eventually choose which faction to join--which cannot be reversed.
Can Blizzard create a starting zone that remains immersive while introducing radically different lore and aesthetics?
Emphasized philosophy and lifestyle of the Pandaren, with many quests that emphasize the importance of balance, patience, and strength of character.
Sample quotes include: "Train as if the air, always present, ever flowing," "life is about creating yourself, not finding yourself," "forget injuries never forget kindness."
Appearance: lush groves interspersed with shimmering waterfalls and rustic towns. The zone is rich in primary hues--the temples are bright blue and red, while the plant life is emerald green, uncorrupted by many of the evils of Azeroth.
There will be five new zones that feature the Pandaren's Asian-inspired landscapes, as well as the starting zone covered above and a central quest hub.
The Jade Forest: Level 85-86
Players will first enter Pandaria through the Jade Forest. This zone features lush rainforests and statuesque stone spires. The Alliance and Horde will ally themselves with the indigenous creatures to fight a war with lasting consequences to the Jade Forest, and possibly the rest of Pandaria as well.
Valley of the Four Winds: Level 86-87
Featuring lush farmland in the north and dense jungles along the coast to the south, the fertile Valley of the Four Winds is the breadbasket of Pandaria. Players will join Chen Stormstout to discover his family’s roots at the legendary Stormstout Brewery. Meanwhile, trouble is also brewing along the great wall that protects the Pandaren Empire from the mantid swarms to the west….
Located atop Kun-Lai Summit
Six boss raid
Explore the hidden secrets of the Mogu empire
Located in Kun-Lai Summit Mountain
Help the Shado-pan fight the evil Sha, that have escaped
While you might laugh at first that the new class is a race of pandas--think again. They're a peaceful race who have lived undisturbed for thousands of years, now rudely interrupted by the presence of the Alliance and the Horde.
Pandaren characters can be hunters, mages, monks, priests, rogues, shaman, and warriors.
After completing the starting zone, Pandaren can choose to permanently join either the Alliance or the Horde.
Bouncy: reduces fall damage by half.
Inner peace: double lasting rested XP.
Gourmond: +15 to cooking.
Epicurean: double stats to food buffs.
Quaking Palm: some crowd control, puts enemies to sleep for four seconds then does damage.
The Mogu were the original race twelve thousand years ago and they want their island back from the pandaren.
The Sha will be negative energy and it will be a shadow form that players fight; the alliance & horde will actually increase this.
They use chi as a resource (similar to energy/rage/etc).
They have stances, like Drunken Tiger/Ox
Two types of forces: Light and Dark.
You start off with Jab and Tiger Palm as a Monk, getting new abilities every few levels.
Jab: You jab the target dealing 11 damage and generating 1 light force and 1 dark force. Cost: 40 chi.
Tiger Palm: Attack with the palm of your hand, dealing 23 physical damage. Deals 12 additional damage if the target is above 50% health. Cost: 1 light force.
Roll: This is pretty fun--lets you move faster and is cosmetically awesome. Cost: 50 chi.
Blackout Kick: Kick with a blast of sha energy. causing 39 physical damage to an enemy target. If the target is killed by blackout kick, you are refunded 1 dark force.
Clobber: Melee stave ability--generates both light and dark forces.
Spinning Crane Kick: Spin while kicking in air--movement speed reduced by 30%. Bonus--no cooldown.
Flying Serpent Kick: Soar towards enemy stun for 2 sec.
Monks can be one of the following three roles:
Windwalker: Melee DPS
Monks benefit from leather armor with either agility or intellect.
Races that can be monks: draenei, dwarf, gnome, human, night elf, blood elf, orc, tauren, troll, and undead.
Blizzard wants to make character progression more fun and balanced for all types of players--from the hardcore to the casual.
Achievements will now become available at the Battle.net account level. Many achievements will be shared among characters, including those for raiding and maxing out professions.
Pet Battle System
This system will work much like a Secondary profession and any player can participate.
Players will be able utilize their current non-combat pets or capture new non-combat pets to level them and battle them against others.
Don’t count on flying until you reach max level.
Future faction reputation will be earned through gameplay, without the need to utilize a tabard to grind rep.
It will be a base stat, so as you level you get some. PvE gear will not be the best, but you will be able to use it for entry-level PvP.
Ranged Weapons. Hunter minimum range is gone. Hunter melee weapon is gone. Ranged slot for all classes gone. Relics are gone. Wands will become actual weapons, like mainhands.
Warlocks will now have a unique resource for each spec. Affliction - Soul Shards. Demonology - Demonic Fury. Destruction - Infernal Embers.
Shaman will no longer have buff totems. All totems will be redone. Earthgrab totem - roots> Repulsion totem - repels. Bulwark totem - absorbs.
Druids now have four specs. feral - cat DPS. Guardian - bear tank.
Spell books for all classes are changed; rotations improved; and more.
The specialization abilities you learn will be largely comprised of old talents players should have, as well as core class abilities that not every spec needs.
The goal is to have everyone have different talents and character customization.
Death knights will get different themed talents with each talent tier; for example, level 90 is all about slowing down your enemies.
There are a lot of new druid abilities and significant changes. Treants will be able to be used in every spec; incarnation is a talent that changes per spec; even bear themed talents are cool. For example, Ursol's Vortex will pull enemies into you with wind; can be used in any form.
Hunters will get new types of arrows--e.g. arcane or frost, depending on what they want. Enhanced spirit bond if you choose it or a different aspect. Pets will no longer be tied to types, rather, the hunter decides what he wants them to do (i.e. spiders for PvP will now be used in PvE).
Every talent is themed toward a spec of fire, arcane, or frost. Polymorph even has its own tier. For example, "Sickly Polymoph" will make their health not regen; "Heavy Polymorphed" stuns; "Double Polymorph" lets you have two sheep at once.
Paladins finally get a hamstring through SoC. Blessed Life became a talent that shares with Sacred Shield and Ardent Defender. Flash of Light is now the only paladin heal that's non-talented, so rets and prots will not have things like Divine Light.
Priests were changed the most drastically to make the two different healing specs unique. Power Infusion will be available to any spec. New healing spell that will swap your health with the target's called Void Shift, totally wild.
Rogues benefit a lot, as many of their cool spells were in the oft useless subtly tree. Huge changes to spells like Killing Spree, as you now manually teleport versus automatically.
Shaman get a lot more utility. They will be able to pull out a defensive totem then put it back and have it only eat into its uptime; for example, if they pulled out a totem and then a priest barriered, a good shaman could pull it back and save the CD.
Warlocks get new pets through the new talents, such as Grimoire of Service which lets you have two pets out at the same time or Grimoire of Supremacy which gives warlocks entirely new demons!
Main inspiration is to choose what style of warrior you want to be; to be three classes in one.
Players will be able to choose a specialization at level 10.
This gives them a new spec ability and opening up new options within that spec.
There will be a single talent tree per class in which players will earn talents every 15 levels.
Each talent opens up one of three different available options within the tree for further specialization within the chosen spec.
No mandatory talents or cookie cutter specs.
Starting with Mists of Pandaria, players will no longer spend talent points.
For each set of three talents players unlock, they will get to choose one talent to activate, for a total of six active talents at level 90.
A big benefit of removing talent points is that it allows us to let players "re-talent" with more flexibility.
Talent ranks have been completely removed.
Additional spec abilities will become available as characters levels. Some of these may be existing talents, while others may be older core abilities that are more situational.
After players have activated their talents, they won't be completely locked into their choices as they are now.
Talents can be changed out when switching specs, as well as when running dungeons, raids, and battlegrounds.
The idea is to make players choose from three talents. For example, Throwdown would be a crowd control ability any spec warrior could get; however, it would have two other choices to get that also CC.
You will access stuff you never could before and create new combinations. It's a mix-and-match system at the crux of it.
The new expansion will introduce three new Raid dungeons and nine new dungeons with six of these being located within Pandaria.
The intention is to open up multiple opportunities for max-level players to take part in a variety of progression options.
Dungeon Challenge Modes will let those looking for a deeper challenge take on dungeon runs with specific goals (complete dungeon in X minutes) and reward players who accomplish these goals with Bronze, Silver, or Gold medals.
Challengers will also find their gear scaled to equalize the difficulty of the encounter for all players, creating a level playing field.
Rewards: Uniquely designed statless gear that can be utilized with Transmogrification to further define the look of a character.
Heroic Dungeons will become easier for pick-up-groups (PuGs) to take on.
Random queues will not apply to TBC and Wrath raids--the queue would be too long.
The disparity between 10s and 25s will perhaps be addressed for server firsts--some fights are easier on one raid size and that's unfair when guilds of different sizes must compete against each other.
No level 90 normal-mode dungeons--people will just go straight to heroics and challenge modes.
Difficult to toggle hardmodes like Freya +3 Ulduar model--it's much clearer to just submit it to heroic or normal versus wait to a health percentage.
Scholomance and Scarlet Monastery will be new heroic dungeons in MoP, similar to Deadmines and SFK in Cataclysm.
Three new battlegrounds have been added:
Stranglethorn Diamond Mines: “Payload” gameplay
STV Diamond would be a mine with multiple tracks; the first team to get the cart to the end would win. Players would have to move carts, split the tracks, and escort the carts.
Valley of Power: “Murderball” gameplay
Valley of Power would be located in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Murderball where you hold the object for as long as possible, taking more damage the longer you hold it.
Azshara Crater: DOTA-style gameplay
New Arena: The Tol’vir Proving Grounds will utilize the sweeping vistas of Uldum and the Tol’vir art style with a simple layout based on Nagrand Arena.
May be able to quest in raid group.
The focus will be shifting to creating more repeatable max-level content while providing incentives for all players.
Quests on Pandaria will provide a less linear experience, with multiple quest hubs to choose from.
Scenarios will allow small groups of players to adventure together in short instances, with progressive objectives and a story arc.
Scenarios are completely role-less, meaning tanks or healers aren’t necessary to succeed -- any class combinations can work.
Smaller scenarios will play similar to group quests and will help players earn faction reputation.
Larger scenarios will play out like epic PvE battlegrounds with major objectives and plenty of scripted event.
Hit the break for official blogs, trailers, and more!
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4.3 PTR Coverage Roundup
2011/10/02 at 9:51 AM
It's been a busy week on the PTR for myself and Ashelia. Every day, we find dozens of new things to write about, turning our observations into epicly-long posts. Since there are so many new things, I've provided a roundup of our 4.3 PTR coverage so far--with all the information, perhaps you missed reading something the first time around!
4.3 Preliminary Guide: 3d Models, Items, Holiday Changes, and More
very first overview to 4.3
, we went through the initial 1600 datamined items to make sense of it all. Among other things, we found numerous new mounts and pets, items that hinted at changes to holidays like
, new profession recipes, and many items related to the revamped Darkmoon Faire. We also listed numerous 3d models of NPCs, models, and weapons--as well as making a video of some of the new mount animations. Finally, we listed some of the radical class changes in 4.3, placing them next to Ghostcrawler's quotes on balance for an explanation.
4.3 Preview: End Time 5-man Coverage, Dungeon Set 3d Models, Dungeon Journal Entries, and More
, we've got extensive coverage of End Time, one of the new 5 mans--a video highlighting all of the bosses, numerous screenshots of every encounter, the Dungeon Journal entries, and loot drops. We've also provided modelviewer previews of all the matching gear from 5-mans, as well as screenshots of the Transmogrification and Void Storage UI. Also, we've organized the Dungeon Journal entries for Dragon Soul, Well of Eternity, and Hour of Twilight, even though they're not available on the PTR yet.
4.3 Preview: Professions, Holiday Pets, Spell Effects, and More
, we organized all the new profession recipes into tables--including all the epic gem cuts--and tried to list their source/cost when applicable. We also found a bunch of fun miscellaneous things--some spell effects were changed for staple abilities, Winter Veil pets now hearth and have new sassy dialogue, sell prices of some epics have been drastically changed. The Worgen mount vendor is up, so Alliance players can finally get their two extra mounts--and most importantly, players can make
, so we've got numerous glittery screenshots of that. It's an image-intensive post, but sometimes a picture really does say a thousand words.
4.3 Preview: Darkmoon Faire and Rogue Legendary quests
This preview covered
specific quests in 4.3
--Darkmoon Faire and the new Rogue legendary. The datamined quest chains aren't complete by any means, but they provide an initial glimpse into the atmosphere behind these 4.3 additions. The Faire seems like it will be a quirky and light-hearted zone, while the quest for Fangs of the Father seems like it will truly be unique, incorporating core abilities and lore of the Rogue class.
4.3 Preview: Season 11 PvP Sets
Some of the new PvP sets are simply gorgeous--like the Paladin set with the asymmetrical helm. Others are a bit strange, like the skimpy Rogue top. Regardless, we've provided
of every datamined PvP recolor.
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Tom Chilton Explains 4.3's 5-mans: Endtime, Well of Eternity, and Hour of Twilight
2011/09/19 at 1:02 AM
The NDA for interviews with Blizzard was lifted at midnight tonight PST and interviews are cropping up everywhere about 4.3 and the Deathwing encounter. The first one is
Joystiq's interview with Tom Chilton
. While it tells us a lot of old information, in particular stuff about transmogrification and void storage, it also tells us a lot of new information.
Like, you know, the three 5-mans and what their stories will be. And exactly how Deathwing's fight will unfold.
According to Chilton, Deathwing is a different sort of boss. " doesn't just kind of sit around....He doesn't have a throne to chill on, just waiting for people to show up and throw down the gauntlet." Instead, players must come to him and chase him; first through the three 5-mans, then later through the 10/25-man raid instance itself.
The first instance is called "Endtime"
and it sends players into the future to see what Deathwing's victory means."And so you go into this grim vision of the future," says Chilton, "and essentially demonstrate to Nozdormu that this is what's going to happen if you don't send us back to the Well of Eternity after the Demon Soul to be able to have a chance against Deathwing."
The second instance is called "Well of Eternity,"
where players go back in time to see Thrall grab an item called the Demon Soul in order to use it against Deathwing himself.
"You fight bosses like Azshara and Mannoroth." (Source:
The third and final instance is called "Hour of Twilight,"
where players escort Thrall to Wyrmrest Temple and the battle begins.
"So at that point, you get to Wyrmrest Temple, and that's where the raid essentially starts. You take on six different bosses, they're all Deathwing's minions, and eventually, you take on Deathwing himself."
From there, the battle changes drastically--to a format World of Warcraft has never since seen. Players chase Deathwing across the world and end up landing on his back.
Chilton explained to Joystiq: "He starts to try to escape, he's getting away to rebuild strength and get himself healed, you're peeling off his armor plates, and all of these different lava creatures that spawn out through his armor plates." He also hinted to a mechanic where players have to try to stay in place while fighting on his back. Finally, Deathwing falls off into the Maelstrom, where the final showdown takes place; players fight on islands surrounding the vortex.
Chilton also spoke to Eurogamer about this fight, saying: "Once you get to the Deathwing encounter it takes place, at first, at Wyrmrest Temple, where Thrall uses the Demon Soul to essentially take a shot at Deathwing and wound him. At that point you get onto a gunship and you para-drop from the gunship onto Deathwing and you fight Deathwing on his back, essentially peeling off his armour plates trying to expose him and make him weaker. Once you've weakened him enough to where you've got him essentially wrestled to the ground--he's flying towards The Maelstrom, trying to get away, a lot like he did much earlier when he escaped and tried to gather his strength once again. You wrestle him down and then you fight the final, corrupted version of him, where all the horrible corruption that has affected Deathwing is all coming out, and it all comes to an end there in The Maelstrom."
Here are the first three official previews as well as the raid preview::
4.3 Preview: End Time 5-man
4.3 Preview: Well of Eternity 5-man
4.3 Preview: Hour of Twilight 5-man
4.3 Preview: The Dragon Soul Raid
Epic Gems, The Dragon Soul Raid, and More
Our sister site,
, spoke with Ghostcrawler as well and have a sizable interview with him.
To sum it all up:
GC gives an explanation of why they nerf content and how they manage to design raids knowing few players will see them.
Epic gems are coming.
There will be eight bosses in the new raid called The Dragon Soul; bosses will "come at you" and you will "feel like the ones attacked."
The LFR tool will be an easier difficulty, used just for the tool, making there three difficulty levels for a raid: LFR, normal, and heroic. (
As we reported earlier last week from The Escapist
Players will get unique achievements in the LFR--in other words, you can't form achievement groups in LFR.
LFR will not share a lockout with other raids and you will be able to do them multiple times per week; theoretically you could queue for Firelands, beat it, and then get another LFR Firelands the next day.
A while back it was mentioned that there would be a legendary in patch 4.3. A lot of us have been kind of expecting an agility one-hander. Anything new on that front?
GS: Yes, you're right! It is a pair of agility one-handers, and they are, in fact, daggers, and they are Rogue-only.
Rogue-only, interesting. So, a Legendary for just one class.
GS: Yeah. Yeah, we haven't done anything like that before, but we thought it would be fun to try to tie the weapon's proc and the quest line itself to rogue mechanics. Like, we know that the person on the quest will be able to stealth and pickpocket and they'll have combo points, and they'll be able to slowfall, and we thought it would be fun to really tailor things to the rogue specifically.
It always causes a ton of controversy when people are like “Oh, I was expecting... it's time for the Feral legendary” or whatever. It's a really hard thing to balance, and hopefully, eventually, we'll get around to giving everyone a legendary, but we don't want it to be too predictable, that takes some of the fun out of it. We try to keep players on their toes a little bit.
One more thing I should mention is that the mechanics are such that Combat rogues will be able to use the two daggers just as fine as well.
Okay, so regardless of spec, if you're a Rogue you're gonna want these things.
GS: Yeah, exactly.
A few weeks ago, tank threat generation was given a huge buff, the idea being that the tank rotation would be refocused on survivability at a later date. Should tanks be expecting those changes in patch 4.3?
GS: No, no... they're pretty severe changes and I was scared if we put something that major into 4.3 some players would love it and some would really hate it, to change something on them that dramatically right in the middle of content. So that's something we'll probably save for a future expansion, but it's definitely something we've been thinking about a lot.
What made you decide to push the threat hotfix before the rest of the changes could be implemented?
We had decided a while ago that we were going to make a fix to threat in 4.3. We were just getting really frustrated by all the tales of... it's funny, because the community really latched onto this as a Dungeon Finder fix but we always viewed it as a problem we were seeing players having in raids, and even heroic raids, where no matter what the tank was doing, someone, perhaps a DPS Warrior or Death Knight, was creeping up on them and then we'd have to have Hand of Salv rotations and things like that, and we were talking about “Okay, what threat dump are we going to give the DPS Warrior?” and it just made us sit down and say “You know what? Is anyone really having fun with this system?”
I mean, really good tanks that are good at keeping threat were having fun, but anytime they were losing threat, it was not fun for them, and it certainly wasn't fun for the DPS to have to always feel throttled and have to, you know... I remember this Feral Druid who said “I can't attack Al'akir for 16 seconds because if I do, I'll pull threat off of the tank” so he would just sit there and do nothing for a while. And we were like, you know, that doesn't really fit the model everyone's trying for now, which is pop Bloodlust on the pull, and everyone pop their trinkets right away on the opening...
So anyway, long story, once we decided we were gonna make the threat change, we were like, you know why should we wait? Let's just do it now and try to fix some of the problems players are having in Firelands.
Okay, so it was kind of a “People aren't having fun with threat right now, so we'll just get rid of this right now, and then give tanks something extra to do a little bit later on, but right now we need to solve this issue.”
GS: Yeah, and as you know, the truth is that good tanks weren't really having to struggle too much. You know, if you fail to press your Shield Slam or Crusader Strike at exactly the right millisecond, you're probably not going to lose threat anyway, so I don't think we're really taking away a lot of gameplay. We were taking away a lot of gameplay that, you know, once upon a time might have been interesting, or everyone was kinda holding on to the theoretical idea of what “threat fights” could be, but it just hadn't really been a very exciting mechanic for a long time.
Any major class changes we should be expecting in 4.3?
GS: We are going to do a kind of a raid melee buff across the board. We're gonna take the attack power buff and have it apply more to melee attack power than ranged attack power. On a target dummy melee and ranged DPS is pretty comparable, but in the encounters over and over, melee players come to us and are like, “Why am I here? We could do better with another Hunter or Warlock.” And we're sensitive to that, so we want to make sure that melee feel like they have a place, and we're gonna do that by making sure that, when situations are optimal for them, when they have, say a Baleroc fight or something where there's not a lot of movement, not a lot of adds, that the melee really shine on those fights, because we know there will be plenty of other opportunities for everyone else to shine.
Right, it's always been kind of a battle of balance where when melee is stronger than ranged, then there's “the melee fights” when there's not much movement. How do you guys approach that theoretically in terms of trying to balance out movement in encounter design when you're trying to figure out if a spec needs a buff or not?
GS: We actually do model DPS rotations on the move. We have... we can cheat a lot more in the game than we let players do. We can do crazy things with automation that we prevent players from doing. So, it's easy for us to test out pretty simple movement, like “how much damage can you do while moving, while pursuing a boss?” It's a lot harder to replicate all the mechanics that go on in a fight like, say, Majordomo where you're running in and running out, and in those cases we rely a lot on raid parses that come out from actual players, so we can see “Well, the Ret Paladin looked good when he was up against a Warlock on a static boss, but on a fight like this, they're just falling behind.”
Will we be seeing epic gems in 4.3?
GS: Great question, and yes, you will! The way we're hoping to set it up, and we kind of have this working but things could change before we go live, is when you kill a boss on normal or heroic mode, each player gets a geode, and when they open the geode there's a chance they may find an epic gem inside. If not, it'll have blue gems or something like that. We really want it to feel like an individual reward, and not something that the raid leader gets to have fun in deciding who gets the gems, or they all go to the guild bank or something. We really want it to feel like an individual reward.
They'll be somewhat rare. It may take the entire content cycle before someone has replaced every red gem they have, but they won't be so rare that you won't see them.
How is that going to work with profession bonuses? Blacksmithing with its extra sockets, assuming that you could get ahold of a full set of epic gems, seems like it would all of a sudden become the best profession.
GS: I think the epic gems are like 10 stat points over the current ones, so it's a nice boost, but hopefully it won't push everyone towards Blacksmithing.
So you'd only end up with like 20 extra Strength as a Blacksmith.
GS: Yeah, something like that.
So recently, Ragnaros has been hotfixed, and now there's the big tier-wide hotfixes coming up as well. What's the thought process that you guys use in determining when bosses should be nerfed? How do you come to the conclusion that, say, “X amount of guilds have killed Ragnaros, we need to nerf him. X amount of guilds are still working on Heroic Shannox, we need a zone-wide nerf”?
GS: We gather... I would call it a staggering amount of data on boss kills and number of attempts and things like that. We look a lot at how many new kills have there been for a particular week, like okay this guild couldn't kill Shannox before but killed him this week. The flows to those curves tend to be pretty steep at first because, you know, the really talented guilds roll in and kinda clear everything quickly, and then they start to slow down over time as you might expect, you know, not everyone gets a new boss kill every week, and then at some point they really start to plateau, and that is, the raiders now are just not moving. And we know that we risk losing raiders. They may not unsubscribe, but they may just stop raiding any time they hit a brick wall for too long.
Now, if you're Paragon, and you don't mind making 300 attempts, that's one thing, but a lot of raiders don't have that staying power. They're willing to wipe on a boss for a few weeks, but not for months and months and months for a boss that's early on in the tier. So once we start to see those boss kills fall off, we go in and selectively nerf things that players are having trouble with. We kind of want everyone to feel like they have finished Firelands before 4.3 comes out. That doesn't mean that every guild in the world needs to have killed Heroic Ragnaros, but we do want them to feel like they were making steady progression, and it wasn't like “Well, we killed 7 bosses, then we did 1 boss on heroic, and then we couldn't ever kill that second boss on heroic for 4 months.” I mean, that isn't fun, so we try to make sure that everyone feels like they're always making some level of progress.
So, with these nerfs coming into place... I know you guys don't like giving out dates, but should we at least be expecting to see a 4.3 PTR soon? Personally, my guild is 6/7 heroic. Should we be expecting several months of just one boss to work on, and then just farming the instance?
GS: Obviously it's going to depend a lot on when 4.3 comes out. Our hope is that we can make our patches faster and faster than we've done in the past. So, smart players might see that we're nerfing Firelands now and think that means that Firelands is coming to a close soon, but usually our patches are on PTR for a while, so there should be plenty of warning based on how the PTR is going of when that will actually end.
I have a theory about the Deathwing fight. It's been kind of alluded to a bunch, but never really spelled out, so I'm hoping you can help me out here. It seems like the idea is that the Deathwing encounter is actually going to be multiple encounters, and you'll be facing him at different points.
GS: You're on the right track. So, Deathwing is basically two bosses in this raid. He's boss number 7 and boss number 8. Boss number 7 is the fight where you fight on his back, so you're having to deal with him, and he's obviously there in the fight, but he's not sitting around breathing fire on you or things like that. Boss 8 is the final showdown with Deathwing, and this fight as well has many many phases. The first thing you do is fight one of his... so, back up a little bit. At this point, Deathwing is definitely hurting a little bit. His armor is falling off, all the raw corruption inside is kind of exploding out of him, and he's now something halfway between a dragon and an old god minion. He's kind of... we call him “C'thulhu Deathwing” at this point.
So you're fighting like, a tentacle, and then once the tentacle is down you fly kind of Skywall raid-style to a next island, and now you're fighting one of his claws, and then you move to another one and you're beating down a wing. And he's attacking you this whole time; he's spitting fire at you, he's breathing, he's got this big scorpion tail that he's jabbing you with, but he's so large that you're just knocking down a piece at a time until finally you've beaten every single part of him, if you're awesome enough to do that, and defeated him once and for all.
Awesome! So there's encounter number 7, that's on his back, and then encounter number 8 is hopping around through different parts and fighting off Old God corruption as well as bits of Deathwing. So there's 6 other bosses before that?
GS: Yes, that's correct.
Okay, so total of 8 encounters in 4.3.
GS: Yeah. The first several bosses are around Wyrmrest Temple. At this point, all of Deathwing's forces, from the old god minions to the Twilight Hammer, to the Twilight and Black Dragons, are all attacking Wyrmrest, and the players are on a strike team to kind of... this giant elemental comes lumbering across the landscape and you guys gotta take him out before he breaks Wyrmrest down. And you do a little bit of that for a while. Then, the forces actually get to Wyrmrest itself, and... I believe boss 5 is a gigantic Twilight Dragon that's flying around the top of Wyrmrest breathing on you while the players are defending the Dragon Aspects and trying to kill this dragon.
From there you get onto a gunship and are chasing Deathwing, and the High General, the commander of all the military forces of the Twilight's Hammer, comes down Rend and Gyth style and leaps off his drake to fight you on the gunship. And then you go on to the Deathwing fight, and then you go on to the Maelstrom fight.
Awesome! That sounds absolutely amazing.
GS: Yeah. We've never done a raid like this before. Our raids have almost always been a long hallway with trash, and then a boss room, and then another long hallway. This one is so different. It's very event driven. It's more scripted than location-based. A little bit like Hyjal, but even then you were kind of like, “Okay, we're in the Human area, and now we're going to the Orc area.” This one is a lot more like the bosses are coming AT you.
So I'm assuming then it's going to be in basically an instanced version of Dragonblight, outside of Wyrmrest Temple?
GS: Yeah, exactly. It's a modified Wyrmrest Temple that's under siege.
So I guess this is kind of an acute question, but... where do we zone in?
GS: No, it's a really good question, something we had to struggle with. We're doing three 5-player dungeons and a raid in this patch, and all the entrances are in Caverns of Time. Even though the raid itself takes place in “the modern day”, it made sense just to be there with the other portals. And since the players are allied particularly with the Bronze Dragonflight through this patch, we thought it made sense just to have that as the entrance to the raid.
Is there anything you can tell me about the 5-man dungeons?
GS: Yeah, they're really cool. Kind of like what we did with Icecrown where they built up to the actual assault on Icecrown Citadel, these are kind of telling the story of how the players get the Dragon Soul, which is this powerful artifact they need to defeat Deathwing. And the way they do it is they go back in time to the War of the Ancients, where Azshara was still a Night Elf, and the demons were coming out of the Well of Eternity, to steal the Dragon Soul. And because they're kind of screwing up time at this point, Nozdormu tells you at the end, “Okay, we totally messed up time, don't worry about it, I'll go fix everything, you guys just take the Dragon Soul and go.”
And then, in the next dungeon, you have the Dragon Soul, you hook up with Thrall, and together you're trying to reach Wyrmrest Temple -- this is another instanced version of Dragonblight -- while all the various minions of Deathwing and the Twilight Hammer, and ultimately the leader of the Twilight Hammer, who we haven't seen yet, try to stop you from doing that. So it'll hearken back a little bit to the Escape from Durnholde style of fight, but of course all new.
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4.3's Legendary Will be a Dagger for Rogues
2011/09/13 at 5:43 PM
The Escapist just posted
a huge interview with Blizzard
, explaining 4.3's bigger assets. It's worth reading--as it explains features we've head a lot about before, but the most interesting aspect was the discussion and confirmation of the legendary. It will be for rogues and it will be a dagger.
The LFR tool will be an easier difficulty, used just for the tool.
The Dragonflight are going to be uniting together to fight Deathwing.
The 5-mans will be more involved with the story than the WotLK 5-mans were.
Players will get unique achievements in the LFR--in other words, you can't form achievement groups in LFR.
J. Allen Brack, Lead Producer of World of Warcraft
: There's one more piece which is an announcement that we're releasing a rogue legendary weapon. Specific for rogues, so it will be a dagger. There will be some sort of quest, traditionally we've done these quests that players need to participate in order to create the legendary weapon in this case we'll be focusing on rogues that will try to make that happen.
: Do you know what it's called yet?
: We do not?
: How does it fit into the lore?
: We haven't decided on the name and how it's going to work, we just know that we really want a legendary weapon to come out of this tier and we really want it to be a rogue dagger. That's really all we know at this point. As time goes on we get a lot more lore, a lot more story, an "in" to the creation of all the legendary weapons. We really did a lot with the legendary axe that you got out of Lich King and then we've had other legendaries with the Cataclysm tiers that have.
After a lot of discussion and speculation, most people had thought it would be a multiple class legendary--perhaps something good for rogues, enhancement shamans, or even tanks. However, this dispels any speculation and brings back the glaives.
Edit: it looks like they've deleted the article, after several of us have posted it as news. It may be possible that it was old news from an old interview or that it was too early (they are under NDA until Thursday). I'm raiding right now, but I will try to keep up to date with news on this development.
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News Round Up: Diablo III Auction House News, BlizzCon Contests, and More
2011/08/01 at 2:33 PM
Finally, some news on Diablo III was posted overnight from Blizzard on
their official website
. The biggest news was that there will be an auction house that functions with real life money in addition to another auction house that is in-game currency only. They've posted FAQs about both features which tell you everything you need to know and we've included them below.
It's worth mentioning that this bombshell--real life money for items in Diablo III--has been received both extremely positively and extremely negatively. It's created a lot of debate and people are
divided about this. Personally, as a WoW fansite, we think this feature can potentially work for the Diablo series but should stay far away from World of Warcraft. However, that's just our personal opinion, and we welcome yours. We can see both sides of the debate clearly and understand people will have different view points.
Diablo III News
Diablo III Beta FAQ
What are your goals for this beta?
The primary reason for the Diablo III beta test is for us to test out our new hardware, see how the server–client infrastructure holds up, and look for bugs in the installer and patcher as well as the game. We’re also looking to get some quality feedback about the beginning game experience and how the different classes feel. The beta test will help us ensure that the release is stable and fun, and that we’re ultimately able to deliver the experience we intend with Diablo III.
How do I sign up for the Diablo III beta test?
To sign up for the Diablo III beta test or future Blizzard Entertainment beta tests, you first need to create a Battle.net account. You can then opt-in to the beta test for Diablo III, as well as beta tests for future Blizzard Entertainment games, through the beta opt-in process. To get started, simply click Beta Profile Settings in Battle.net Account Management. Please note that opting in to a beta test through this method does not guarantee that you will be selected.
If I opted in to the Diablo III beta, how will I know if I’ve been selected to participate?
If you are selected, you will receive an email from Blizzard instructing you to log in to your Battle.net account at
if you don’t already have one. You’ll then be able to download the beta client directly from within Battle.net Account Management. We plan on inviting players in waves, so if you do not receive an invitation in the beginning of the testing period, there’s a chance you might receive one in a later wave.
1,000 Diablo III beta keys were promised at BlizzCon; how do I know if I am a winner?
We will be sending out emails with beta keys to winners along with detailed instructions on how to access the beta test. Players who receive a beta key via email will need to create a Battle.net account, click “Add or Upgrade a Game” in Account Management, and enter the key there. The beta client will then be available for download from within Battle.net Account Management.
How long will the beta test last?
We have not determined an exact date for the end of the beta test. We will notify participants when the beta test is nearing completion.
How many players do you plan to invite to the beta test?
The number of players we invite will be based on our testing needs. If during the course of testing we determine we need more players to participate, we’ll invite more.
How are beta test participants selected from the opt-in pool?
Beta testers are chosen according to their system specs and other factors, including luck. Our goal is to have a good variety of system types to best test compatibility.
Which regions will be able to participate in the beta test?
All regions will be able to participate in the Diablo III beta test; however, to keep the process as efficient as possible, and ultimately to release the game as soon as possible, we plan to roll out the beta hardware in waves, starting with North America. This means that players outside of North America who are granted access to the beta test may experience some latency issues. Once the new hardware setup has been optimized, we plan to roll it out in additional regions. This should provide a solid connection experience for beta testers in those regions who are connecting to the new local hardware infrastructure.
What game content will be available in the beta?
You’ll be able to try out all 5 character classes and experience the early stages of Diablo III from the start of the game through the Skeleton King encounter. You’ll be able to interact with new and returning characters in New Tristram and fight the reawakened evils emanating from the cursed Tristram Cathedral. You’ll also experience the randomized elements of Diablo III as well many of the new system designs that take many of the core Diablo design elements to a whole new level.
Will the progress I make during the beta test carry over when the game launches?
No, the purpose of the beta test is to ensure that the game and hardware infrastructure are ready to go as soon as possible. The main benefit of participating is being able to be among the first to play the game extensively prior to release. However, everyone will start on equal footing once the game is launched.
Will the Diablo III Auction House be available in the beta?
Yes, we plan on testing the functionality of the Diablo III gold-based auction house during the beta phase.
Will Mac users be able to participate in the beta?
Yes, Mac users will be able to participate in the beta at the same time as Windows-based users.
Diablo III Auction House FAQ
What is the Diablo III auction house system?
Acquiring epic new gear for your characters has always been a big part of the Diablo experience. Because of this, players have found a number of different ways to trade and otherwise obtain items both within and outside of the game. Many of these methods were inconvenient and either tedious (for example, repeatedly advertising for a desired trade in Battle.net chat channels and waiting for responses) or unsafe (e.g., giving credit card information to third-party trading sites). With Diablo III, we’re introducing a powerful auction house system that will provide a safe, fun, and easy-to-use way for players to buy and sell the loot they find in the game, such as weapons, armor, and runes. Two different versions of the auction house will be available in Diablo III: one based on in-game gold, which players acquire through their adventures, and one based on real-world currency.
What’s the difference between the gold-based auction house and the currency-based auction house?
The gold-based auction house uses in-game gold for purchases and sales. With the currency-based auction house, players will be able to conduct these transactions using actual currency from an authorized payment method or from funds that have been added to their Battle.net account. Players can choose to participate in whichever version of the auction house they prefer, on a per-transaction basis.
How does the auction house system work?
Players can open the auction house interface from anywhere in the game to make purchases or list items for sale. Items can be sold from the shared stash (storage shared among all the characters on your Battle.net account) or from any individual character’s inventory. When posting the item, the seller picks whether it will be sold in the gold-based auction house or the currency-based auction house. The item is then held by the auction house system until the listing expires or a purchase is made. Items that are not sold are returned to the seller’s shared stash, and items that are sold are delivered to the winning bidder’s shared stash. In either case, the auction house system will deduct a nominal fixed transaction fee from the seller, the amount of which is determined by whether or not the item was sold (see below). For the currency-based auction house, players will have a few different options for how to pay for item purchases and receive funds for item sales, as discussed elsewhere in this FAQ. There may be differences in how this system will work in different regions of the world. We’ll provide further details at a later date.
How is the transaction fee determined?
A nominal fixed transaction fee will be deducted from the seller for each item listed in the auction house. This fee consists of a fixed charge to list the item, which is assessed whether or not the item is successfully sold, and an additional fixed charge that is assessed only if the item is sold. Because the listing portion of the fee is charged even if the item doesn’t sell, it will be in the seller’s interest to list items he or she believes other players will be interested in, and to do so at a competitive price. Specific details related to the transaction fee for the currency-based auction house will vary by region and will be announced at a later date.
Please note that we plan to waive the listing portion of the fee for a limited number of transactions per account. In other words, for these transactions, the seller will only pay a transaction fee if the item is successfully sold, and that fee will not include the listing charge. We’ll have further details on this as well at a later date.
Why are you creating a currency-based version of the auction house?
Our goal with all of our games is to ensure players have a highly enjoyable, rewarding, and secure experience. Acquiring items has always been an important part of the Diablo series, but the previous games have not had a robust, centralized system for facilitating trades, and as a result players have turned to inconvenient and potentially unsafe alternatives, such as third-party real-money-trading organizations. Many of the transactions between players and these organizations led to a poor player experience and countless customer-service issues involving scams and item/account theft, to name a few. To that end, we wanted to create a convenient, powerful, and fully integrated tool to meet the demand of players who wished to purchase or sell items for real-world currency, and who would likely have turned to a less-secure third-party service for this convenience.
How will the currency-based auction house work?
Players will be able to make purchases in the currency-based auction house using a registered form of payment attached to their Battle.net account. As with other popular online-purchase services, players will also have the option to charge up their Battle.net account with a balance of funds that can be drawn from for purchases of any digital product available through Battle.net -- this includes not only auction house items but also things like World of Warcraft subscription time and paid services, to name a few examples. On the flipside, when players sell an item in the currency-based auction house, the proceeds of the sale are deposited into their Battle.net account and can then be used as described above. Note that this process might be different for certain regions; we’ll provide further region-specific details as we get closer to launch.
Can players choose to get cash from currency-based auction house sales, instead of having the proceeds deposited into their Battle.net account?
Yes, as an advanced feature, players will have the option of attaching an account with an approved third-party payment service to their Battle.net account. Once this has been completed, proceeds from the sale of items in the currency-based auction house can be deposited into their third-party payment service account. “Cashing out” would then be handled through the third-party payment service. Note that this process will be subject to applicable fees charged by Blizzard and the third-party payment service. Also, any proceeds from the sale of items in the currency-based auction house that have been deposited into the Battle.net account will not be transferrable to the third-party payment service account. Not all regions will support this advanced feature at launch. Region-specific details, as well as details regarding which third-party payment services will be supported and the fee that Blizzard will charge for the cash-out process, will all be provided at a later date.
Is the currency-based version of the auction house optional?
Yes, the currency-based auction house is available as an option for players who wish to purchase or sell Diablo III items for real money. Players are also able to buy and sell items through the gold-based auction house, and they can trade items with each other as well through direct character-to-character in-game trading.
Why would I want to pay real money to buy or sell in-game items?
Acquiring items has always been a core part of the Diablo series' appeal. With the previous Diablo games, many players have shown a great interest in buying, selling, or exchanging items for their characters using real-world currency, turning to potentially unsafe avenues to accomplish this goal. The currency-based version of the auction house provides players with an easy-to-use, Blizzard-sanctioned way to collect money for items obtained while playing Diablo III. In addition, it helps protect players from scams and disreputable third-party sites by providing a secure, in-game method to search for and purchase items posted by other players that are a perfect fit for their character and play style.
The currency-based auction house is completely optional. Players who aren't interested in paying real money for items will still be able to rely on items they acquire through their own adventures, and they'll also be able to trade with friends and use the full-featured gold-based auction house.
Can I play on a server without a currency-based version of the auction house?
We want to provide a secure, fun environment for our players to purchase and sell in-game items using gold or real money and have no plans to divide the community. Players are free to participate in the gold-based auction house or the currency-based auction house, or to opt out of using any of the auction houses at all, progressing through Diablo III using only the items they obtain through their own adventures or direct trade with other players.
Does Blizzard plan to post weapons, armor, and other such items for sale in the currency-based version of the auction house?
The currency-based auction house is a place for players to purchase or sell items they’ve obtained within the game. Blizzard does not plan to post items that affect gameplay, such as gear or character-enhancing runes, for sale in the auction house.
Will Blizzard sell anything directly through the auction house?
We don't have any plans at this time to post items for sale in the auction house.
Does the currency-based auction house signify a shift in Blizzard’s business and revenue model?
We’ve always tailored our business models to match what we’ve felt would be most appropriate and effective for each game and in each region, and that’s the case with Diablo III as well. The item-based nature of Diablo gameplay has always lent itself to an active trade-based ecosystem, and a significant part of this trade has been conducted through unsecure third-party organizations. This has led to numerous customer-service and game-experience issues that we’ve needed to account for. Our primary goal with the Diablo III auction house system is for it to serve as the foundation for a player-driven economy that’s safe, fun, and accessible for everyone.
What’s Blizzard’s cut?
As with other online auction sites and real-world auction houses, our fee structure will vary by region. However, we plan to collect a nominal fixed transaction fee for each item listed in the auction house. This fee consists of a fixed charge to list the item, which is assessed whether or not the item is successfully sold, and an additional fixed charge that is assessed only if the item is sold. The listing portion of the fee, which helps encourage sensible listing prices and discourage the mass posting of items that are very low quality or would be of little interest to other players, will be waived for a limited number of transactions per account. For players who opt to have the proceeds of their auction house sales go to their third-party payment service account instead of to their Battle.net account, Blizzard will collect a separate “cash-out” fee. Specific details regarding these fees will be announced at a later date.
Why would I even want to use the gold-based auction house?
We recognize that not all players would prefer or have the means to participate in the currency-based auction house, and it was important to us to provide these players with a full-featured alternative.
Can we buy gold from the currency-based auction house?
Players will be able to buy and sell gold through the currency-based auction house at whatever the current market price is, as established by the player community.
If I no longer need an item I bought in the auction house, can I relist it in the auction house?
Yes. Once you've purchased an item you can do anything with it that you could if you had acquired it through your own adventures, whether that be using it yourself, or, after a cool-down period, trading it to another character or relisting it on either the gold-based or currency-based auction house. In fact, you can generally do any combination of these things -- for example, you can purchase an item in the auction house, use it for a while, and then relist it or trade it to another character. Aside from certain quest items, there will be very few (if any) items that will be “soulbound” to your character and therefore untradable. Please note that the duration of the cool-down period mentioned above will be discussed at a later date.
What Happens if You're Hacked in Diablo III?
We're not ready to discuss specific account support policies, but in short no small part of the auction house fees goes directly toward supporting the sales that happen. That means guaranteeing that items get from sellers to buyers, the funds transfer, but ultimately helping support and correct any issues that can crop up around it, including account compromise.
But to be clear there's no direct credit card purchases happening. You charge up your Battle.net balance to buy items from other players in the auction house (or build it up from selling items), but someone wouldn't be able to spend beyond what balance you have, and again we're fully supporting such situations.
We do hope people will take the appropriate precautions to protect their accounts, of course.
Molten Front Dailies Sword Speed
The reason for this confusion stemmed from a quirk in the way item hotfixes have to be applied, unfortunately. We hope to have the item's data completely corrected soon so others are not caught off guard by what the tooltip currently states.
Yes, obviously Blizzard needs to fix the tooltip on the pattern and the item if they're not going to just make it 3.80 like it ought to be. But, I think the real question ought to be:
Why isn't it 3.80 anyway?
At 3.80 speed, the weapon was over-performing relative to its cost and the ease with which it can be obtained.
We wanted this weapon to be roughly on par with weapons from the previous tier, since it can be purchased from the Auction House. It wasn't intended to compete as much with current raid drops, as it felt weird that a strength-based DPS crafted weapon was more attractive than some of its counterparts.
BlizzCon Contests Reminder
The wait is over for those eager to share their stunning sketches, masterful machinimas and amazing arias for a chance at glory in this year's BlizzCon contests. Head over to our Contest pages to submit your entry, and learn what kind of sweet loot you can win.  Any questions should be directed to
Don't delay! The deadline for each contest is
Good luck to all of our contestants!
BlizzCon 2011 Fan Art Contest
BlizzCon 2011 Movie Contest
BlizzCon 2011 Original Song Contest
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Patch 4.2: Ruthless Gladiator Season 10 PvP Sets Preview
2011/06/10 at 1:20 PM
With Season 10
as coming at the end of this month, we figured this was a great time to break the season 10 PvP sets out and show you how you'll look if you're a particularly
gladiator yourself. (In case you forgot, we previewed the weapons that go with these colorful sets back in March and you can see them
To help showcase the armor sets, we've put together a video showing each variation and we've also taken screenshots of each set along with links to our modelviewer. If you choose the modelviewer, make sure to view them in Java for higher particle effects--you can also set your own gender and race preview there so you aren't stuck at looking at either a female Blood Elf or a male Human!
Honestly, we think you're in for a bit of a surprise. While PvP sets aren't known for their beauty, some of these sets look pretty awesome and sometimes they look even better than their tier 12 counterparts.
Video Preview of all Classes
Continue Reading »
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The Regrowth and Molten Front Quest Hubs Preview
2011/04/28 at 8:08 PM
In addition to the
epic Firelands raid
Legendary staff quest chain
, Patch 4.2 will also bring two new daily quests hubs to the World of Warcraft -
! These new areas will feature over 60 new quests, four "unlockable" iLevel 365 gear vendors and will constantly phase the world around you based on personal progress!
Read on for extensive details on these new areas and learn how you can earn your very own awesome
Following the Cataclysm, Ragnaros's elemental minions assaulted Mount Hyjal in a bid to set the ancient World Tree of Nordrassil ablaze. Although the Guardians of Hyjal and their allies heroically repelled this invasion, their work on the sacred mount is far from over. In the newly healed Regrowth, Archdruid Malfurion Stormrage and his comrades have transformed the Sanctuary of Malorne into a staging ground for an assault on Ragnaros's domain: the Firelands. Thus far, their efforts have been frustrated by a resurgence in elemental activity that has engulfed the Regrowth and divided Malfurion's forces.
If Hyjal's defenders quell this counterattack, they have plans to create a permanent outpost in the Firelands from which to maintain an eternal vigil over the molten elemental realm. To do so, Malfurion's druids are planning to use an enchanted Sentinel Tree. With its roots sunk deep in Azeroth itself, this extraordinary tree's protective canopy will grow in the Elemental Plane, providing a much-needed shelter for the Guardians of Hyjal. Yet accomplishing such a feat will take weeks of brutal fighting against foes such as the treacherous Druids of the Flame, a splinter group of night elves bristling with Ragnaros's fiery powers. Regardless of the many challenges ahead, Hyjal's protectors and other heroes remain steadfast in their goal to establish a foothold in the Firelands. The safety of Hyjal and Nordrassil hinges on the campaign's success.
In patch 4.2, stalwart adventurers will have the opportunity to test their mettle at two new daily quest areas located in the fertile hillsides of Mount Hyjal and the burning depths of the Firelands. Known as the Regrowth and Molten Front, these areas will offer an unprecedented amount of daily solo content for level-85 players to enjoy -- including over 60 new quests, four "unlockable" iLevel 365 gear vendors, and a world that evolves right before your eyes.
Unlock Your Destiny
Like many of the daily quest areas already in the game, the Regrowth and Molten Front will feature several stages of content. Players will begin their journeys at the renewed Sanctuary of Malorne in Mount Hyjal, joining forces once again with Matoclaw and Archdruid Hamuul Runetotem to repel invading armies of elementals. From there, they must open a portal directly to the Firelands and establish a forward outpost that the Guardians of Hyjal, led by Malfurion Stormrage, can use to thwart further incursions by Ragnaros's forces.
Rather than these stages only becoming available after a certain period of time or at the end of a long quest series, players will instead get to use a new alternate currency called Marks of the World Tree to unlock them at their own pace.
from the Argent Tournament in
Wrath of the Lich King
, Marks of the World Tree can be earned by completing quests located in both daily quest areas. These marks can then be turned in to NPCs to open up individual daily quests, unique daily quest chains (detailed further below), up to four vendors selling a brand-new tier of gear, and important fortifications including a moonwell, an armory, and a legion of Ancients.
You'll have a lot of freedom in choosing what content you unlock and when, giving you more control than ever over your questing experience. What's more, this element of choice won’t only be reflected in the content you can access, but also in the world around you. As you help Malfurion's druids gain a stronger foothold in the Firelands, you'll start to see new NPCs and structures appear, and the fledgling Sentinel Tree planted at your arrival at the Molten Front will begin to grow into a massive protective canopy.
(For those who assisted the Shattered Sun Offensive in
The Burning Crusade
, these types of environment changes will likely feel similar to the transitions that occurred on the Isle of Quel'Danas.)
Personal Progression, Personal Gain
Unlike the Isle of Quel'Danas, though, which unlocked in stages for all players on an entire realm (at the same time), progression at the Regrowth and Molten Front will be completely personal. Your actions will have a
on what quests you'll unlock next, and how each hub will evolve visually.
To ensure that friends can play together even if they're not progressing identically, we've avoided separating players through phasing for all but a couple individual quests. The hub may look very different from one player to another, but they can all still adventure together. No matter where you are in the progression, the Sentinel Tree will be alive and thriving with fellow defenders of Mount Hyjal!
I Choose You, Druids of the Talon! (Or maybe you, Shadow Wardens!)
Within the Regrowth and Molten Front daily quest areas, players will have numerous options, both in terms of the content they unlock and what quests they might play through on a daily basis. One of the first places players will get to experience this type of "modular" gameplay is near the entrance to the Molten Front, in the forward base known as Malfurion's Breach.
In addition to your normal duties at this outpost, you'll also be asked to secure the aid of two benevolent orders stationed in Mount Hyjal: the Druids of the Talon, led by Skylord Omuron, and the Shadow Wardens, a fierce group of night elves under the guidance of Captain Saynna Stormrunner. This will be a pivotal point in your progression within the Molten Front and represents the first big unlock of new content for the area.
To secure the allegiance of the druids and wardens, you'll need to collect Marks of the World Tree to present to each order's leader. Once you've gained the appropriate amount of marks and turn them in, you'll unlock a unique set of daily quests tailored to either the Druids of the Talon or the Shadow Wardens. If you unlock the Druids of the Talon dailies, your journeys will take you into the shadow of the Furnace, an area wreathed in constant flame; the Molten Flow, a river of lava inhabited by flamewakers for as far as the eye can see; and Fireplume Peak, a floating island protected by hot-tempered fire hawks. If you opt to unlock the Shadow Warden dailies, you'll lay siege to the Forlorn Spire, wresting it from the enemy's grasp and establishing a new forward outpost. From there, you’ll be poised to attack the Widow’s Clutch, the breeding grounds for hordes of fire spiders, and Wildflame Point, a base of operations for the nefarious Druids of the Flame.
Once you've recruited both the Druids of the Talon and the Shadow Wardens, you'll have the option to choose which set of daily quests you complete
. You'll only able to be complete one set of daily quests per reset (either the Druid of the Talon dailies or the Shadow Warden dailies), but the choice of which path you take is up to you.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Earlier, we mentioned that over 60 new quests would be available at the Regrowth and the Molten Front. Since this is quite a lot of content -- almost half a zone's worth! -- many of these quests will be randomized into smaller groups. Out of 15 possible quests at a certain hub, for example, you might be able to pick up between three to five each day. This should help keep the content feeling fresh and fun, and your daily quest load a lot more manageable.
This randomization will also play off the environment. On one day, you may be tasked to bolster the defenses outside of Malfurion’s Breach against an onslaught of Molten Giants. On another, you'll be pitted against lava worms that have surfaced throughout the outpost. These quests will be based on the events taking place around you and are likely to change daily.
Rewards? I Love Rewards! Hippogryphs all around!
You'll be rewarded handsomely for your efforts in these embattled regions. In addition to all the new gear you'll be able to purchase from the unlockable vendors, you'll also receive an additional set of rewards upon opening up all the available content at both daily quest areas.
Players who take on this task will be presented with a stunning Flameward Hippogryph (shown below), as well a special one-time quest line that will explore the origins of Leyara, the powerful Druid of the Flame who commands the Firelord’s forces at the Regrowth and Molten Front, and why her hatred for Malfurion Stormrage burns so brightly.
After years of preparation and maneuvering, the Firelord's power is now potent enough to threaten Azeroth with a devastating invasion. The Guardians of Hyjal will require the aid of the mightiest heroes to have a chance of survival.
You've heard their call
-- will you answer?
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