Posts Tagged ‘World of Warcraft’

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WoW: Winter Veil Updated!

December 15, 2011

As you can find from Wowhead’s new guide to the 2011 Feast of the Winter Veil, a few things have changed in our beloved Christmas holiday Warcraft event.

The biggest change is to the former Abominable and beloved Metzen the Reindeer quests.  Where in years past you had to fight like a dog to just get the claim on the Greench to get your Snowman suit, that is no longer the case.  The once one time quest is now a daily quest and combined with the saving of Metzen.  So head on out to Alterac Valley, but make sure you bring your friends.  The changes to the Greench have made him much meaner.

He is now a level 85 elite with that hits fairly decently on a Protection Paladin.  While soloable by a tank correctly using personal cooldowns, he is definitely no longer a pushover.  Thankfully you do not actually have to be grouped up to kill him.  Learning from early mistakes, Blizzard has seen fit to “drop” the item required to complete the daily quest on the ground near the “Christmas Cave” after he is dispatched.

You may be saying to yourself, why do the daily at all?  In the past the quest was only there as a way to get the Snowman Kit in order to complete the Winter Veil meta-achievement.  It still does that, but the quest actually rewards you with a Stolen Present for you to keep as well.  The present can contain the new Lumpy (of coal) pet, anything sold in the Dalaran Toy Shop as well as any of the old yearly exclusive gifts.  That’s right, if you do not have a BB gun, or a Clockwork Rocket Bot, or a Mini Zep Controller you can get them from the bag.  The Clockwork Rocket Bot gives you the Feat of Strength for the 2007 pet, but the other exclusive gifts do not.

Good luck and go grab those achievements and that one Feat of Strength if you were like me and didn’t have it.

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Rallying Cry: A Mistake or Needed Cooldown?

February 25, 2011

With the 4.1 PTR now live we are able to see the newest changes to each of the classes.  There are changes to three of the 4 tanking classes.  However, the druid changes are basically buffs to their TPS abilities since they were so obviously overnerfed in a hotfix recently.  The Paladin changes deserve their own post.  So that leaves the Warrior Changes.  One Warrior Change in particular… Rallying Cry.

 

Rallying Cry
3 min cooldown

Temporarily grants you and all party or raid members within 30 yards 20% of maximum health for 10 sec.
After the effect expires, the health is lost.
(Shares a cooldown with Last Stand.)

On its face this ability is a boon for all specs of Warrior.  This solves our balance issues with Protection Paladins and their Divine Guardian.  This gives us a raid cooldown that is actually good and useful.  That is until we look at the fine print.  That “Shares a cooldown with Last Stand” part of the description.  Ahhh and there is the rub.  What are the ramifications of this?

1) Why does Rallying Cry share Last Stand’s cooldown?

By making these abilities share a cooldown Blizzard has solved one problem while causing another.  There is a reason why Divine Guardian also has fine print in its description.  Divine Guardian does NOT effect the casting Paladin.  Why?  For one reason and one reason only, because the developers did not want to give Paladins yet another cooldown they could use while tanking.

These abilities were designed to be used as raid cooldowns and not as personal cooldowns.  Thus by linking the cooldowns will force the cooldown to not be used as a personal tanking cooldown.

2) How does the linking effect Last Stand?

Unfortunately, this will cause other complications based on the overall design of this ability.  By linking these two cooldowns creates a paradigm where tanking warriors are now forced to make a decision between using one of their two tanking cooldowns and saving it to benefit the raid at a set point in an encounter.  Thus, for a good chunk of the more difficult encounters where a raid cooldown may be called for Warrior tanks will now be without a cooldown they would normally have.

3) What are the ramifications for Fury and Arms?

What of the other warriors inside your raid?  While Arms Warriors are not a spec that are often brought to raids for their stellar dps, fury warriors are.  Warrior damage is high and raids are bringing the “player” and not the “class”.  After this change will warriors be brought for their class?

We had similar circumstances back in Wrath of the Lich King.  Back then, all Paladins had access to Divine Guardian.  Paladins of all three specs were being brought to raids because of this.  Retribution Paladins in particular were being brought because of this.  Divine Guardian was so powerful that when the trees were redesigned the ability was given only to tanks.  Tanks and healers have a place to protect the raid.  Limiting and healing damage to the raid is their pervue.  The DPS pervue is to do damage and keep themselves alive.

I am not going to say that Rallying Cry will be to Warriors what Heroism/Bloodlust was to Shaman.  I will however say, that the ability will shift raid makeups considerably across the board.  Where there were once 1 DPS warrior in a 25 man raid, there will now be 2-3.  Where there were no warriors in a 10man group, there will be 1.

Raid cooldowns should remain in the hands of the Tanks and the Healers.

4) How do we fix this ability to be what Warrior tanks need?

First off, do we as warrior tanks need a raid cooldown?  Part of me wants to say, “No we do not.”  While the other part of me see’s Divine Guardian and says “They have one, I want one!”  What it really comes down to, will Protection Warriors be chosen more over Paladins if they had a similar raid cooldown?  I can’t help but to agree that they would.  Yet, that being said, is it a necessary addition to the game?

Personally, I am going to go with the “No we do not” sentiment.  However, it seems like we are getting this no matter if we like it or not.  So how do we make this ability workable within the Protection Warrior toolkit?

The easiest solution is perhaps the best solution.  Divine Guardian has fine print, just copy it and paste it into the Last Stand talent.  Create extra wording to the talent changing Rallying Cry from effecting the warrior if cast by him and preventing Last Stand and Rallying Cry from being up at the same time no matter who cast what.

Yes, it would be better if Rallying Cry was flat out attached to Last Stand’s Talent.  One talent to grant both abilities within the Protection tree.  Thus making it a Protection only ability.

5) What are the PvP ramifications?

I do not PvP regularly, but I can see some real issues within organized PvP.  Rallying Cry during an Arena Match could turn the tide.  Rallying Cry during a Tol Barad could do the same.  Giving upwards of 40 people 20% extra health will be as strong or stronger than a well-timed Time Warp/Heroism/Bloodlust.  Is Blizzard thinking everything as through as we’d like?

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Been gone too long..

February 17, 2011

With the release of FFXIV and it being pretty much Dead on Arrival, I took a step back from really posting.  To be honest, I had hugely high hopes for the game and its utter and total failure to bring even a modernized and playable version of FFXI to the table was more than a huge let down for me.

WoW is a game that just ends up bringing me back into the fold.  Not because WoW is an awesome game, but because other games just do not do anything WoW does with any polish.  I honestly, loved the “Asian Grind” that was the original Final Fantasy MMO.  FFXI had its grind, but it mitigated that grind with a heck of a lot of good story, cutscenes and missions that mattered both to the player and to the world at large.  Armor, Weapons and other rewards you got along the way, often times stayed with you for a long period of time.  A character in the game was permanent and was “all-in-one”.  You “owned” your character much more because you could grow with it.  Want to play a mage today?  Sure, just go to your Moogle and change jobs and level up!”  There was no rolling or rerolling when you wanted to change it up.

I was looking forward to that more than anything in FFXIV.  Alas, even that portion of the game was botched in my mind.  From the first day I entered the Alpha, I wasn’t impressed with the new “Armory” system of choosing your job.  Crafting as a “Class”?  It never made sense to anyone and it just didn’t work in the end.

That brings me to the simple fact about FFXIV.  It won’t recover.  The new development staff may be trying to tell us of all these changes they are making to the game.  However, it’s all smoke and mirrors and the game will probably never make it out of its “free to play” time it currently sits in.  While I know a handful of people who still play the game and are having fun with it, that is a small majority.  What those players have to say about the state of the game still holds true.  It’s not a great game, it’s not a good game, it’s just a game of hope.  They are holding out that the devs give them what they are telling them they are going to get.  Hope is all they have, because the rest of the MMO market consists of a handful of older games, that most have either played or have no interest in, WoW, or a couple of new games like DCUO or Rift.

Most players left WoW for XIV because they were tired of the Amusement Park mentality Read the rest of this entry ?

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WoW: A Brewfest Debacle

September 21, 2010

Yesterday was the beginning of the 2010 edition of Brewfest.  World of Warcraft’s little ode to the dwarf and their penchance for the over consumption of alcohol.  Now I could get all high and mighty and discuss the implications of aggrandizing drunkeness, but I won’t.  I will however point out Blizzard’s seeming ineptitude when it comes to this particular event.

Now, this is one event that was tidied up last year.  It was given a minor overhaul.  They took away some minigames and added a few new ones.  They managed to up the level of difficulty of the boss, Coren Direbrew to make him not a joke to those players who decided to partake in the farm-fest that was trying to obtain one of the rare event only drops.  The two mounts being the biggest rarities.


Woot Kodo!

The managed to fix this part of the event as well.  With the addition of the Dungeon Group Finder, we are now only subject to fighting Coren once a day per character to try to obtain these rarities.

“So what’s the debacle?” you are asking.  Well quite simply this:

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment

I’m sorry to say that, at present, there is no new Brewfest Stein for this year, nor is there planned to be.

Sincere apologies for any annoyance this may cause you, but hopefully some will be pleased by the ability to catch up on something missed out year.

This is the problem.  Many people want their “souvenir” or their Feat of Strength for obtaining the things that can not be obtained ever again.  I have a friend that is still pissed off at himself that he missed obtaining the 2007 Brewfest Stein.  Now to slap him and others like him in the face, you can obtain the 2009 stein in 2010?  What is Blizzard thinking?

Seriously, this is beyond lazy.  If you do not want to add anything to the event that’s fine.  If you do not want to take the time to recolor an existing piece of artwork and work it into the event as the 2010 Stein, that’s fine.  At least take the previous year’s stein out of the game all together.

This to me is a sign that Brewfest will not be around in its current form in Cataclysm.  Which is not something that couldn’t be foreseen.  The world is different come the escape of Deathwing.  The events we have seen for the past several years could be changing drastically with them as well.  You would think that Brewfest itself is a generally innocuous event that is held in an area that isn’t seeing much change.  Yet others will definitely be effected.  With Alterac and Tanaris being greatly changed could Metzen be getting a new “home” away from home as well come Christmas?

At least I got a Kodo on my warrior.  Five more days of trying on the others.  With this the warrior has all 3 Brewfest mounts.

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Beta Cataclysm: New Darkshore

September 1, 2010

A Whole New Can Of Paint –

New Look Grove of the Ancients (Complete with Flightpath)

Like most zones in Cataclysm, Darkshore has gone through a major redesign.  While most other areas in the game have changed dramatically, there are some areas where old quest lines remain.   These areas have one thing in common, most of them have felt the Cataclysm and its aftermath.  The war that followed has changed many other zones.  People have died in other places, but no other zone has seen such devastation to its former quest giving NPC inhabitants.  In part because of this,  there is not a single quest left from before the world was rocked and town of Auberdine so completely devastated.

Auberdine’s Death brings a new beginning –

Your experience in the new Darkshore begins in Lor’danel, the new Night Elven homebase in the zone.  This is not much of a town in comparison to what Auberdine was.  There is only an inn, a few tents and a conspicuously empty Night Elven guard tower.  There is no dock to be found in all of Darkshore now.  If you want to go to Darnassus or Exodar, all you have to do is jump on a flight path.  (Yes, I said that correctly.  Exodar is now accessible via flight paths from anywhere in Kalimdor.)  If Stormwind is you desired destination, then its a short hop to the remains of Ru’theran Village and hop on the old boat that now docks there.

Lor’danel is a much more lush and green “town” than its predecessor, but I would hardly call it a town.  It is more akin to a forward base.  It has a great deal of amenities, but lacks at least one major one… A meat vendor.  Questing through this area as a Worgen Hunter with my default Dog pet was tedious to say the least.  Finding meat for him to eat (and he only eats meat) was impossible without going to Darnassus.  Even the fauna that has survived the Cataclysm does not seem to drop raw meat nearly as commonly as they did before the changes.  It was only because I had kept a good deal of spider bits from the Gilneas experience.

Solving the Old Darkshore’s problems –

Catpath in action

Catpath in action

The biggest complaint about the original Darkshore was the sheer area of the zone.  Questers had to traverse the length of the zone many many times during their 8-10 levels they spent there.  The long narrow zone forced players to run North and then back to Auberine, then farther North and then back to town.  After that, they had to run south and back, farther south and back.  The tedium of this fact made many players turn to Bloodmyst as the main questing area after it was released in TBC.  Bloodmyst was a well designed, far more compact zone that had far better quest rewards, storylines and a much more diverse set of enemies.  Unfortunately, the developers thought it was better to mimic the design concepts that worked so well in the Death Knight starting experience.  This means heavy usage of the big staples that became used and overused in Wrath of the Lich King.

The zone is designed for players too low to have access to mounts.  Instead of just giving mounts to players at level 10, they have given both of the overly large 10-20 zones their own system of “easy” travel.  Thusly, like Azshara and its Goblin Rocketway, Darkshore also was given a system of “catpaths”.  Situated at several key points in the Northern Darkshore there are cat calvary guards that allow you to access these “catpaths” to most of the miniquest hubs that you are directed to.  This system solves one of the two major issues with the old zone.  The changes to the flow of the zone itself solve the other issues.

The Quests –

Phased In Malfurion & Friends

Phased In Malfurion & Friends

Lor’danel gives us a whole new look on the way Blizzard wants us to play the game.  This microcosm is both surprising and disturbing.  We are given a beautiful new zone, with a wonderful quest flow.  However, like so many other new Cataclysm zones (Hyjal, Vash’jir, Deepholm) if one quest is bugged, you can not continue in the zone.  During testing this has happened many times, and the nature of the bugs it will be extremely difficult for Blizzard to continually prevent this.  As evade bugged mobs have been a problem since the first day of Vanilla.  (It actually took 2 patches and a very inventive level 83 Fire Mage to un-bug a certain NPC in the zone allowing players to continue past level 15.)

The zone has many “phasing” aspects starting with the major ones in and around Lor’denal itself.  Most of the phasing has to do with rescuing and not rescuing the survivors of Auberdine.  It is completely unclear how much time has passed since the destruction.  Long enough for other areas of the world to have been wrought with war and for Auberdine to have been overtaken by Twilight Cultists and Air Elementals.  Yet, you are still asked to rescue former questgivers, flightmasters, innkeepers, etc from the aftermath.

As you rescue these npc’s you are continually phased and receive follow-up quests.  This is nothing new.  We have seen similar questing systems throughout Northrend.  To put it simply, the system is not as large as anything in Ice Crown or the Death Knight experience.  The phasing, with one large exception, is very subtle.  Mostly we will see the results of your efforts being visible in the world.  Quest givers and NPCs will appear, disappear and move as you progress through the zone.

Choose your own adventure? –

Questing in the Burning Strand

Questing in the Burning Strand

This fact makes the zone incredibly linear.  Which in my opinion is an incredibly bad thing.  Don’t get me wrong, the zone is wonderful and fun, but there is very little choice in how you progress.  This is a predominant theme so far in my explorations of Cataclysm in its entirety.  What was so wonderful about the game thus far has been stripped away by phasing and its resulting prerequisites.  Cool quests are fun no matter how you have to come upon them.  Yet there is something to be said about being able to choose to do 1 quest and not another.  To choose to go “here” before you go “there”.  There is basically one non linear quest hub in the area, but even it has a breadcrumb that only appears after you have completed several other tasks.  You can complete the hub without ever receiving the breadcrumb, but it’s obviously designed that you do it in an extremely linear manner.

Whats so wrong with getting our hands held through to level 20?  Well nothing really.  Yet it does get extremely old after a while.  The Worgen starting experience has improved leaps and bounds since I first played in months ago.  This time through it was much more informative and interesting from a story point of view, but I had my hand held by some unseen Blizzard developer the entire time.  This feeling continues on until you finish the zone completely.

Conclusion –

Yet Another Bombing Run

Yet Another Bombing Run

The new Darkshore is fun.  Well, fun may not be the exact word for it, but it works for this discussion.  The zone is interestingly redesigned, we get to see the little story points of the old zone leak in here and there.  The often difficult to get to Troll Village is now dance free and trying to expand into the Northern zone with the help of the Horde.  The Master’s Glaive is being excavated, and somehow the dwarf archeologist that stands 10 feet away from the Twilight’s Hammer is left untouched?  Some things just don’t make a lick of sense.  Which is what really hurts the zone.

It’s an obvious fact that Blizzard’s “timeline” for the game is completely screwed up.  Zones farther into your leveling experience in Azeroth take on a somewhat interesting view on time.  Originally it was seen as “time goes by as you level up and get ‘older'”.  With Cataclysm this is evident, as your experiences with Malfurion in Darkshore and then in Hyjal would attest to.  Time is relative as you traverse the world my friends, be wary to not get too entrenched at what came first or things will begin to unravel more than “How is the Lich King still alive when he’s dead?” quandary that most people are still harping on.

In the end, the zone was a let down.  The zone ran the gambit of quests from the “go kill 10 Twilight Cultists” to the “go fetch 10 pieces of crab meat”.  But these were fewer and farther between.  Instead we got loads and loads of gimmicks.  There are multiple vehicle related quests.  In fact off the top of my head I counted 3 and a few other vehicle related gimmicks tacked on.  These include multiple Sunwell style “on rails” bombing runs that have been so completely over-utilized that Blizzard really needs to take a huge step back and say STOP! The zone had its high points and low points.  In the end, what could have been an awesome ending with a good reward both in a piece of equipment and plotline payoff falls flat mostly because there is never any real danger.  Being lead around by a leash through 95% of the zone and distracted by gimmick quests and famous npcs does not make the zone anymore fun than it was.  Sure it is much improved.  Some of the gimmick questlines are quite interesting, but in the end the zone falls flat because of its linearity.

A few more screenshots from the zone after the break. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Beta Cataclysm: A Speedy Look At Tol Barad Peninsula

August 23, 2010

Thanks to a huge bug in the current version of the Cataclysm Beta, I thought I would highlight the bug by taking a quick jaunt around the new Tol Barad Peninsula area.  This is the Daily Quest area and it is now complete.  All enemies are now implemented.  The only thing that is currently not implemented are the actual Daily Quests themselves, some generic friendly NPCs on both sides.

Oh and there is no flight path or portal that connects the zone to the outside world.  The current thought is that this area is a glorified instanced zone.  This is more than likely the methodology that Blizzard is using to prevent any more large scale server lag issues that Wintergrasp caused for the first year of Wrath of the Lich King’s tenure.  By making this zone unflyable and only accessible through portals from Stormwind and Orgrimmar or through the Battlegrounds queue menu, they eliminate this lag.  The only problem is, that this now does not have the feel that Wintergrasp had, being a large part of the actual game world.

Is this a bad thing?  Would Northrend have been a better continent if Wintergrasp was on some island that was on a different server?

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Beta Cataclysm: A Look at Tol Barad [Updated]

August 14, 2010

The Addition of Tol Barad…

The latest Beta Patch has brought us the islands of Tol Barad.  What is Tol Barad you ask?  To put it simply, it is Cataclysm’s cross between Wintergrasp and Sunwell Island.  It offers two separate experiences, an Open style Player vs Player interactive zone with set objectives and a Daily Quest Hub when your faction controls the PvP zone.  Both of which are in extremely early phases.  You are only able to test the Pseudo-Wintergrasp timed PvP battle system at the moment.

Wintergrasp 2.0?

The encounter is a cross between Isle of Conquest and Wintergrasp.  The goal is to capture the island by taking control of the three “flag buildings”.  These buildings seem not unlike Isle of Conquest’s areas where eventually each one will give a specific buff to the controlling team.  However, this portion of the encounter is not yet functioning.  It is obvious from the lay of each Flag building that one will definitely involve added siege engine usage.

The second objective is to destroy the three “Guard Spires” situated around the prison island.  In order to do this you need to accomplish two things.  Just like Wintergrasp you need a “Pilot’s License” to gain access to Vehicles on the battlefield.  So get to killing those Horde (or Alliance if you swing that way.)  Then you must successfully pilot a Siege Tank from the center area of the Map to one of the towers and “transform” the vehicle into an Auto-Turret.  At which time the vehicle will continually fire on the tower eventually destroying it.

Pretty simple concept at the moment.  The battle system is far from complete.  It is beginning testing purely for a feedback as they develop it standpoint.  Right now each battle lasts 30 minutes and you control it for a specific amount of time afterward.  While these are obviously placeholder numbers, the current time you possess the zone after successfully completing either the Attack or Defense goal varies depending on how many successive times a faction has owned the island.   During the time you possess the zone the daily questing hub that is made available

A Sunwell Island without the Naruu.

The island is pretty well populated for the advent of its Daily Quests.  Whether or not this is going to match Sunwell Island and its slowly phasing motif is yet to be seen, but its an eclectic selection of smaller subareas all packed right on top of one island.  It has both a feel of all fitting together and not meshing well at the same time.

Because the Daily Quests are not available until 85, this area is currently untestable.  Well, if you really want to jump in the water and get eaten by the huge elite Shark with a wooden harpoon in its side and call that testing, go for it.

Otherwise, we can see that the island is a haunted one.  Everything from ghosts ready to jump out at you and say “Boo!” on a creepy mountain overlook, to the overly common graveyard with zombies and ghouls and one big Elite in the middle.  The area is entirely too cliche for its own good.  Right down to the entirely overused mechanic of the two factions fighting in a central area.

You also have the cursed living in several areas of the island just to even out the monster types that can be found here.  The only disappointment was there were no murlocs to be found.  I honestly was hoping for some Murlocs or Naga on the island.  It would only be fitting that they would be around.  It’s a damn island after all and it’s not far north of Vashj’ir.  At the very list some Kvaldir would have been a really nice touch here as it is an “undead island” after all.  They are much more interesting than the same ghosts and ghouls we’ve been seeing since the first time we happened across Darkshire.

The the biggest thing you will notice, is there is no return to the Vault of Archavon model here.  The draw here is to gain access to the daily quests so you may purchase the first tier epic rewards.  While they are nice epics, time will only tell if its enough of an incentive to keep people competing for control over the course of the expansion.  VoA was a wonderful idea, even if it did fail in terms of execution.  One can only hope that Blizzard learned from it and improve on the formula this time.

The island itself has some potential.  I am not a huge PvP guy though and if the Daily Quest Hub area retains the Open PvP of the Wintergrasp section, this place can go die in a very big fire.

Take special note of the new default raid UI.  With it you can quickly and easily dole out Raid Marks as well as handle your Healers, Tanks and DPS simply and effectively.  You can even hide and show individual groups with a push of a button.  The Raid UI is also detachable as well as lockable to any portion of the screen you desire.  Combine that with the Compact UI format and the default UI has come a very long way.

Edit: Looks like I was premature on the “no raid” part of Tol Barad.  New datamining has pulled a map of the Baradin Hold raid.  Which indicates that there will once again be a PvP based raid dungeon in Cataclysm.

Many more screenshots of Tol Barad after the break.

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