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Diablo Season 1 launches Friday, August 29

Diablo 3 Transmog
The first Diablo III Season is scheduled to launch this coming Friday, August 29. If you're not familiar with the concept of Diablo III Seasons, it's a system designed to encourage rolling new characters and tackling specific types of challenges in the game. Season challenges include Conquests, accomplishments similar to Achievements but often more difficult in nature and only able to be completed by a Seasonal hero. There are also a new set of leaderboards documenting Seasonal heroes' accomplishments throughout the Season, as well as special gear and transmog rewards for participants. You can learn more about the first Diablo III Season in Blizzard's Patch 2.1.0 previews. Good luck to all the participating players!

Filed under: Diablo 3

The incredible aging demographic

Let me put it on the line - LFR and Flexible raid sizes are the most important raiding experiences currently available in World of Warcraft, and the upcoming Mythic 20 person raid difficulty is an atavism, barely even an appendix, that only a vanishing few players will experience when it is current. It exists for a sense of achievement and prestige that only a few players really have the time for anymore, and every year, that group of players gets smaller.

The reason for this is simple - as Tom Chilton put it, the demographic is getting older over time. People like me who played for the raid game back in classic are older. They have jobs, kids, schedules that don't permit the kind of time investment hard modes currently demand, the kind Mythic will demand. And it's not that you can't do cutting edge raiding in, say, six hours a week. I'm not arguing that you will have to put in 20 hours a week to do Mythic. I'm arguing that even scheduling one or two nights a week and being there reliably is actually really hard when you have other commitments that can often demand your time on a moment's notice - in essence. being able to go when you want/need to raid instead of when the group is scheduled to go is a huge boon to that aging demographic. For all the elitism, all the sneering, and all the slurs directed at the LFR player base, the feature allows people who love raiding but who can no longer commit to scheduled WoW play a place to do it.

You can ask if this is healthy for the game as a whole - whether or not your answer is yes or no, though, there is no escaping this simple fact. WoW is a decade old. Many of us playing it have been here for years now. Even players who started in Wrath or Cataclysm have now been playing for years. This is an aging game with aging players, this is the reality of the situation. And this means that more adaptive raiding solutions are going to keep presenting themselves.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor Beta: Patch notes for August 27th

They're here, and they're mostly a tuning pass.

The latest patch notes for the Warlords of Draenor beta are much less about sudden, massive changes and much more about getting damage and healing output where it needs to be for the live release of the game. So what are we looking at?
  • The pandaren racial Epicurean now increases the effect of buff food by 75%, down from 100%.
  • Typhoon's range was decreased to 15 yards, down from 30 yards.
  • Pretty much every single class saw some damage adjusted up or down.
We definitely seem to be heading towards release at the pace you'd expect for a November release of the expansion. Head on over to the official site for more details.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Rob Kazinsky says Azeroth sets "exceed every expectation"

Warcraft
Warcraft move actor Rob Kazinsky talked a bit with website zap2it about his impressions of the movie's set, at it's all positive. He gave a glowing review of the interiors, saying that they "were some of the most amazing grandiose things I've ever seen in my entire life." Kazinsky asserted that it was clear the Warcraft team "spared no expense on quality, on building things to be representative of the game and of the highest realism." He explains that there were plenty of green-screens in filming as well, and that plenty of the creatures involved absolutely needed to be digitally rendered, and couldn't be done with makeup. That probably comes as no surprise to those of us who play the game--it would be pretty tough to create a flying dragon outside of a computer!

It's good news to hear about how excited Kazinsky is about the Warcraft movie project. He was once an avid WoW player himself, and I'm sure it was a real thrill to be part of the project. Many of us are eagerly awaiting the film's release, so it's good to know that the people involved share our enthusiasm.

Filed under: News items, Interviews

The Queue: Big Blizzard, Warcraft RTS, and Alts


Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky (@adamholisky) will be your host today.

Let's dive into the deep end of the pool today and start tackling some of these questions and views.

Hyde asked:

Before the release of Wrath of the Lich King, a Blizzard developer talked about how they had some extra content planned in case the release of Wrath did not go they way they wanted. Now, we've had a very large dry spell of content without a peep about Blizzard having a back up this time around. Why did the company not have some extras? If Chilton is to be believed, they admitted to being "slowed down." Would it not be prudent to have something to fall back on?

Read more →

Filed under: The Queue

Around Azeroth: The Darkmoon fishing disaster of 2014

"What finer way to relax than trying to fish up a pony or two and some of Azeroth's larger specimens?" asks submitter Ucagru of Saurfang (US-A). "I also had the chance to do some impromptu stat taking; less than one in five people shot out of the cannon landed a bulls-eye. Seven gnomes, three belfs, one troll were harmed in the taking of this photo.* **

* I don't include undead, because they're already dead so I figure they don't count.
** One tauren also acquired a new nose piercing, but seemed to be quite happy with the look."


Want to see your own screenshot here? Send it to aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com. We strongly prefer full-sized pictures with no UI or names showing. Include "Azeroth" in the subject line to ensure your submission dodges email spam filters; if you'd like to be credited, also include your name, guild and realm.

Filed under: Around Azeroth

Breakfast Topic: Where to next?

Okay, now that we know that Blizzard is already designing zones for the next expansion, my question becomes this - where is it set? Where are we going? Back to some lost continent on Azeroth? The Emerald Dream? The Dark Below? (I never get tired of that one.) Argus or Xoroth or some other world entirely? The Azeroth that would result if the Horde didn't invade it thirty-five years ago, so we can see all those cool Alliance heroes like Lothar and Turalyon and Alleria? Sanctuary? (Seriously when is the Warcraft/Diablo crossover going to happen already?) Are we going to actually go to Nexus, the setting of Heroes of the Storm? Probably not. But where are we going?

Well, of course none of us know. But we can speculate. Where do you think we're going next?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Did you miss in Pandaria?: The broken burner

Shrine of Fellowship incense burner
Not long ago, Blizzard unveiled the action-packed Warlords of Draenor cinematic, a worthy follow-up to the one for Mists of Pandaria. But did you know there's an achievement that ties in to the Mists trailer?

Restore Balance sounds like it's just for druids, but anyone can earn it. The achievement asks you to "Visit the Shrine of Fellowship in the Jade Forest and follow in the footsteps of Chen Stormstout." What these cryptic instructions really mean is to find the in-game location where the Mists trailer happened.

Head northeast from Grookin Hill toward the mountain on your map. When you see Shrine of Fellowship pop up on your screen, you're in the right place. It's a flat, misty plateau with a prominent jade bell (it was featured in the cinematic).

Look for the Broken Incense Burner. You'll notice it's a bit crooked, just like in the trailer before Chen straightens it. Click on it to "restore balance" and you'll earn the achievement. I wonder if there will be a similar achievement for the Warlords trailer...

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

The latest season of Hearthstone ranked play ending soon

The latest season of ranked play in Hearthstone is coming to a close in just a few short days on August 31. This month's participation reward is the Chill of Icecrown card back seen above. You only need to hit rank 20 before the end of the month to earn the skin, which isn't a particularly difficult task. Losses prior to rank 20 don't cause you to lose ranking, so as long as you play enough to work your way up to that point, you have it in the bag.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Tom Chilton: Blizzard had hoped to have Warlords out a couple of months ago

In a recent interview with Icy Veins, Tom Chilton talked about Warlords of Draenor and one of the things he mentioned that struck me immediately was that Blizzard was hoping to have Warlords out by now. Specifically, a few months ago.
We did a good job earlier in Mists of Pandaria, having the content come at a more frequent intervals, and certainly we had hoped to have Warlords of Draenor out a couple of months ago. The reality is that scaling up the number of people that we have, to work on multiple projects at once has slowed us down. Honestly, it should have not come as a surprise to us. We increased the size of the team by 50% and the majority of those people had never worked on World of Warcraft before or any other MMO, so it is really difficult for them to create content right away, without getting up to speed.
This echoes what other developers have said in interviews and it interests me because one of the things we've bemoaned is the huge drought in content between the end of Siege of Orgrimmar and now - if they'd intended to have Warlords out in June, that would have been a fairly reasonable amount of time for a new expansion, really. (September to June is 10 months, long, but much more reasonable) and the idea that just throwing people at development doesn't immediately bring more content because they have to learn what they're doing makes sense.

I still feel like it's been a heck of a dry spell, all things considered. I really would like to see the alternate timeline where Warlords released in June.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Interviews, Warlords of Draenor