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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

WRUP: And now, our feature presentation

This week saw a release date announcement for Curse of Naxxramas, the first adventure pack for Hearthstone. Release dates are fine and all that, but in more relevant WoW news, this week also saw the launch of a brand new beta build that opened up four new levels to obtain, two new PvE zones worth of quests, two model revamps, one PvP island, a mysterious portal, and a whole mess of new places to explore.

Sure, we already have a list of things to expect from Warlords, and a list of features we'll be seeing in the new expansion. But this week, in addition to asking everyone what they are playing this weekend, we decided to ask what one feature they'd like to see added to Warlords. How about you guys -- and what are you playing?

Alex Ziebart (@AlexZiebart) This weekend I'm taking it easy for the most part and spending time outside. When I am playing something, I'll be on the Warlords beta checking out Talador. As for new features? Real player housing is still something I really want after seeing it in action in Wildstar -- the amount of creativity some players pour into their lots is incredible. Though I'd accept a Karabor comeback as an alternative.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

The rise and fall of features in World of Warcraft

I've been playing World of Warcraft since its inception. As a result, I'm as likely to view the game through the lens of my experiences as any player. One of the reasons I'm so thoroughly anti-nostalgia is because I'm actually incredibly nostalgic. If I don't stop myself, if I don't actively make an effort not to, I'll drown in falling down the well of this is how it was and just spend hours annoying the crap out of people who started playing after me. In one guild, I remember doing exactly this - I would spend all raid reminiscing with the other old hands (there were like four of us) and driving the newer raiders crazy comparing fights to raids from BWL to Blackwing Descent. Remember - every fight can be compared to Omnotron. Every fight.

One of the ways this shows up is when any new feature is introduced to the game. As a writer for the site, I always try and stay objective about a new feature, and often, I come to love them - I'm a huge fan of transmogrification, for example, and when they announced reforging a few years back I knew immediately it was going to become a mandatory and huge part of gear strategy. But the fact is this - on an emotional level I hate every single new feature as soon as I hear about it, because they're not my World of Warcraft - it takes an effort on my part to be open minded and I don't often succeed.

As an example - I've written multiple posts essentially defending the decision to remove flight for a while in Warlords' 90 to 100 zones and leave it out. But the fact is, flight was introduced back in The Burning Crusade and I've gotten used to it. I understand and I support the decision from a design perspective. But emotionally? Emotionally I have flying mounts and I want to fly on them. I just plain like being able to shortcut all the things on the ground, even while I get why the design doesn't support it. This divide between what's new and most probably better for the game and my own desires while playing the game isn't limited to wanting flight, either.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Gorgrond preview

Fresh on the heels of today's Talador preview, we get a look at Gorgrond, forbidding home of the Iron Horde's industrial machine. Gorgrond is the next step for fighting back Iron Horde aggression -- after you've fought them off in Shadowmoon Valley or Frostfire Ridge, it's time to take the battle to them, and Gorgrond is exactly where you're going to do just that. Smash them Iron Horde. Smash them good.

But they won't just sit back and take it. In Gorgrond you'll come face to face with some of the most powerful and destructive weapons the savage world of Draenor had to challenge you with.

After withstanding the Iron Horde's initial assault, you'll make your way into Gorgrond with a handful of allies to try to discover the Blackrock orcs' intentions and find a way to thwart any plans the Iron Horde may have. It's a perilous recon mission. Gorgrond is a land of giants embroiled in an epic struggle between creation and destruction. It's the kind of place you avoid unless you have a death wish.

If there's one thing I know about players, it's that they can't resist going someplace conce they've been told not to go there. It's like candy to them. I expect we'll all flood to Gorgrond as soon as we possibly can. I for one welcome our new Iron Horde victims, and everything else in the zone that gets in the way, too.

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

NowGamer does Draenor/Outland side by side

One of the things I like the most about doing Shadowmoon Valley on the beta is the way it evokes the memories of Outland's version of the zone while clearly being a whole new place, designed from the ground up. Now the folks at NowGamers have put together a video comparing the two zones side by side.

It's cool to have because it does a much better job showing you how it is than telling you can. The way the new zone feels very much like the place before it got ruined, to the point where there's even places that were lost in the Outland version. And man, the elekks and talbuks in Shadowmoon make you feel sad for how much was destroyed and how only a few basilisks can eke out survival in the Outland version of the zone. Very much an elegy for a place destroyed when you see them side by side. Head over and check it out.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Warlords of Draenor

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick was nearly fired by Vivendi

Anyone who's paid attention to the roller-coaster that is Activision's relationship with its former owner Vivendi, here's a new wrinkle for you. Activision CEO and perennial villain in a million fans' hearts Bobby Kotick was nearly let go by Vivendi in 2013 over his refusing to sign off on any deal that excluded his own private investment group.

According to the lawsuit filed in Delaware, this allowed Kotick, Brian Kelly (Activision's Chairman) and their investment partners (including Tencent Holdings Ltd.) to gain a 25% stake in the company at the same rate that Activision itself paid for the remainder. This is claimed to have allowed them to get away with not paying a premium for control over the company. The lawsuit alleges that this is an improper benefit to Kotick, Kelly and their group.

What's really fascinating is that Kotick's stand on this issue, going so far as to threaten to resign in 2013, seems to have been seriously considered by parent company Vivendi. Former Vivendi CEO Jean-Francois Dubos and then-CFO Phillipe Capron were among those speculating on firing Kotick, with Capron going so far as to volunteer to do it the very next day after the email exchange in May of 2013. Considering he was one of the highest paid CEO's of any game company, I'm surprised they chose to back down -- perhaps his contract made firing him punishingly expensive. In the end, Vivendi blinked first and Kotick and his group got to make exactly the deal that they're getting sued over now.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

US Connected Realms update for July 15th

Another update to the Realm Connection list has been made, with realms scheduled to be connected on the 17th and 24th of July. As is always the case, these connections will take place on Thursdays, and are scheduled to occur between 5:00 AM PDT and 1:00 PM PDT.

This month's scheduled realm connections are:
  • Thursday, July 17th
    • Dawnbringer and Madoran
    • Zuluhed and Andorhal, Scilla, and Ursin
  • Thursday, July 24th
    • Deathwing and Executus, Kalecgos, and Shattered Halls
    • Gilneas and Elune
Also on the list but not scheduled yet are Malfurion and Trollbane, and The Venture Co and Maelstrom. As a player, I hope these go without a hitch as my main is on Elune.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Realm Status, Blizzard

The Queue: Orc rainbow

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

Monday! My favorite!

zubbiefish asked:

When, typically, do addons become usable in the beta? It's still very early yet, but I find myself missing some of my favourites. Opie comes to mind.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue

Sunday Morning Funnies: Here for the bruiseweed

Contested Territory
Sunday Morning Funnies is your weekly list of WoW-related web comics.

This week, in comics: Lil' Leftovers, a really deep pit, a new best friend, an offer to tutor and a game. Plus, a battle to the death!

This week's list is full of treats and extras. To start with, both From Draenor With Love and Contested Territory, which have been on hiatus, are back with new content!

We also have updates from some of the comics that don't post every week. WoW, eh? has another combat pet-themed comic up, plus both Sara & Kleeyo and Kibble & Bit have updated.

Rug has delivered another guest comic via Gnomeregan Forever, commenting on the IeSF's decision to segregate female gamers during the 2014 Hearthstone tournament.

Gratz has updated its Extras section again, with Warlords-themed artwork.

Finally, Chapter 1 of Best in Slot wraps up this week. Next week, we have been promised some cover art and maybe some other little goodies. After that, it will be straight on to Chapter 2 with no hiatus.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor, Comics, Sunday Morning Funnies

WRUP: A lonely time of playing

This week was a complex mix of big news and no news. Weeks like this are weird. Your intrepid WoW Insider staff assembles itself, ready to lay down the big news smackdown... and then nothing else comes to light. It's a weird mix of hurry-up-and-wait and "Oh, please, let something happen."

But the reality is that WoD approaches closer with every day. While there's obviously no release date yet, we're getting lots of information from the beta. So when we asked the WoW Insider staff what they're playing this weekend, we also asked them to opine on the state of the beta. Are we looking forward to the expansion as a whole new playground, or are we feeling like the not-time-travel expansion is perhaps a bit lackluster?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Editorial: On impractical playstyles and too much change

Adam recently wrote an editorial on why change is an essential part of the MMO experience -- after all, WoW is 10 years old at this point and not changing is more likely to cause problems than shaking things up. Change is what makes the game stay fresh and fun after all of these years and it's a large part of why those of us who are still playing WoW are still playing WoW.

Unfortunately, the flip side of that coin is that change can be taken too far. Change can alienate players who no longer feel attached to the game -- and no need to stick around long enough to relearn how to play something they used to love. It's a fine line to walk between changing enough to keep things new and not changing so much that your audience is pushed away... and it's arguably a line Blizzard crossed when many of the game's mechanics turned upside down in Cataclysm.

Is Blizzard doing the same with the upcoming Warlords of Draenor? With the beta in a constant state of flux, it's hard to tell -- but if we look back on the tumultuous era of Cataclysm, maybe we can learn something about just what these big changes mean for World of Warcraft.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Will we see a valor cap change?

Recently on twitter, Bashiok raised my hopes with a simple tweet.

Because frankly, this late into the expansion, getting an alt fully geared up should be something we can do at whatever pace we want. I get Bashiok's point about how it's not as easy as just flipping a switch, but frankly, I don't think the current valor cap serves much of a purpose. The weekly/total caps of 1000/3000 serve a gatekeeping role that was much more important back in Mists of Pandaria's salad days, when the content was new and we were concerned about getting metaphoric tummyaches.

Now, it's the equivalent of leftovers, and if people want to just pile on those leftovers, we should be applauding their efforts and letting them. I say, remove the weekly cap entirely, raise the total cap to 4000 and let people run wild if they so desire. Treat valor as a buffet. (I may have been hungry when I started thinking about this issue.) We'll see a complete redesign to Valor in Warlords anyway, so might as well just relax the gateway for now.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Artcraft previews the male draenei model


It's no secret that I love the draenei -- with getting a chance to play through Shadowmoon Valley on the Beta, they've leapt into the lead and are now my favorite race. Now, thanks to Blizzard's official Artcraft previews, we get a chance to look at the new draenei male. Having experienced it on the beta (as a work in progress, mind you) I already felt like it was a vast improvement. The proportions, the expressions, even the way the facial tendrils move is much, much better.

Head on over to the official site and take a look for yourself.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: New Ashran achievements

Wowhead has datamined a whole bunch of new achievements, and the ones for Ashran interested me greatly - since I did some level 100 PvP recently (I didn't do very well at it, but I think at least part of that is my sheer unfamiliarity with it at this point) I'm definitely interested in how Ashran turns out.

I assume one of those two Take Them Out achievements will eventually be switched to Alliance, and hopefully captain will be spelled correctly. (The achievements have different ID's.) It seems the Alliance gets to summon something called Fangraal (presumably this fellow), and there's something called The Everbloom where Kirin-Tor Battle Mages can die while fighting something called Yalnu (since there's an achievement for them not dying, I assume it's fairly easy for that to happen) - these are pretty tantalizing hints for what we're going to see once we get in there. I'm wondering if there's a Horde equivalent to Fangraal - possibly this Lifeless Ancient Protector, or this Ancient Protector (both are relatively close in ID and come up on a search for 'Horde Guardian')? Time will tell.
  • Ashran Victory: Kill the opposing faction Commander while controlling all points on the Road of Glory.
  • Bounty Hunter: Loot all the following off Alliance player corpses:
  • Bounty Hunter: Loot all the following off Horde player corpses:
  • Tour Of Duty: Complete each Event at the following areas listed below.
  • Just For Me: Activate a Class Specific Book Epic Item found within Ashran.
  • High-value Targets: Defeat all of the creatures within Ashran listed below.
  • Opperation Counterattack: Defeat Fangraal within 5 minutes of it being summoned by the Alliance.
  • Grand Theft, 1st Degree: Loot 100 Artifact Fragments from an enemy Player, and turn them in
  • Grand Theft, 2nd Degree: Loot 500 Artifact Fragments from an enemy Player, and turn them in
  • Grand Theft, 3rd Degree: Loot 1000 Artifact Fragments from an enemy Player, and turn them in
  • Divide And Conquer: Kill 5000 enemy Players anywhere outside the Road of Glory within Ashran.
  • Weed Wacker: Defeat Yalnu without any Kirin Tor Battle-Mages dying in The Everbloom on Heroic Difficulty.
  • Take Them Out: Defeat all of the Horde Captians within The Road of Glory listed below.
  • Take Them Out: Defeat all of the Horde Captians within The Road of Glory listed below.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Achievements, Warlords of Draenor

Why Testing Matters 2: The Beta Tank Bug

I did a post a while back on why beta testing matters. The point was, no matter how we might wish that the game could be finished and rushed out, you have to test this stuff in a controlled environment first. And this particular bug is a perfect example of why that is. Because on the beta servers, tank specs were unkillable gods.

We discovered a teeny tiny little issue with the Battle Fatigue debuff. Turns out, it was set to increase tank damage taken by -25%. Yes, that's an increase of negative 25%... which means that Battle Fatigue was actually reducing the damage tank-specced characters were taking.

This should now be fixed on Beta servers, which should make quite a difference. Let us know how things feel now.

That kind of error is exactly why the beta process is necessary and important, but moreover it's why it's kind of awesome - you see, stuff like this is terrible for game balance, but it's also astonishingly fun to discover and experience a few times. Yes, as a tester you should absolutely report it as soon as possible. But in order to report it reliably (it's hard to know for sure what's actually happening, after all, your combat log doesn't report that you're taking less damage) you need to repeat it. And that's really pretty awesome.

It's better -- far better, in fact -- that we get this stuff found out before it goes live. Even though I'm sure all of us with a tank spec kind of secretly wish it didn't. The feeling of being overpowered wouldn't keep us from the crushing disappointment when they found and fixed it.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Warlords of Draenor

My change from hardcore through casual

The time between expansions is a great opportunity to change your play style. You can become more proficient with PvP, learn to not stand in fire, or pick up a new class. It can be hard to find guilds to take you in as an undergeared, fresh class player, but things are also a lot more forgiving. You'll be under geared but with everyone else around you rocking some of the best gear in the game, you don't really have to worry about your gear being too huge of an issue.

For me, this is also a great time to switch between overall play styles. Back in Burning Crusade I was a hardcore raider. 25 hours a week of raiding, our guild made it into the top 150 in the world, and I'd tank like an army drill sergeant. When Wrath came around I floundered and had enough, I went down to being "mid core" -- the gray area between casual and hardcore. I'd raid with dedicated groups, but I wouldn't do more than 10 hours a week.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

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