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Filed under: Blizzard

What will raiding be like in Warlords?

When discussing how the changes coming in Warlords of Draenor will affect raiding, we're of course looking at an incomplete picture. We don't know what new spells and abilities might come, we just know to an extent what won't be there - abilities like Skull Banner will be gone, as well many CC abilities, and healing will be greatly changed - casting on the move will also see a significant decrease. What we therefore need to consider is that raiding itself will have to change to embody these changing philosophies. It would be a disaster to alter class abilities and leave raids designed around the same high damage, high mobility kit we see in modern raiding.

But what will raid design entail? Well, I'm not a raid designer. If I was, I'd be super busy designing some raids. What I am is a guy who raids a lot, so I can give you my perspective as a dude who has seen every fight in the game at this point. What are we in for in Warlords, based on what Blizzard has said is changing, and what they intend to try and do?

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

Connected Realms update for March 13

The list of US realms slated for the Realm Connection service has now been updated with new information regarding upcoming dates for the service. Four new realms have been added to the pending list for realm connections, but as of yet, there's still no update to the realms that have been postponed.

The following realms are scheduled to be connected on Thursday, March 27.
  • Borean Tundra and Shadowsong
  • Thorium Brotherhood and Farstriders/Silver Hand
  • Sentinels and Kirin Tor/Steamwheedle Cartel
Read on for the rest of the connections and dates.

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Filed under: Realm Status, Blizzard, News items

How to learn what you're doing on a boosted 90

Look, it's okay to admit that in some cases, players who've pre-ordered Warlords of Draenor or even bought the level 90 boost are on level 90 characters that they don't actually know how to play. In some cases, this isn't the case -- if I used the boost, for instance, I'd probably know how to play that 12th warrior I boosted to 90. But if I were to boost my hunter, there would suddenly be 29 levels of huntering to absorb and take in, and if I were to use the boost on a rogue I'd hate myself for it and quit playing in a storm of recriminations. Also, I would have zero idea what I was doing on a rogue for the ten seconds before I realized what I'd done.

Now that I've had my fun, let's get serious - how would I play a rogue at 90? Or a mage, or a priest, or another class that I'd never played before? Well, there are resources out there -- WoW Insider has a rookie guide, for starters -- and there are other sites like Wowhead and Icy-Veins that can and do give you an overview of what your new class does.

There's also a very useful resource built into the game itself. Your spellbook has a great deal of information for you about what your class can do and how to go about playing it, that can get you pointed in the right direction to begin play. We're assuming you're a returning player who has not played in a while or a new player just getting started with this article - established players starting a new alt may already know much of this.

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

Warcraft as the anything-goes fantasy

I was playing Diablo III last night after playing WoW, because I hate it when days happen and I see the sun, when it occurred to me that the two settings are very different in a variety of ways, and one of the big ones is this - you could (and have) basically fit the entire thematic kit of the Diablo setting inside WoW, but you couldn't do the same in reverse. There's not enough room, for lack of a better word, for all of Warcraft inside Sanctuary. What do I mean by that? Well, Diablo as a setting has specific themes - the war between Heaven and Hell, Sanctuary created by dissidents from both sides, the creation of humanity by said defectors, and Diablo's plans to enlist or subvert humans to fight in said war between these polar opposites.

Warcraft has a host of demons that seek to destroy all reality that can easily stand-in for the hosts of Hell from Diablo, and the risen dead we see in places like Tristram is if anything small potatoes compared to the plague of undeath we see in the Plaguelands. But WoW contains multitudes that have little to nothing to do with them - the Old Gods are a completely different kind of menace and one that there's no place for in Diablo. Similarly, the many races of the Warcraft setting have no place in the cosmology of the Diablo setting.

Part of the reason for this is the origin of each game - while both have Dungeons and Dragons in their DNA, Diablo has always been a more straightforward dungeon crawl while Warcraft was originally an RTS with deep roots in the orc vs. human gameplay element. As an RTS, and one with two competing factions, new units helped create diversity and gameplay, and as a result having these new units be of different races gave flavor to the setting. Diablo has always been about you, alone in a vast dunegon complex or infested region, destroying waves of foes by yourself or with a small group - the variety came in terms of different kinds of foes to destroy and the ways you did so.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

Hearthstone demos on iPad at CN Hearthstone conference

At a Hearthstone conference (the CN Hearthstone conference, to be exact), Blizzard pulled out the stops and gave a demonstration of Hearthstone for the iPad. We've been hearing that the game will be on tablets since BlizzCon, but although there's a video you can watch here of the game running on an iPad, there's still no specific news of a release date for the device. Watching the video, it's clear that Hearthstone runs very well on the device, and is easy to control with the tablet scheme.

Alex Dai, Blizzard's General Manager for Greater China, had some comments about how game balance and new cars will be handled as well. Head on over to 2P.com to watch the video, or follow us behind the break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Hearthstone Insider

How much should an expansion cost?

We've talked about this briefly in a recent Breakfast Topic, but that's not the same as actually standing up and taking a position on an issue, and I (specifically, I, Matthew Rossi, not all of WoW Insider) do have a position on this one - namely, that this expansion will likely contain as much if not more gameplay, art assets, and overall design work as any game coming out, and that frankly the last couple of expansions have been under what they should have cost.

I didn't come to this decision in a vacuum, either - I come to it as someone who does not want to pay the price as established. I'm extremely penurious. almost outright parsimonious when it comes to money. I don't like spending it. So when I heard how much the expansion was going to cost (the day the pre-orders became available) I immediately balked at it. It's only ten bucks more to buy Titanfall, I said to myself, and that's a completely new game. And then I read this post by Kim Acuff (who often comments here at WoW Insider as Ember Dione) a developer on Skylanders, and I started to rethink my position on the relative cost of the expansion, how much it should cost, and the validity of the whole "as expensive as a new game" discussion.

Because here's the fact - each WoW expansion has effectively been a new game.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Diablo 3, Warlords of Draenor

Watcher on changes to raid soloing in patch 6.0

If you're like me, you do a lot of older instances for transmog gear, and as such fights like Thorim are exceedingly irksome because they can only be soloed with certain classes or professions (a death knight or hunter using a pet, an engineer with a target dummy, and some good luck on getting through the gauntlet fast) due to mechanics that you can't really outgear. Now Watcher comes with news about not just the annoying Thorim fight, but this tweet about Valithria Dreamwalker as well.

As a warrior who put together my Shadowmourne via running ICC 25 this past year, I hated Dreamwalker, the fight I had no chance of soloing and no way to get around. Making it skippable would at least allow me to kill Arthas for transmog loot and not force me to stop after clearing two wings. It's an excellent change and one I hope they get in.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Warlords of Draenor pre-order available on Battle.net


Update:

The pre-order is now live. You can get your character boost and pre-order Warlords of Draenor.

Original Article:


We've been getting a lot of tips that the Warlords of Draenor pre-orders are being prepped for, and based on our own excursions to the Account Management page of Battle.net, it seems to be the case - there's the little icon in the corner there (with perhaps our first view of the box art for Warlords of Draenor) waiting for us to click on it. Doing so doesn't allow you to pre-order as of this writing, however.

Based on this and the cinematic from Sunday morning, it seems like pre-orders and the level 90 boost are imminent. We'll be keeping an eye on this and if and when they come online we'll inform you.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Connected Realms update for March 7

The list of US realms slated for the Realm Connection service has now been updated with new information regarding upcoming dates for the service, as well as some minor rescheduling for one set of realms that was slated for connection this week. Realms that have been postponed indefinitely still do not have an update as to if or when they will be re-added to the connection schedule.

The following realms are scheduled to be connected on Thursday, March 13 -- players on Drak'thul and Skywall may want to note that their connection scheduled for last week has been pushed forward to this date.
  • Drak'thul and Skywall-rescheduled from 3/6
  • Dreadmaul and Thaurissan
  • Exodar and Medivh
  • Scarlet Crusade and Feathermoon
Read on for the rest of the connections and dates.

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Filed under: Realm Status, Blizzard, News items

Managing expectations and the evolution of discussion

In the run-up to Warlords of Draenor, we're seeing news of a lot of class and systems changes - discussion of what's being changed or removed has been one of the things we're very concerned with over here, for obvious reasons. It's also a subject of major interest on the forums. In fact, some people are accusing Blizzard of only posting the bad news in an attempt to create negative feedback, to get people talking. Bashiok addressed this idea recently, and it got me thinking about how we interact with game news in the first place.
Bashiok - Simplifying currency? That's the grand plan?
Well, actually, good news doesn't really create much interest, if you want to dissect it. But that's beside the point. We're obviously not intentionally releasing bad or angering information to try to get people riled up. That'd be silly. We do want to try to manage expectations. Letting people know far in advance that currencies are being streamlined gets that into people's brain meats early, and gives it time to sink in so that when they start seeing or playing that change it ideally isn't jarring and upsetting at that moment.

My point was that people discussing a change they have partial information about, debating the specifics, and questioning what it means, are not necessarily negatives. In cases where those are becoming destructive we'll generally try to provide some guidance to at least direct it back to a constructive conversation.


It's this idea of managing expectations that interests me, because over the years, I've come to see quite a few examples of people not doing it. To this day I'm convinced that much of the negative reaction to Cataclysm wasn't to the expansion's flaws (and yet, I admit it had quite a few) and more to the expectations people had for the expansion - expectations it didn't meet, because it wasn't trying to meet them.

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

Heroes of the Storm previews Warcraft heroes

I don't play many games in the MOBA/DOTA genre, but despite all better judgement I'm incredibly curious about Heroes of the Storm and can't wait to try it out. Similarly, I'm pretty excited by today's preview of the Warcraft characters that will be available to play. Being a total newcomer to the style of gameplay, I expect I'll be totally destroyed when I play no matter what character I choose, but I like the variety.

I'm surprised Sylvanas isn't on there. C'mon, guys, you gotta put Sylvanas in at some point -- we've got three night elves on there. Or maybe Alleria? I don't know, it just seems weird to me without a Windrunner. But I am happy to see Falstad again.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Heroes of the Storm

Community Manager Draztal leaves Blizzard

It's always a sad day when a member of the community moves on, and especially so when they're a well-liked and respected Community Manager. Draztal departs Blizzard today, as he told the world via Twitter.

Draztal has been a regular and an interesting poster on the EU forums for a long time. Clearly passionate and heavily involved in WoW, he posted on everything from minor fixes to major complaints, but what we knew him best for was his long, impassioned posts on player misconceptions. Never afraid to address the big issues, to wade into a heated discussion and impart some firm words, Draztal was a great force for level-headedness and good in the community.

WoW Insider wishes him all the best in his new adventure.

Filed under: Blizzard

Real ID Appear Offline option on the back burner for now

One of the questions we get asked fairly often in the Queue and other places is "Is Blizzard working on an 'appear offline' feature for the Battletag/Real ID friend's list?" I understand the desire for the feature: Sometimes I don't want to have everyone I know see that I'm online because I just want to chill and do something small-scale or by myself.

Sadly, it seems that feature is currently having some troubles being realized. According to Lore, it's hit some technical difficulties.

I'm fairly sad about this, and I hope they can eventually solve those difficulties and get this into existence ASAP.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

5 things I'm amazed WoW still doesn't have

World of Warcraft's tenth anniversary is this year, and with that milestone we've seen a lot of changes, additions, and growth -- the game now spans 90 levels (soon to be 100) and sprawls across the original two continents, Outland, Northrend, Pandaria and places like Deepholm. We'll be traveling to an alternate dimension soon. The game has auction houses, flying mounts, the Brawler's Guild, Proving Grounds, dungeons, raids, scenarios, transmogrification ... a lot has been changed and added over the years.

Yet there are some things WoW never did that I admit, I expected it to do before now. With the level 90 boost incoming, they added one I was wondering about (and which our own Adam Holisky basically predicted based on what other games were doing) but there are still features other games have had over the years that WoW doesn't. Some have seemed like real no-brainers, while others might just be based on my own weird ideas. None of these are things I necessary want or think are good ideas, they're just things I expected.

1 - User Generated Content

When I read up on Neverwinter's user generated content, I immediately found myself wondering why World of Warcraft hadn't taken a bite out of that. The Warcraft RTS was so infamous for player created maps that it spawned a whole sub-genre of games (if you play League of Legends now, that game wouldn't exist without the original Defense of the Ancients mod to Warcraft III) and yet, we've never really seen anything like that in WoW. I understand why Blizzard might want tight control over the game's story and content, but even something where players could submit generated content to be evaluated has never manifested, and I'm kind of astonished. To be honest, after Neverwinter announced its Foundry, I expected something like it for WoW, but I was wrong.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Diablo 3, StarCraft 2

Dev Watercooler: Building Healthy Gameplay

Following last week's blog on the stat squish and CC removal, this morning's offering is a Dev Watercooler on the changes to healing coming with Warlords of Draenor. As ever, the full post is after the break, but let's look at the key summary points here:
  • Player health has been increased relative to player damage and healing
    • This means that Resilience and Battle Fatigue can be reduced in PvP
    • The raw throughput of healers relative to player health has been reduced
    • The aim is for more "triage" healing
    • Burst damage and burst healing are lower.
    • These changes are being taken into account in raid encounter design
  • The healing of "smart heals" is being reduced
  • Mana efficiency of multi-target heals is being reduced
  • Low-throughput, low-mana-cost heals like Nourish, Holy Light, Heal, and Healing Wave, are being removed because they think that while they do add complexity, they don't truly add depth to healing gameplay.
There are clearly some huge changes. Hit the break for the full post.

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Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Warlords of Draenor

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