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Filed under: The Burning Crusade

Do not panic about paid character boost prices

As of this writing it appears that the paid character boost will be priced at $60. Since this was taken down quickly and with no comment by Blizzard, it seems fair to say the following:
  • This was clearly not intended to be visible yet.
  • No announcement has been made officially about the actual price.
  • The pre-orders for Warlords of Draenor are not even available yet, so it's unlikely that the paid option will be sooner than those.
In a general sense, this is a non-issue: no price for the feature has been established. We don't know what it will cost, only that when servers briefly came up Tuesday morning, it was visible at $60. I know this because I personally saw it. But that's all we know - that price might have been an internal joke, a default setting, or potentially the price we'll end up paying for the service. Until the actual price is announced, it's not worth getting upset over.

In fact, even if the price was announced at $80, or $100, or even more, it's still not worth getting upset over. Here's why.

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

Know Your Lore: Draenor, as the draenei saw


The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

The draenei were barely a part of Draenor - despite naming it, they lived there barely a few hundred years before (in our history) the rise of the Horde ended their respite from thousands of years of fear and endless retreat across the universe. Draenor (Exile's Refuge, in the language of the draenei) ended up as a cruel, mocking joke of a name, for there was no refuge to be found there. In our history, barely a tenth of their people survived the orcs to escape to Azeroth.

Now a new history unfolds, a new day dawns, and we can follow where it leads. A new Draenor, one where the battle between orc and draenei has yet to be decided. But what do we know of the draenei on Draenor? Where did they live, how did they live? What were their settlements, what was their culture like? What, in other words, are we being given the chance to save? We can look at what we know from our trip to Outland and what we've been told.

We don't know the name for every old draenei settlement that existed on Draenor. There were quite a few of them, many of which only endured in the time of Outland's appearance in The Burning Crusade as ruins, and sometimes these ruins were renamed by their occupiers. Sites such as Eclipse Point in Shadowmoon Valley were once thriving draenei settlements - now even their names are lost. Until we make the trip through to the Draenor of Warlords, however, all we can do is examine what's left, and surmise based on it.

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Filed under: The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor

The case for catch-up dungeons

The 'catch up' dungeon was a commonplace design in Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm, one that's fallen out of favor in Mists of Pandaria to be replaced by the Timeless Isle and Raid Finder. It's understandable that this should be the case - designing a dungeon or dungeons is a lot of work, and it means other content (like, say, an open world zone like the Timeless Isle) won't be delivered. And as a catch up mechanic, the Timeless Isle is in many ways superior to a five man dungeon. Art assets were reused and gear randomized - you get a piece for your class and spec, but it's not necessarily ideal for them, so there's benefit to keep farming the zone. Furthermore, there's an upgrade mechanic in place (Burdens of Eternity) that will allow you to make pieces that are much closer in quality to current raiding, giving you even more incentive to keep running it.

However, I'm much more a fan of the catch up dungeon. As much as I like exploring on the Timeless Isle, there comes a time when you've explored all that you can, and the Isle stops having any use for you. Even for a dedicated alt-maven, it's lack of weapons (yes, I know you can get some weapons, but even after the upgrade in 5.4.7 they won't be very good) at a reasonable cost makes it less appealing to me. The Timeless Isle trades the random drop factor of catch up dungeons for near certainty - you will get every piece you want, eventually. It's an efficient and workable system and I dislike it. In comparison to Wrath and Cataclysm it lacks in the following areas:

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

Why Warlords of Draenor needs a pre-expansion event

Lately I've been thinking about Warlords of Draenor and how I hope it returns to the tradition of pre-expansion launch patches with big world events. Let me tell you a story.

I was talking with a friend about the period at the end of Burning Crusade when the crates began spawning in major cities. He reminded me that neither of us had really paid much attention - his guild was in the process of breaking up over M'uru/Entropius and I was tanking for a guild working on clearing Black Temple at the time. We were busy, is what I'm saying. So busy, in fact, that one day we found ourselves running for our lives from an Ironforge that was completely infested with the walking dead. Other players were now zombies. The auctioneers were dead. It was all chaos and madness.

Now, for a lot of people, the zombie invasion was a load of fun. It was new and different, something you didn't see in game every day. Some of my guildies went over to Orgrimmar and joined forces with Horde players they knew (Norgannon was a smallish and incestuous server in those days, all the Alliance and Horde players seemed to know one another) to form roving gangs of undead, laying waste to all, Horde or Alliance. They had great fun.

For me it was a huge pain in the rear end.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Lore summed up part 2 - The Burning Crusade


The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

If you were here last week, you know the drill. If not, here it is - we're covering the entire lore of the game, expansion by expansion.

Let's do this.

A world unlike our own

Were we prepared for what we'd find beyond the Dark Portal? The realm of Outland had a long and storied history, but it was a history no one on Azeroth had seen since Illidan went back following his battle with Arthas at the base of the Frozen Throne, where the Death Knight had proven the stronger and assumed the mantle of the Lich King. In defeat, Illidan had gone mad, or so the shade of his brother Malfurion had informed Remulos - mad and stewing in his humiliation, Illidan daily fought the battle again, and in his fevered rage was the victor, not the defeated. But this was all we knew, and it second-hand from Malfurion's trapped spirit. No one had seen Outland since the Third War, and the Dark Portal had squatted in the crater created by Khadgar's attempt to destroy it, seemingly inert since that time.

Then it opened. And demons poured out of it.

Dealing with the flood of demons was a momentary respite - both the Horde and the Alliance realized that their own squabbles were meaningless if the Burning Legion possessed a doorway to invade Azeroth. So both factions put together expeditions and seized control of the portal's Outland side, and for the first time since the end of the Second War, the Alliance and the Horde stepped foot onto the shattered world once known as Draenor.

But before they did, each side gained new allies.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore

Warlords of Draenor and the draenei

Okay, let's just put our cards on the table. The only thing I want to do with orcs in Warlords of Draenor is kill them. Bring on the Iron Horde for me to stomp on. I will eventually level my Horde characters, sure. But I'm not particularly interested in the Frostwolves and how the Horde is going to relate to them and the Horde's search for an identity somewhere between murderous lunatics and Thrall's happy fun-time frolic friends - it's certainly not a bad hook for a Horde storyline. But I don't care about it. We've had a lot of the Horde and their civil war and their struggle to stay united under Hellscream. It was often very interesting stuff - I very much liked the Dominance Offensive quests - and I'm glad we got to see it. Mists of Pandaria ended up being a very dark expansion in a lot of ways, with themes of personal responsibility and how good intentions can go bad, missed opportunities and the fog of war, and I thought that the Siege of Orgrimmar made a lot of sense.

I wasn't one of the Alliance players who was upset about the Horde rebels having a role in SoO. I don't feel like it diminished the Alliance story any to show us working alongside them, I wasn't bothered by seeing Varian's actions at the end of the raid. I thought it was all good and proper.

But frankly, I'm done with the Horde's problems. I play Alliance. I want to see Alliance stories. Horde players should have their stories, too, I'm not saying they shouldn't -- more power to y'all solving that whole issue of inheriting a legacy of murderous psychopathic lunacy from the Old Horde, that's gotta be rough for you -- but I am done. Because Warlords of Draenor has promised me the one thing I've wanted to see since Burning Crusade itself failed to deliver it, and that's draenei. Draenei cities, as they appeared at their height. Draenei culture, not the ruined remnants of it. The draenei we saw in BC were the ragged remnants cast adrift on Azeroth, survivors of a near total extermination. They were the embattled refugees desperately seeking a place to rebuild. I fell in love with them in no small part due to their tenacity and willingness to keep going, but I've always wondered what they were really like before the horrors Ner'zhul and later Gul'dan unleashed upon them at Kil'jaeden's behest. And at last, I'm going to get to find out.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, BlizzCon, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore, TFH: The Aspects of the Titans

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Y'all know the drill here - this is a speculative jam. Nothing in this is to be taken as what Blizzard is actually saying.

In the distant past, Azeroth was formed by the hands of beings potent even beyond gods. These beings, known to us as Titans, have left the evidence of their presence in many ways - huge, magnificent complexes of astonishing construction, races shaped by their will, the prisons that held Yogg-Saron and Y'Shaarj's heart, and much more besides. From the Mogu'shan Vaults to Uldaman, from the fantastic jungles of Un'Goro to the Sholozar Basin, including the magnificent Vale of Eternal Blossoms the Titans left their mark in the very structure of Azeroth.

Recently the black dragon Wrathion consumed the heart of Lei Shen the Thunder King, a mogu warlord empowered by the stolen power and knowledge of Master Ra (known as Ra-Den to them), a Titan Watcher similar to those left behind in Ulduar. When he did that, he spoke the following words: "We have fallen. We must rebuild the Final Titan. Do not forget." I've wondered long and hard what that could mean. But it wasn't until I considered the powers the Titans bestowed upon the five Dragon Aspects so long ago. Their control of life, magic, dreams, the very land beneath our feet and time's ebb and flow was so absolute that it beggars the imagination, and it also asks us a question - could they bestow this power, if they did not have it themselves, and more besides?

We casually discuss the vast oceans of time that separate us from the Titans. Untold tens of thousands of years, perhaps more - indeed, none can say exactly how far in the past the Titans began their ordering of the universe, much less arrived to create Azeroth. Sargeras had already fallen to be the Dark Titan over 25,000 years ago, but how far before that is unknown to us. But it brings a question to mind - how could such powerful entities seemingly vanish? Why have they left their creations to their own devices? Why are emissaries such as Algalon watching over their creation, rather than the Titans themselves? Is it merely that they are so distant from mundane mortal concerns, living on a scale vastly beyond our comprehension?

I submit it is something else entirely. To determine what, we must look at their actions, and the servants they've chosen to enact their will.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

The Queue: I forgot I was writing this

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Matthew Rossi is your "Hey, it's that guy" guy today.

So yeah, I totally forgot I was supposed to write this today. I was running some dungeons, and suddenly this bolt of terror rocketed down my spine. After I dealt with that ghost, I remembered I had to write the Queue for today because folks are getting to go to BlizzCon and once again, I'm not.

I'm not bitter about it, but I am wistful that I never get to meet any of y'all.

Anyway, let's do some Queue diving, shall we?

BlackSeal asks:
If they announce a new expansion Friday (which is almost a certain thing), do you think we will also see the cinematic for the expansion on Friday as well?

I can't recall if they had a showing of the Wrath, Cata and Mists cinematics that are currently in the game to kick off the expansion on the day of announcement at Blizzcon or not. (I am pretty certain the BC cinematic was shown as it is in the game at the time of announcement? Didn't we have to wait a while past Blizzcon for the Mists one? Uncertain as well about the others)

The cinematic almost always comes much later than BlizzCon. Wrath, Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria all had videos at BlizzCon that showcased the work already done on the next expansion, but none of them had the actual in game cinematic to the best of my knowledge. (I remember the Wrath of the Lich King video from BlizzCon very well, but I'm not as sure about Cataclysm. I do know that the cinematic with Deathwing's narration was not done yet.) So there will almost certainly be some kind of video at BlizzCon, and it almost certainly won't be the actual cinematic we get when Corgis Unleashed finally is released.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, The Queue, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Five features I really want from the next expansion

So everyone's handily speculating on just what the next expansion will be, and what it will have and not have. That's pretty awesome. I love speculating. So in the spirit of things, I've decided to throw my hat in the ring and natter on about what I'd love to see from the next expansion, whatever it ends up being.

Let's just jump right into it. What stuff do I think would be awesome?

An overhaul of the leveling/alt process

I definitely think we need to reconsider how we deal with alts. I'd love to see a system that reduced the time you had to spend getting them leveled once you got the first one to max - heirlooms work for that, but that long-rumored heirloom tab would make it a lot easier. Another thing which would definitely help are more heirlooms like Hellscream's Decapitator - our current heirlooms don't take us all the way to max level the way it will, and it's also useful now as a raid-level item an alt can make use of. It's an experiment I hope they continue.

I've seen some arguments that we should be able to start a high-level alt to skip over a lot of the leveling process, especially as we get closer and closer to the likely new level cap of 100. If that was implemented, it would need to be done carefully, but I'd definitely support some way to preview a class at or near max level so you could figure out if you'll like it or cut down on having to do the full 1 to 100 (or whatever it ends up being) march again.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Proc Weapons, How I Miss Thee

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Proc Weapons, How I Miss Thee
Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

Remember Gurthalak? Remember how it single-handedly propped up arms warriors at the end of Cataclysm? The proc on the weapon was really excellent, almost any melee who could use a 2h weapon wanted one. Admittedly, Gurth didn't invent proc weapons. Icecrown Citadel had some excellent weapon procs, Last Word, for instance, had an excellent proc primarily because it was almost always up - a proc that thematically owed a lot to the first real dedicated tanking epic warriors in Classic WoW would have wanted to get, Quel'Serrar. Quel's defense proc (back when defense was a thing) made it very desirable as a tanking weapon, second only to Thunderfury - and the legendary was so amazing because of its proc. It was essentially a super-Thunder Clap, great for aggro and for debuffing attack speed on targets, reducing damage taken by the tank using it.

Proc weapons have a long and stories history in World of Warcraft. One of the first weapons I crafted at level 60 was an Arcanite Champion, a weapon based entirely around its strength and heal proc. It replaced the Blackhand Doomsaw, another proc based weapon. As time has progressed, we've moved away from these weapons - stat based weapons have dominated, and for the most part that's for the best, as it's easier to balance stats. If one looks at the evolution of proc weapons, even in Burning Crusade those weapons that had procs still tended to have stats on them.

One of my favorite things about Dragon Soul was the proc weapons on Deathwing - they seemed special, designed less around playing statistical Tetris through reforging and more around visual flair as well as interesting damage output.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Warcraft as a whole: story balance between RTS and MMO

I was perusing the forums (like you do) when I came across this forum thread from poster Xewie, and I found it an interesting place to start thinking from. Xewie's points aren't entirely ones I agree with - I frankly found Mists of Pandaria one of the richest expansions in terms of lore and story and feel that anyone who dismisses it simply because there are pandaren in it is deliberately and willfully blinding themselves to an excellent ride with some astonishing highs and lows - but there's a certain truth in the points about the RTS vs. WoW itself. As others (including our own Michael Sacco) have pointed out, Garrosh Hellscream is really one of the first big lore characters we've had in World of Warcraft who was born in the MMO, evolved over its course and became a faction leader and finally an end villain.

I think part of the problem is that the RTS features these characters, so even when it kills a few (like Terenas Menethil) it offers up a few more. But the MMO features us, ultimately, so when we put down Lady Vashj or Arthas, there's no immediate replacement. To be sure, there have in fact been tons of new faces over the course of World of Warcraft - Ragnaros, C'thun, Nefarian were all first introduced in classic WoW, not the RTS. The problem is, we introduce these characters and then, well, we dispatch them. Sometimes, like Ragnaros, our first encounter with them isn't a final one, but even if we know they'll eventually be back, it's not like their luck will hold out forever. I called this the "Joker problem" once, and to a degree I think it is an issue for the MMO.

However, does it follow that we need an RTS to create stories? Since I think Mists of Pandaria did an amazing job of building up the story, and in fact I'm really much more of a Cataclysm booster than most, I don't agree with that idea. In fact, in many ways, WoW has done more to broaden and expand the Warcraft setting than the RTS ever did.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

How the Draenei make WoW a better place

How the Draenei make WoW a better place

The light wishes suffering on none, my child. But it does not reign unopposed in our realm
- The Prophet Velen


It's no secret that I dig the draenei. They're my favorite race in the game (my second favorite are tauren, with worgen in third) and in all honesty for a long time, I never really knew why aside from my having really loved the draenei starting zone when I first played through it during the Burning Crusade beta. I really enjoyed the feeling of camaraderie I got from the various surviving crew members, all pulling together to survive, and as the history of the long displaced race unfolded and linked up to their appearance in Warcraft III and the broken ones I'd already met back in my vanilla days running through Swamp of Sorrows, I was hooked.

I liked that they were in turns noble yet murderous - I've never forgotten that it was Velen, supposedly kindly and peace loving Prophet, who ordered my draenei to go find the blood elves and their eredar allies on Bloodmyst and eradicate them. Kill them all, Velen said to me, and I did it. They even threw a party for me afterwards. I liked that for all our obvious compassion, we still were deeply flawed - there was clear racism and disquiet aimed at the Broken, whose mutated condition filled some of our people with disgust - you could see it in how we shoved them into the darkest corners of the crashed Exodar and forced them to toil out of sight. The draenei were many things - linked to the man'ari eredar through a common origin, forever exiled from their home, hunted by their former kin - but their long relationship with the Naaru and the Holy Light hadn't made plaster saints out of the draenei. I liked their having survived the orc genocide on Draenor has hardened, but not warped them.

And to be honest, I just really liked playing in one. I like how they move, how they run, how they look in plate or mail (most of my draenei are warriors or shaman, with one paladin who doesn't get out much), how their racial Gift of the Naaru makes a sigil float over their heads, their combat animations (especially how they use staves or polearms) - but it wasn't until recently that I really thought for a while about why, exactly, I still hold such a fondness for the draenei.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

World of Warcraft's peculiar time dilation

World of Warcraft's peculiar time dilation
When you've been playing a game as long as some of us have been playing World of Warcraft, you get some unusual moments of realization. One of them occurred to me recently, when talking about the upcoming 9th Anniversary of the game this November 23rd. The person I was talking to said "Yeah, my mom showed me how to play, I used to fish for her on her hunter" and it came out that said person was 21 years old, and that she has been playing the game since she was thirteen. She has effectively grown up in Azeroth, at least part time - nearly half of her life has been spent playing this game.

Meanwhile, with each expansion the game has lost some players and gained others - there are people who started playing in Cataclysm and even people who started play this year (I know, I've met quite a few of them) and many of them have no idea how to even go about absorbing all that happened in those nine years. To people who've played all along, it all happened - it's part and parcel of the game, it's history we experienced. But to new players, the sheer volume of it all can be daunting - I've had players comment with disbelief when told about 40 man raiding, who don't really grasp just how many times class mechanics have been changed and revamped and altered. One healer simply couldn't grasp the concept of an out-of-combat resser, a healing character who stood back out of range of boss fights and resurrected people who died over and over again. For me, the trippy part of that conversation was reading a 21 year old relate stories of Molten Core to this newer player and realize they were stories of what she was doing in grammar school.

Of course, for me WoW is a game I discovered in my 30's. My early thirties, come to think of it, and now I'm well out of that decade. So we're all aging, but the proportion of time we spent playing the game is different - for me WoW is just one of many games I've played, and certainly not almost half of my lifespan.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Sunwell Soloing and I: How to skip Madrigosa's ice wall

Sunwell soloing and I  How to skip Madrigosa's ice wall
If you're a transmog junkie like I am, you may find yourself doing old content a lot. I've been running Sunwell lately for various pieces of the DPS plate set that dropped here, and one of the things I got really tired of was the big ice wall that Madrigosa puts up just before the Brutallus encounter. First off, it's not impossible to see through it, but it does kind of obscure the action. Secondly, I'm just cantankerous and contrary and I don't like it when some dragon from three expansions ago tells me where I can and can't go. Today, however, I discovered that I don't have to let her make that decision for me -- it's possible in fact to completely avoid the ice wall and drop down into the Brutallus area before she casts it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, The Burning Crusade

Know Your Lore: The History of the Warchief

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

This post exists because of the massive spoilers in this link, but the post itself will be spoiler free. As long as you don't click on that spoiler-heavy link, you will not see any spoilers in this post. (Edit - actually, there's one spoiler at the very end of the post - it's clearly marked as such, and it is a minor spoiler at best, but it is there. Let that guide your actions.) Instead, we're going to talk about the position of Warchief - how it came to be, how it evolved and then devolved, and how Garrosh Hellscream's reign as Warchief set the stage for what could be a completely new direction for his successor (whose identity I will not discuss).

The position of Warchief actually began as a complete figurehead, and the first orc to hold that position, Blackhand the Destroyer, was placed in that position due to his combination of physical fearsomeness and egocentric self-aggrandizement - so easily was he misled and directed by Gul'dan, head of the Shadow Council and architect of the Horde, that he never once proved himself a threat sufficient for Gul'dan to ever consider replacing him. It's not that Blackhand was either a fool or an idiot, he was in fact a canny tactician and a respected warrior. He simply believed his own hype - so convinced was he in his own superiority that when Gul'dan presented to him that he would be a respected equal and his position as Warchief would be one of real power, he believed it, because he believed in himself. Throughout the war with the draenei and later, the invasion of Azeroth, Blackhand ruled as Warchief and allowed himself to listen to Gul'dan's words - allowed himself to listen because they were telling him what he wanted to hear.

Even as the humans balked the orcs, and Blackhand's series of victories became defeats, he continued to listen to Gul'dan. This would be his downfall.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, Mists of Pandaria

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