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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: New blood elf models delayed

sad belf priest
In a quick announcement over Twitter, Blizzard Senior Art Director Chris Robinson has confirmed that updated blood elf models will not be ready in time for the launch of Warlords of Draenor. Blood elves are indeed scheduled for an update just like all the player character models, but they will now be scheduled for addition into Warlords post-launch; perhaps along side another content patch. Robinson did quickly add that the new troll models are still scheduled to be in place at Warlord's launch, and we can expect to see an Artcraft preview of them as early as next week.
As unfortunate as it is that the blood elves are being delayed, I think it's understandable. As far as the older models go, the blood elves have held up rather well. There are other player character models in far more need of updating, so if something had to be pushed back, it's no surprise that it's the blood elves. Then again, blood elves are one of the most popular choices for player characters, so I'm sure there will be at least a bit of disappointment surrounding the decision. Never fear, though, we will get new versions of our favorite mana addicts soon enough, and until then, I'm on pins and needles to see the new trolls. Will my hunter finally be able to blink? I certainly hope so!

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Artcraft focuses on facial customization

One of the hot button topics when talking about the new character models is faces. Many players worry that when the customization comes in, their characters won't feel like their characters anymore. Blizzard has now released a new Artcraft discussing exactly how they're planning on dealing with that issue.

Our next big focus is doing justice to the facial options. With the original models and their simplistic geometry and low-resolution textures, a lot of facial expressions were simply painted on. Now that we've moved to higher-polygon models with lips, teeth, and fully articulated faces-not to mention higher-resolution textures-recreating those same facial options isn't as simple as painting them onto a flat surface. Previously, to get a sneer out of a model, you'd just paint a sneer on its face, and that was that. To do it correctly now-and make it look great-we have to fully pose a sneer, create a custom texture, and mesh that base pose with all of the existing emotes and animations.

So it's still a work in progress, but take heart in the knowledge that Blizzard abandoned their original plan, which was to release the new faces before customization was completed. "Our initial idea was to release the new models with their base face, and then add additional options in updates over the course of the expansion." That would have been a huge mistake, in my opinion. People would likely have been very unhappy with the uncertainty of knowing whether or not they'd get the face they identified with.

Head on over to the latest artcraft and check it out now.

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

Blizzard opens dedicated gamescom page

Coming this August, gamescom 2014 will continue the tradition of one of the biggest and most important video game conventions in the world. And this year, Blizzard plans on letting even people who don't get to travel to Cologne (it's in Germany) keep track of what they're up to at this massive con, with a dedicated web page for their presence, including livestreaming coverage. It's an interesting move for Blizzard, and an understandable one - gamescom is, on the whole, a big deal and it's likely that they'll be putting a lot of effort into their presentations there, so why not let people from outside the con get a look as well? It's just good PR.

This year's gamescom runs from August 13th to August 17th in Cologne, Germany. Dare we hope for a release date for Warlords of Draenor by then? Yes. Yes, we dare to hope for that. Maybe the cinematic? Why not? I'm from Rhode Island and I say release it all! Sorry, got excited, referenced Starship Troopers. it won't happen again.

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

Warlords of Draenor: Recruit Nat Pagle for your garrison

Anglers
The folks over at El's Extreme Anglin' have provided a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to obtain legendary fisherman Nat Pagle as a follower for your garrison in Warlords of Draenor. Over the years Nat Pagle has become somewhat of a beloved figure in World of Warcraft, and has been the focus of numerous fishing quests -- some obscure, some mundane. In Warlords, you're going to have to have him as a follower if you want a shot at fishing up the rarest and most difficult fish in the expansion: Lunkers.

To get Nat, you'll first have to unlock the garrison Fishing Shack, which becomes available at level 96. From their, your garrison fishing vendor will send you on a quest to catch a specific type of fish from a specific place. Once you turn that in you'll get a quest to go find Nat Pagle, and from there begins his recruitment questline. Once you complete all his requirements -- to fish up various Lunkers throughout Draenor using special bait -- you'll be rewarded with Nat as a level 100 rare-quality garrison follower. You'll also be able to start catching Lunkers throughout Draenor without using bait. No word yet on what Lunkers do, but my guess is that they'll be required for certain high-level cooking recipes, so devoted raiders or guild suppliers probably want to make sure to schmooze Nat into their garrisons! Happy fishing!

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Quests, story, and you in Warlords of Draenor

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.

A new expansion is certainly about delivering new content, but it's also a vehicle for story progression -- and the end of Mists of Pandaria left behind plenty of questions waiting to be answered. Unfortunately, any questions having to do with Pandaria or Azeroth will have to wait, as we have other, more pressing matters to think about. In Warlords of Draenor, the Iron Horde looms just over the horizon, a threat eerily reminiscent of the old Horde that began the First War so many years ago. Except the Iron Horde is stronger, more organized, and bolstered by the knowledge of just what's on the other side of that Dark Portal they are constructing, thanks to Garrosh Hellscream.

That story, the story of Warlords of Draenor, is taking us in a different kind of direction, the likes of which we haven't seen before. While Mists may have pushed the button on innovation as far as max-level content was concerned, its seemingly never-ending cycle of daily quests upon daily quests quickly grew from entertainment to frustration as players quickly grew tired of the cycle of daily gated content and rewards. Warlords has none of that -- but it does have a whole host of new ways to make the story feel important, without overpowering how the player approaches the game.

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains small spoilers for Warlords of Draenor.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Beta raid testing schedule for Monday, July 28

Raid testing for Warlords of Draenor will continue on Monday with two new scheduled encounters, according to a post made by Lead Game Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas. As with last week's testing, both encounters will be on Heroic difficulty, allowing players to bring a group of anywhere from 10-30 people in order to test the content. To get in the raid, speak to Nexus-Lord Donjon Rade, who is now also located in Dalaran, Shattrath, and both factions Vale Shrines, as well as Stormwind, Orgrimmar, and your garrison.

Oregorger from Heroic Blackrock Foundry will begin at approximately 10:30AM PDT, and the Twin Ogron encounter from Heroic Highmaul will begin at approximately 4pm PDT. Characters that participate in testing will have their effective level scaled to 100 for the purposes of testing, so no need to worry about gear or level. Keep in mind that testing periods are subject to change at any time -- so if you're interested in testing, keep a eye on the official forum thread for any updates.

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Filed under: Raiding, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: New login screen music

Adriacraft is at it again, digging up new models and music from the latest build of Warlords of Draenor. One of the more notable datamined pieces is a brand-new login screen track, labelled Siege of Worlds. While it bears resemblance and shares sections with the previous login track found on the beta, this version feels much more complete and includes several sweeping, intriguing themes right along with the now-familiar beat of the Iron Horde's war drums.

But perhaps the coolest part of the soundtrack starts at approximately 11 minutes into the piece. Long-time Warcraft fans should immediately recognize the familiar sounds of the human theme from Warcraft III, beautifully re-done with a triumphant flourish. It's a gorgeous new piece of music, but it's also a fantastic nod to one of Blizzard's beloved classics. Listen to the full theme above, and be sure to check out Adriacraft's channel for more from the Warlords beta.


Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Claws of Shirvallah cat form datamined

New female tauren aren't the only shiny new player character models this week -- our friends at Wowhead have datamined the new druid cat forms that will go along with the level 100 talent Claws of Shirvallah. The talent allows druids who take it to cast all non-damaging druid spells while in cat form, and the half-humanoid half-cat model is a visual indication of the talent's hybrid nature. The animations are fluid and certainly make the model look intimidating. The worgen snow leopard version is my favorite, however, I do wonder if the models will be available in all the same color variations of the normal cat form models, or if the colors displayed are the only ones.

While I can appreciate the skill and care put into these new cat form models, I'm not entirely feeling it, at least not yet. I just can't imagine my druid looking like that! Fortunately, it doesn't seem as if the talent is really relevant to my personal playstyle -- Lunar Inspiration seems more my speed -- but I can see how it may be very important for PvP'ers in particular. What about you? Are you going to grab Claws of Shirvallah at level 100? Is the model part of the reason why or why not?

Check out Wowhead for the full 3D models of all four forms in their modelviewer, as well as video of the new forms in action.


Filed under: Druid, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Beta raid testing rescheduled to Monday

According to Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas, the Warlords of Draenor beta raid test that was planned for today, has been rescheduled for Monday.
Raid Testing Schedule - July 25 (CANCELED)
So, sometimes things literally catch fire.

We were hoping we could get the servers up in time for the scheduled raid test, but that's looking unlikely. Servers should be up today, but I'd rather not speculate while everyone is waiting on the off-chance that testing will happen.

I'll post a new schedule for Monday testing, in a short while.


It's really unfortunate that the raid test had to be delayed - I was hoping to get a look at some of the new mechanics, get a feel for how raiding is going to work in Warlords, but I'll admit to understanding the motivation for postponing it. It's not likely that the servers will be as stable as one would hope, and sitting around waiting for them to be up doesn't make for a good, focused group to really test the content.


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

Latest Warlords beta build opens new zones, increases level cap

The beta forums are abuzz with discussion of an upcoming beta build -- the servers are down for maintenance this afternoon. Two new zones, Nagrand and Spires of Arak, will be open for testing, and the level cap is increasing to 100. The leveling portion of the beta is moving along at a steady clip now. Though there are still many major bugs with fixes in progress, nearly every leveling zone will now be open for testing.

In addition, the new beta build will be renaming beta realms for clarity. They will lose their unique names, and instead be given names that are simple descriptors.
  • Lost Isles (PvE) is being renamed to Beta Leveling Realm 01
  • Gilneas (PvP) is being renamed to Beta Leveling Realm 02
  • Mekkatorque (PvP) is being renamed to Level 100 PvP
While these clear descriptions are far more useful than their old names, I'll miss having the ability to personify Lost Isles. Cursing its name aloud each time it crashed was cathartic. Screaming Beta Leveling Realm 01 to the heavens doesn't quite have the same effect.

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Garrisons to allow for weapon enchant transmog


Starting in Warlords of Draenor, you'll be able to change your weapon enchantments or hide them entirely via the Enchanter Building in your Garrison. This is really nothing but great news for those of us obsessed with transmog. Personally, every weapon I own will now get the level 60 Fiery Weapon Enchant. End of story, end of game. I just beat the World of Warcraft, thank you, Jonathan LeCraft.


There's no indication on how much this will cost, and LeCraft said a "maybe" when asked if Death Knight runes will be included in this feature.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

New female tauren model

Female Tauren
The latest artcraft post has been released on the WoW official website, and it previews nothing less than the new female tauren model. This model update in particular has been highly anticipated, because the old female tauren models are...well, they're not all that expressive, are they? Fortunately, their blank bovine stares are all set to be a thing of the past. The new models take full advantage of newer texture-rendering capabilities, featuring gorgeous detail in the fur, a full range of facial expressions, and far more natural-looking hair. In addition, their hands have also been scaled-down, as Senior Art Director Chris Robinson notes that female tauren hands were particularly huge, even by WoW standards.

Head on over to the official site for the full preview, it's well worth your time.

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Goodbye, sacrificial demon to my demonology


In yesterday's changes to Warlords of Draenor we saw one of my most beloved spells be removed from a Warlock's demonology spec arsenal: Grimoire of Sacrifice. My Warlock relied on the Grimoire to take care of all his evil ministrations, and whenever he needed to kill something and get that blood urge out of him, his demon was always near by. It's amazing the thing never turned on him.

As far as the reasoning behind its removal, Blizzard has this to say:

Blizzard Entertainment
We were unsatisfied with Grimoire of Sacrifice for Demonology. Fundamentally, it did not fit Demonology's theme to sacrifice their pet, full time. We had toyed with ideas where it acted as a temporary cooldown for Demonology, but have decided to replace it with a new talent, which is more theme-appropriate, and fits well against the competition in that talent row.
  • Grimoire of Sacrifice is no longer available to Demonology Warlocks and has a new talent, Grimoire of Synergy in its place.
  • Grimoire of Synergy: When the Warlock or their demon deals damage, there is a chance to trigger Demonic Synergy, granting the other one 15% increased damage for 15 seconds.


Personally I think the change makes sense, even though I enjoy sacrificing my little demon. As to the Grimoire of Synergy, it makes sense too, but looks to be a lot less fun. It almost feels like an old-school talent too, which is interesting given Blizzard's move to get rid of straight up increases.

Update: Clarified that this is about the demonology spec.

Filed under: Warlock, Warlords of Draenor

Is BlizzCon bad for World of Warcraft?

Okay, I'm sure with a headline like "Is BlizzCon bad for World of Warcraft?" you're already thinking this is it. Rossi has finally snapped. But hear me out for a second. We've had BlizzCons since 2005, before The Burning Crusade was even released. While they haven't happened every year (there was no BlizzCon 2006 and no BlizzCon 2012) it's been fairly regular since its introduction. Last year, Warlords of Draenor was previewed at BlizzCon 2013 - for many of us it's the source of pretty much every opinion we have on the expansion.

That, in fact, is exactly what got me thinking that it's possible that BlizzCon itself is bad for the game, for the game community at large, and for the future of the franchise. BlizzCon, by its very nature, is a hype machine. It's where we learn details about the expansion - its name, its features, its setting and goals - before they are even close to being ready for players. People play demos. Developers give talks about the games. In many ways it's very exciting. I've never been myself, but most of my coworkers and a lot of my in-game friends have. So my argument isn't that BlizzCon itself is bad.

But looking over the past year or so, in terms of Warlords of Draenor and player interaction with it, I start to wonder if having the big reveal at the convention does more harm than good, overall. Expectations are set at the convention - looking at the recent player reaction to the news that Karabor and Bladespire wouldn't be capital cities in Draenor, the issue can in part be traced back to the fact that we were told they would be at BlizzCon. Players (like myself) had months to get excited about the idea of Karabor as a capital city. Then, suddenly, we were told (almost as an afterthought) that no, the capitals were moved to Ashran.

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

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: The terrifying, living world of Draenor

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.

We don't really know much about Draenor. Certainly we know plenty about Outland, the shattered remains of a world once called Draenor, but that shattered world is a mere remnant of what Draenor actually was. In the Warcraft cosmos, the only planet we are incredibly familiar with is Azeroth -- and even then, Azeroth holds plenty of mysteries and riddles that have yet to be solved. But Draenor bears very little resemblance to Azeroth, touted instead as a savage land on which we'll have to fight to survive.

That statement is far more literal than you'd think. And if you thought the Iron Horde was the biggest problem we were going to face on Draenor, you'd be very, very wrong. In a universe of benevolent Titans, bastions of order, what makes a planet fight not just with aggressive invading forces, but itself?

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains spoilers for Warlords of Draenor.

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition. The following contains speculation based on known material. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact or official lore.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor

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