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Posts with tag Wrath-of-the-lich-king

Warlords of Draenor: Understanding Draenor Perks

What's the point of a Draenor Perk? It's a question that seems to be fairly common among players, ever since the bonuses were mentioned in the patch notes for patch 6.0. As players level from 90 to 100, each level will bring with it a perk. Each class and spec has nine perks, and by the time you hit level 100, you'll have them all. However, the order that you receive these perks is completely random. You can't choose the perk, the perk chooses you.

Wowhead dug up the full list of Draenor Perks for each spec and class, and the perks themselves seem to be pretty much the same -- bonus damage or a boost to specific player abilities. In many cases, it's just a flat percent damage boost. This seems all well and good, but players seem to be confused about the point of the perk system, since it looks a lot like something that was deliberately culled from the game a few years ago.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

WoW Archivist: Talents have come full circle

Circle of Healing
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

The Warlords of Draenor patch 6.0 notes have revealed the latest changes to WoW's ever-evolving talent system. Talents have remained a core system in WoW since its earliest days, the primary method that allows players to make their characters distinct.

In the beta for WoW and throughout vanilla, talent trees were a bit of a mess, as Archivist covered. Today, we'll examine how those early trees came to be expanded, refined, and then scrapped for a very different system. We'll also look at how Warlords is bringing back the earliest version of talent trees in a brand new way.

The golden age of hybrids

Talent possibilities exploded during The Burning Crusade. Ten more levels granted players ten more points to assign. Players could now combine abilities in ways that vanilla's trees had never allowed, opening up exciting new gameplay paths.

Players didn't choose a specialization like they do today. Instead, they assigned points to three different "trees." Each tree represented a spec, but each also had talents that helped the other two specs as well. So players could pick and choose just how far down they wanted to go in a given tree, and thus how much to commit their character to one spec. "Hybrid" builds were not ideal from a min/max perspective, but they were popular. And TBC was the golden age of such builds.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Cory Stockton's first draft of Dalaran

We've seen quite a few of these behind the scenes peeks at Blizzard's design process, from Alex Afrasiabi's pictures of his Benediction design and the Rhok'delar pages, to these pages from Cory Stockton and Jonathan LeCraft including Death Knight and class designs.

Now Cory Stockton's back with this, an early look at how Dalaran's layout was designed.

It's striking in how familiar it is, and yet places like the Dragon Embassy (later relocated to Wyrmrest Temple), the lack of clearly demarcated Horde and Alliance sections, and the presence of the Violet Citadel as a separate instance definitely set it apart from the Dalaran we ended up with. As always, interesting to see the game that might have been.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Machinima, Blizzard, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King

What If: Clash of the Frozen Thrones

I love doing lore columns, and I really enjoy doing Tinfoil Hat Editions of Know Your Lore -- I like the process of finding all the loose threads from expansions past and pulling them together in a way that is just weird enough to feasibly work. Sometimes, however, I come up with ideas that are just a little too far out there for a Tinfoil Hat Edition. Certainly they're interesting enough, but feasible? Not in the slightest.

When it comes to Warlords of Draenor, there are a lot of questions that haven't been answered. This is to be expected. We haven't even seen the beta for the expansion yet. We have absolutely no idea where that story is going to lead, other than commentary at BlizzCon suggesting that it will directly feed into the expansion following. Yet that tiny little comment, along with some thinking about Warlords itself gave me a theory regarding the next expansion. No, not Warlords -- I'm talking about the expansion after that.

It's entirely implausible of course, which is why I'm not sticking it in the Know Your Lore column. But what the heck, let's take a moment and ask ourselves what if -- and consider the possibility of Azeroth's greatest villain reborn.

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

Know Your Lore: The problem with story progression in WoW

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.

I've been working on an alt these past few weeks, leveling through content at my leisure and re-visiting storylines I haven't seen since the early days of Cataclysm. I started out in Azuremyst Isle, hopping over to Darkshore once I reached the appropriate level -- basically, once I'd gotten out of Ammen Vale -- and completed the entirety of Darkshore not because the XP was good, but because I wanted to see the entire thing again.

From there, I hopped to the Eastern Kingdoms, where I did part of Duskwood, most of Northern Stranglethorn Vale, and then up to the Plaguelands -- Western, then Eastern -- before hopping down to the Badlands. After the Badlands, I did a small portion of Searing Gorge, then hopped down to the Swamp of Sorrows and the Blasted Lands, where I hit level 60 and promptly went through the Dark Portal to Outland. Which is when I realized something -- if I were a new player, someone who had never picked up World of Warcraft, I would have absolutely no idea what the heck was going on. At all.

There's something really wrong with that.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

WoW Archivist: WoW in China, an uncensored history

Official Chinese WoW site
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

A few weeks ago, we learned that ten men had been sentenced to two years' imprisonment in China for hacking WoW accounts and selling the stolen gold. It was not the first time that hackers have been punished by the state in China.

The relationship between WoW and China has often been contentious, going back to the early years of the game. While most players there have simply tried to enjoy the game they love, censorship, politics, and illicit activities have all had an impact on their experience.

As we wrap up the Mists of Pandaria expansion, let's not forget that so much of the culture, history, and geography of the expansion was inspired by the real legends and landscapes of China. Today, let's look at the history of WoW in China -- a history as rife with conflict as Pandaria's own.

Pop stars and cola fuel WoW's launch

From the earliest stages, Blizzard had little reason to doubt that WoW would be a hit in China. When the beta signups became available in April 2005, approximately 100,000 people signed up in the first hour. The beta achieved 500,000 concurrent players.

For the Chinese version of WoW, Blizzard partnered with Shanghai-based company The9, who could better handle localization, support, and customer service. The9 launched the classic version of the game on June 7, 2005.

Coca-Cola partnered with The9 to promote the game. For their ads, Coke brought in pop stars such as Taiwanese band S.H.E. (already covered by WoW Archivist), Super Voice Girl winner Li Yuchun, and Olympic gold medalist Liu Xiang. Although -- or perhaps because -- the TV ads broke China's rules against showing game content on TV, the cross-promotion was a huge success.

(As a side note, Pepsi later struck back with a partnership with Guild Wars the following year. Reportedly, Guild Wars' closed beta was delayed a week in China after Coca-Cola complained about The9's deal with their biggest competitor.)

Within the first month, The9 reported 1.5 million active WoW players in China. Although many Chinese citizens had already been playing on Western realms, this was still a huge achievement at the time for a Western MMO in China.

Unlike the West, most gamers in China play in Internet cafes, and MMO subscriptions are almost always handled on an hourly basis. At launch, WoW authorization keys cost 30 yuan and gametime cards were 0.45 yuan per hour. That converts to about $4 for game access and 6 cents per hour.

Like their Western counterparts, China's realms had their share of launch problems. Long queues and lag plagued realms in the East, too. By early 2006, players had grown increasingly dissatisfied with The9 and threatened a boycott. The9 claimed that difficulty with communicating with Blizzard was behind poor realm performance.

Soon enough, poor realm performance would be the least of players' concerns.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Know Your Lore: Vindicator Maraad

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.

He isn't a faction leader. He isn't an important NPC, he doesn't offer any quests. He doesn't even offer any flavor text if you happen to click on him -- he simply stands aboard the Skybreaker, letting other NPCs do all the grunt work of handing out quests and tasks for players. He didn't make an appearance in Cataclysm, nor was he anywhere to be found in Mists of Pandaria. To those who simply play World of Warcraft, completing quests and moving on, he is a nobody -- a peculiar NPC that happens to have a name, standing silent and without any apparent purpose at all.

Yet despite not actually appearing in the expansion, he was the draenei paladin featured in the cinematic for The Burning Crusade. He has his own impressive, deluxe action figure from the DC Unlimited series. And it was revealed at BlizzCon that he will play a major role in the Warlords expansion -- one of a few draenei mentioned specifically by name. So just who is Vindicator Maraad, and why does he rate all this attention?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

What is World of Warcraft?

On December 23, 2004, I rolled my first character in World of Warcraft. It seems almost impossible to imagine that this was a little over nine years ago, but I still remember the day clear as a bell. A friend told me where to make a character and what faction to use, and offered me a guild invite the moment I logged in -- an Alliance guild that, to my knowledge, no longer exists. That began a journey that was a long, impossible at times, climb to level 60. Along the way, I made a ton of friends both in the guild and out, and when I hit level 60 it seemed like an incredible accomplishment. But as I shook off the haze of congratulations and cheers, I realized I had little to no idea what came after you hit level 60 -- and frankly, neither did anyone else.

Ironforge was the place to be. If you were Alliance it was the only place with an Auction House. Players spent hours upon hours outside the front gates dueling each other. There was no PvP as we know it today -- Battlegrounds didn't exist, so PvP was relegated to long, drawn out battles between Tarren Mill and Southshore. The options seemed to be as follows: Run Stratholme, Scholomance, and UBRS to collect your blue dungeon set. Go raid either Molten Core or Onyxia's Lair. And ... that was it. Needless to say, my next option was to roll an alt and find a raid guild. What other choice did I have, at the time?

As the game has progressed over the last nine years, those choices have expanded into a flurry of content that dwarfs everything that has come before it. And that makes me wonder -- just what is World of Warcraft, now?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

What we leave behind

I'm really concerned about Dog. Dog is the dog that I rescued from near starvation in the Heartland over in the Valley of the Four Winds. I was so excited to find and rescue this poor little guy that I even wrote a brief article about him at the time. Since then, Dog has been happily living the life of a king on my farm, and despite the fact that I was never able to name him, he seems to be happy enough to just respond to the name Dog, not to mention a few choice emotes. If you haven't already done so, try using /love, /pet, /bark, or /kiss on your puppy, because the result is adorable.

Actually, I kind of love everything on my farm. Shaggy the yak from Farmer Fung, the sheep from Chee Chee, the piggies sent courtesy of Fish Fellreed (who is still my favorite), and of course Luna the cat from Ella. Even the chickens, although they have a disturbing tendency to flop over dead due to phasing. I spent a lot of time building up the farm and making it the nicest little place to hang out, even when I'm not currently farming crops. It's a good farm. I had fun building it.

But I'm super concerned about Dog, because I know I'll be leaving soon.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: Pandaria's mark on Warcraft lore

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 little over two years ago, Mists of Pandaria was officially announced as the next expansion at BlizzCon to the puzzlement of many players. The idea of an expansion built around the pandaren race was a polarizing one -- some people loved the idea, and some were less than enthused. Although the pandaren were included in game lore as early as Warcraft III, there were those that scoffed at the idea of an expansion built around a race of giant talking bears, saying that they had no place in Warcraft at all. A year later, Mists was officially launched, and a little over a year after that, the events of Mists of Pandaria are wrapping up in a suitably dramatic conclusion.

And to the delight of many, myself included, this expansion has been anything but lighthearted and silly. Mists of Pandaria wasn't just a random expansion about giant talking bears, it was a revolution in the way that story and gameplay intertwine. While it may have had its faltering moments -- the inclusion of enough daily quests to make players dizzy among them -- the story took a life of its own, and the tale it told has definitely left its mark on future lore to come. Let's be clear, here: For a continent left cloaked in Mists for thousands of years, Pandaria has managed to work its way into the face of Warcraft lore in a manner that won't be forgotten, and has given us enough material to spur the story of the game for quite some time.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

A history of BlizzCon WoW reveals

It all started at BlizzCon 2005 with the above video revealing The Burning Crusade expansion. Some of you may only remember the cinematic trailers, but there has always been an announcement trailer comprised entirely of in-game footage. When Blizzard announced The Burning Crusade, they only revealed the new Horde race of Blood Elves. The Draenei were not revealed until about 6 months later.

Flying mounts, socketed items, a new race, and a new continent. It was an exciting time to be a WoW player. There were just 8,000 attendees that first year, which makes the Murky pet everyone received extremely rare. On the rare occasion when an unscratched card appears on the market, it can go for thousands of dollars. Also interesting to note that the canceled Starcraft: Ghosts game for PS2 and XBOX was playable on the convention floor that year. The Offspring performed in concert at the closing ceremony. The following year was one of the only two years since then to not have a convention, but BlizzCon returned in 2007 and was set to announce the most popular expansion yet.

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Filed under: BlizzCon

Mists of Pandaria on sale for $19.99 at Amazon, Gamestop

Get Mists of Pandaria on sale for $1999
Could you use a second copy of Mists of Pandaria? Do you know a friend who can? Right now, the latest World of Warcraft expansion is on sale at both Amazon and Gamestop for $19.99 -- not a bad price at all for the newest iteration of the game. And if you pick up the latest version of World of Warcraft on the Blizzard Store, the $20 program now includes the Cataclysm expansion. That nets you all expansions for $40, which is a pretty good deal as far as holiday gifts for gamer friends go.

Speaking of which, this is also a really opportune and inexpensive way to get yourself set up for the newly revamped Recruit-A-Friend program that should be starting at some point hopefully in the near future. Remember, the new system will be rewarding tokens that can be traded in for a variety of different rewards, so it might just be worth snapping up the game now while it's still on sale. You can head to either Amazon or Gamestop to pick up your copy.

Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

How long is too long for a raid?

How long is too long for a raid
I remember the year I spent in Icecrown Citadel. I'm not really exaggerating - it was from December to December, so about a year total. It was about the longest time I spent on a raid, including the days of Molten Core - for comparison, Molten Core was the only real endgame raid besides Onyxia's Lair from November of 2004, WoW's release date, until July of 2005, so roughly eight months. Interestingly, the Shadow of the Necropolis patch (patch 1.11) came out in June of 2006, so in the year between the first and last raids of classic WoW we saw MC, Onyxia, BWL, Zul Gurub, Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj, Temple of Ahn'Qiraj and finally Naxxramas. All of these raids released between July of 2005 and June 2006. Not all of these raids were replacements for previous ones - Blackwing Lair and AQ 40 were considered 'sidegrades' from each other, at least until one killed C'thun, who until the release of Naxxramas had the best gear in the game. The two 20 man raids, ZG and AQ20, did not replace BWL or evn MC gear, they just provided another place to go.

Because of the way raids were structured back then it's a little misleading to compare classic's raid release schedule with our modern one. Raids were something a very few players overall did - there was no parity between smaller and larger raid sizes, no LFR, no flex (although by the time Naxxramas came out, some guilds were running MC, Onyxia and even BWL/AQ with smaller raids to maximize gear acquisition before heading into Naxx) and the only way to gear up for raids was either to be carried through said raids by geared groups and handed all the stuff they didn't want or need anymore, or to start on the ground floor and run the level 60 dungeons. The design wasn't structured around raiding being accessible or allowing a larger group of players to see these fights - raiders got to see them, and if that was 10% of the people playing the game, that's what it was.

It's interesting to look at how players react to raid content now. A commonly expressed sentiment is that Throne of Thunder, a raid first released on March 5th, 2013, has been around too long and players are eager for new content. This is a raid that has been around for six month, and will be superseded around the time it enters it's seventh. While hardly the shortest time a raid has ever had to be run through, it's not much longer than the initial tier of Mists raid content, either. Mists of Pandaria released on September 25th, 2012, meaning that from October 2012 to March 5th 2013 we only had MSV, HoF and ToES - a time of about five months. What makes five months acceptable and seven months unacceptable? Are two months that much longer to raid a zone?

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

The false memory of WoW's difficult past

The false memory of WoW past
Vanilla raiding was not mechanically more difficult than current raiding. In fact, in terms of encounter difficulty, raiding in World of Warcraft has never been as challenging to remember and execute as it is right now. Fights like Lei Shen, Twin Consorts, Iron Qon, and Durumu ask players to learn mechanics and execute awareness at a level rivaled only by fights like Mimiron's Firefighter mode. And I'm not even talking heroic difficulty for those fights. Yes, it was often harder to get 40 people together, I'm not disputing that. But that's not design difficulty, that's social difficulty. The argument that WoW was objectively harder back then is beyond absurd.

I was there for all of those raids. I've raided in vanilla, in BC, in Wrath, and in Cataclysm. I've done hard modes and heroic modes since they were introduced. I'm neither the cutting edge progression raider nor someone who raids occasionally for fun -- I've been everywhere from a raider pushing for realm firsts to one leading a semi-casual 10-man while tanking. One thing I can and will say with absolute certainty is this: every single expansion to World of Warcraft has increased the complexity of the raid design.

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

Know Your Lore: Is Garrosh Hellscream corrupt?

Know Your Lore Is Garrosh Hellscream corrupt
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.

As the expansion rolls on, we are lurching towards something that we've known was coming since the beta for Mists of Pandaria -- Garrosh Hellscream's downfall and the Siege of Orgrimmar. Yet what we didn't know that day that were were informed of the expansions focus, is just how the new Warchief's reign would end. And as the patches have continued to roll out, we have more of an idea and a solid picture of both the Alliance and the Horde's place in this conflict. Make no mistake, Hellscream has made far too many enemies in his short reign, both within and without.

Yet there are those who point out Garrosh's actions and the possibility that his actions may not be under his control. That perhaps he's been corrupted by the Sha while searching for power in Pandaria. Or perhaps the bones of Mannoroth that Garrosh uses as his throne still have some vestige of darkness that lingers within. Or that perhaps the Old Gods have been slowly leeching their influence into Garrosh. Regardless of the methods behind it, there are plenty of people all wondering the same thing -- is Garrosh Hellscream corrupt? Are we going to fight the Warchief, only to discover a far greater horror waiting for us?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

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