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Posts with tag Zones

No new class, no new race, no problem

This is one of those title says it all posts, but I'll elaborate: the fact that there is neither a new class nor a new race in Warlords of Draenor isn't a problem. First up, there's the obvious fact that we're getting redesigns for the eight original races plus draenei and blood elves. In terms of art design, that's an incredible amount of work, far more than designing one or even two new races. Racial abilities for each race are also being redesigned, meaning each will play differently. Moreover, by not introducing a new race or class, we don't need to have a starter zone designed for them, meaning that content design can focus on content for the 90 to 100 player, especially since thanks to the level 90 boost, it can be assumed that anyone who picks up Warlords and wants to play it can.

As has been said elsewhere, new races and classes are not content in and of themselves. They consume time and development resources to create them, and often they have content associated with them, and that content is usually only playable when you create one of them (although the monk did not actually get that treatment - save for one location in Pandaria that offered monk only quests, as a kind of home base, monks didn't see the death knight starter zone style experience) but by themselves a new race or class is just a different way to experience content. This is not to say they are not important. New classes offer new gameplay options, new abilities and spells, and sometimes new roles for players who did not enjoy, say, tanking or healing on previous classes.

But I think it's fair to say that World of Warcraft doesn't need the added complexity of three new specializations to balance right now. There's going to be a lot of work needed to balance out new spells and abilities, adjust item levels, change the way healing works while ensuring it does still work, implement entirely new gameplay like garrisons without also figuring out how to keep another class in the mix with the other 34 specializations we already have. Similarly, while I mourn for my alliance ogre paladin and horde arakkoa druid, do we need two more groups of racials to balance out?

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

The top ten most desolate spots in WoW

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A little while ago, we did a "Top ten most beautiful spots in WoW" post, and many commenters had an interesting request: a companion post of the ten most desolate places in WoW. We thought it was a great idea, so we're taking the suggestion to heart. This was an interesting topic to think about, because the desolate spots in WoW are the ones I tend to avoid. For the most part, I don't want to spend my fun WoW time in virtual wastelands! Then again, sometimes those deserted, eerie places have a haunting beauty all their own. Check out our list, and tell us your own favorite desolate places in World of Warcraft!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore

The top 10 most beautiful spots in WoW

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World of Warcraft sometimes gets panned for its graphics, which have never been on the bleeding edge of virtual reality. This, however, was a deliberate choice on Blizzard's part, and I think it's a good one. It allows for people who are behind the hardware curve (such as myself) to enjoy the game, and the graphics' intentional cartoonishness holds up better over time than hyper-realistic renderings, which often seem horribly dated within months. More importantly, WoW's beauty hasn't suffered for it. Azeroth is stunning.

I've compiled a list of the ten spots I personally find to be most beautiful, and by spots, I truly mean spots, not entire zones. I expect many of you will have wildly differing opinions, and I look forward to reading about them. The ten locations are listed in alphabetical order by zone; there's no way I could actually order them - I would never be able to decide!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Breakfast Topic: What sort of zone would you create for WoW?

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I recently wrote a Breakfast Topic about your WoW Zone, where I asked you about your playing space. As I keep saying, I read all the comments on Breakfast Topics I write, and this time, one caught my eye in my eternal search for more Breakfast Topics.

Commenter Mix had assumed from that BT's title that it would be about what WoW zone you would craft in the game if you had a free rein to do whatever you liked. What a great question! Mix reckoned a zone that would be "an addition to the Goblin Starting Area or the Darkmoon Faire ... a rickety run down amusement park taken over by Gnolls or Troggs or Undead ..."

This sounds fantastic. I love the dark, eerie feel of the Darkmoon Faire -- in fact, I find myself far more drawn to shady, spooky zones than to happy, sunny ones like the plains of Mulgore. After massive overexposure to Firelands, I'm really not down with fiery zones, and I find forested zones a bit dull. The creeping blackness of the Sha in the Mists beta looks great, though; I like its incongruity in the lush world of Pandaria.

I also love snowy zones -- I like how your tracks remain in the snow -- so I reckon I'd want to create something like Darkshire but in a snowy area, with dark, greenish-blue tones and ghostly figures in a frozen world. It would be like Narnia might look if the Ice Queen had her wicked way!

What about you? If you could create a WoW zone from scratch, what would you make? The sky's the limit, and it definitely doesn't have to be inspired by existing zones. Go wild!

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Did flying mounts ruin Azeroth?

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The question of whether flying mounts may have ruined Azeroth is a hard question for me to even posit, because I love flying mounts. I love being able to fly right over things that annoy me, drop right in on quest objectives and soar right out again. I loved that we could finally fly in Azeroth when Cataclysm shipped, and I was absolutely in favor of being able to use my flying mount to skip over stuff I disliked when questing and leveling up.

But it's worth considering: Did that convenience that I so love come at too high a cost? Did being able to fly over obstacles keep me from appreciating how much detail went into the zones? Did it ruin world exploration, something that a lot of players got a lot of enjoyment out of for a great deal of vanilla WoW's run? Did incorporating flying mounts into Azeroth, in addition to forcing a complete redesign of the world, also end up stripping out interesting and cool places you had to really work at to find and visit? Let's discuss the pros and cons.

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

Cataclysm 101: Zone and instance progression

If you're sitting there at your keyboard right now violently coveting your upcoming Cataclysm experience and daydreaming of all the places you'll go, we here at WoW Insider would like nothing better than to aid and abet you in your wacky escapades. And since Cataclysm is launching on International Matthew Rossi's Birthday, who better to help you figure out where you intend to stream like an unstoppable torrent of locusts? Well, there may be lots of better options, but I'm doing it anyway.

Cataclysm has several new zones to experience and quite a few new dungeons to crawl through. Let's take a look, shall we?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm

Guest Post: Azshara revamp ushers in new level range, epic stories

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

I would hazard a guess that a vast majority of WoW players have never even been to Azshara. Honestly, since Molten Core is no longer a major raid zone and the Runes of Fire Lords just put themselves out, there really isn't much reason to. Those of us who raided in vanilla made weekly trips there to pick up our Aqual Quintessence, and I was also an herbalist, so I would spend another hour or so out there looking for Dreamfoil because of needing a bag full of mana pots to raid in those pre-potion sickness days.

Clearly, the zone was unfinished. There was one quest hub, if you could call it that, because there were only a very small number of quests there. Blizzard tried to bring people to the unused zone later on by adding in the level 50 class quests that led up to Sunken Temple -- but really, in the process of leveling, you could basically ignore Azshara and move on.

I hated the original Azshara because it was out in the middle of nowhere and fairly poorly designed. It was hard to get to places because of all the rocky cliffs, and passages up and down from the beach to the cliffs were too few and far between. It could even be dangerous at level 60 before The Burning Crusade's stamina inflation; lots of mobs feared and or put debuffs on you, and there were elites wandering around over huge portions of the zone.

Sadly the few fond memories I have of old Azshara are gone, as well. When Azuregos was up in vanilla, the entire zone would become a raiding guild, PvP fight zone as the top Horde and Alliance raiding guilds fought over who could tag him, killing flagged members of the group who got him, hoping to wipe them and inflict them all with the debuff. It could get fun and entertaining -- and one time, it even caused our server to be shut down.

Well, that has all changed come Cataclysm.

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Filed under: Cataclysm, Guest Posts

The Classifieds: She'll be coming 'round the mountain


The Classifieds brings you weekly news from around the WoW community, including your shout-outs to perpetrators of the famous Random Acts of Uberness.

Have you ever wondered what lies on the other side of the mountain? What's going on down there below your flight-path flyover? Wonder no more: The Glitch Hunters have arrived to show you the unspoiled areas of vanilla WoW in all their pre-expansion glory. Contrary to their name, The Glitch Hunters explore entirely on live servers with no exploits or trickery. They use simple tactics to gain access to difficult-to-reach areas, including Levitate, Slow Fall, vehicle mounts, Death Grip and the liberal use of pally bubbles. "We're traversing the continents and documenting all the weird and unique landscapes and borked terrain before the Cataclysm revision hammer destroys them for good," explains Glitch Hunter Alyssa of Dawnbringer (US). Explore the entire series -- now some six episodes deep -- on The Explorers League YouTube channel.

If the scenery of classic WoW leaves you feeling nostalgic, wander through our growing collection of galleries devoted to zones that will soon feel the sweeping hand of the approaching Cataclysm: Undercity, Scholomance, Eye of Eternity, Shattrath City, Sunwell Plateau, Azshara, Tirisfal, Redridge, Stranglethorn Vale, Western Plaguelands, Quel'danas, Trial of the Crusader, Deadwind Pass, Teldrassil, Tanaris, Blackrock Mountain, Thunder Bluff, Feralas, Mulgore, Moonglade, Ironforge, Westfall, Darnassus, Thousand Needles.

Vanilla WoW holds many charms -- but if it's more current news you're after, let's crack open The Classifieds!

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Filed under: Guilds, The Classifieds

Cataclysm Beta: New maps

Jolesole of raevyn.net (coincidentally a great source for Cataclysm info) has been datamining the latest beta patch, and he's found a whole bunch of new or changed maps for zones in the new expansion. Zones include Redridge Mountains, Westfall, Vashj'ir, and more. You can check them out in our gallery below.

Filed under: Cataclysm

Choose My Adventure: RIP Andrenorton

Choose the adventures of the WoW.com staff as we level our characters in <It came from the Blog> on US Zangarmarsh-H.

Matthew Rossi says he has stalled on his mage and would like the readers to choose his new class. We also need to know where to go at level 30, since Annephora is already there. But first, here's the remaining schedule for the week:
  • Fox Van Allen as Foxlight, the blood elf paladin: Friday, 8 p.m. EDT
  • Michael Gray as Grayfields, the tauren hunter, Adam Holisky as Adammentat, the tauren druid, and Gregg Reece as Yakkowakko, the orc warlock, will be making appearances as they can.
I've listed the zones for 30 to 35 questing along with how much we think they will change in Cataclysm.

Where should we go after level 30?
33 (0.4%)
Thousand Needles (heavy)1739 (23.6%)
Arathi Highlands (light)659 (8.9%)
Stranglethorn Vale (heavy)3363 (45.6%)
Alterac Mountains (light)296 (4.0%)
Desolace (moderate)1283 (17.4%)


Rossi's poll is after the break.

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Filed under: It Came from the Blog, Choose My Adventure

Roadmap to Cataclysm zone overhauls

Okay, how did we miss this?

We've been wondering about the level of change in each old-world zone for Cataclysm for months now, and the answer has actually been under our noses since BlizzCon. During the Art Panel, the above planning map was shown, along with some information to either side of it. We can't make out everything in it, but there's a lot of information if you know what you're looking at.

The zone colors, from what we can infer, indicate the level of overhaul each zone is receiving. Red is a heavy overhaul, yellow is moderate, green is light, and blue means a brand-new zone. The yellow stars indicate a dungeon, and the red stars indicate a raid. The white tabs each have a letter on them, indicating what in the zone was being changed at that particular point -- L for level, Q for quests, etc.

Astute readers will see some things jump out at them immediately, like Thousand Needles having two stars on it.

The full list of visible zone changes after the break, along with other pertinent info.

Disclaimer: While this image was captured during the BlizzCon 2009 Art Panel, the capture displays a photo taken by Blizzard staff, which is undated. We don't know if it was a day before BlizzCon 2009 or six months before. Things could have changed between when this picture was taken and when this article was published.

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Filed under: News items, BlizzCon, Cataclysm

WoW Ratings lets you rate anything in Azeroth


I had an idea like this one -- a site that would allow you to rate anything at all (from a new movie to the casserole your aunt makes), and then let other people share their own opinions about whatever you rated. My idea never got off the ground (standard operating procedure for the idea mill I call my mind), but reader Antoine apparently had the same idea, and built it specifically for the WoW universe. WoW Ratings is kind of a silly site with some interesting outcomes: basically it's a database of everything in the game, from bosses to zones to game features or what have you, and you can come along and rate whatever you want on a scale of 1 to 5. The ratings don't actually mean anything (though Antoine has them listed as qualities from Uncommon up to Legendary), so it's really just a broad temperature-taking of the World (of Warcraft) at large.

The most interesting screen is probably the "Best and Worst" screen (which you can reach by clicking on the toolbar at the top of the homepage -- note to Antoine: permalinks are your friend, scale back on the javascript), where, as of this writing, Hakkar the Soulflayer is sitting on top of the heap, and the Voice Chat patch and Darnassus are sitting in the bottom 10. No Fandral Staghelm yet, strangely, but I'm sure things will get shaken up after all you readers head over there (and if the site's a little shaky under the flood of our link, give it time to get back on its feet). Sure, it's a little silly, and it's not so much a "resource" as it is just a free-for-all of player opinions, but it is interesting to see kind of a meta-overview of what players do and don't like. Useless features for the loss, old school raid bosses for the win.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Humor, NPCs

Alex Afrasiabi on Cataclysm and the origin of phasing


Gamasutra has a nice interview with someone on Blizzard's team that we haven't heard from very much before -- Alex "Furor" Afrasiabi is currently a lead world designer for Cataclysm, and while we have definitely seen him at BlizzCon a few times, he hasn't done as much press as, say, Tom Chilton or J. Allen Brack. But here he is on Gamasutra, talking about what Blizzard is doing to the World of Warcraft in the next expansion.

And boy are they doing it. As we knew, Desolace and Azshara are getting revamped completely, while Feralas is in for some questing changes and zones like Loch Modan are seeing some "light" modification. Blizzard apparently looked at each zone and determined where it lay on the list of todos: Azshara is becoming the 10-20 Horde zone and so will get reworked extensively, but Silithus, while it may need work, probably won't get more than a few tweaks.

Afrasiabi also talks about the surprising origin of phasing and Blizzard's philosophy. More after the break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Cataclysm

Upload and browse screenshots at WoW Screenshots


From the makers of WoW Achievements comes a new site that's designed to collect and catalog nothing but screenshots from the game. WoW/Screenshots (clever) is a new site that's super barebones right now -- all you can do is view a few different uploaded screenshots or jump in and upload your own. But obviously, there's a lot of potential there -- if they can assign a rating system to screenshots, then you could have a Wowbash-style Top 100, with extra cool shots to check out from around the game. The website also says they're planning to put together monthly contests as well, so right now the idea just seems to be to populate the database, with the best entries coming to the top later.

Of course, this isn't the only project designed to archive some of Azeroth's beauty -- we talked about the wallpaper project the other week (though that's more a project designed to hit every individual zone), and of course our great Around Azeroth daily feature has collected tons of great pictures from the game. But this seems like an interesting crowd-sourced way to do it, and with the WoW-Achievements folks behind the idea, it'll be fun to see what they come up with.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Screenshots

Breakfast Topic: Will you miss the Old World?

So when I first heard about the Cataclysm, I actually sort of figured Blizzard would use a sort of phasing system on the old world: You'd start in the current old world, and at some point, you'd do a quest series that would phase you into the new, Deathwinged Azeroth similar to the way one progresses into Icecrown in Northrend. However, the word has come down: When Azeroth burns, it'll be changed for good. There's no going back. Even those who don't buy the expansion will still find themselves in Deathwing's new world.

While we're told some zones will remain relatively unscathed, almost every zone will be touched in some way, whether it be simple storyline changes or more massive shakeups from rivers of lava or shrunken coastlines or war, or even more greenery thanks to shifting water sources.

So here's my simple question: Will you miss it? Will you be nostalgic for a desolate Desolace or the massive Barrens? Will you mourn for fallen Astranaar and Auberdine? I'm sure some things will be missed more than others, but then again, change can be good. Being able to move on to new challenges and new excitements has me pretty psyched all told. But then again, what if they get rid of Lakeshire Bridge? I have been waiting a long time to see that done. When the Cataclysm comes, what will you miss? What will you be glad to be rid of?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Lore, Cataclysm

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