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Posts with tag cataclysm

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

Dragon Soul LFR changes possible in 6.0

Transmog addicts may have some good news for patch 6.0. When LFR was introduced with Dragon Soul, the last raid in Cataclysm, players flocked to the content and gathered armor and items that had their own unique color schemes. After Mists of Pandaria was introduced, players leveled to 90 -- and the ability to run Dragon Soul on LFR difficulty disappeared. While players can still farm the raid on Normal and Heroic difficulties, the unique color sets released specifically for LFR were no longer available to those max level characters.

This was in part due to the nature of LFR. The only way to raid LFR level content is to queue for it through the raid finder interface -- you can't simply change the dropdown difficulty on a per-character basis, as you can with Normal and Heroic difficulties. Once you've passed the level threshold for Cataclysm content, the option to raid Dragon Soul LFR simply disappears from the raid finder interface. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem -- but transmogrification addicts everywhere have been looking for a solution to obtaining those older, uniquely colored items, and Lead Game Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas just tweeted that a solution may be on the way in patch 6.0.

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Filed under: Raiding, Cataclysm, Transmogrification, Warlords of Draenor

Managing expectations and the evolution of discussion

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

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


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

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

Should abilities go back to Cataclysm?

It's funny, really, how at the end of an expansion it always seems like things were better before. While Cataclysm was not the most popular expansion, there were some good things about it. PvP was in a better state than it is now, for example, and I think it's fairly safe to say that ability bloat, while a burgeoning issue, had not exploded to Mists levels. And that's what I'm interested in today.

I was talking about this recently, with friends, and it seemed to us like a lot of the problem abilities were added or altered in Mists. For example, while it's less of an issue in PvP now than it was at the start of the expansion, the addition of Stampede for hunters was made in Mists. Symbiosis, the convoluted, complicated druid ability, that grants powerful abilities to other classes was added in Mists. Gateway, the warlock ability that served to make 'locks nigh-indispensable for your raid team, along with their other utility of course, was added in Mists.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Warlord Zaela and the Dragonmaw Clan

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.

They are Dragonmaw -- a clan that seems a little out of place in the name department, having existed long before dragons ever arrived on Draenor. However out of place that name may have been at the time, the clan lived up to it with brutal efficiency upon traveling through the Dark Portal and arriving on Azeroth. Yet for all its bravado, all its strength, and all its extremely powerful artifacts of questionable origin on its side, the Dragonmaw didn't really flourish. In fact, it found itself ironically subject to the manipulations of those it tried to subjugate, over and over again.

One orc woman saw the path her clan was destined to travel, the seed of corruption that was quickly threatening to tear the Dragonmaw apart, and feared for the fate of her clan. But when given a chance to make a difference, she seized the opportunity, killed her own Warchief and was rewarded with the chance to lead the Dragonmaw at the side of the Horde. Zaela may not have a lot of story behind her just yet, but make no mistake -- she will do whatever it takes to guarantee the safety and survival of her clan.

It's a pity that her methods involve allying with the most hated orc on Azeroth.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

WoW Archivist: WoW in China, an uncensored history -- part 2

Joyland statues
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?

In China, few Western games have been more embraced than World of Warcraft. But few games have endured more scrutiny from the government and more interruptions. As WoW Archivist covered two weeks ago, Chinese players have put up with censorship, endless waits for expansions, and intense bureaucratic meddling that shut the servers down for months. But their enthusiasm for the game remains.

Today, we will look at the more recent years of WoW in China, the raiding scene there, and the game's impact on popular culture, including a certain infamous theme park...

Too soon, Executus

After sorting out issues with the Ministry of Culture and GAPP (General Administration of Press and Publications), WoW operator NetEase was on a roll. Though Cataclysm also faced delays, it launched in China on July 12, 2011 -- just half a year after the Western release. By the standards of prior expansions in China, this release was practically instantaneous.

In a bitter irony, however, the expansion actually arrived too soon.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Know Your Lore: Lore summed up part 6 - Cataclysm Ends

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.

Let's be up front about this. The Cataclysm was Deathwing himself. The events were the result of Deathwing's assault on the world of Azeroth - his eruption from Deepholm, his rampage through the Twilight Highlands, his summoning of Ragnaros into Mount Hyjal, the machinations of his minions. Deathwing, in all his rampaging insanity, was exactly what he claimed he was. He was the end of the world, and had he not been stopped, Azeroth would be no more. From the Twilight Highlands to the depths of Vashj'ir, the events Deathwing set in motion unraveled the world.

Let's look over the world, cast our eyes from the jagged peaks of Hyjal to the submerged depths of Vashj'ir, descend into Deepholm and then comb the deserts of Uldum for answers to the question - what did the mad dragon want? Why did his Twilight's Hammer erect their bastion in the Twilight Highlands, where the Maw of Iso'rath erupted from the very soil? The old gods seemed on the verge of their ancient goal, thanks to Deathwing.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Cataclysm

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

Know Your Lore: Lore summed up part 5 - Cataclysm Begins

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've covered the original game's story, gone to Outland to recap the Burning Crusade, and spent two weeks recapping the events of the Lich King's contumely. Now, we find ourselves facing the dragon that broke the world.

Deathwing's power came in equal measure from the Titans themselves and the Old Gods who opposed them. From the Titan Khaz'goroth Deathwing was granted the role of Aspect of Earth, lord over the land and all beneath it. From the Old Gods imprisoned within the deep earth, Deathwing gained the strength of a kind of madness, a mania with destroying that which he had been set to guard. Rejecting his nature as Aspect of Earth, he would in time dedicate himself to the death of all things living on the surface of Azeroth.

Even before the Lich King's return, Deathwing was taking steps. His prime consort, Sinestra, used the madness of Illidan to cover her own actions, convincing the Dragonmaw chieftain Mor'ghor to give into her keeping a clutch of Netherwing dragon eggs - essentially the eggs of her own descendents, as the Netherwing were born from black dragon eggs Deathwing left behind on Draenor before it was destroyed, exposing the eggs to the raw chaotic magic of the Twisting Nether. In turn, after Sinestra's experiments on the eggs in Grim Batol failed, Deathwing transported a clutch to the Obsidian Sanctim - these dragons were destroyed by the same adventurers who would ultimately kill Malygos. Yet these were hardly the only such eggs warped by Deathwing - a raid on the Ruby Sanctum would reveal that Twilight Dragons now served Deathwing, born from his experiments on the Nether eggs.

All of this was merely preamble. While the situation in Northrend died down following Arthas' death and the secret elevation of the new Lich King, the world had no time to rest. Deathwing had rested in Deepholm since his defeat by the other aspects. Now, he would rest no longer.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Cataclysm

The dilemma of Darrowshire and Warcraft's creep factor

I remember my first encounter with Pamela vividly. It was vanilla, years and years ago, and I discovered a quest in Winterspring offered by a woman named Jessica Redpath, who had very little else to say. In between all the usual round of Winterspring quests was this woman, who asked that I go check on the town she grew up in called Darrowshire. It was all the way in the Eastern Plaguelands, but I figured for a change of pace from all the snow and desolation I'd go check it out.

Not only were the Eastern Plaguelands exceptionally creepy and bizarre in terms of architecture, especially compared to anything on Kalimdor, but the sounds and music for the zone were incredibly eerie as well. And when I finally found Darrowshire, I found a deserted collection of dilapidated buildings, and one lone question mark off in a corner -- belonging to the ghost of a very dead little girl.

And every hair on the back of my neck simultaneously stood up.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, 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

Blood Pact: Warlocks of Draenor

Blood Pact Warlocks of Draenor MON
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill gets a little excited about a possibility.

I think every month, the universe tries its best to unseat me from the warlock column. November is notoriously my worst month for anything, because everything wants to conflict with anything in November, for every one of my twenty-whatever years.

But thankfully, when it comes to BlizzCon, I can just replay things over and over on the Virtual Ticket with no problem. While I wasn't expecting a lot of warlock changes, given how ridiculously revamped we were for Mists of Pandaria, there were still a few notes of interest we could go over if you missed out on watching or attending BlizzCon.

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Filed under: Warlock, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Mists of Pandaria

Warlords of Draenor and the absence of Aggra

Let me tell you a little about my sister. My sister is married, in her thirties, and has four children -- all boys -- ranging from four to sixteen. Her house is a wild cacophony of boys being boys and the calls of various animals that she's acquired. It's a mini-farm, if you will, full of chickens, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, a couple of snakes, and possibly a species or two that I've missed. In addition to raising four boys with her husband, she also owns her own business. She runs her own grooming company here in town, and is both the sole employee and owner, successful enough that she's usually booked for at least a month out, if not more.

In addition to that, she runs two Renaissance festivals a year, hauls her family to regular camp-outs with the faire crew, regularly plays D&D with the gang, and knows how to shoot a longbow and a black powder rifle (and is a pretty good shot with both of them), along with cannons and trebuchets. She's a dab hand at cooking at home and over a campfire out in the wild, knows how to kill, gut and butcher just about anything, and how to tan and stretch a hide. On top of all that, I've heard she's a marvel at breaking up fights, reading bedtime stories, wiping tears from faces, kissing boo-boo's away, and snuggling in the mornings when little ones are sleepy and grumpy about getting up for school.

And god help anyone that comes between her and her family.

I'm telling you this story not to brag about my sister, although I love her very dearly, but to make a point that seems to have been sorely missed somewhere in the story of Warcraft. My sister isn't just a wife and mother. She's a warrior. She's a fighter. She's a spark of ferocity that will not be quenched. Where is her counterpart in Warcraft? That's a really good question.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, BlizzCon

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