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Posts with tag expansion

WoW Archivist: Expansion gaps

Gap in the bridge on the Timeless Isle
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?

Expansion gaps are the most reviled of all content gaps. It's not just because they are the longest -- it's because at the other end of the gap lies so much to look forward to. Expansions change WoW from top to bottom. They usher in brand new worlds to explore and bring us new ways to play the game. That's part of why it takes Blizzard so long to release them.

In the meantime, we wait, mired in the old, but excited about the new.

We are experiencing what is likely to be the longest expansion gap so far in WoW's 10-year history. But what about the expansion gaps of the past? How do they stack up? What did Blizzard offer and what were players' reactions to them? Read on to find out!

Classic WoW to The Burning Crusade

Dates: August 22, 2006 to January 16, 2007
Duration: 4 months, 25 days
Subscriptions: Rising
Mood: Excited

The first expansion gap was also the shortest. It felt like a long time to players back then, since classic WoW offered patches and content at a blistering pace for the first two years of the game. Players were impatient, yes. That never changes. But we knew WoW was a hit and we were thrilled that the success of the game had made an expansion possible. We couldn't wait to roll a blood elf or a draenei, or take to the skies and fly for the first time. Plus, most raiding guilds hadn't conquered every boss (or even close), so they had plenty to keep them busy.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Expansions, introductions, and the rails


I was reading through twitter (like you do) when I came across an interesting conversation involving Jeremy "Muffinus" Feasel - he asked the question how long is too long for an expansion intro? Well, he asked it better than that.
But it still amounts to the same question, and it got me interested. Some expansions had extremely minimal introductions - The Burning Crusade, for instance, basically shoved you through the portal, handed you a few breadcrumb quests and said you figure it out, while Wrath basically had two starter zones so four different starts (two per faction) but still got you into the questing fairly quickly. Ultimately, though, those expansions had new races or classes, so you still got an introductory experience, just not necessarily for your max level character. Rolling a DK, blood elf or draenei, you had a more involved introduction to the expansion than you did as a formerly max level character embarking on the new climb to max level.

Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria continued this to some extent - if you were a level 80 character, you didn't get much more introduction than 'bad stuff is happening, you can go here or here' but the two zone options, Hyjal and Vashj'ir, were very detailed and had extended sections of on-rails questing. Cataclysm also had two complete starting zones for worgen and goblins that served as introductions to the meat of the expansion. Mists had the pandaren starting zone, but it also had the Jade Forest which had an outright introductory feel that was a lot stronger than any zone introduction had ever been, combining elements of the DK starting zone and the Vashj'ir start.

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

The Unlearning game

World of Warcraft constantly changes. It changes in patches in small ways (buffs change, spell power changes making a formerly useless ability stronger, or a strong ability weaker) and it changes between expansions in much larger ways. If I still played a fury warrior today the way I would have played one back in Wrath I'd be using Whirlwind as part of my rotation.

Between player action (players roll alts, switch mains and change roles) and the game's inexorable forward progress, there are always new things to learn, which require us to unlearn what we did before. Factor in returning players who take weeks, months, even years off - I've seen a lot of Hey, I left the game in X expansion, what's different now emails in my time at WoW Insider - and you have a continuous problem for World of Warcraft in people who have, in essence, a different game in mind when they play. This issue affects gameplay in numerous ways, both for those players (and eventually, we're all those players) and for the game itself.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

How much should an expansion cost?

We've talked about this briefly in a recent Breakfast Topic, but that's not the same as actually standing up and taking a position on an issue, and I (specifically, I, Matthew Rossi, not all of WoW Insider) do have a position on this one - namely, that this expansion will likely contain as much if not more gameplay, art assets, and overall design work as any game coming out, and that frankly the last couple of expansions have been under what they should have cost.

I didn't come to this decision in a vacuum, either - I come to it as someone who does not want to pay the price as established. I'm extremely penurious. almost outright parsimonious when it comes to money. I don't like spending it. So when I heard how much the expansion was going to cost (the day the pre-orders became available) I immediately balked at it. It's only ten bucks more to buy Titanfall, I said to myself, and that's a completely new game. And then I read this post by Kim Acuff (who often comments here at WoW Insider as Ember Dione) a developer on Skylanders, and I started to rethink my position on the relative cost of the expansion, how much it should cost, and the validity of the whole "as expensive as a new game" discussion.

Because here's the fact - each WoW expansion has effectively been a new game.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Diablo 3, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor pre-order available on Battle.net


Update:

The pre-order is now live. You can get your character boost and pre-order Warlords of Draenor.

Original Article:


We've been getting a lot of tips that the Warlords of Draenor pre-orders are being prepped for, and based on our own excursions to the Account Management page of Battle.net, it seems to be the case - there's the little icon in the corner there (with perhaps our first view of the box art for Warlords of Draenor) waiting for us to click on it. Doing so doesn't allow you to pre-order as of this writing, however.

Based on this and the cinematic from Sunday morning, it seems like pre-orders and the level 90 boost are imminent. We'll be keeping an eye on this and if and when they come online we'll inform you.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Breed battle pets in your garrison

In the player garrisons coming in Warlords of Draenor, one of the medium-size construction options is the Pet Stable. While we were all initially uncertain as to its purpose, more has since been revealed. Below is an explanation from Cory Stockton's Twitter account.

Do note that he specified current plan. The expansion has just been announced. Many things will change before any beta phase. Even more will change before launch.

Filed under: BlizzCon

Warlords of Draenor: The Story So Far

So by now, we're all digesting the announcement that the next expansion is Warlords of Draenor, and it involved a trip to a Draenor not destroyed by Ner'zhul and his portals, not corrupted by Gul'dan and the Burning Legion, but rather one of aggressive (some might say savage) orc warlords attempting conquest of an untainted, untamed world. All that stands in their way are the besieged and beleagured, but still defiant and intact draenei civilization - and a few heroes from another world.

That would be us.

But how did we get to this? How can Draenor be intact when we know it got blown up by Ner'zhul? Here's the overview of how we're going to go confront these Warlords on their Draenor.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Lore, BlizzCon

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

World of Warcraft's base package now includes Cataclysm

World of Warcraft now includes all expansions up to Cataclysm
The game package formerly known as the World of Warcraft Battle Chest is now simply called World of Warcraft and has added Cataclysm to its base offering. All current players who do not already own Cataclysm will be automatically upgraded. The new box as seen above will be available in retail stores soon, with the digital download version already available on the US store.

This change should coincide quite nicely with the upcoming Recruit-A-Friend revamp and make the cost of entry more manageable for new players or those wanting to set up a secondary account.

Filed under: Blizzard

WoW 6.0: A case for dual class dual spec

Monk and warrior tier sets
Please note that this article is 100% speculation!

Many people have wondered whether Blizzard may add a fourth spec to the existing classes in the next expansion. They've talked about a tanking spec for warlocks, a ranged DPS spec for paladins, a healing spec for mages, etc. It would be an amazing addition to the game for patch 6.0, and I would fully support it. However, fourth specs also seem highly unlikely.

Blizzard would have to implement and then continually balance 10-11 more specs (depending on whether druids get a fifth). That's a big kodo to rein in. It's almost like adding three new classes to the game.

We only have a sample size of one, but Blizzard chose not to add another class in the expansion following Wrath's death knight. It wouldn't surprise me if they chose not to during the next expansion, either. With declining subs, if they aren't adding another new class in the next expansion, they need to add a flashy new feature to our existing classes.

The next expansion has to get players excited about playing our classes. One new spell per class won't cut it. Talent trees are probably staying the way they are. Blizzard seems hesitant to add tri-spec, and I'm not sure tri-spec is a good thing for WoW anyway.

What could this new feature be? The radical new system I'm proposing would not just energize players -- it could also solve one of the game's longstanding problems. I'm going to call it dual class dual spec, or DCDS for short.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

World of Warcraft loses 1.3M subscribers since February, down to 8.3M

WoW loses 13 million subscribers since Feb down to 8 mil
Today's Activision-Blizzard financial reports states World of Warcraft took a subscriber hit this quarter, losing 1.3 million players since February.

The loss brings the total number of WoW players down to 8.3 million, its lowest level since the launch of the Burning Crusade expansion in 2007. Subscriber levels have fallen by about a third since WoW's post-Cataclysm peak of 12 million subscribers. The loss is hardly unusual -- you have to remember that WoW is a 9-year-old game, and we're at a pretty uninteresting time in the expansion cycle.

Have we mentioned yet that we're really excited to see if Blizzard is announcing a new MMO at BlizzCon?

Filed under: Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, BlizzCon, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Breakfast Topic: How long do you expect Mists content to last you?

Breakfast Topic How long do you expect Mists content to last you
For some players, the internal expansion clock for Mists of Pandaria is already ticking. Are you the type of player who likes to "play through" the content of an expansion to some point of personal satisfaction, then revert to alts or even go on hiatus until another sufficiently tempting patch or expansion comes along? Or do you treat Azeroth more as the virtual world or real-world social network you've made your home, someplace you simply always hang out?

WoW supports both these very different approaches to MMOs in equal measure. I've taken each view at various times, myself (although I suspect my periods of hiatus have been born more from the burnout of writing about World of Warcraft as much if not more as I play it at times). But generally speaking, I consider Azeroth a virtual home. I'll do whatever I find interesting at the time, but I'm always there on some level, regardless of what's current and fresh. In fact, I've become quite choosy about what I leap into right off the bat in any given expansion or patch. Some things, I've found, make better leftovers months or even years after their introduction!

If you prefer to play through things from start to "finish" when they're fresh, how long do you expect Mists to take you? How much longer do you anticipate spending leveling up, raiding, and trying out any other features that seem particularly compelling? How long would you like those things to take? What's too long and what's too short, in terms of the lifespan of a major patch or expansion?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

How do you prepare raiders for a new expansion?

How do you prepare raiders for a new expansion ANY
Raiding last week was tough all around for my guild. Between completing all of Dragon Soul on heroic, the release of Diablo III, and the simple nightmare of trying to field a 25-man raid guild these days, it's not easy to keep everyone's spirits high. My guild does a remarkable job with it, but the main issue isn't really the content itself, which we can easily clear. It's keeping raiders interested and logging on so we have a full team to work with.

Mists of Pandaria is just over the horizon, however, and for the first time since I joined the guild, we've got a fairly substantial amount of time to farm until we're blue in the face. Heroic Lich King died at the end of Wrath of the Lich King, but we didn't get more than a few weeks to breathe before we were all hurriedly leveling through Cataclysm and preparing to throw ourselves at the raid grind all over again.

With my previous raid guild, we pretty much called a halt to raids after umpteen Black Temple clears, a few months before Wrath of the Lich King launched. While Sunwell seemed interesting to me, the rest of the guild -- who had all been around far longer than I, mind you -- didn't feel up to the challenge. It does make me wonder, though, how different raid guilds handle prepping for that new expansion experience. Is there protocol to follow?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: 3 developmental changes needed for storytelling in Mists

Image
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.

One of the major things that vanilla World of Warcraft struggled with was a compelling story. Yes, we had a particularly epic tale spun with the release of Ahn'Qiraj and an even greater tale with Naxxramas. But while Onyxia, Molten Core and Blackwing Lair had stories that were interesting enough, it was difficult for players to pick up on those stories and follow them in a coherent fashion. Ragnaros in particular had a story that was entrenched in several different leveling zones as well as a few instances.

Meanwhile, the zones that you encountered from level 1 to 60 by and large didn't have a coherent story to tell. Each zone had little tidbits of story here and there, but nothing seemed really dire or important beyond a few epic, sweeping quests. As for faction leaders -- well, they did very little beyond sit in their capital cities and occasionally send players on errands. This is something that has continually changed and improved with every expansion that has been released. The story in WoW has never been as accessible as it is now.

But Mists of Pandaria has the potential to completely blow everything before it away.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Mists of Pandaria Beta: Now with weather

Weather finally arrives in Mists of Pandaria
Mumper, Blizzard game designer, has confirmed that weather has been implemented in the latest MoP patch.

Mumper
We just added weather to all the zones in the last build. If you are not seeing it yet, just give it some time to show up.


While weather was implemented in both vanilla WoW and The Burning Crusade, most of the Wrath of the Lich King zones and all of the new Cataclysm zones did not have weather changes. Having rain in the MoP areas will be a nice addition to an already visually gorgeous expansion.

A few forum posters have reported seeing weather in some zones, but as it is up to the RNG, your mileage may vary.

Have you seen any precipitation or other meteorological events in the latest beta patch?

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

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