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Posts with tag expansions

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

Expansions, redesign, and the balance of WoW

Between Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, the warlock class saw a near-total redesign that, at this distant remove, we'd have to admit was a runaway success. Class redesigns are always a risky proposition - the dilemma is always between those who find the class reinvigorated and those that liked the class as it was, who now find it unfamiliar and undesirable to play.

The reason I bring this up is because lately, while playing Reaper of Souls, I keep thinking about that warlock redesign and the fact that in RoS Blizzard managed to take a game people generally felt was an unsuccessful sequel and change it in a variety of ways, and in the process so utterly remake people's opinions of it that we get reviews like this in Forbes. This has me thinking about whether or not World of Warcraft is going to see this kind of radical redesign in Warlords of Draenor or not. On the face of it, we're aware of a lot of changes coming - the removal of reforging, stats like hit and expertise, the deflation of stats on gear, health and healing changes - but there's still a lot we don't know about how thorough the redesign of the game is going to be.

Now, to be fair, RoS didn't make any significant mechanical changes - certainly nothing as dramatic as the warlock redesign was. And the warlock redesign came at a time when talents were completely overhauled as well. Clearly, there are various kinds of redesign in any expansion, but how does Warlords of Draenor compare? While we don't have a complete answer, we can compare it to previous expansions.

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

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

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

Your Alleria and Turalyon are in another castle

Your Alleria and Turalyon are in another castle
Once they added the note about Alleria Windrunner and Turalyon to the various loading screens I actually turned to a friend and said "Okay, now they're just mocking me." Seriously, I've written KYL's about both of these characters, they're among my favorite from WCII, and I want to know what happened to them. They have a kid wandering around Outland! Where did they go?

This isn't exclusive to them, either. Before Cataclysm I was one of those people who constantly rode up to the Greymane Wall in Silverpine and tried to get around it even though I knew there wasn't anything there yet. When I read in the World of Warcraft magazine that the Dark Trolls had died at the hands of the Twilight's Hammer cult invading Hyjal, I was very annoyed that I'd never see them in game. I still want to get to go down into Azjol-Nerub more fully, I'm still waiting to go to Kul Tiras (and frankly I wish I'd thought to include a Kul Tiras raid in yesterday's raid speculations) and man, I need to know what happened to Neptulon. There are lots of Warcraft lore and story threads left completely unresolved. A lot of them wouldn't make any sense to be revealed in Mists of Pandaria, but luckily speculation isn't limited by the current reality.

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

Do we need a World of Warcraft II?

Do we need a World of Warcraft II
I read the forums. I do so because it's part of my job, because I like seeing what people are saying, and because sometimes a thread actually makes me think. This thread, asking people what they'd like to see in a sequel to World of Warcraft, did that and then some for me. First, the response from Vaneras that got me the most interested in talking about it.

Vaneras - WoWII?
I really hope they will do it some day, but if they do it, they won't do it sooner than 5 years, at least.

The idea is basically the same game, but with way better graphics, new features, new NPCs/Items etc etc. It would be cool, because the skeleton would be the same, but the rest would be new.

But that doesn't sound like something that would require an entirely new game though, but of course that is just my personal opinion. As I see it, these things could just as well be upgrades to the current game through patches and expansions, much like what we have seen already in the game's evolution from its release until today.

I think something more would be required in order to rationalise the end of WoW in favour of WoW II :-)


When EverQuest II came out in 2004, its predecessor was the largest MMO in the world. One of the charges leveled at EQII was that it looked and felt so different from EverQuest itself that it split the player base and, since this happened just around the time that World of Warcraft was launching, left the door open for the upstart game to get a serious footing. It's possible that if it weren't for EQII, we'd have ended up with a smaller MMO scene where a game with a million subscribers was considered a rousing success.

Now, I'm not arguing that it's always a bad thing to have a sequel to an MMO. There are MMO's out right now which run concurrently with a sequel and seem to be doing fine. The question becomes, does World of Warcraft need one?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Breakfast Topic: Back in my day

With the Mists of Pandaria expansion comes many quality of life improvements. All expansions add little details to improve our experience in some way. Players who have only played since the latest expansion take these changes for granted. And veterans cringe every time newbies complain about something that is so much better than how it was when we began playing.

For example, MoP has AoE looting: just one right-click and all the nearby corpses are relieved of their valuables (or organs as the case may be). I have seen some people in general chat confused by this change. "I can only loot one body!" But once this change goes live, all new players will consider AoE looting the norm.

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Filed under: Breakfast Topics

This Too Shall Pass: Balance and imbalance in World of Warcraft

Image
First off, we know that game balance is an eternal goal. As the game evolves and becomes more complex (as it does every expansion, because new abilities are introduced and new classes or races make their debut), balancing them all for every role they can fill and every aspect of the game (Arena PvP, BGs, 5-man instances, raiding) becomes ever more complicated. Abilities that seem minor in impact can mushroom in importance due to synergy with other talents or abilities. As an example, Vengeance in PvP became important enough to cause it to be turned off, as gear improved and health pools rose.

This has been the case in World of Warcraft since its debut. Heck, thanks to Indalamar, warriors got nerfed before the game went live. Balance is ephemeral. Your class may be on top one day, but your day will end. Anyone who's tanked for the past six years can attest to the roller coaster of which class is best at which aspect of the role. There was a time where paladins were the undisputed kings of AoE tanking, a time before Death and Decay or Blood and Thunder.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, PvP, Raiding, Hotfixes

World of Warcraft no longer compatible with Windows 2000 in Mists of Pandaria

Community Manager Bashiok made an interesting announcement this morning -- as of the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion, World of Warcraft will no longer run on machines using Windows 2000 as an operating system. Microsoft itself ceased supporting this version in 2010. Those who are currently using Windows 2000 should upgrade before Mists is released, if you'd like to continue playing WoW.

One of the big benefits to playing World of Warcraft has always been that it can be played on a variety of systems, from the exceptionally small and outdated to the current, top-of-the-line models. I always found that a fascinating phenomenon, and it made good sense -- after all, if you want the max number of players able to play your game, you want to make it available with the widest software and technology possible. Yet there's a drawback to this; if you want to continually make that content available for older systems, there's only so far you can go updating content.

As a game that just celebrated its seven-year anniversary, WoW absolutely needs to keep updating in order to remain competitive. With new MMOs coming out all the time, a game that is seven years old starts to lose its shine. Continuous updates make sure that it stays just as fresh as it did in 2004. You can't keep those updates rolling if you're trying to support an operating system that is now 12 years old. I think, however, we're safely in the territory where most people have moved beyond Windows 2000, so this shouldn't affect a huge majority of players, particularly when Microsoft itself has already phased out support for the operating system. What this does do, however, is make me look forward to Mists of Pandaria and what it has in store.

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Filed under: News items, Hardware, Mists of Pandaria

Permanent price cuts to WoW expansions in the EU

Blizzard has just announced permanent price cuts to the Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm expansions in the EU for 2012. What seems to be a push for easier accessibility to WoW, Wrath now costs only €19.99, down from €34.99 and Cataclysm is now €29.99, down from €34.99. Whether or not these deals are coming to the United States is not known at this time, but I can't really understand why they wouldn't. Getting your WoW account up to date has never been cheaper, and Blizzard is making sure the barrier to entry is as low as possible for new players.

Permanent price cuts for WoW expansions in 2012
Great news for all Blizzard fans! From today, our latest games are available at retail and on the Blizzard Store at new, permanently low prices. You can now get Wrath of the Lich King for a mere €19.99 and Cataclysm for just €29.99. There's never been a better time to grab the games you might have missed out on before. Just click here and celebrate the New Year by taking advantage of our new reduced prices. Still don´t have World of Warcraft? Now you can get the full game and all expansions for cheaper than ever before.

Want to check out StarCraft II? If you haven't yet taken advantage of our great new price for StarCraft II, you can click here to get yours right away!



Brace yourselves for what could be some of most exciting updates to the game recently with patch 4.3. Review the official patch notes, and then dig into what's ahead: new item storage options, cross-realm raiding, cosmetic armor skinning and your chance to battle the mighty Deathwing -- from astride his back!

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

Breakfast Topic: What size and frequency do you prefer for expansions?

Dalaran
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Blizzard has always been good to the customers who play World of Warcraft. The game is regularly updated through patches, and we can count on an expansion every other year. However, this may not be the case for much longer. In a recent interview with GameInformer, Tom Chilton said, "Traditionally we've only been able to do an expansion every two years. We're really hoping to make a meaningful difference in that."

This comment has already sparked a debate among the WoW community, dividing the playerbase into two sides: those who think this is a great thing and those who don't. For some, getting a new expansion more quickly means more content to explore, more bosses to down, and apparently, more pandas to cuddle. The others, however, view this as a negative -- not because of the content but because we have to pay for every expansion released, on top of the monthly subscription.

Personally, I see both sides. While Blizzard has recently promised us quicker content patches, I really enjoy the excitement of a new expansion.

So which way would you prefer? Quicker, large expansions, with massive updates to the game? Or perhaps a faster delivery of patches, with a steady stream of new content?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Wrathgate TCG set overviews on official site

If you're curious about the Wrathgate expansion for the WoW Trading Card Game, you can get up to three overviews of it from the official site. These overviews, written by winners of the Wrathgate contest this April, give you a sense of the place this expansion to the TCG has both in terms of the card game and the larger WoW universe. William Brinkman covers both the Argent Crusade and Flying Mounts, while David Lyons discusses how the in-game Wrathgate experience is translated to the card game. If you're a player of the TCG or are just curious about how WoW makes the transition to a different format, go give them a read.

Filed under: WoW TCG

Cryptozoic breaks open Wrathgate expansion for WoW TCG May 25th

Cryptozoic, the new publisher for the World of Warcraft trading card game, dropped us a line to let us know that they're preparing the game's newest expansion pack, Wrathgate, for release on May 25. If you've been following the trials and travails of the WoW TCG in the past few months, you know that this is a big relief and a concrete sign that the game's in good hands.

And there's loot, too!
"The 11th set in the World of Warcraft TCG, Wrathgate features 220 new cards straight from Northrend and the new Argent Crusade faction. Yes, players can recruit figures from Warcraft lore like Highlord Tirion Fordring for the battle against the Scourge. Also, players can use new Wrathgate crafting materials to forge brand new gear for their TCG heroes.

Each booster pack contains 19 game cards. As with previous sets, players have a chance to open one of three new Loot cards randomly inserted into Wrathgate booster packs. The codes on the Loot cards are redeemed for cosmetic upgrades to World of Warcraft® MMORPG characters. The loot cards in Wrathgate are Landro's Gift, Statue Generator, and Blazing Hippogryph. The latter is another TCG exclusive mount -- a flying hippogryph to set the skies on fire."
To commemorate the occasion, Cryptozoic is running a special contest, the winner of which (and a friend) will attend the internal unveiling of the expansion, hang out with its creators and maybe even eat some food here and there. Check out the contest and official rules here.

Filed under: WoW TCG

Breakfast Topic: Blurring the boundaries between patches and expansions

In the good old days, expansions came around once in a blue moon. They were the stuff of legend which invited almost two years of hype and intrigue. You paid your dollars/pounds/euros/yuan, and you got your new classes, those shiny new zones and those ten extra levels. But, with patch 3.0.2 (aka Echoes of Doom) we got something new, we got transition. Yes, this was the patch where we got a sampling of Wrath designed to tease players waiting on tender hooks and also keep interest for that final week until the expansions hit properly.

Given Blizzard's shift in how they treat patches, now geared towards larger mini expansion style updates like patch 2.4 and patch 3.2, there's definitely something changing in the way we get new installments of the game. After all, there's as much hype about every mini expansion-like patch, from the new areas, class buffs/nerfs and weapons to the smaller changes involving the UI. Shiny expansion special editions aside, do you think it would ever be possible to have expansions become automatically downloaded massive patch updates over a standalone disc or download that you have to buy every two years? What do you think, readers?

Filed under: Patches, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics, Expansions

Why leveling will always be important to WoW

Times they are a changin', and as Patch 3.2 hits the PTR with a new wealth of mechanics aimed at making the journey to 80 that much easier, why not take a moment to look back at how Azeroth has changed?

Leveling used to take a long time, and one of the first things a friend told me was that "the game started at 60." While the level cap might have changed, it's something I heartily agree with.Those of you who joined the game around the time of the latest expansion or even before might hear others speaking with misty-eyes of the olden days of Classic WoW when it took an age to get from Darnassus to Stormwind.

While WoW might have a much lower learning curve than, say, EVE Online, it does still have one. But WoW is known as a bit of a grind fest and the ever growing level cap, which currently stands at 80 but will no doubt go higher with the next expansion, can be pretty daunting.

Especially for a new player.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Economy, Expansions, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Bosses, Leveling, Buffs, Mounts, Alts, Wrath of the Lich King

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