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Posts with tag questing

Breakfast Topic: Old school questing

Mankrik's Wife
In the WoD beta, if you choose to put a Barn on the first available medium plot in your Garrison, as I did circa level 92, you immediately receive a quest from the NPCs there to head to Nagrand and trap an animal. So off I went, west out of Shadowmoon Valley, through Taladar and toward Nagrand, seeking my quarry. This was a mistake. All roads in Taladar lead to Shattrath, and Shattrath is under siege by both level 100 Iron Horde soldiers and demons of the Shadow Council. If you try to run south around Shattrath, you'll end up in Auchindoun, also overrun by Shadow Council demons and a load of other nasties who are way above level 92. Once you've finally made it into Nagrand, you'll discover that it's a level 98-100 zone. Oops.

After many deaths in Nagrand, I finally managed to successfully trap a clefthoof and returned, bruised, battered, but at least triumphant, to my Garrison, where I vowed never to set foot in Nagrand again for at least another five levels, Barn resources be damned. Upon reciting my tale of woe to sympathetic colleague Liz Harper--who went through the same thing when she too chose to put a Barn in her Garrison--I realized that I felt almost like I was picking up my swim form quest in Moonglade as a level 16 night elf druid, only to find that half of the amulet I needed was off the coast of Westfall. I had the same sense of apprehension about the unknown zones I had to head through, frustration when I found I wasn't quite up to the task, and eventual elation as I managed to finish the quest anyway. I thought, "Would I want this kind of questing experience to be a regular WoW feature again?" Is the fist-pumping moment of triumph worth the reckless blundering through two zones full of red-leveled, hostile mobs? Honestly, I'm not sure. What about you? Would you be eager to rise to the challenge, or frustrated to be handed a task so far beyond your current means? How old-school do you want to go?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Warlords of Draenor: The Iron Horde invasion, Alliance edition

Blasted Lands Maraad
One of the newer additions to the Warlords of Draenor beta is the Iron Horde invasion of the Blasted Lands. I'm a bit unsure as to whether this is a permanent change or if this is a testing phase for a temporary event, but the new flight point makes me lean toward permanent. You can grab the breadcrumb quest into this series from the Hero's Call Board in Stormwind, where you are told that Vindicator Maraad awaits you in the Blasted Lands. There's a convenient portal right next to the board so you can just hop on in and head over to the new quests.

Beyond this point lie some fairly hefty spoilers for the early part of Warlords of Draenor, so if you're trying to avoid those, pass this article by!

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Solo scenario and quest improvements

Leveling content and design has been an ongoing process since day one of WoW. In vanilla, quest chains would literally send you from one end of Azeroth to the other and back again in search of some relic or document or other item that was vitally important to the NPC who happened to be on the wrong continent to retrieve it. As time went on, quest flow was re-designed again and again, with more of an eye for keeping things bite-size and compact, less lengthy and drawn out. In Cataclysm, that envelope was arguably pushed too far, featuring story-heavy leveling zones that felt like they were on rails, leading players from one hub to the next with little exploration encouraged. Thankfully, Mists relaxed the rigid structure and went a little more free-form with quest flow.

It's hard to describe the differences in quest progression and flow on the beta for Warlords. Although the test servers are currently riddled with players, which means they are also riddled with extreme amounts of lag here and there, it's still possible to get an overall idea of how the quest design and flow has changed from Mists ... and there are some major changes afoot.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Could WoW have an expansion without raiding?

I have raided in World of Warcraft since the beginning. Raiding has always been a big part of why I play the game. If not the reason I play, certainly a reason. So when I was sitting up last night and it occurred to me that I've never gone an entire expansion without raiding, I didn't initially think anything of it -- to me, raiding is what you do in WoW. But then I started really thinking about it. Because lots of people don't raid. Before the rise of LFR and flex, a lot of players -- the majority of players, really -- never set foot in a raid at all. They had 5-mans, and that was basically it for group content for them outside of PvP.

So I started asking myself if it would be possible to release an expansion with little to no raiding content at all. Would players accept it? It's a cliche (and an overused one among the community) that Blizzard didn't do this or that 'because it would cost us a raid tier' but let's really consider -- what if we could have the expansion next month, but it wouldn't have any raids? Would that be an expansion people would be willing to play?

One of the reasons I consider this a more controversial question that it would have been at the end of Wrath is because now, raiding is far, far more accessible than it was even then. With the advent of LFR and the recent development of flexible raiding, it's never been easier to raid than it is. While Warlords of Draenor is changing the raid game, those changes will only make mythic raiding in any way more restrictive -- the rest of raiding will remain very accessible.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Blizzard, Raiding, 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

8 quests you might have skipped, but shouldn't

Northshire quest giver
Right now in WoW is a time many of us know all too well: the pre-expansion lull. The last major content patch of Mists of Pandaria is out, and we're not going to see much new stuff until whenever 6.0 shows up on the horizon. Many of us are casting about looking for things to keep us occupied in the game until then--things such as finishing up old rep grinds, working on achievements, collecting mounts, and putting together the perfect transmog set.

Something else you might consider doing is going back and finishing up some old, low-level quests, even if you're not working on your Loremaster title. And why might you want to do this? Because some low-level quests are pretty dang fun, good for a laugh, and offer some interesting perspectives in terms of fleshing-out Azeroth's world. I've picked out eight low-level quests (or quest chains) that are a particular delight. I've tried to focus on those in some of the world's more overlooked areas, so as to highlight a few fun adventures you might have missed. Unless otherwise marked, all listed quests are available to both factions.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Warlords of Draenor: EU reports from fansite play testing [Spoilers]

Among several others, EU fansite Mamytwink was invited to a press event in Versailles where he not only got to interview Ion Hazzikostas, but also was able to play the same character, a gnome warrior, for five hours, allowing him to finish the alliance "start" zone in Draenor, Shadowmoon Valley. This is a direct translation of Mamytwink's french bullet points covering his 5-hour playtest with some minor adaptation for clarity. Spoiler alert! The last point after the break has a spoileriffic spoiler in it. Be warned.
  • Mamytwink played a gnome warrior in Shadowmoon Valley, the Alliance landing zone in Draenor. After around 5 hours /played and 80 quests, he completed the zone, reaching level 92
  • The new models are excellent (he also created a dwarf). The facial expressions are amazing!
  • At level 91, he had 63,000 HP as a tank
  • Mobs had approx. 100k HP
  • His attacks hit for between 1k and 5k when not crits. Crits on certain abilities hit for 10k (Shield Slam)
  • Level 90-91 was 597k XP, 640k for 91-92
  • Quests awarded between 10 and 15k XP, 20k for more difficult ones.
  • A new type of quest has been added, "bonus objectives". When you arrive in a zone a quest may appear in your log which you earn additional XP for completing. If you leave the area, the quest disappears.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

What if dailies weren't daily?

Alright people you'll have to bear with me on this one. In my quest to earn money on a near-dead server with a terrible economy and a glacial auction house, I've been making a farm. Playing nice with the Tillers, pretending to like Gina Mudclaw, that sort of thing. And suddenly, it's occurred to me that a big part of the reason why I dislike daily quests so much is the fact that they're, well, daily.

What do I mean? Well, this is, of course, simply my opinion. The way I play is pretty grindy, so if I decide I want to do the Klaxxi rep right now, I could happily spend five or six hours just grinding it out watching TV or on Mumble with friends. What I really dislike is that I do my handful of quests, then all my impetus is lost as I have to wait until 3am server time, or whenever they reset for you, to continue. By then I don't want to. If I could do my five hours then lose interest for a couple of weeks, then come back, I'd like it a lot more.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

BlizzCon 2013: Updates on the level 90-100 questing experience

BlizzCon Quest Panel
Craig Amai, Lead Quest Designer, sat down with other developers on the WoW gameplay and systems panel to discuss the future of questing in Warlords of Draenor. We learned more about the level 90-100 experience as well as Blizzard's plans for max level PvE content outside of dungeons and raids.

Level 90-100 questing
  • There will be key story related quests in each zone involving major lore characters.
  • The optional quests are entirely separate, so people who only want to progress through the zone's story have fewer quests to do and can instead get more of their XP in dungeons or elsewhere.
  • There will be dynamic world events and treasures similar to the Timeless Isle while you are leveling.
  • One example of a dynamic event: You encounter an Iron Horde caravan entrenched in the snow. It's being dug out by the escorts, and if you kill them you will be able to loot the chest on the caravan.
  • All quests have a chance to grant rare or epic items as rewards.

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Filed under: BlizzCon

Patch 5.3: New gear vendors for Cataclysm leveling

Patch 53 New gear vendors for Cataclysm leveling
Two new gear vendors were added in Patch 5.3 that sell ilevel 232 gear so that you can immediately do the Blackrock Cavern and Throne of Tides dungeons upon reaching level 80. The ilevel requirement for both dungeons is 226 which is greater than the questing and dungeon gear from Wrath of the Lich King. Before the patch, if you were leveling up via dungeons, you had to stop and quest for a bit at level 80 in order to get the ilevel of gear required to continue running instances.

Quartermaster Iris Moondreamer at the Nordrassil Inn in Hyjal sells full sets of gear for each class. In Vash'jir, Erunak Stonespeaker saves you from drowning and then sells the same gear as Iris. The beginning quest reward gear in Cataclysm is ilevel 272, so questing for a while will get you better equipment, but these new vendors help close the gear gap.

Note: If you are choosing to buy your gear from Erunak, make sure to do so before completing the quest chain that gets you out of the sunken ship. as he stops being a vendor in the next phase.

I had missed this detail in the patch notes so it was a pleasant surprise when questing in Hyjal on a mage that had leveled the previous 20 levels via pet battles and archaeology. Though the gear gap isn't as large between the older expansions, I'd still like to see more supply vendors like these and the ones in Pandaria as you level up, particularly if you are doing so in a non-traditional way.

Filed under: News items

The fine art of PvE twinking from level 1-35

TDQ Call To Arms
I'm sure most of you are familiar with the concept of "twinking" in WoW for PvP. It generally entails decking a low-level character out with all the best possible gear available to them and then tearing up the battlefields. In these post-experience locking days twinking is more straightforward than ever, and our own Olivia Grace has already covered a lot of the gearing aspects of twinking, for both PvE and PvP.

PvE twinking is a bit of an unusual idea. Mostly it refers to locking experience at one of the former level caps - 60, 70, 80, or 85 - in order to enjoy the challenges of old raids or to accomplish something limited to players of a certain level, such as the Herald of the Titans title. These are fun and interesting ways to spend time in the game, but what about PvE twinking at even lower levels? Say, level 20? Or 40? Why on earth would anyone want to do that?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Cataclysm

Breakfast Topic: What are your quest nightmares?

Breakfast Topic What are your quest nightmares ANY
All in all, I think the World of Warcraft questing experience is easier than ever. Quests can be tracked and shown on the screen, locations are automatically marked on your map, and anything you need to kill -- or anything that drops quest items you need -- is marked clearly when you approach, with more details when you mouse over. While some of the mystery may be gone, a lot of the annoyance has gone with it.

However, while the overall experience is much better, you do run in to the occasional quest that seems to be stubbornly holding out to Blizzard's new, streamlined questing philosophy. Quests that require you to kill ten beasts for a single tooth to drop (why don't they all have teeth?) or run around for an hour (or more) waiting on painfully slow respawns. Recently, while leveling through Outland, I ran into the quest Veil Lithic: Preemptive Strike, which asked me to redeem 3 arakkoa hatchlings and slay 3 arakkoa hatchlings who couldn't be redeemed. It seemed simple enough: Veil Lithic had several nests that spawned eggs. When the eggs spawned, all I had to do was click on them to free the hatchling, which would either fly off or become aggressive. Except after freeing 3 hatchlings, no more clickable eggs appeared. Not in 20 minutes, not in an hour, and not in two -- and though I did manage to collect a lot of arakkoa feathers, the whole thing seemed like a big timesink (several days later, I've still only managed to slay 2 out of 3 hatchlings). At this rate, my attention span is certain to run out before the quest does. (In fact, I'm surprised it's lasted this long.)

And what about you? Have you run into any quests -- now or in the past -- that are the stuff World of Warcraft nightmares are made of?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics

Alternative leveling in the Isle of Quel'Danas

Alternative leveling in the Isle of Quel'Danas
I'm bored of Northrend. It is beautiful and has lovely music and is full of lore and I'm bored. It's the new Outland for me and my alts. Other ways to level abound, of course, but they all have their drawbacks and are various levels of "Been there; done that." as well. So I took Tizzi, the bored goblin mage, to a place where my aged druid spent many grindful days: the Isle of Quel'Danas.

We complain about dailies now, but Quel'Danas (also known as the Sunwell Isle) was the land of too many dailies for our quest log. Grind, grind, grind we ancient Burning Crusade players did, so we could be of the Shattered Sun and get some lovely loot besides. When Quel'Danas was the in-thing, everyone was max-level, so there was no XP -- just the cash, gear, and camping. Oh, so very much camping.

The Isle of Quel'Danas is vacant of players now, but is otherwise unchanged. It resides in a bubble in time, much like Outland, and the NPCs are still there to give quests or be slaughtered.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade

Why are there moral choices in WoW?

Why are there moral choices in WoW
Most quests in WoW are fairly straightforward in intent. Go kill a bunch of birds and gather meat. Go kill the pesky vermin that are messing with our crops. Go get that book from that guy in the next town over. But then there is the occasional quest that takes us outside the usual gather, kill and fetch arena of standard questing -- the ones that asks our characters to make a choice.

Do we kill the harpy matron, or do we let her go? How do we persuade Tyrus Blackhorn to help us? Are we really so gung-ho about interrogation that we'll gleefully do so to get information out of the Scarlet Onslaught? Or if we're asked to torture someone in the name of the Kirin Tor? Do we really want to let Thalen Songweaver go ... or would we rather leave him rot in Theramore's prison?

These types of quests don't pop up terribly often, which prompts the question; just what are these moral choices for, exactly?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

People live in Pandaria; or, our house in the middle of the sea

"And that night, her mom said that the two of them and the now-dead guy were the only 3 people who ever lived in Las Vegas. Everybody else just arrived, ate their complimentary shrimp cocktails, and left."

Blizzard's focus is, as they've repeatedly professed, "to create the most epic gaming experiences ever." But for all the world-ending threats we've encountered in the last few WoW expansions, Azeroth just isn't that big. The entire Eastern Kingdoms are about the size of the island of Manhattan. We're made to believe that hundreds of thousands to millions of people of various races inhabit the planet, but examining the amount of residential space in each zone shows us room for far, far fewer.

Now, yes, the Azeroth we see could simply be an abstraction of some other, larger, "real" Azeroth that doesn't tangibly exist. But this one is the one we get, and it seems sillier and sillier each time when you ponder things like where exactly King Wrynn managed to find a hundred thousand troops to send to Northrend, or where night elves have lived for the past ten thousand years. The same goes for Azeroth's endless supply of doomsday villains and the cultists they inevitably find to do their bidding. They had to come from somewhere. And they definitely don't live in Stormwind.

But the problem isn't even really where they live. It's how they live. It's where they come from. Outland presented a unique opportunity to show us the how and why of the many strange alien races on an entirely new planet, but we learned more about how they died than how they lived -- the fate of most non-player races in World of Warcraft. Their homelands were a theme park, a casino, and we run through pulling levers, grabbing drinks, buying t-shirts. Nobody lived there.

Pandaria, though? People live there. The continent feels more like a brand new planet than even Outland ever did.

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Filed under: Lore, Mists of Pandaria

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