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Posts with tag revamp

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

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

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

Trial account restrictions and the 30 percent problem

A few days ago, we posted on a very interesting statistic: Only 30% of all WoW trial accounts make it past level 10. On some level, it's been assumed that this number explains why Blizzard's taking such care to smooth out the beginning game a bit, to make it easier and more fun to stick with the game past level 10 or so. In a large way, this makes sense. But there may be other reasons beyond game play in play as well.

If you're picking up a trial account, chances are that you heard about it from a friend or a blog or a news report. But chances are, you were shown or described a massively armored warrior engaged in fierce hand to hand combat on the back of a dragon flying through the air, or a finely robed mage flinging a fireball at the face of the lord of all magic, or something similarly epic. With that in mind, it might justifably get discouraging to show up in game to find yourself dressed in rags, wielding a toothpick, and being sent to collect wolf pelts that inexplicably only drop off about half the wolves you kill.

With that in mind, it's easy to see how a trial account user could get bored pretty fast. But for me, there's one other angle that very few people seem to be bringing up: The social angle.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

The dying Hunter?

The folks over at Ten Ton Hammer have a post with some anecdotal data about Hunters -- they claim that Azeroth's ranged DPS pet class is on a decline lately, and they've got only some guild application numbers to back the theory up. Mem over there says that there are a few diehard Hunters still floating around, and lots of alts, but that as a class, it's fallen off in terms of popularity for sure.

Is he right? Fortunately, there's a site that tracks numbers (as reliably as you'll find for public information, anyway -- certainly Blizzard has access to much more information) on exactly that. WarcraftRealms' list of classes over time does prop the "declining Hunter" theory up -- as you can see (from both Alliance and Horde totals), Death Knights took a nice bite out of all the classes for a little while, and Hunters have been on a pretty steady slope down since mid-January, when patch 3.0.8 hit the realms. That, of course, was the harsh Beastmaster nerf, and ever since then, Hunters have had some real trouble recovering (not to mention that all class playtime is declining in general -- despite their slope downwards, Hunters are still in the top three classes played anyway).

Is this the end of Hunters? Not at all -- Blizzard has already said that they are cyclical about balancing classes, and a heavy set of nerfs on one side of the cycle is usually accompanied by a burst of buffs on the other. Not to mention that the most interesting Hunter changes, the ammo revamp, hasn't yet found its way to the game. Reworking of ammo (in addition to some likely buffs there), will probably bring lots of Hunters back to the stables, so to speak. But it's true, Hunters are on a downward turn lately.

[via WoW LJ]

Filed under: Hunter, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Classes, Talents, Buffs

Fishing revamp is "on the books"

While Blizzard's managed to do pretty well lately in adding quirks and surprises to make fishing more tolerable (or at least more desirable), the fact remains that it's still ultimately pretty boring to skill up and use altogether, and many people believe it's well overdue for a revamp.

It looks like Blizzard agrees, as Zarhym recently revealed that they plan to revamp it. Of course, he had no details or time frame, but that's par for the course for Blizzard.

As to how the revamp should go down, Insider Trader actually recently discussed some ideas. Myself, I'm in favor of the minigame approach. If Popcap can import Peggle, you have to figure it's possible to set up a pretty robust fishing mini-game in WoW. Of course, if all else fails, they could always just let us actually use a Goblin Fishing Pole.

Filed under: Fishing, News items

Breakfast Topic: Musing on old-world instances


When we first heard about heroic level instances in the Burning Crusade, many of us were thrilled at the thought of revisiting our favorite low level instances. We would have them boosted to an end-game level and resurrected into regular play. Then we found out that only the dungeons in Outland were geared up for heroic levels. At least one player was pretty disappointed by this news. One of our readers, Sean, asked to open up a dialog about old-world heroics.

Running the old world dungeons as actual five-man instances seems pretty rare these days. Sometimes we skip past them due to decreased leveling requirements, and an ability to gear our alts with gold earns on our mains. Often when we actually venture into these instances at the appropriate level, we are tailing a capable level 70 character. It's kind of a waste of space and programming effort for Blizzard to leave these instances gathering dust.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Breakfast Topics, Instances, The Burning Crusade

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