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Posts with tag shadowmoon-valley

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: Shadowmoon Valley

Of all the new zones introduced in Warlords of Draenor, the one I was looking forward to the most was Shadowmoon Valley. The scarred, desolate landscape in Burning Crusade told nothing of just how gorgeous the land once was -- but it was home to the draenei once upon a time, untouched by the Burning Legion or the orcs, and I really wanted to see it. And I have to say, Blizzard did not let me down the slightest with this zone. Everything from the trees to the sky to the individual blades of grass that sway with movement as your character walks through them is a sublimely crafted work of art.

Although home to the draenei, Shadowmoon Valley is also home to the Shadowmoon clan of orcs, as well as a variety of other denizens, some friendly, some ... not so much. But it's the draenei architecture and scenery that really stands out in this zone. I can't really put in words how ridiculously detailed the environmental art is in Shadowmoon, but I put together a gallery of assorted screenshots so it can be shown. Be warned, there are a few spoilers along the way, so those that are wanting to see everything for the first time when you log in on day one should avoid it.

But enough about the scenery. How does the zone play?

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

NowGamer does Draenor/Outland side by side

One of the things I like the most about doing Shadowmoon Valley on the beta is the way it evokes the memories of Outland's version of the zone while clearly being a whole new place, designed from the ground up. Now the folks at NowGamers have put together a video comparing the two zones side by side.

It's cool to have because it does a much better job showing you how it is than telling you can. The way the new zone feels very much like the place before it got ruined, to the point where there's even places that were lost in the Outland version. And man, the elekks and talbuks in Shadowmoon make you feel sad for how much was destroyed and how only a few basilisks can eke out survival in the Outland version of the zone. Very much an elegy for a place destroyed when you see them side by side. Head over and check it out.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Stranger in your homeland

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 kind of want to change gears this week. I assume if you read this column, you have a passing interest in Warcraft's lore and story. So instead of picking apart the Shadowmoon Valley or Frostfire Ridge experiences from a lore perspective (and believe me, I'll be doing that in the future) I thought we could take a look at what it feels like to play through both starting zones as a member of the race that dominates the experience. This column will be about the disconnect of playing through Tanaan and SMV as a draenei -- there will be a follow up about the experience of playing through Tanaan and Frostfire as an orc. Spoilers are likely unavoidable. So from this point on, be aware of them.

For me this is one of Warlords' big strengths as a story, the way the characters are in a place that's familiar, but not too familiar. Even if you're playing a tauren or undead in Frostfire or a gnome or dwarf in SMV, it's possible to have that feeling of almost but not quite when you go there. I think it's stronger in Shadowmoon for a variety of reasons -- it's a classic BC zone (Frostfire seems to be half of the Blade's Edge Mountains) and there are quite a few moments where you feel a sense of twisted, broken recognition - the fact that the Alliance player garrison seems to be almost right on top of where the Horde starting base in the zone was, the first time you approach Karabor and see the structure dominating the region.

But playing a draenei, it's another step into the weird. Because here are your people, and yet, they don't recognize you.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Yrel, Draenor's Light

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.

At the moment, we've only got two full zones open in the Warlords of Draenor beta -- Frostfire Ridge, and Shadowmoon Valley. Also open is the introductory lead-in to Draenor through the Tanaan Jungle. It's there that we first meet her, fairly unassuming and not exactly remarkable in any way. Yrel was first mentioned at BlizzCon during the story and lore panel -- a draenei whose story was going to be a major part of the Warlords expansion, the comparison made that she is a Joan of Arc-like figure.

We've only seen the first few steps of Yrel's journey so far in the beta, so the accuracy of that comparison remains to be seen. But Yrel, unassuming as she may seem, already appears to hold a bright spot in the canvas of Draenor's future. So just who is this draenei, and what makes her a lore figure to watch for?

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains spoilers for Warlords of Draenor. If you are avoiding spoiler content, turn away!

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: Shadowmoon Valley and the Dark Star

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.

Warning - there will be spoilers for Warlords of Draenor in this post. Specifically for the Shadowmoon Valley zone.

One of the most fascinating things for me about the unfolding lore in this first zone is the new vision of the draenei it provides us. Far from the ragtag band of embittered survivors clinging on to a crashed dimension ship, the draenei of Warlords are a proud society of expatriated beings who are caught between conflicting impulses. Do they fight to hold on to the world they were forced to leave and its ancient ways, or do they adopt new ones to become more fully part of the world they find themselves on? And how many times have they had to make this choice?

As you quest through the zone, you come to discover that Shadowmoon Valley wasn't chosen as a draenei holy spot through random chance - the interaction between the draenei and the orcs in this area presages developments in other parts of the world. Just as the draenei have had to choose how they will adapt to a new world, the orcs of the Shadowmoon Clan were forced to contend with a power they did not understand. Each exists in a kind of opposition to the other, and the choices of one affect how the other develops.

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

Breakfast Topic: What do you hope to see in Shadowmoon Valley?

Blizzard's alpha testing of Warlords of Draenor alliance zone Shadowmoon Valley came to an abrupt halt on Friday when the alpha realms were brought offline to address an issue. With only a brief glimpse of Shadowmoon and a short zone preview to whet our appetites, today let's talk about what we want to see happening in the alliance zone.

I'm eager to finally get some hands-on time with alliance garrisons -- though we've seen a preview, I'm eager to see how they play out in-game -- and finally meet up with the Draenei of not-yet-Outland. These early glimpses of new content are always exciting and filled with possibility -- so tell us, readers, what do you most want to see in Shadowmoon Valley?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Warlords of Draenor: Shadowmoon Valley preview

I love draenei. I've made this clear time and again. So you can imagine the throaty, masculine squeal of delight that I let loose when I saw the new zone preview for Shadowmoon Valley up on the official site. I'm very hopeful that we'll get to explore it soon on the alpha (a hope fed by specific tweets) and getting to read about what's going on in the zone made me very, very excited. Okay, so it made me giddy with delight. Exarch Akama! The Temple of Karabor! Gul'dan up to no good! If I were any more excited this entire paragraph would be in italics.

So head over to the official site and read what Senior Designer Helen Cheng has to say about Shadowmoon Valley, the Alliance's first stop on Draenor. I am so freaking excited right now. We're going to get to see intact draenei architecture and their greatest heroes and... I gotta go lie down now, guys. Discuss among yourselves.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Shadowmoon Valley in next alpha build

Shadowmoon Valley
World of Warcraft's Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi has confirmed via Twitter that the next alpha build will shut down the Horde lines in Frostfire Ridge and open up Shadowmoon Valley in its place.
Considering Shadowmoon Valley is the expansion's introductory zone for the Alliance, I think it's safe to assume that the "new intro tier garrison" mentioned is, in fact, the Alliance-side garrison. Even though it's never safe to predict these things, it's still nice to know that the addition of Alliance garrison Followers discovered in yesterday's alpha update was, in fact, an indication that Alliance-side testing was nearly upon us.

Having played through a bit of the Alliance quests at the Temple of Karabor during BlizzCon, I'm particularly interested to hear what the alpha-testers have to say about the rest of the zone, as well as how the blue garrison quests are both different and similar to the red ones.

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Shadowmoon Valley behind the scenes

If you guys have noticed, we like to feature the various throwback thursdays that developers have posted to twitter. Today we have another doozy from Cory Stockton. Previously he's shared really awesome looks back at places like Dalaran, today he gives us this look at Shadowmoon Valley in its conceptual stage. Looking it over you can see that things are still in the 'generic name' version, for instance 'Dwarf' and 'Broken Draenei Village' instead of names yet, but most of what we recognize as the Shadowmoon Valley of The Burning Crusade is on there. Considering we're going to be getting a look at an entirely new SMV as an Alliance starting zone, I find this look back very interesting.

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

Warlords of Draenor: New garrison screenshots from PAX East

Hunter site Eyes of the Beast attended PAX East this weekend, and uploaded some images from the press kit. Included in the screenshots are an impressive shot of what appears to be the Spires of Arak, a shot of Frostfire Ridge, another shot of the gorgeous scenery in Shadowmoon Valley, and of course, garrisons. The garrison screenshots in particular are interesting because it looks like this is a garrison at or very near completion -- giving a much clearer look at just what these things will look like when we get to set them up ourselves.

Of course, the buildings displayed are all Alliance structures -- we haven't really seen any fully realized previews of Horde settlements just yet. The Alliance architecture seems to blend in with Draenor's lush landscape remarkably well. I'm hoping that the Horde buildings won't stick out like a sore thumb in comparison -- but we'll have to wait to see what the Horde structures look like, for now. Check out the full post on Eyes of the Beast for all the images.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

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

Warlords of Draenor: Character boost and Shadowmoon Valley gameplay footage

What we have here is video from today's Korean press event, showing footage of an orc warrior playing both on the Timeless Isle in the starter gear you get when boosting to level 90, followed at the four minute mark by a dwarf warrior running around Shadowmoon Valley on Warlords of Draenor's Draenor. We get to see the maps for several zones (most appear to be unfinished) as well as Draenor's position on the map next to Outland and Azeroth. We get to see several mobs, including a nether ray style mob, and the local draenei at the Temple of Karabor. Even better, we get extremely brief glimpses of new level 100 warrior talents!

All in all it's pretty tantalizing, and perhaps they're further along than I would have thought - it seems more likely to me now that a beta is a month or two away than it did before I saw the video.

Edited to add - The folks at MMO-Champion posted two more videos from the same source, Korean webzine Inven. You can watch them here and here.

Thanks to Mintie for the tip.


Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Intermezzo Part Two - The Alliance Strikes Back


Welcome once again my friends to the lore that never ends, we're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside Know Your Lore.

Last week, we covered the events after the end of the Second War, when Ner'zhul and Teron Gorefiend led an attack on the Azerothian nations which held artifacts the former elder shaman believed he could use to open new portals on Draenor. These portals would be the salvation of the orcs who were doomed to a slow death as fel corruption slowly consumed the land.

In response to the Horde of Draenor's attacks (led by Gorefiend, Kilrogg Deadeye and Kargath Bladefist) and their theft of artifacts like the Book of Medivh and Eye of Dalaran, King Terenas Menethil ordered Turalyon and Khadgar to lead an expedition beyond the Dark Portal itself to determine what the Horde had planned.

This week, the Alliance Expedition takes the fight to the Horde, and we once again remind you that if you played through these events in WCII, things may have changed in the lore since. Please bear with us as we reconstruct the events surrounding the Alliance Expedition to Draenor. The Sons of Lothar against the Horde of Draenor.

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Filed under: Know your Lore

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