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Posts with tag the-burning-crusade

The mistakes of the World of Warcraft

It's been a long time, hasn't it? World of Warcraft has lasted ten years, and in that time things are bound to go wrong. It's inevitable. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold, I make references to William Butler Yeats and then talk about video games. No game lasts as long as World of Warcraft without making some bad steps along the way. Like Indiana Jones stepping on the wrong tile, all we can do is clamber back up.

Some of these were completely unforeseen, others in retrospect were pretty obvious, but at the time not so much, and others you have to wonder how they managed to make it live in the first place. We're going to talk about them now.

Vanilla WoW: The PvP ladder

Before the ladder, there was mainly world PvP. Spots like the Crossroads in the Barrens (close to a convenient neutral port so Alliance could get there easily) and Tarren Mill/Southshore were hotly contended for almost no good reason at all besides simple factional hatred and a desire from players to kill players. All of that changed with the introduction of battleground and honor rewards, the best of which required a player to achieve a certain rank to attain. What happened next was simple - some players hit upon a means to achieve that high PvP rank, namely, play in shifts.

The ladder was abused from the moment of its introduction. People formed groups who hit the BGs together, sure, but that wasn't the abuse part. The abuse came in the form of people sharing their account information and playing a specific character in shifts, literally keeping said character in the BGs for days at a time. If you were trying to play your character fairly, you simply couldn't compete with the five people who were playing that one warlock nonstop until it had all the high ranking PvP gear, and then shifting to the next player's warrior or paladin. I knew people who tried to stay awake for two solid days doing nothing but hitting up Alterac Valley and Warsong Gulch. It was painful to watch. The ladder ended up being removed before the end of vanilla, and it was the best change they could have made.

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

WoW Archivist: Talents have come full circle

Circle of Healing
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?

The Warlords of Draenor patch 6.0 notes have revealed the latest changes to WoW's ever-evolving talent system. Talents have remained a core system in WoW since its earliest days, the primary method that allows players to make their characters distinct.

In the beta for WoW and throughout vanilla, talent trees were a bit of a mess, as Archivist covered. Today, we'll examine how those early trees came to be expanded, refined, and then scrapped for a very different system. We'll also look at how Warlords is bringing back the earliest version of talent trees in a brand new way.

The golden age of hybrids

Talent possibilities exploded during The Burning Crusade. Ten more levels granted players ten more points to assign. Players could now combine abilities in ways that vanilla's trees had never allowed, opening up exciting new gameplay paths.

Players didn't choose a specialization like they do today. Instead, they assigned points to three different "trees." Each tree represented a spec, but each also had talents that helped the other two specs as well. So players could pick and choose just how far down they wanted to go in a given tree, and thus how much to commit their character to one spec. "Hybrid" builds were not ideal from a min/max perspective, but they were popular. And TBC was the golden age of such builds.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: Warlords of Draenor hates The Burning Crusade

Draining a naaru
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?

In many ways, The Burning Crusade was the birth of modern WoW. Most of TBC's innovations are still going strong in WoW today and have been ever since their introduction. Looking back, it's striking how many key features of WoW were absent in classic, only unveiled during the game's first expansion.

Even more striking, however, is how many of these innovations Warlords of Draenor seems poised to undo. Just as Garrosh will undo the transformation of Draenor into Outland, Warlords seeks to unravel most of what Blizzard innovated during TBC. The next expansion will take us through a portal into a very different WoW.

Archivist has now covered all the major patches of The Burning Crusade: patch 2.0.1, patch 2.0.3, patch 2.1, patch 2.2, patch 2.3, and patch 2.4. Now it's time to review the expansion as a whole -- and explore how Warlords will make most of TBC's innovations disappear into the nether.

Dawn of the quest hub

The idea seems so obvious it's hard to imagine that classic WoW actually didn't have quest hubs, at least not in the strict sense. WoW was the first MMO to promote the idea of leveling mainly through quests rather than grinding mobs. So Blizzard had no model to look at when they were designing the original quests.

In classic WoW, quests were put into the game wherever the developers thought they made sense, mostly from a lore perspective. Quests didn't necessarily guide you through a zone area by area. Quests were scattered, and their objectives were, too. They weren't breadcrumbs -- they were meant to be discovered. They didn't hold your hand -- they sent you on an adventure, like it or not.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: The curse of Karazhan

Karazhan Tower
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?

Something has been afoot in Karazhan of late. First, dataminers noticed that Karazhan had been renamed Medivh's Big Birthday Bash on the PTR. In the rechristened raid, objects such as cobwebs and skeletons had disappeared. Then a later build renamed it Karazhan 2: Eclectic Boogaloo. Senior game designer Jonathan Craft tweeted that fellow designer Dave Maldonado was responsible. Maldonado later said that nothing is happening. It turned out to be a test to see if a phased quest could be set there, but sadly it didn't work.

Many players would be excited to return to Karazhan, and it would make sense to do this in Warlords of Draenor. After all, Karazhan is from the same expansion that took us to the shattered remnants of Draenor back in 2007. Hopefully Blizzard will find a way to feature some Karazhan-based content during the next expansion.

Karazhan remains one of Blizzard's most popular raid zones, and for good reason. But did it succeed too well for WoW's own good? Let's look back at what Karazhan offered us in its prime and how it impacted raid design in future expansions.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: Patch 2.4 -- Fury of the Sunwell

Fury of the Sunwell logo
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?

On March 4, 2008, Gary Gygax, the creator of Dungeons & Dungeons, passed away. A few weeks later, Blizzard dedicated the final and meatiest patch of the Burning Crusade expansion to Gary's memory.

Unlike the raid- and druid-centric patch 2.1, the big nothing of 2.2, or the old world revamp (and another raid) of patch 2.3, Fury of the Sunwell had boatloads of new endgame content for everyone. Blizzard also provided a trailer for the patch that showed the history of the Sunwell and revealed Kael'thas' diabolical plan.

Redefining realm-wide events

Kael'thas had to be stopped. The naaru convinced the Scryers and the Aldor to work together, forming a new faction to retake the Sunwell at the Isle of Que'Danas. The Shattered Sun Offensive represented a massive evolution of the realm-wide event concept after the very popular Gates of Ahn'qiraj event ushered in the idea. Daily quests, introduced in The Burning Crusade, were the key.

The Gates event required players to gather and turn in crafting supplies. Though you certainly felt like a contributor by forking over dozens of stacks of cloth, the gameplay aspect was lacking. Only one guild per realm could participate in the complete quest line.

On Quel'Danas, everyone could experience the story as it played out. Instead of turning in items, your realm earned credit toward the next phase of the event when players completed dailies. Rather than a one-time event, the phases changed and unlocked different parts of the island to show the Offensive's progress. Eventually the united Scryers and Aldor built a town, complete with a blacksmith for repairs, alchemy lab, portal, and statues to honor the fallen. Each new phase also brought new dailies and new rewards that could be purchased with gold and "badges" (TBC's equivalent of valor points). All of these changes were permanent, so you didn't have to log in on a specific day in order to enjoy them.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

A history of BlizzCon WoW reveals

It all started at BlizzCon 2005 with the above video revealing The Burning Crusade expansion. Some of you may only remember the cinematic trailers, but there has always been an announcement trailer comprised entirely of in-game footage. When Blizzard announced The Burning Crusade, they only revealed the new Horde race of Blood Elves. The Draenei were not revealed until about 6 months later.

Flying mounts, socketed items, a new race, and a new continent. It was an exciting time to be a WoW player. There were just 8,000 attendees that first year, which makes the Murky pet everyone received extremely rare. On the rare occasion when an unscratched card appears on the market, it can go for thousands of dollars. Also interesting to note that the canceled Starcraft: Ghosts game for PS2 and XBOX was playable on the convention floor that year. The Offspring performed in concert at the closing ceremony. The following year was one of the only two years since then to not have a convention, but BlizzCon returned in 2007 and was set to announce the most popular expansion yet.

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Filed under: BlizzCon

Why the Burning Crusade didn't suck

Why the Burning Crusade didn't suck
Yesterday, Brian Wood explored his thoughts on why Burning Crusade sucked. He did it in-character, playing the role of Grandpappy Frostheim, laying out his thoughts in the persona of a grumpy, crusty old dwarf telling the young'uns how bad things were back in his day. You can't take a persona like that seriously -- and you're not supposed to -- but the piece made me think about why I love Burning Crusade so much. Even after all of this time, it remains my favorite expansion, though Mists of Pandaria is pretty darn good.

Yeah, Burning Crusade had its faults. It wasn't as well-balanced as most remember, it had more than its fair share of annoying gameplay mechanics, and the fact that the developers hadn't yet solidified the roles of 10- and 25-man raids was a real drag at times. If Burning Crusade were released this year, it would have a terrible reception. There have been so many quality-of-life improvements made since its release that players would never want to live as we did in Burning Crusade ever again. Despite that, it still had many elements that I loved, and still love. Many of these things are nebulous and completely up to personal tastes -- what I love, you may hate, and that's fine. That's how opinions work.

Stranger in a strange land

To me, Outland defined the Warcraft franchise's storytelling capabilities. Though Warcraft often utilizes the same fantasy tropes you see just about everywhere in the genre, it wasn't afraid to be different -- we went to a new, completely alien planet. The playable draenei were a race of people who traverse the stars. The ethereals were merchants from another plane of existence. Outland was not just a subcontinent of Azeroth, it was a new world entirely. While it has been done in fantasy, it isn't done very often.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade

World of Warcraft 75% off this week only

World of Warcraft 75% off this week only
Do you have a friend interested in World of Warcraft? Would you like a second account to fill with gleeful pandaren come Mists? Now's the time to get your hands on the game. Blizzard just announced that all WoW expansions are on sale this week only. The Battle Chest is $5, Wrath of the Lich King is $5, and to top it off, Cataclysm is only $10. That's $20 for the complete set, making this an excellent time to bring your friends in for the start of Mists of Pandaria -- or for you to stash a set of games for a secondary account.

Keep in mind that recruiting yourself via Recruit-A-Friend will still net you that sweet Obsidian Nightwing mount!

Prepare for Pandaria with epic savings! This week only, you can get the World of Warcraft Battle Chest for $5, Wrath of the Lich King for $5, and Cataclysm for $10 when you buy directly from Blizzard. That's 75% off the regular prices, making this a great time to set yourself up for the imminent launch of Mists of Pandaria... or to invite a friend to join you in Azeroth.

Hurry, this offer ends August 27, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. PDT.


Filed under: News items, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

Nab WoW and all expansions for $20 at GameStop and Best Buy

Nab WoW and all expansions for $20 at GameStop and Best Buy
It's nowhere near Christmas, but GameStop and Best Buy are doing their best to make it feel that way. Both are running a huge sale on World of Warcraft this week. The World of Warcraft Battlechest, which includes both the original game and The Burning Crusade expansion, is only $4.99. If you want to add Wrath of the Lich King, that's $4.99 as well. And if you want to pick up Cataclysm, it's only $9.99 more -- which brings the grand total for all expansions to a cheap $20.

Not only is this great for anyone looking to give the gift of WoW, it also comes in handy for those looking to get the Obsidian Nightwing through the Recruit-A-Friend program. You can either recruit your friends and get them the games, or you can grab the games and open up a second account for yourself. Either way, $20 is a steal.

Check out either GameStop or Best Buy for online ordering, or check with your local store to see if they're carrying the games in stock.

Filed under: News items, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

WoW Moviewatch: The Hunt [NSFW]

Having exhausted all the newer machinima that I cared to post, I decided to go digging deep into the WoW Insider archives for something really ancient that hadn't seen the light of day in a while. Serendipitously, the first thing I found ended up leading me to something we've never actually posted on the site before. Convenient, huh? It would seem that back in 2008, we posted a trailer for a feature-length machinima called The Hunt, but when the final version was released in August 2011, it was off our radar and never got published. Three and a half years will do that, I suppose!

Before we get started, please note that the video has some cursing, graphic violence, and a very short sex scene (less than 2 seconds) that you may not want your small children or boss to see or hear. That said, the whole thing runs 60 minutes long, so you'll probably want to sit down to this like a movie when you're at home anyway.

So overall, I have to say I was really pleasantly surprised by The Hunt. It's very different from the other narrative story machinima I've seen, using modern storytelling techniques, music, and even modern dialogue. The result is a simultaneously epic and ridiculous movie that's a whole lot of fun to watch, provided you're able to let yourself go with it.

I say that last bit because I do expect some of you to hate this machinima. Some of you will hate it for its unpolished voice acting, while others will hate it for the liberties it takes with the Warcraft lore. Now, I can't really help you if you're a lore buff, but concerning the voice acting, I've got a thing or two to say. First, yes, I'll admit that it's not the best -- but personally, I do think it works. The whole movie is a sort of genre parody, mixing serious fantasy story elements with comedy (think The Princess Bride), and within that world, goofy, over-the-top voices aren't out of place. The real complaint to be had with the voice acting is simply that there are only three voice actors for all the characters, and at times, some of the characters just sound too similar.

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Filed under: WoW Moviewatch

GameStop offering Black Friday deal on WoW Battle Chest and expansions

Retail gaming store GameStop is offering a huge deal on Black Friday for those who want to pick up World of Warcraft. The WoW Battle Chest, which includes both WoW and The Burning Crusade expansion, can be snapped up for $9.99, and both Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm will be available for $19.99 each. This means that players looking to get started with WoW can pick up the whole collection for $50 total, which is a great deal no matter how you look at it.

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and falls on Friday, Nov. 25 this year. So if you're looking to pick up the game for a friend (can we say Recruit-A-Friend, anyone?) or to open a second account for yourself, this would be an ideal time to do it for an ideal price.

Filed under: News items, Cataclysm

5 reasons you should love The Burning Crusade

The Burning Crusade marked WoW's first foray into expansions, and it took a while to arrive -- a little over two years, actually, but Blizzard made sure the expansion was well worth waiting for. Offering two new races, more talent choices, and an entirely new world to explore, The Burning Crusade gave players plenty of reasons to eagerly anticipate its release.

But it wasn't just the world that was different. The Burning Crusade took the game we'd been playing for a little over two years and tweaked it with small improvements that affect the way we play the game even today. It pioneered the definition of what an expansion was, in the WoW universe, and paved the way for the expansions to follow. The Burning Crusade still ranks high on many players' favorite expansion lists, including my own. Finding five reasons to love it? That's a complete walk in the park. Picking just five to show you ... that's a little harder!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Know Your Lore: NPC evolution from classic WoW to The Burning Crusade

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.

We always hear about the big-name characters in Warcraft lore. Whether it's the heroic exploits of Varian Wrynn or the continuing saga of Thrall, big-name NPCs have been a constant in Warcraft novels and stories and in the game itself. But what about those lesser-known NPCs, the ones who aren't great heroes -- the bread vendors or the ones who send us to the ends of the earth for zhevra hooves? Do they just sit around all day, waiting for our inevitable return?

Yes and no. World of Warcraft isn't simply a game; it's a micro-world of characters who have their own day-to-day lives. The game itself has made considerable strides in incorporating lore and storylines through quests and in game cutscenes. But what few realize is how many strides those lesser characters have taken right along with everything else. Today we're going to take a look at some of this NPC evolution -- the steps taken to give World of Warcraft the feel of a living, breathing world.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

BlizzCon 2009: How far along is the development of Cataclysm?

We knew Cataclysm was coming, but it's nice to be able to play it. Today. At BlizzCon. Yes, rather than firing up the PTRs to let visitors kick Onyxia's butt (again) or proffering a glimpse of Arthas' defeat, attendees get their first taste of the new expansion set. How awesome is that? To be able to play the game this weekend, though, suggests that it's at a good stage in development. After all, Wrath was announced at BlizzCon 2007 but we didn't actually get to play it (at least the internal Friends and Family Alpha version) until the WWI in July 2008, nearly a year later.

Blizzard's Lead Level Designer on World of Warcraft, Cory Stockton, has stated that Cataclysm's development began before Wrath shipped (there's a surprise ...) but it's obviously futher along than many might have thought and then Mike Morhaime hesitantly confirmed the game was slated to be released in 2010 along with StarCraft II. So when exactly could we expect to see the third World of Warcraft expansion?

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, BlizzCon, Cataclysm

Take a wander down memory lane with the History of Warcraft

Just in time for the inevitable announcement of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, IGN have decided to turn in the opposite direction and take a peek at this history of this momumental franchise. They've posted an epic five-page retrospective feature on the entire Warcraft franchise as part of the run up to BlizzCon.

It looks at everything from the original game, Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, to the failed Thrall-centric loregasm that was Warcraft Adventures right on through to Warcraft II and III. Of course, they also look in detail at World of Warcraft and its two expansions, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King.

If you only discovered the Warcraft franchise with WoW, as I did, it's a fascinating glimpse into one of gaming's biggest franchises. World of Warcraft is not just a game or a single mythology, it's the culmination of a decade of gaming history. So if you've got an hour to kill before the fun and games today, you might want to check this out.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Expansions, Features, The Burning Crusade, Lore, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

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