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Posts with tag the-burning-crusade

WoW Archivist: Beta surprises

Death knights bomb the plaguelands
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?

Last week, we launched into the newest beta in WoW's history -- its sixth! -- for Warlords of Draenor. It's an exciting time for the game. Every beta has its surprises, good and bad. New things that were never announced. Prior announcements that changed unexpectedly. We've already had a number of surprises in the Warlords beta: the faction hub shift to Ashran, cross-faction auctions, and the removal of guild leveling.

Beta is just ramping up. We are sure to encounter more than one surprise over the next few months as we test the Draenor experience and gear up for the expansion's launch. Let's take a look back at the previous five betas and examine some of the twists that greeted testers -- and often shocked the WoW community. Caveat: I'm excluding storyline surprises.

The original beta

In 2003 and early 2004, players didn't really know what to expect from a World of Warcraft MMO. Blizzard, after all, had never made one before. Most of the original beta served up surprise after surprise. Yet, a few stand out.

Tired heroes. Patch 0.6 introduced the first incarnation of the rest system. Today it is simply a bonus for players who don't have time to log in every day. The original version was more like the Chinese government's "anti-obsession measures": it punished you for playing too long. The system looked like this:
  • Well rested gave 200% of the XP from a mob kill
  • Rested gave between 100% and 200% XP
  • Normal gave 100% XP
  • Fatigued gave 50% XP
  • Exhausted gave 25% XP
Your hero needed a good night's rest -- a full eight hours at an inn -- to go from exhausted to normal.

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Filed under: The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: Expansion gaps

Gap in the bridge on the Timeless Isle
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?

Expansion gaps are the most reviled of all content gaps. It's not just because they are the longest -- it's because at the other end of the gap lies so much to look forward to. Expansions change WoW from top to bottom. They usher in brand new worlds to explore and bring us new ways to play the game. That's part of why it takes Blizzard so long to release them.

In the meantime, we wait, mired in the old, but excited about the new.

We are experiencing what is likely to be the longest expansion gap so far in WoW's 10-year history. But what about the expansion gaps of the past? How do they stack up? What did Blizzard offer and what were players' reactions to them? Read on to find out!

Classic WoW to The Burning Crusade

Dates: August 22, 2006 to January 16, 2007
Duration: 4 months, 25 days
Subscriptions: Rising
Mood: Excited

The first expansion gap was also the shortest. It felt like a long time to players back then, since classic WoW offered patches and content at a blistering pace for the first two years of the game. Players were impatient, yes. That never changes. But we knew WoW was a hit and we were thrilled that the success of the game had made an expansion possible. We couldn't wait to roll a blood elf or a draenei, or take to the skies and fly for the first time. Plus, most raiding guilds hadn't conquered every boss (or even close), so they had plenty to keep them busy.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: Flight

Sparkle Pony
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?

Flying is second nature to WoW players. We've been doing it for almost eight years now. Sure, we've adventured in a few flightless places, like the Isle of Thunder, the Isle of Giants, and the Timeless Isle. Even The Burning Crusade, where flying originated, had a no-fly zone on the Isle of Quel'Danas. (What is it with these isles anyway?) But almost always, since 2006, we've flown. And we always expected to, for the vast majority of our in-game time.

Now, because of Blizzard's impassioned arguments against flight on Draenor, flying is suddenly controversial. If you look back, you can see why: flying has changed the game like no other feature before or since. Let's start where it all began, however, with classic WoW's humble flight paths.

They used to be cool

I'm about to express something that you may not believe. Once upon a time, flight paths were cool. Yep, I said it. Before flying mounts, when you couldn't even get a ground mount until level 40 and epic ground mounts were just a dream for most due to the steep cost, in that early version of the game where you spent most of your travel time walking or riding at the pace of a Throne of Thunder gastropod, flight paths were cool.

Not only did they get you around the continent at the fastest possible speed, they gave you a cinematic view of Azeroth from the skies. It was the only time you could get that view from above. The first time most classic WoW players rode a gryphon or wyvern from A to B, we loved it.

No other MMO at the time had anything like it. We felt like masters of the world -- at least, when we could afford to take the trip. Most players were broke in the early days, and using flight paths too liberally often meant forgoing buying a new skill when you leveled. Taking a flight path was an indulgence, a treat, instead of the annoying hassle we see them as today.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

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

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