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Posts with tag wotlk-retrospective

Wrath Retrospective: What we learned from death knights


With the final content patch of this expansion on our doorstep and Cataclysm following close behind, we'll be taking the next several weeks to look back on Wrath of the Lich King and everything that made it what it is, for better or for worse, in Wrath Retrospective.

Wrath of the Lich King
is coming to an end, and with it one of the largest experiments that Blizzard has ever done in the history of WoW. At the onset of this expansion, we were all introduced to a new class; the death knight. The addition of a new class has major complications on the game as a whole: how they fit into PvE, how they work in PvP, what buffs and debuffs they bring, what roles they fill, what unique utility that they provide. All of these things have changed the face of the game as we know it. though fairly new arrivals, death knights have been integrated into the game almost seamlessly; the craters that they made when they first arrived, however, are still highly visible to those that know where to look.

There were a lot of misconceptions about death knights when they were first released. Once they were announced, Blizzard classified them as being a hero class, not to be confused with your ordinary, run-of-the-mill class. To many people, this caused worry that death knights would be grossly overpowered and far superior to all of the others. Blizzard was quick to point out that this was not the case, but it did little to assuage many of the fears that players had. Still, death knights have had their ups and their downs all throughout this expansion, and if that is not a case for removing then from hero status then I don't know what is.

What can we learn from death knights? What has all of the work done with the significant re-balancing changes and the major talent changes taught us about WoW in general? How can we apply that knowledge to all of the other classes in the game? That is what I wish to explore to day, and I hope that you will join me.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath Retrospective: Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader, part two

Trial of the Crusader was, for all intents and purposes, an experiment. The world part of raiding, from suppressor rooms to the Twin Emperors and beyond, has always been the stifling mechanic of trash. "The real meat of the dungeon's content should be the boss fights," the masses cried! And for the most part, they are right. Trash serves many purposes, from creating artificial time sinks and flavor, to teaching players mechanics that they would then need to hone, skill wise, against a boss. Trial of the Crusader paved a very different path, succeeding in many areas, but ultimately failing in many others. ToC was uneven at best, soul-destroying at worst.

Let's look back!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath Retrospective: Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader, part one

Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader/Grand Crusader (collectively "ToC") were the middle children of the Wrath raiding family. And like many middle children, they both turned out wildly different from the children before and after them. Ulduar and ToC could not have been farther apart in design, structure, implementation, and style. I would love to share with you my experiences in both raids as a business-casual raider and my own thoughts looking back on these two distinct experiences.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath Retrospective: Ulduar


With the final content patch of this expansion on our doorstep and Cataclysm following close behind, we'll be taking the next several weeks to look back on Wrath of the Lich King and everything that made it what it is, for better or for worse, in Wrath Retrospective.

Ulduar was released with patch 3.1 in April of 2009. Until the release of patch 3.2 in August 2009, Ulduar was the highest level 10- and 25-man raid content in World of Warcraft. It's fair to say that Ulduar was at best tangential to the overarching story of Wrath of the Lich King that concluded in Icecrown Citadel, but I also think it's fair to say that Ulduar took everything that had gone before it in Naxxramas, the Eye of Eternity and Obsidian Sanctum and distilled down to a refined, satisfying raid experience.

Ulduar took the vehicle fight mechanic of EoE and managed to make it fun, interesting and variable, incorporating the hard mode mechanic first developed in Obsidian Sanctum and then expanding on it in several different ways. It allowed for optional bosses that could be killed if a raid was gearing up or skipped once you were ready to move on to the end of the instance. It took the various teleport mechanics first seen in Karazhan and Black Temple in BC and made them part of the instance. It even had a "hard mode only" fight with a limited duration that could only be attempted for one hour every raid week from the first time it was started.

It's no secret that Ulduar is one of many people's favorite raids for this expansion (it's personally #2 for me, as I'm a much bigger fan of ICC than most), and there are quite a few reasons for that popularity.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath Retrospective: Lore and the art of storytelling


With the final content patch of this expansion on our doorstep and Cataclysm following close behind, we'll be taking the next several weeks to look back on Wrath of the Lich King and everything that made it what it is, for better or for worse, in WotLK Retrospective.

Wrath of the Lich King wasn't just an expansion -- it was an experiment in progressive storytelling featuring story lines and lore that we haven't seen since Warcraft III. While Burning Crusade tackled new issues and races, it did little to further any of the Azeroth stories we'd seen in the earlier Warcraft games; Wrath took a step backwards to move the prior stories forward. Along with this change in direction, we saw the introduction of a few things that hadn't been seen in Warcraft before that made a large change to the way we view stories and quests in World of Warcraft, and a re-introduction of many of the heroes and prominent figures that we'd only caught glimpses of in vanilla. Today, we're going to look at Wrath lore: what worked, what knocked it out of the park and what failed to impress.

Phasing

Quite possibly the biggest technical advancement in storytelling was the introduction of the phasing mechanic. This allowed players to play through quests, and as the stories progressed, so did the world around the players, giving a new and unique feel to story line progression. Suddenly, instead of playing through a zone with no indication that you'd made any changes to the status quo, the world changed around you -- the chain of events in Conquest Hold in Grizzly Hills and Frosthold in the Storm Peaks both actually ended with NPCs being replaced as a direct result of player interaction. In the quest chain of The Battle for the Undercity, both Alliance and Horde players are teleported into a phased version of Orgrimmar, designed as a vehicle to further the story line -- and as a way for Alliance players to interact with Thrall without being attacked.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore

Wrath of the Lich King Retrospective: Naxxramas

With the final content patch of this expansion on our doorstep and Cataclysm following close behind, we'll be taking the next several weeks to look back on Wrath of the Lich King and everything that made it what it is, for better or for worse, in WotLK Retrospective.

When people talk about raiding in Wrath of the Lich King, a lot of the complaints often boil down to Naxxramas. It was out too long before a new tier of raid content, the fights were too dumbed down from the original raid's difficulty and it was too easy. It was an unimaginative way for Blizzard to cut corners and save time developing Wrath. While I'm personally critical of Naxxramas as a raid instance in its current implementation, let's look at these points and discuss their validity.
  • Naxxramas was out too long before a new tier of raid content. This one's pretty subjective, but we can consider two factors. First, Naxx went live with Wrath's release in November 2008, alongside Malygos (Eye of Eternity) and Sartharion (Obsidian Sanctum). Malygos' itemization was half a tier superior to that of Naxx itself, so that items that dropped in the 10-man version of Eye of Eternity were equivalent to those that dropped in 25-man Naxx. Malygos-25 drops were superior to anything that dropped in Naxxramas off anyone but Kel'Thuzad himself. So while we could say that this entire tier of raiding lasted from launch until the release of Ulduar in April 2009, it's unfair to single out Naxxramas as the sole offender. Furthermore, Trial of the Crusader launched in August 2009, meaning that Ulduar's duration as the top tier of raiding was only a month shorter than that of Naxxramas/EoE/OS. Are we really arguing that the 20 bosses of those combined three raids had so much less raiding potential that an extra month or so wasn't at least subjectively justifiable?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

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