Mopping up MoP

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News today comes in the shape and form of preparation to send Mists of Pandaria into the archives and make way for Warlords of Draenor. Confirmed to be around the date of 10th March, less than one week from now, Mists of Pandaria’s Digital Deluxe edition will be retired into the Blizzard Archive.

This means that you will no longer be able to purchase the Digital Deluxe edition, and thus begins the first step towards being able to pre-order the next expansion Warlords of Draenor at some undisclosed date afterwards.

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Mists of Pandaria’s Digital deluxe edition contains both an in-game mount and in-game pet, so if you are still undecided to get those articles of the game or not, this will likely help you make that decision much easier. Blizzard go on to mention that the Digital Deluxe version of Pandaria, whilst being retired now, may at some point in the future rear it’s head again, but they are not confirming anything. For now it’s best to presume that you won’t see them again for a while, if at all.

So what does this mean in terms of WoD?

Well if we look at this from another perspective, a date on anything at this point is a huge giveaway as to the planning process for the pre-order process and somewhat indicative towards any possible beta plans, which would come shortly after. If the 10th of March is the end of MoP DD pre-order, it could mean that we would see the pre-order for the next WoW expansion days, maybe even 1-2 weeks maximum after this point. You have to remember that the store page would need a new promotion, it’s fairly unlikely they would leave it blank for too long. Anything could happen though, but the speculation is much easier if you look at this from a business stand point. Literally mopping up MoP is the final stage needed on the store front before a new promotion could be introduced, and there is nothing more anticipated than WoD pre-order and the subsequent level 90 boost features, one of which you would get free with WoD pre-order. Thinking back to Blizzcon, they mentioned that the free 90 would be something that they would introduce with the pre-order a good deal of time prior to the games release, giving people time to get accustomed to their character and it’s abilities at 90. From that alone it makes me think they mean months and months prior, rather than a week before release.

Keeping people interested in the lull between content is something they wanted to cut out of the process

The past couple of weeks have been wonderful for a sudden burst in WoD news, weather it be class changes, PvP changes, etc. Now with this date for the end of MoP D.D, it’s all drawing to a close in preparation for the next chapter in World of Warcraft! Be sure to stay around here at Stratics, for Daily/ Weekly news, lore, discussions and more!

 

 

World Of Warcraft Easter Eggs

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There are many places in wow that people come across by accident or a guildmate told them that there is a cool reference or a place somewhere in the world. I have gathered five of my favorite places that I came across by accident while roaming the wilds or walking around the cities.

 

Goblin treasure

We all know that goblins are a greedy money hungry bunch of green things. But just how greedy is not known, well, there is a place in Stranglethorne, that was uncovered when the Cataclysm hit. You have all seen the huge statue outside of Booty Bay, the Goblin one, you can´t really miss it. Next time you area round there with your trusty mount, flying one that is, go to the statue and look inside. There is something shiny in there.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Splinter

In the peaceful city of Dalaran, there is a place where men and women like to go duke it out, where the guards don´t bother them and they can duel in peace. The sewers, home of the PVP players, well, at least it was a while back. But none the less, it’s also a home of many other creatures, mainly rats, cause yaknow, sewers, but there is a one particular rat that is accompanied by 4 tiny turtles. This is of course a reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their master Splinter.

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Loch Ness Monster

In the Deep Run Tram that goes from Stormwind to Ironforge. There is a nice little easter egg waiting in the waters, when you pass it. It´s not always there, so the best way to find it is, to leg it down the pipeline and look for it. In the deep waters you can see an NPC called Nessie, a nice reference to the Loch Ness Monster and as we all know, all dwarves are of Scottish heritage so a nice tribute to Scotland as well.

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Friday The 13th

You have seen the movies or at least one of them, a guy named Jason with an old school hockey mask and a big huge knife, stalks his victims around Crystal Lake and kills them with many gruesome ways. The series started in 1980 so it´s classic American horror. And in true Blizzard fashion, they have made a reference to the series and its main character Jason. In Crystal Lake, behind the Lions Bride Inn, you can find an NPC called Jason. Sadly, he has no hockey mask, or huge knife, but none the less, it’s a great tribute to this legendary franchise.

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Sega Mega-CD

All the praise of this find goes to Meoni, he found this gem of a fish swimming around in the sewers of Dalaran. A shark named Segacedi This reference is from a long while ago. From my childhood, the early 1990´s. Sega Mega -CD and the game Sewer Shark. The Sega Mega – CD was an add-on for the Sega Megadrive/Genesis and the first of its kind ever to use CD technology for gaming. Games were bigger and “better” I say it like that because of Night Trap, look it up, it was something else.

amazing eighties game reference for the mega cd

 

I will be making more of these types of articles. About the little things in WoW, some of them are well known, some you might discover for the first time. Because in this massive world, there is always something to discover.

WoW Stratics Podcast #3 ~ Spotlight: Disadvantaged Gamers

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Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome back to the official WoW Stratics Podcast!
The project is a joint effort by everyone here at the WoW Stratics writing team, and challenges topics regularly with special guests, interviews, news, community integration and much, much more!
Our Hosts include:
Syiler, the Managing Editor of WoW Stratics,
Metro; a 25 player heroic raider and raid leader of the guild <ONE> at Firetree Horde US and
Meoni, a fellow 25 man raider and resident timekeeper here on the show!
Samkoss could not be present ;(

This week’s guest and focus of the podcast is Eltoshan, a 25 man Heroic raider also in ONE. As you may have already surmised, Eltoshan was unfortunately born with only one hand, having his left arm truncated just past the elbow. The goal of the podcast is to bring Elto’s plight, along with others in even worse situations, to the mainstream media and help players realize that its possible to play the game at a high level no matter what your situation!

As a secondary focus, it will be our pleasure to help newer players realize that having a proper UI with addons and keybinds is FAR more important to success than even having hands! Proof is here with Elto, who is able to play the game even more successfully than other people in our guild with half the options.
Hopefully the story we learn from here is that those players new to the game and saying they aren’t skilled enough to play it well can now realize that the tools are out there, you just need to explore them!

The Podcast is available on the site as a stream and on our official Itunes channel, available free to download for your listening pleasure, no matter where you are!
So what are you waiting for? Go listen in today!

If you have any comments or opinions on the shows content please do head over to our forums for an in-depth discussion!

6.0 WoD Racial Changes – First Look and Discussion!

Recently we received what appears to be a pretty complete list of the 6.0 Racial changes being made. Many existing racials are being left alone, but others are being removed outright due to the variety of stat changes. Others have simply been revamped to reduce crazy imbalance. Today Metro will walk through each and every announced racial and give his thoughts on the change, the implementation, and the relevance. Its important to realize that they are trying to make all races more viable for each role, so pay attention to some key changes!

As always, if you have comments or suggestions about which racials you’d like to see added, head over to the stratics forums to discuss the changes further!

 ALLIANCE RACIALS:

Human lose Mace/Sword specialization -
Obviously, the stats are no longer in the game. RIP

The Human Spirit changes from 3% spirit in 5.4, to +X TWO secondary stats of your choice -
Its already been discussed it will work via a fly-out menu like Mage Portals, and the downside of the ability will be the stats will be evenly split. Thus, if crit is your best stat, instead of 1 percent crit, you have to choose from .5 percent crit and .5 percent haste etc. I feel this is a strong and interesting racial and look forward to seeing exactly how it works in game. Considering spirit is useless for pretty much everyone aside from 3 specs that are human-compatible, I feel this is a necessary change. Imagine now being able to pick mastery and haste as a Human protection Paladin! Very nice!

Draenei’s Heroic Presence changes from hit chance to your most primary stat -
This was a HUGE talent for first tier PvE on alliance side and has always been the biggest redeeming quality for a faction lotted with some poor picks. Now that hit is being removed, this was the only logical choice, and remains pretty good in my eyes. Hit percentage was essentially value for players, but 1 percent extra intellect is a HUGE difference as its not linear. This racial is very strong, and will give even more merit to Alliance side PvE.

Draenei’s Gift of the Naaru heals for the same amount, but over 5 seconds -
I still feel this is horribly outdated and just plain strange in the game today, but now that its more bursty of a heal we can begin to consider it useful. The current version heals 20 percent of the CASTER’S health over 15 seconds, and now is changed to 5 seconds, meaning instead of 4 percent health every 3 seconds its now 4 percent every 1 second. It is still a 3 minute cooldown, and obviously requires considerable  micro management, so I still would not consider this great, but I feel it syngerizes pretty well with the previous racial discussed. Imagine a tank with 1million health getting 1 percent extra Stamina, AND this heal every 3 minutes. Sounds pretty lucrative! Not so much for healers though.

Night Elves Quickness also gives 2 percent movement speed -
EASILY the best tanking racial in the game for the longest time, especially on Horde side. In classic, that 2 percent was nearly as much as your gear allowed so it made Night Elf mandatory for Protection Warriors. Its not as good as it once was, but now that you are also moving quicker, it seems pretty fun. This isn’t a racial you switch for in order to min/max mythic bleeding edge progression, but this combined with the next mention may make Night Elf’s a pretty interesting race to play…

Touch of Elune grants a passive 1 percent haste during night, and 1 percent crit during the day -
This is by far the most interesting one we heard of and honestly tough to figure out. Its important to remember that come 6.0 there is no more haste “breakpoints” and they have said that they intend to make ALL specs benefit from stats as near-equally as possible to make stat selection mostly playstyle based. With all this in mind, its hard to argue with cool racials like this, but the issue is the game really does not have a definitive day-night cycle that people can live by. Especially since the nights are barely dark anymore, this makes me think they will be making big plays towards bringing this back! Here’s hoping!

Gnomes’ Escape Artist CD reduced from 1.5 minutes to 1 minute -
1 minute is barely different, but this is essentially Hand of Freedom as a racial, so I’m not sure how I feel about this. Either way, doesn’t effect PVE and Gnomes are by-in-large the most silly looking race as it is, so what’s another trick up their sleeve?

Shortblade Spec is now Nimble Fingers, granting 1 percent haste -
Standard after seeing other races by this point. Haste is great for casters, and many Gnomes play mages, so works for me. No complaints.

Expansive Mind now also gives 5 percent more energy, rage, and Runic Power -
This is kind of expected, but strange. 5 percent of a mana pool is MUCH more than say 105 rage, especially when nothing really costs 5 rage. I’d be interested in actually seeing how many more abilities you can get off with this racial per different adjustment, but either way it was a needed change. Gnomes are dumb though, so why not make Gnome DKs even more odd? 105 Runic Power!!

Dwarfs lose Mace / Gun specs and gain Might of the Mountain, giving 2 percent crit damage and healing -
Once again, pretty standard. Neat concept as crit healing can be more effective than actual crit chance and there is essentially no way to get it in this video game. Its especially great for Paladins, and I must say my first paladin was dwarf… Time to get back to my roots? JK

Stoneform changed to add removal of a Magic and Curse. Still DOES NOT remove them while CCed -
It’s important to note that this does not actually break magic CC like Polymorph. Regardless, this is a fine change for me, especially for non-healers. I’ll say this, this ability was god-like back in AQ and Naxx with all the stacking poisons, especially on Bug Trio in AQ40. Glad to see it get another look and make it a strong option. Dwarfs are looking quite strong for actual DPS roles again!

HORDE RACIALS:

Undead’s Touch of the Forsaken having its scaling rate changed -
Likely means it will be even better, as per the other racials we have seen. The amount of damage it does currently is not bad especially as a Warlock or Shadow Priest, but the healing is probably the best part of this. There are SOOO many fights where this makes a considerable difference as a caster DPS, so if they make it scale harder and heal for even more, this is quickly becoming one of my favorite changes. Time will tell.

Will of the Forsaken changed from current 2 minute CD to 3 minute CD -
Another insane nerf to this ability. Back in the day it was essentially a second trinket, and when they nerfed it the first time, a LOT of people quick the game over it, citing they had spent money specifically to go Undead and felt they should be refunded. Obviously they were not, and it rose to top 10 reasons for unsubscribing at the time. Will it happen again? Who cares, grow up PVP kids. Moving on…

Blood Elves gain Arcane Acuity, 1 percent crit passive -
Boring at this point, let’s see more Night Elf style ones! How about “BE gains Arcane Redux, giving X for every magic user within 15 yards of the player!” Imagine that! Ya that won’t happen. Oh well, crit is pretty strong for Holy Paladins, stronger than nothing I suppose. I’ll take it.

Arcane Torrent also restores 20 Runic Power, or 1 Holy Power, on top of the 3 percent mana, some rage, 1 chi etc -
Interesting, especially the Holy Power part. Excited to see what this does for Paladins and how it works. Obviously, all 3 paladin specs use both Holy Power AND mana, so I have to believe it will grant both which is absolutely amazing. Follow the progression of the racial from TBC when it was confusing and horrible, to Wrath when it was completely mandatory for Holy Paladins (not like there was another option.) It used to restore 6 percent of your mana, and all we did back then was stack intellect so it was pretty much another mana potion. Glad to see it back to its glory, and keeping the interrupt. Was worried about that!

Orcs lose Axe spec, and Hardiness is nerfed to only 10 percent stun reduction (down from 15 percent) -
:[ This sucks because it really made Enhancement Shaman and Weapon Warriors strong. Now with it gone, its a flat nerf.

Tauren’s Endurance becomes +X Stamina -
This description is really not helpful, I hate when they do that. But either way, one has to believe that this is actually meant to be a buff. Previously it buffed based health by 5 percent, which meant as the expansions went on, this got worse and worse. Somewhat the same boat as the Night Elf racial, only Dodge doesn’t get worse as we go. In Classic and TBC though, this racial was KING and made a huge difference for Protection Warriors, just like the NE one did for so long. Good to see it reevaluated, because at this point, it was getting irrelevant.

Tauren get Brawn, giving Crit damage and healing increase of 2 percent -
Same as Dwarf, and I love it. Really makes Holy Paladins actually consider Tauren. Still wayyyy too lopsided with the BE racial buffs though, but at least there is a reason to play it now.

Troll’s Berserking huge nerf from 20 percent down to 15 percent on-use haste -
This is massive and if implemented today would probably decrease Elemental Shaman’s dps by a good 5 percent as they are so centered around their burst. Its a shame, but probably needed, especially after we saw what happened with ToT and the Beast passive.

Goblin’s Time = Money becomes 1 percent haste instead of cast speed -
Never played a goblin, but I’ve always see strange reports about how this actually effected breakpoints and stuff. Many people claimed it was BIS for casters, and others said it was horrible. Best to just avoid the confusion and make it haste, especially now with the the removal of the breakpoints. I’m satisfied.

 

Ok so that’s it for the first round. There will likely be tweaks as we continue, so I will update everyone as we hear stuff. Remember to discuss these changes over at the forums.

If you don’t I will be quite upset.

 

Warlords of Draenor Dev Watercooler: Design Philosophy

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Blizzard released a blog post on Warlords of Draenor, although nothing to new or huge is talked about, there are still a few interested parts more specifically the changes to CC in WoD.

A few of the key notes are.

  • Item squish will be coming in WoD because Blizzard feels stat scaling is getting out of control. The graph shows how much the numbers inflate with each new level and expansion and how it will look in WoD.
  • Racials are being changed in WoD as some contain Hit and Expertise which will be removed in WoD and others are unbalanced. So a revamp can be expected for some of the Racials!
  • Blizzard feels that players are becoming overwhelmed with abilities as with each new expansion new abilities are added. In Warlords of Draenor the ywill be compacting or removing some abilities, from what we know so far each class will lose around 20% of its current ability kit.
  • Crown control is literally getting out of control! There is too much CC in the game so many of the CC’s have been changed or even removed such as disarms. The PvP trinket has also been changed to grant immunity for a short period of a spell from the same spell cast such as Solar Beam.

 

It wasn’t quiet what we had hoped for but it is a sign that the WoD information will begin to pour in so keep an eye out for more updates!

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Development on World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor is progressing well, and we’ll soon be ready to enter the first phases of public testing. To help prep you for battle, let’s break down some of the upcoming changes we’re making to stats, abilities, and crowd control for the expansion.

Stat Squish

Character progression is one of the hallmarks of any role-playing game, and naturally that means we’re always adding more power for players to acquire. After multiple expansions and content updates, we’ve reached a point where the numbers for health, damage, and other stats are so big they’re no longer easy for players to grasp. What’s more, a lot of power granularity is tied up in tiers of older content, from Molten Core to Dragon Soul—and while it was once necessary for your character’s power to spike up suddenly when you hit level 70, that’s not the case anymore.

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In order to bring things down to a more understandable level, we’ll be reducing the scale of stats throughout the game and smoothing out those obsolete spikes, so that power scales linearly through questing content from levels 1 to 85. This applies to creatures, spells, abilities, consumables, gear . . . everything. And while that means your numbers for stats and damage are being reduced by a huge amount, the same goes for creatures’ health and damage output. For example, a Fireball that previously hit a creature for 450,000 out of his 3,000,000 health (15% of its health) may now hit that same creature for 30,000 out of its 200,000 health (still 15% of its health).

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It’s important to understand that this isn’t a nerf—in effect, you’ll still be just as powerful, but the numbers that you see will be easier to comprehend. This also won’t reduce your ability to solo old content. In fact, to provide some additional peace of mind, we’re implementing further scaling of your power against lower-level targets so that earlier content will be even more accessible than it is now.

We’re also removing all base damage on player spells and abilities and adjusting attack power or spell power scaling as needed, making it so that all specializations will scale at the same rate.

Racial Traits

We want races to have fun and interesting perks, but if some of those traits are too powerful, players may feel compelled to play a specific race even if it’s not really the one they want to play. For example, Trolls’ Berserking ability was extremely powerful, and their Beast Slaying passive was either completely irrelevant or tremendously powerful, based on the situation, compared to other racial traits. On the other end of the spectrum, many races had few or no performance-affecting perks. On top of that, a number of racials that currently grant Hit or Expertise will soon need replacing, since those stats are being removed in Warlords of Draenor.

To keep racials more in line with one another, we’ve decided to bring down the couple high outliers, then establish a fair baseline and bring everyone else up to that. We’re accomplishing this by improving old passives, replacing obsolete ones, and adding a few new ones where necessary. Ultimately, our goal is to achieve much better parity among races.

Ability Pruning

Over the years, we’ve added significantly more new spells and abilities than we’ve removed, and the game’s complexity has steadily increased. We’re to the point now where players are starting to get overwhelmed, sometimes feeling like they need dozens of keybinds (in a few extreme cases, over a hundred). While the game is loaded with niche abilities that could theoretically be useful in some rare scenario, in reality, many of these are barely used at all—and in some cases, the game would simply be better off without them.

For Warlords of Draenor, we decided that we needed to pare down the number of abilities available to each class and spec in order to remove some of that unnecessary complexity. That means restricting some abilities to certain specs that really need them instead of being class-wide, and outright removing some other abilities. It also includes removing some Spellbook clutter, such as passives that we can merged with other passives or base abilities.

This doesn’t mean that we want to reduce the depth of gameplay or dumb things down. We still want players to face interesting decisions during combat, and we still want skill to matter . . . but we can achieve that without the needless complexity in the game now, and we can remove some of the game’s more convoluted mechanics while maintaining depth and skill variety.

One type of ability that we focused on removing is temporary power buffs (aka “cooldowns”). Removing these also helps achieve one of our other goals, which is to reduce the amount of cooldown stacking in the game. In cases where a class or spec has multiple cooldowns that typically end up getting used together (often in a single macro), we merged them, or removed some of them entirely.

The process of determining which spells and abilities to cut or change is a very complex one—we know that every ability feels vital to someone, and we don’t take this process lightly. Even if we ended up cutting your favorite ability, we hope you’ll understand why we did so in the context of our larger goals for the expansion. Ultimately, the point of these changes is to increase players’ ability to understand the game, not to reduce gameplay depth.

Crowd Control and Diminishing Returns

One other big takeaway from Mists of Pandaria is that there is currently simply too much crowd control (CC) in the game, especially when it comes to PvP. To address that, we knew that we needed an across-the-board disarmament. Here’s a summary of the player-cast CC changes:

  • Removed Silence effects from interrupts. Silence effects still exist, but are never attached to an interrupt.
  • Removed all Disarms.
  • Reduced the number of Diminishing Returns (DR) categories.
  • All Roots now share the same DR category.All Stuns now share the same DR category.
    • Exception: Roots on Charge-type abilities have no DR category, but have a very short duration instead.
  • All Incapacitate (sometimes called “mesmerize”) effects now share the same DR category and have been merged with the Horror DR category.
  • Removed the ability to make cast-time CC spells instant with a cooldown.
  • Removed many CC spells entirely, and increased the cooldowns and restrictions on others.
    • Pet-cast CC is more limited, and in many cases has been removed.
    • Cyclone can now be dispelled by immunities and Mass Dispel.
    • PvP trinkets now grant immunity to reapplication of an effect from the same spell cast when they break abilities with persistent effects, like Solar Beam.
    • Long fears are now shorter in PvP due to the added benefit of a fear changing the players position.

Additionally, we’ve significantly reduced the number of throughput-increasing cooldowns and procs in order to further reduce burst damage.

Whether your favorite class is losing an ability or taking a hit to its CC potential, we hope this discussion helped you better understand why we’re making these changes. It’s important to remember that other classes will be getting some of their CC removed too. We think this entire package will make exploring Azeroth and PvPing a more enjoyable experience for everyone, and we’re looking forward to having you try them out when we open up the expansion for testing.

In the next Dev Watercooler, we’ll explore the changes coming to health and healing in Warlords of Draenor.

WoD News, New Press Information

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In light of significant activity from the Blizzard development team these past two weeks, we obtained some further information about certain changes, confirmations to services and much more, so let’s kick it off and talk through each point!

Level 90 price and details confirmed.

It would seem the previous leak of the $60 price tag for the purchasable level 90 character boost service is indeed correct. Confirmed by Ion Hazzikostas from a recent Eurogamer interview, also continues to describe the whole service as a way of preventing customers from having to purchase multiple copies of the expansion to gain extra level 90 boosts, and allow them to spend a reflective amount of money for such a service based on the time and effort you pay to avoid in game. “The price point was decided upon to avoid devaluing the accomplishment of levelling a character to 90.” The likelihood of this price reflecting the price of the full game then is somewhat obvious, which is no surprise considering the previous expansions being of the same price range.

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CC’s are getting nerfed?!

What’s new in the world of Draenor news you may ask? Well, for starters we saw the beginning of some very interesting class based tweets and discussions, including of which plans to possibly remove up to two forms of CC from classes. This point is especially interesting for PvPer’s whom I think would all agree at this point a game of arena is a chain of fears and stuns, reducing the time anybody actually does something interesting in a fight. It would seem that taking out some of these CC abilities would perhaps alleviate some of the stress from a PvP situation, yet the implications of those that do stay in would have to be carefully monitored. For example if Warlock ‘ShadowFury’ was removed or altered in it’s stun duration, the implications for the abilities use in PvE would be affected exponentially, to what is an extremely useful tool as both an interrupt of which the class has very few, and as a Add control technique on fights. It’s obviously a direct game changer and would alter the quality of options for both PvP and PvE.

Nothing of course is set in stone, but we can be sure to see this heavily tested in the upcoming beta. Which funnily enough we got told in a closing statement at one of the press interviews as being “Soon.tm”.

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Garrisons

Ah yes, Garrisons, WoW’s simple answer to player housing, another confirmed addition and feature of the next expansion. Previously Metro put together a wonderful article here on WoW.Stratics talking about the art and implementation process of the feature, but something caught my eye from one of the interview transcripts.

“There is a lot of Garrison content that comes from having followers.”

So my question is, what does it mean by followers? Is this a new in game feature where you can follow someone, akin to how social media sites work? Or is this a broad term for guild mates and friends. Either way the terminology present would suggest some further form of interaction with your friends and your own Garrison, perhaps then it wouldn’t be too far off to presume such a feature to “follow” someone is in the works, especially given that the Garrisons themselves are actually present within the zones of Draenor behind layers of phasing, which ordinarily would prevent players from entering other players Garrisons. Further garrison updates in the same interview confirmed that the Garrison content will be updated throughout the expansion, and not just present in a final form in patch 6.0, which backs up their interest in continuing to make more annual, and more broader reaching content for different play styles, something they discussed at last years Blizzcon. Either way, it’s sure to be an exciting element of the game which will no doubt be a significant time sink with the usual Blizzard charm.

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Dungeons, Raids and Scenarios.

Interestingly in amongst the press interviews they talked a little about plans for Heroic dungeons in WoD. The difficulty of heroic dungeons was seen as far too easy for players at level 90, something which was blamed on the lack of having each Dungeon actually having a heroic mode, which meant the difficulty being altered to accommodate the source of acquiring gear from only these instances. This is not necessarily something I agree on in terms of a valid excuse for making dungeons as easy as they are, I would have preferred a possible admission that the sole reason would have been that they could get more players into raiding content if they made heroics more accessible. Personally I feel that heroics shouldn’t be a chore and they should be as they were before the Timeless Isles introduction to the game, a way of gearing for the entry item level requirements for the basic raids and LFR systems. Ion Hazzikostas confirms then, that in Warlords of Draenor each new dungeon will have a heroic difficulty at level 100, meaning that the difficulty can be increased.

Scenarios are a wonderful addition to the game, content that doesn’t require a tank or a healer and allows instant queue times for anybody, even allowing access to heroic versions if you have 2 friends of the required item level. The news that after the end of levelling in each zone you will be required to do a solo scenario then is great news. If you remember the Isle of Thunder story scenarios for the legendary quest line in MoP, then this will come as no surprise that they decided to continue with that technology. Usually in questing, at least from a story telling / lore perspective, levelling looses some of its charm due to repetition, and a lack of engagement in questing. Since Cataclysm this has changed significantly, with more original and interesting quest design ideas implemented on various npc’s.

The very idea that we get to see one of the most lore rich environments populated with end of area cut scenes and scenario involvement, with possibly further voice acting from key lore figures is incredibly appetising to me. However, you have to consider the capabilities of such quests to remain fun for everybody, especially in a time where people rush to the endgame as fast as possible for gearing towards the next raid tier. Other considerations are that this is an MMORPG, and situations that effectively put you into a single player area are obviously, if poorly implemented going to deter people from questing and levelling effectively in groups. I’m fairly certain that they will be optional; however issues aside, the feature certainly intends to add extra depth and immersion to the experience.

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Challenge Modes

Ah, a favourite here on the WoW.Stratics team, we all agree often that Challenge modes are a wonderful way of both testing your skill as a player, and maximising efficiency of each and every class in a static, even playing field environment. News then that they are about to get even more awesome, should be cause for jubilation. It was mentioned in the previous fan site interviews that Challenge Mode dungeons would indeed return, but now reward gear from the daily Challenge Mode dungeon quest. This gear will rival raid finder loot initially and be a source of early gear even before lfr or the doors are open to the raid content itself!

So, this then adds even more reasons to do CM’s, before they were pretty cool and allowed you to get extremely well designed transmogable gear sets, but now they seem to be integral to those who have the skill and time in gearing for the new endgame content. Of course you don’t need to get ‘Gold’ rank to finish the quest, as such this is going to be the fastest way of getting into raid content, aside from what we are about to discuss in my next segment. I think this is going to please many players who believe that skill should be rewarded in game, and I also think this could improve the quality of players who we see in end game content overall.

 

LFR and Heroic Dungeon requirements

So, currently in game the requirements for entering LFR, Flex mode, and 5 man heroics is purely based off of Item Level. If you don’t have enough of an average of this item level gear you are wearing, you cannot enter the content, simple. In Warlords of Draenor, this is changing significantly. The previous item level restrictions will be there, but additionally will be a completion criteria of something which was introduced in game fairly recently in this expansion, The Proving Grounds.

If you are unfamiliar with this feature, or perhaps simply never knew about it, considering the numerous features that have been added to the game that somewhat drown out the cries for your attention, then put simply, the proving Grounds is exactly that, a Proving Ground. Players enter the Temple of the White Tiger in Kun Lai Summit and enter a series of tasking situations for their particular specialisation. And example would be that as a healer I’m tasked with 3 different achievement rewards, Bronze, Silver, and Gold. To earn these medals, I must enter the ‘scenario’ each time and heal the party until all the enemies attacking this ‘group’ made up of npc’s are dead.

Progressively this gets more difficult, hence the medal system. So this might be all well and good, and perhaps you know of this system, but it came as somewhat of a nod to difficulty changes in WoD with the announcement that if you want to do the 5 player heroic content, and thus subsequently LFR modes, etc you will need to acquire Silver completion in the new proving grounds.

How many times have you run a heroic 5 man dungeon and thought to yourself, “did these guys get their tanking licence in a cereal box?”. How many times have you looked at the hunter and told him to turn off his pets taunt, getting replied to with the familiar “it’s not on!”, only to then realise he doesn’t understand that ‘Growl’ is a taunt. Well hopefully, this could be some sort of solution, at least a minor solution to some of the gripes that players have with other players who they encounter in pug groups. However, the key word there is ‘PuG Groups’. If you really want to avoid these people, perhaps it would be best to simply join a guild, make friends and run the content with people you can trust and enjoy playing with. At the end of the day, you can choose who you raid / group with, don’t let anoniminity fool you otherwise, something I personally feel has increased in the last few years.

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Raid News

Raiding, the real meat and potatoes of World of Warcraft. Finally some news rears it’s head on the horizon, and boy does it sound mouth watering. (The content, not the potato)

The raid known as ‘Highmaul’, got some confirmation as to it’s layout, no maps or visual art as of yet, but they have said that it will be a lot like Ulduar in design, with open areas and wings stretching off a central area in an open environment, much like Ulduar’s own courtyard bosses and Throne of Thunder’s outside Troll bosses.

The second raid, known as ‘Blackrock Foundry’, is compared to the last area before the Lich King in Icecrown Citadel, again freeform in how you tackle each boss and in which order, ultimately leading to access of the final boss in the centre room.

“Less linear structures work better for players and feel better, so that is what will be used going forward.”

Many players including myself love the idea of Ulduar type raid designs, personally I think that Ulduar was probably the most well designed raid Blizzard has ever made, and the reflection of this feeling is purely on the freedom, to some extent at least that you can decide who you fight and when. Regarding who may be the end boss of each raid Ion go’s on to mention that each Warlord will likely not have their own separate raid tier, and that we may even see two or three in the first tier. This then opens up the floodgates for some extremely lore rich and wonderful figures as the first raid bosses, something which will certainly be a benefit to the raiding experience. The knowledge you are fighting ‘Kilrogg Deadeye’ for example, and not a random Orc Peon given wings and a Turban (ok, so possibly that never happened), makes for a much more engaging battle, both in terms of raid mechanics based on the characters lore filled abilities, and engagement.

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World Bosses

Raid bosses may be something which many of you feel worked, simply because they allow for extra chances of loot per week, and also a way to group with others you usually would not, yet the other side of that argument is clear, in that it takes away the purpose of fighting the thing in the first place when you have 40+ people hitting on a boss at any one time, causing extreme server lag and frame issues for everyone within 40 miles from the boss.

Ion confirms that 3 brand new world bosses are in development for patch 6.0 and that one should be initially available to players, dropping loot based on the Highmaul raid instance. Saying that a few weeks later, a second boss would be active, giving more powerful loot based on the Blackrock Foundry raid. “If a world boss gives rewards that are better than anything you could get if you aren’t a high end raider (Ordos), it diminishes the importance of raid zones. If rewards aren’t that good, players will start raiding and the world boss won’t be relevant anymore.”

This catch 22 is a concern, but gating access to these bosses usually works in terms of keeping both outdoor and instanced raids viable options for gear. I feel that Ordos, as much of a loot piñata as he is, is actually extremely useful, and in many ways I don’t see how he could ever impact on those who are already raiding the heroic end game content, and rather helping those who need extra item level for flex for example, without leading them to the temptation of simply just equipping useless PvP item level 522 gear, which many do already anyway. The balancing act is certainly something that all aspects of World of Warcraft needs to have addressed, but with many of the features talked about being so close to home, how will testing time reflect the actual quality of feedback on offer. Time will tell, and I just hope that the promise of ‘Soon.Tm.’ Is not too much longer away. The sooner we can get into the beta and test these things, the better the game will be in the long run.

 

As always keep WoW.Stratics bookmarked! So that you can be the first to know all about new and important changes in World of Warcraft!

Feel free to follow me on twitter @Meoniace, where I will be continuing any discussions and announcements in the future.

Heavenly Golden Cloud Serpent Mount Guide

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What’s up guys, Syiler here, bringing you a guide on how to get the Heavenly Golden Cloud Serpent. This mount will require a few things before you can get it: the first having Artisan riding, next being exalted with The Order of the Cloud Serpent, third being exalted with Emperor Shohao and finally obtaining 100,000 Timeless coins from the Timeless Isle. The mount once learnt will be Account Bound but will require your alts to also have Exalted with The Order of the Cloud Serpent to be able to use the mount.  This is by no means an easy mount to obtain and will require you to put a lot of time into it but in my opinion is completely worth it as it is an awesome looking mount!

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So we are going to take a look at how to achieve each step of the process to getting this mount, the main focuses of the guide will be Emperor Shohao Reputation and gaining Timeless Coins but I will also cover Artisan Riding and The Order of the Cloud Serpent Faction.

 

Artisan Riding

First up is Artisan riding. This is one of the easier steps for getting the mount but is absolutely required as without 280% speed or more flying, you won’t be able to learn the mount and it will just sit in your bags until you can learn it! Artisan riding is obtained from any Mount Riding trainer that you can interact with and will cost 5,000 gold by default but you can reduce the costs depending on your current reputation with the faction. For example if you are Exalted with Orgrimmar then you will want to talk to a NPC aligned with the Orgrimmar faction as this will reduce the cost to 4,000 gold so try to go to an NPC that you have a stronger reputation with to get a cheaper price. On top of this if you join a Guild that is Level 24 or higher you will also benefit from the Bartering Guild perk which will reduce the price even further making the lowest possible price you can pay 3,500 gold.

In terms of actually affording the gold I will leave that up to you, but a few methods of earning gold are as follows, completing any unfinished quests in Pandaria (Once you hit max level you will gain additional gold instead of experience, along with the quest greens/blues you will obtain that can be vendored for some gold) this can be a great way of earning extra gold. Another method is making use of the Auction house, selling profession materials, battle pets, transmog  BoE’s and other items you are able to get your hands on. The final method I will suggest is running things like scenarios or Looking for Raid, Scenarios will provide you will a box per run which will contain a portion of gold and a Blue/Epic item which can be vendored, inside the boxes you will have a chance of getting some spirits of harmony as well, which can be turned into profession materials and sold on the AH. You will get a decent amount of gold from just looting mobs within the scenario to complement the boxes, just make sure you loot everything even if its just vendor trash it still earns gold. These are just a few simple methods  for earning gold that you can use but WoW has a vast system for earning gold so just choose a method that suits you best and keep at it until you have enough! Between 3,500 gold and  5,000 gold shouldn’t be to hard to obtain.

 

The Order of the Cloud Serpent

The next task is getting Exalted with The Order of the Cloud Serpent, this is another requirement to be able to learn the mount and you will need to do this for any additional Characters you want to use the mount on, unless it gets changed in the future! (Which it most likely will when Warlords of Draenor is released) There are a few options you can do to get exalted with The Order of the Cloud Serpent, the first being the daily quests located in the Jade Forest at The Arboretum you will need to unlock the dailies by first doing the basic quest chain and once it is completed you will have daily quests with The Order, to complete all the daily quests you will need to have secondary professions but don’t worry if you don’t as their is a fairly decent amount to do outside of those quests. The second method is once you complete the introduction quests and unlock the dailies you will be able to hand in Onyx Cloud Serpent eggs which can be found on the Windward Isle but if you are on a high population server you might have trouble finding them so I would suggest either getting a friend on another server to invite you so you can check for eggs or just wait until less popular times (at night or in the morning) to check for eggs. The final method is within the Timeless isle, killing Huolon and the Crimsonscale Firetorm’s and looting them will have a chance of giving you a Quivering egg which can be turned into Elder Anli at The Order to gain 1000 Reputation per handin, I would recommend this method to most as you can also get Timeless Coins from this which will be needed to purchase the Golden Heavenly Cloud Serpent.

Tips

Keep in mind once you hit Revered you will be able to purchase a Order of the Cloud Serpent Commendation that allows you to gain 100% additional rep with this faction and these can be sent to alts so they can gain additional rep from Neutral-Exalted. Also you can set The Order of the Cloud Serpent to be your stared reputation allowing you to gain Reputation once per day through a Heroic Dungeon, Scenario and Heroic Scenario so this will help build additional Rep per day.

 

Emperor of Shaohao

Now onto getting exalted with Emperor Shaohao, this is going to be one of the longer parts in getting this mount. To start with, complete the introductory quests on the Island to the point you get dailies with Emperor Shaohao you can do each day to gain some Shahao rep, once you are done with them prepare to grind! There are three key areas for grinding reputation and each area  gets significantly more difficult but is also more rewarding in terms of rep, you can farm rep in a group but if you do it in a raid group you will no longer get Timeless Coins so try to keep the farming from 1-5 people to maximise the farming. I will now talk about the mobs in each area and the difficulty rating.

Firewalker Ruins

The Firewalker Ruins contains the Ordon Candlekeeper, Ordon Oathguard and Ordon Fire-walker. These mobs are the easier to handle and would be the place I recommend lower geared players and groups farm for rep.

first

 Ordon Candlekeeper

Candlekeeper HP – 713,181

Breath of Fire – Breathe fire, dealing 74,000 to 86,000 fire damage in a cone in front of the Ordon Candlekeeper

Burning Sacrifice – At sub 20% HP the Ordon Candlekeeper will sacrifice its remaining life to Ordos, dealing 185000 to 215000 Fire damage to all enemies within 7 yards and knocking them down.

Shaohao Rep – 5

The Ordon Candlekeeper is located within the Firewalker Ruins and is one of the easier mobs to face. Anyone with an item level of around 470 onwards should be able to deal with these mobs, the auto damage isn’t to high and even if you get hit by the Breath of Fire you should only lose around 20% hp.

Tips for dealing with them – The Ordon Candlekeepers are the easier of Ordon Mobs you will come across, they are fully subseptable to CC so make use of Stuns, Fears etc if you are struggling. The Breath of Fire can be out ranged or avoided if you can react quick enough and the Burning Sacrifice can be avoided by either killing them before the cast goes off or simply moving out of the 7 yard radius. I would recommend these as a farm target for lower geared players.

 

Ordon Oathguard

Oathguard HP – 3,260,256

Craclking Blow – Deals 740 – 860% of weapon damage as Physical damage to enemies in a line in front of the caster.

Defensive Shield – Raises a shield, deflecting all ranged attack and spells and blacking all melee attacks from the front.

Oath Guardianship – Reducse the damage taken of the caster’s allies by 75% for 20 sec. Channeled.

Shaohao Rep – 10

The Ordon Oathguard is located within the Firewalker Ruins and a the second easiest mob to face on the Timeless Isle that will award reputation. Anyone with an item level of around 480 should have no issues with dealing with this mob as the majority of its damage comes from an avoidable attack. The difficult part is dodgying this ability while taking down its 3.2 million HP.

Tips for dealing with them – Make sure you either stop him during Defensive Shield with a stun or some form of CC or move behind him as you will not do any damage during this time if you attack from the front. Cracking Blow has a short cast time so just move to the side when you see it happening and you will avoid the damage. These mobs are easy to deal with but can take some time thats why the higher ilvl recommendation for dealing with them.

 

Ordon Fire-Watcher

Fire-WatcherHP – 2,445,188

Pyroblast – Deals 83250 to 96750 Fire Damage

Falling Flames – Conjures forth a rain of fire, inflicting 18500 to 215000 Fire damage to enemies in a 2.5 yard radius of the impact locations.

Shaohao Rep – 10

The Ordon Fire-Watcher is found within the Firewalker Ruins. Although it has less HP then the Oathguards located in the same area I see theses are more difficult as it is easier to die to one. But a skilled player should be able to deal with these in around 470-480 Ilvl

Tips for dealing with them – The Fire-Watcher’s only have 2 abilities which makes them easier to deal with but these abilities are dangerous and can easily kill you if you mess up or aren’t paying attention. The Pyroblast is a cast and can be stopped with an interrupt or CC. The Falling Flames summons a large amount of falling projectiles so ensure you are zoomed out enough to tell where they will land.

 

The Blazing Way

The Blazing way contains the Burning Beserker, The Eternal Kilnmaster and the Blazebound Chanter. These mobs are a lot more difficult to handle but yield more Reputation per kill so I would recommend this area for higher geared 510+ players and groups!

Second

 

Burning Berserker

Beserker HP – 3,464,022

Fiery Charge – Charge the enemy, inflicting 400% weaon damage as Fire and knocking down the target.

Blazing Cleave – Spin around in a blazing circle, inflicting 185000 to 215000 Fire damage to enemies within 6 yards.

Burning Fury – Increases the attack speed by 200% and burning the caster for 5000 Fire damage every 1 second for 6 seconds.

Shaohao Rep – 15

The Burning Beserker is found within The Blazing way and is a greater challenge compared to the previous discussed mobs. They give 15 rep so I would recommend farming these in a party or if The Firewalker Ruins are crowded and you have a high enough Ilvl that they aren’t a challenge. I would recommend around a 490 onwards ilvl for attempting to deal with these mobs.

Tips for dealing with them – The burning Berserker’s main threat is the Fiery Charge, if you leave its melee hit box it will charge you dealing a large amount of damage and stunning you for a short period, to deal with this mechanic just ensure you stay close to the Burning Berserker.

 

Eternal Kilnmaster

KilnmasterHP – 7,588,656

Fiery Charge – Charge the enemy, inflicting 400% weaon damage as Fire and knocking down the target.

Blazing Blow – Deals 462 to 538% Weapon damage as Physical damage to enemies in a line in from of the caster.

Conjure Eternal Kiln – Summons a Flarecore Golem to assist the caster.

Shaohao Rep – 20

The Eternal Kilnmaster’s are located in both The Blazing Way and the Ordon Sanctuary, they are a tough mob with a large HP pool. Similar to the Burning Beserker they will charge you if you get out of range but in addition they will follow up with a Blazing Blow which can result in a one shot. These do give more Rep but are a tough challenge for lower geared players so I would only recommend farming them in a party!

Tips for dealing with them – Stay in melee range, move through him during the Blazing Blow and kill the Eternal Kiln that they summon to reduce their damage. For these mobs you want to have around 500+ Ilvl to be able to deal with them comfortably but as I said being in a party is the best way of handling the tougher but more rep earning mobs!

 

Blazebound Chanter

ChanterHP – 5,733,658

Greater Pyroblast – Deals 185 to 215% weapon damage as Fire damage.

Cauterize – Heals the caster 25% of maximum health, but causes them to burn for 1% maximum health every 1 second for 30seconds.

Fire Storm – Summons a storm of fiery balls, dealing Fire damage at the impact locations.

Conjure Flarecore Golem – Summons a Flarecore Golem to assist the caster.

Shaohao Rep – 20

The Blazebound Chanter can be found in The Blazing Way and the Ordon Sanctuary. They aren’t to difficult to farm and give a high amount of rep so it is worth getting a party together to farm these mobs!

Tips for dealing with them – Interrupt the Cauterize as main priority as even though they lose HP over time you don’t want to be fitting it for that long. Be zoomed out for the Fire Storm so you can tell where the fiery balls will land so you can avoid them. Kite the Flarecore Golem as they do a lot of damage if they melee you and are desummoned once the Chanter dies so no need to kill them.

 

Just keep farming these mobs and completing the quests/dailies until you reach exalted, it will take some time but also gives you time to reach the 100,000 Timeless Coins required to purchase the mount.

Tips for Shaohao rep – I would recommend heading to The Blazing Way in a 5man group, remember to make use of things like Guild banners, The Darkmoon Faire etc for Reputation boosts! I missed out a few mobs that are located in the Ordon Sanctuary but in my opinion they aren’t worth mentioning as they have a crazy amount of HP and damage while only giving slightly more reputation.

Timeless Coins

The final step is getting enough Timeless Coins to purchase the mount, timeless coins come from a lot of places within the island, the first being from Rare Mobs. Depending on the Rare you kill will depend on how many coins you can expect to get, the Rarer the mob the more generally you will get for example the Emerald Bird will give a low amount as it is very common while The Ghostship will give a large amount as it is more uncommon. The next method is from killing mobs within the Timeless Isle, every mob here you kill will grant coins and luckily for us the mobs we kill to gain reputation with Shaohao will also give coins, so I recommend those being your farm targets while killing rares when they spawn. The next method is from Chests on the isle, The Moss-Covered, Smoldering, Sturdy, Skull-covered and Blazing chests all contain coins. Events on the isle will also reward timeless coins, they can normally be identified by crossing swords on your minimap. It will generally require you to do something to trigger them, such as talk to an NPC or kill a certain type of mob, there are a few secret events on the isle so make sure you keep an eye out as they won’t all be crossing swords on your map. Some of the dailies within the Timeless Isle will also reward coins and can generally be easily completed without going out of your way to do it, so I would recommend picking them up when you arrive on the Isle each day. The final method of obtaining coins is to loot containers, they will appear as boxes, eggs, sand piles and more, basically objects you can interact with and loot. The issue with these is they don’t reward many coins (Normally 1-20) but can be found in large quantities so its a slow but safe method of farming coins if you aren’t able to kill the mobs.

 

WoD Pre-Alpha Info – EU/KR Press Tour

Press Tour1

On Friday (2/21/2014) we received some pretty big teasers into what will be coming with WoD via the EU/KR press tour’s conclusion. For everyone’s benefit, let’s discuss some of the things we learned as well as how the few new features join together with the band.

Item Squish!

The first thing discussed was the item squish and how it affects the character. It was described to be pretty severe, but I’m sure even with this people will still find a way to complain. Here are the numbers mentioned:
Level 91 Protection Warrior had 63k Health.
Common monsters around the level had about 100k healthpools.
White swings as Protection varied from 1-5k hits, with 10k critical strike of Shield Slam being the largest noticed.

With these numbers in mind we can extrapolate a bit from the results given a few assumptions.
Let’s approach it as a 575 non-tank to a 575 tank first.
Standing still, I have 694k Health while a tank would have about 950k in equal gear. We assume this is normal.
Given the footage we have seen, it’s very likely the character being tested was nowhere near 575 ilvl, so we will assume 600k health was the pool the character was standard at pre-squish at level 90. With one level up, and after the squish we arrive at 63k health, meaning 3k increase from 60k roughly for the first level.
Logically, one can then say it is simply 1/10th of everything we see today on live, and that may very well be the case. This would mean I would have 70k health, and our tank would have 95k. This would also very likely mean that our DPS would be doing around 30-35k DPS, and Syiler could expect burst near 100k if lucky.
Furthering the train of thought, if we expect 3k health increase from 90 to 91, an exponential rise after this I find it logical to assume 50k extra health just from leveling, leaving us at around 100k for fresh level 100 toons. Of course, the big issue with MoP was the crazy gear scaling as the tiers came out, so provided that does NOT happen, we may see 100k each tier from gear, leaving us around 400k when the expansion ends.
The same extrapolation can be made for DPS, assuming 100k to be the norm for fresh 100, and 200-300k being towards the end. It’s important to note this is hardly different at all, and IN MY OPINION does not merit being called a “squish.” But it’s all speculation at this point… let’s move on.

Questing EXP!

The next thing we learned is the differences don’t just persist in actual stats, but also in questing. It was described to us that 579k XP was needed to go from 90 to 91and 640k to then get to 92. A third point of datum would be needed to extrapolate the exponential curve for EXP, but we can make a non-scientific guess just assuming the difference expands by half its previous each time as it approximately did in MoP. With that, we have the following curve.
EXP

While this makes sense, it’s quite obvious that once again the numbers are getting out of control and barely different than MoP, especially considering the 10 level gap instead. Either way, still dealing in speculation purely, especially without a third point of datum, so it’s best to move on to less subjective matters.

New Quest Type?!

The term “bonus objective” was hinted at before at Blizzcon and is now officially discussed, and described as:
New objectives might randomly appear in your quest list. Completing the objectives will reward you with extra experience.
This is a pretty foreign concept for WoW, especially with how much effort they put into the quest system, but shades of its theory can be see with the Champions of Pandaria rare mobs that gave as much exp as a Quest did and were hit-or-miss to find. This will likely be the same concept, this time just random world events akin to Rift or even the concept we have seen in Wildstar. Regardless, things like this really break up the questing monotony and make the zones feel alive. Here’s hoping it comes with a crisp interface so you know exactly when or where, and is more than just randomly generated NPCs. Would be amazing if it was a part of the zone!

Shadowmoon Valley 2.0!

This isn’t the SMV you remember from TBC! It’s quite the opposite really, being described as containing “lush green plains lit by the moonlight.” That quote alone makes me want to have a lucid dream, not sure about you guys…

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Anyway, the mobs in the zone seem to be quite invigorated as well, and while I don’t have images of each, it’s been said that the typical BC roaming mobs were updated to look even better and more buttery/majestic. The main ones that seem to have people’s attention include the Talbuk and Sporebat models!

In terms of architecture, we learned that the zone will have Draenei Cities, Naaru areas, Iron Horde strongholds, and obviously “Black Temple.” The zone is filled with rich colors and forests, and as we have seen in the screenshots from Blizzcon, perpetual moonlight blankets it all. Should be really interesting to see finished!

Vegetation was also discussed, along with a new visual implementation that makes the grass sway and be depressed as we walk through it. There is always one awesome change we see in the visuals each expansion and this one does not disappoint. This furthers my belief that WoW’s graphics are really impressive working with a 10 year old infrastructure.

In terms of lore of the zone, Ner’zhul is the primary antagonist, and Maraad, Velen, and other characters are your protagonists. As Jade Forest did before it, this zone contains a HUGE ending that really gets the expansion underway, and really makes me worried for my character going into it. This is a MASSIVE spoiler, so I won’t include it in the article, but either way it’s certainly taken a turn for the dramatic even after the first zone.

The final point to bring up is the most important to the expansion. The zone feels entirely different, looks entirely different, and has entirely different lore than previous SMV. For some reason (likely retard) people continue to say that this is just a re-used expansion and nothing will change. From what we have seen today, it’s pretty obvious that this is the furthest thing from truth, and many testers have described the zone as “entirely new” and “doesn’t give you a feeling of deju vu.”
This is REALLY good to hear, because if the zones were too similar it would be pretty immersion breaking for me. I have no doubt Blizzard knows what they are doing, but understand that if this isn’t done the best it can be it completely defeats the purpose.

So far, everything I have seen is amazing. Can’t wait to see even more.

Orc Female Character Model Revamp Revealed!

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As if a gift from the fates themselves, this Wednesday (Feb 19th 2014,) we received yet another look at the upcoming character model improvements to be brought in with Warlords! The last we saw was the Human Female, and now we see her Horde counterpart, the Orc Female. As per last time, we discussed first the comparisons, but also the implications of the models and what they bring to the game and the more we examine, the more we are hopeful.

RTJ1K5F4H2ZW1391792056642As you can see, there is an immediate difference in the latent facial features, making the Character feel much more alive, and less like an animated being. It is obvious to me that this is a tone they are wishing to replicate across each race; the logical response to critics of the art style claiming it to be “childish.” Other features that stand out are sheer muscle definition. We noticed this when examining the Human Female model, but its even more prevalent in the Orc. The core alone is impressible, but what catches my eye is the neck and arm definition, as well as the legs. The Human Female model had more definition put into the legs than the Orc, but when looking at this model’s upper body you really get the idea that an Orc is a ferocious being, no matter gender. It is mentioned in the article released that they are looking to go beyond the “doe-eyed” female orc and get down to a feeling of a warrior beyond gender. I dare say she looks as much like a warrior as anything I have seen! I’d be scared to run across that Orc!

As is only reasonable, we can look back at the new orc models introduced with Cataclysm via Thrall and Aggra and find these to be an ever larger step up. Many people assumed those models would be the actual ones we received for each respective Orc gender, but now that we see this is not that case, I find it even more impressive.

Aggra_Fireland_Trailer Take a moment to compare Aggra on the Left to the newest female Orc model and you will instantly notice the facial definition as well as the neck and upper body points we have already discussed.

While the actual stand-still model is impressive, I find even more so the look into the facial expressions. An image of these can be found below. Take note of the emotion put into each, and notice the differences in mouth and eyes with the variety shown. This proves that they are taking the time to not just animate our character models, but truly bring them to life, and make them feel as if they are living, breathing creatures with us as the pilot. This is a clear trend in the previews we have seen thus-far, and I can NOT be happier with the improvement. Despite literally never being zoomed in far enough to notice these things, it is extremely important to the graphical fidelity and feel of the game, a topic near-and-dear to my heart as of late.
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The final thing to take out of this week’s announcement is that Chris Robinson, Senior Art guy thingy, is responding to the mistake he made a few weeks back before the garrison preview. I have already written an entire article on that topic, which can be found here http://wow.stratics.com/edit/games-too-easy-resource-distribution-and-quality-yield/
The point is that he claimed the resources were limited and many people took it out of context to extrapolate that Blizzard were stingy with their art team and had no intentions of listening to the feedback of the community to influence such.

In this Model preview, we see the following quote:
…staying focused and keeping the scope reasonable (while still ambitious) helps us stay on track and avoid having to make painful cuts later on down the line. We really wanted to prevent that with the player-character revamp, so we made the decision early on to stay focused on improving what already exists in-game, and making sure we really nail it.

That said, we’ve also read your great ideas and feedback about features that you’d like to see as character customization options. Your collective voice matters to us, and we’d love to bring some of the coolest ideas to life someday if we can.

This is important to me because I want people to understand what is really happening with these previews. This is not something that they need to be wasting time on showing off, especially when they aren’t finished. What we are seeing here is small teasers, leading us up to what potentially may be the most explosive expansion of a game that is 10 years old come the autumn. When you keep it all in perspective you truly realize how much Blizzard as a company has matured, and can fully appreciate how much greater these models are from the ones we have played for the past 9 years. Its unfathomable to think about what the game will look like, but hopefully with all this in mind any one claiming that the art resources are being squandered gets their reality check in the mail.

Compare anything in this video game from MoP onwards to anything from when people consider the game at its peak, and you will laugh at how far its come. Today, Chris Robinson and the rest of the art and animation teams take one step further into the immortality the character models permeates, and get us even more excited for the upcoming beta!

WoD PvP Plans & Patch 5.4.7 Aftermath

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Purchasable LvL 90 Boost News

For a brief moment on the World of Warcraft US servers, as they came back online after the planned 11 hour patch / scheduled maintenance for 5.4.7’s inclusion into live servers, players were able to browse the new Blizzard store on the character select screen. At this screen it could clearly be seen that the price of the 1-90 purchasable character boost was listed as costing $60.

Image Courtesy of MMO Champion forum poster 'Zheo'

Image Courtesy of MMO Champion forum poster ‘Zheo’

During our recent podcast here on WoW Stratics, we speculated as to the planned price of this service, agreeing that it would have to be more than some of the current character services already on offer by Blizzard. To bring it in-line with the character faction changes and transfer costs, we guessed anywhere from 30-50 Dollars, there abouts. $60 is perhaps slightly more than we originally expected, yet it becomes clear to me if you think about that for a second that this is a direct reflection of the intended use of the service.

To prevent miss-use and an incredibly large amount of fresh level 90’s being present in the game, which would hamper the efforts of those who level through the actual content is obviously the highest concern. The price is of course at the date of this article un-confirmed, and comparative conversions between currencies are particularly unhelpful as to the possible cost for EU players either. The general feedback across social media was majorly fixated on the cost compared to the price of the actual game ($40), leading to many people to be outspoken and generally concerned for the path that Blizzard could take with this first move towards paying for player advancement in game. However unlikely it may be, the concern is stiall particularly very real, especially with many other MMO’s out there switching to a Free-To-Play model with microtranactions, which many believe is a step towards ‘Pay-To-Win’. As much as i would like to agree that this move does pose the question of wheather in 3-4 years we could see gear purchasable in-game on the store, i have to believe that this concern is out-weighed by the fact that Blizzard and World of Warcraft are still holding on to the most played, and popular franchises in the industry, and as such any decision that would endanger any subscriber numbers, nor the experience of those who play their games would be highly against their own ethical and practiced standards. Time will tell, butat this point it’s too early to be grabbing the pitch forks and forming outside Blizzard HQ in California.

PvP in Warlords of Draenor

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All this over-dramatised, unconfirmed, yet still likely information unfortunately overshadowed the actual Blizzard reveal of the day, which regards the plans in Warlords of Draenor for changing PvP.

Originally the ‘Trial of The Gladiator’ system was referenced back at Blizzcon 2013; a system that would reward players based on closer competitive arena gameplay, where upon individuals would adorn special ‘ToTG’ Gear, used only for this system to create a level and equal playing field for combatants in the competition. This it was confirmed today has been scrapped in consideration of the accessibility of the feature and the mentioned lack of incentive for new players to experience this side of PvP. As this system get’s pulled, Blizzard go on today to mention a new system which allows for players to also queue for unranked arena both with friends or alone for additional rewards such as Honor or a small increase in Conquest points for the session. The focus on PvP and its more broad appeal is key to the plans for WoD’s PvP, and allows for some interesting opportunities within the E-Sport scene.

The planned ‘Arena Skirmishes’ System, as it’s dubbed is a potentially much more positive addition to the PvP within World of Warcraft than the Trial system would have been. To further extenuate the focus on more competitive, yet accessible Arena in WoW, Blizzard’s last additional Paragraph on today’s press release mentions the importance of E-Sport involvement and private tournaments, and as such are working towards implementation of a ‘Spectator Mode’, which will allow extra members to join a skirmish match as spectators, giving Add-on developers the opportunity to create delivery methods based on internal infrastructure. This is definitely a long awaited, and asked for addition, which it would seem will now further not just the PvP scene in general in game, but also increase the E-Sport’s availability and accessibility worldwide.

beforeandafter

LIVE PvP Changes in 5.4.7

Further PvP news today saw changes to Alterac Valley, in a rather strange, and somewhat unexpected series of changes, Blizzard have actually altered parts of the Alterac valley Battleground to feature both raised ground on the Horde side of the map near to Drekthar and the bunkers around that area (see screenshots) and also added an extra piece of wall to an area near a tower, presumably to prevent access from the rear and bottleneck teams against each other in the central courtyard without worry that they are being secretly flanked. This is one of the few actual physical changes to the game in this patch, but nonetheless worth mentioning.

 

522 Item LVL pieces for Honor

522 Item LVL pieces for Honor

Additionally, MAJOR PvP implications come with the Patch in form of purchasable 522 Item Level gear for honor. The previous season has ended, and as such what previously cost Conquest points. The gear iteself does require a certain amount of Honor to have been earnt this season, however this does crush the item level entry requirements for PvE’s LFR system and indeed allows people to aquire enough Item Level to get into Flex groups. This is a negative, and obviously troublesome inclusion, as it will reduce the quality of players within those arguabley difficult to exectute encounters. Unless raid leaders inspect each person individually to confirm the quality of the gear they are wearing, it’s extremely likely that this will cause confusion and unwanted stress within the comminity, which until now had aquired a simplistic way of confirming if somebody would be an addition to your group or not. Many players will certainly do this now, as it completely circumnavigates the older LFR raids that you would need to otherwise gear through. Many of my alts included would be foolish not to grab a few pieces of the last seasons gear to allow them to queue into Siege LFR. It’s fairly certain that this unseen implication will no doubt be raised in discussion in the near future, especially with the continuous argument of weather PvP gear and PvE gear should be usable outside their respective environment, a discussion perhaps for a future Podcast episode.

That about wraps up today’s news, along with the aftermath report on Patch 5.4.7, if you have any questions or opinions you would like to share with us here at Stratics, you can continue to conversation over at our dedicated WoW forums.

Thank you for reading, keep up to date with all the latest news as it unfolds as we float towards the beta of Warlords of Draenor by bookmarking our site today!

 

Further, additional information and patch notes for the latest patch can be found here:

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/12592415/547-ptr-patch-notes-february-11-2-11-2014