Posts Tagged ‘Mists of Pandaria’

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For those who still play World of Warcraft (and there are millions of you), it’s been a pretty terrible content wise. I don’t think that I’ve seen such a long period where Blizzard have not released anything. (Even in Wrath they released a “filler” patch prior to Cataclysm. It looks like finally you guys only have to wait two more months.

Blizzard have announced that Mists will be released on September 25th. Now I say “only two more months” because a big prediction that was doing the rounds was that it could be an October release, but alas. On the 25th September you will be able to set sail to Pandaria, roll a monk, battle with your pets and become a panda.

It’s highly unlikely that I will get it straight on release. It’s only two days after my 28th and two days before I travel to London for Eurogamer. If I do get it, it’ll be in October and that’s still a big “if” as I haven’t really touched the game since Christmas.

Needless to say though. For those who are still totally hooked on the game or for those with still passing interest in WoW will have welcomed the announcement today.

Hello there you big tosser.

 Unless you’ve been living in some far away country that doesn’t have access to modern technology (Antarctica, Scotland), you will have noticed that swathes of information of Mists of Pandaria is now in the open public domain. Now while there were various snippets that raised an eyebrow in a good way (AoE looting! Yay!), there is one that jumped out and said “HI! LOOK AT ME!”

 Taken from MMO-Champion

The final patch of Mists of Pandaria will be the Siege of Orgrimmar! Both factions lay siege to the city to bring Garrosh down and end his reign of Warchief

As someone who has been a member of the Horde and the Alliance, all I have to say is that it’s about time. When it was first announced that Garrosh was going to take over, almost the whole of the player base shook their head. I think Blizzard realised this and decided that instead of having him go out with a simple handover of power, there will be a full on fight to remove him, but why? I’m glad I asked!

My Theory

Alliance

Varian and Anduin are on official Alliance duty in Pandaria. They are en route to speak to a Pandaren elder about strengthening ties, not forming an alliance as the Pandaren elders insist on being neutral, but a more open dialogue. This meeting doesn’t happen though as on their way the king and his son are attacked by unknown forces. Varian is killed and Anduin is left in a critical condition. With no clear line of succession it is decided that Jaina Proudmore who is still hurting from the destruction of Theramore be put in temporary charge until Anduin has recovered. Her first official order is to demand an investigation into how this happened. The results are that a secret order who only answers to Garrosh carried out the attack…

Horde

By now the horde is still around as faction but it is quickly become more and more splintered. The Darkspear Trolls are already thinking about breaking away from the horde, as are now both the Forsaken and the Taurens. The majority of the population of all Horde races would prefer a return to the old ways that Thrall brought. Vol’jin would love to take action but unfortunately he is somewhat preoccupied with the re-emergence of Gurubashi empire. That leaves Baine and Sylvanus. The horde trust Baine but don’t think he would have what it takes to be a warchief just yet and they respect Sylvanus but due to recent actions carried out by her forces the majority believe she wouldn’t be fit to be in charge either. You may think that Sylvanus would be infuriated by this I would press forward anyway, but someone is whispering into her ear, and she is listening.

Alliance

With Jaina at the helm of the Alliance she decided that Garrosh must be stopped at all costs and thus orders her lieutenants to draw up battle plans to do the unthinkable. To assault Orgrimmar and kill the Warchief! Her military advisers tell her that would be a foolish act. The others might not stand by Garrosh but the orcs out of blood, and loyalty would stand in their way. She is quite disappointed by this as she knows that the majority of the Horde, even the orcs, don’t like his methods but most are too afraid to say anything. Reluctantly she’s about to call off the attack plans when she hears a rumour…


Garrosh

Hellscream has also heard these rumour too and fearing that he can’t trust most of the people in his factions, and with discontent on the street growing, he places Orgrimmar under Marshall Law. Anyone who he doesn’t fully trust is kicked out and both Thunder Bluff and Undercity are named as the capitals of the Horde rebellion. Baine and Sylvanus both decide that Orgrimmar should be returned to its natural place at the centre of the horde and decide that the only way to achieve this is to take out Garrosh. The rumour grows amongst the general public.

Who is it?

Who is this rumour? Is it Thrall? No. As the aspect of the earth and new father he has enough on his plate. Is It Vol’jin? No as I said he is too preoccupied at the moment with the growing Gurubashi threat. So who is it? Who you have the respect of Baine and who would Sylvanus listen too? Who could unite the horde as one (even the orcs) and convince them that action is best? Who would Jaina feel that she can talk to on the horde side, who can she feel she can negotiate an uneasy truce with? Who would be seen as an ally to Thrall who both sides know would value his morals and try to things his way albeit with a much stronger fist?

Personally I think that this all set up perfectly for one orc to return. Someone who we haven’t seen since Northrend. Ladies and gentlemen… I present to you …… High Overlord Saufang!

You can find Part I here

You can find Part II here

Part III you poor souls!

Class Talent System Panel

Out of all of the World of Warcraft panels that were held, this is probably the one that got the most of interest. If you recall the last time they tried to “revamp” the talent system, it didn’t really work out the way they planned. Whilst a vast number of the player base said “er, you’ve left us with fewer choices and even more cookie cutter builds”, Blizzard did the usual ostrich thing and said “no we didn’t, everything is fine”. Well now they have virtually admitted that they in fact did this, and so they have announced “Talents 2.0″. What does this mean? Well basically, take everything you have every learnt about the talent tree in World of Warcraft, curl it up into a little ball, throw it onto the closest bonfire, and just watch it burn. They have completely tore apart the old book and wrote a completely new one.

From level 1-90 you will get 6 .. yes SIX .. talent points. One at level 15, one at 30, one at 45, one at 60, one at 75 and the final one at 90. The aim is to get rid of “cookie cutter builds”, now we’ve heard this time and time again but this time there’s a chance they could do it. You’re basic spells like living bomb if you are a mage will be a normal base ability. So what will the talent tree do then? Well my young apprentice it will improve on current abilities, or give you a completely new way to crowd control for example. I’m not going to delve into each classes new talent trees, as these people have done a fantastic job already. (Also bear in mind that the talents discussed here could, and most likely will change before Mists of Pandaria goes live.

Death Knight

Druid

Hunter

Mage

Paladin

Priest

Rogue

Shaman

Warlock

Warrior

After this there were various Q&A panels which i’m not going to go into. They consist of your usual portion of some very good questions mixed in with a lot of dumbass questions that makes you think “THIS HAS BEEN ASKED EVERY WEEK FOR GOD KNOWS HOW MANY YEARS. YOU HAVE THE INTERNET, YOU HAVE GOOGLE. USE THEM!”

So what’s my final conslusion from what I heard from Blizzcon. Well, in my opinion Blizzard knew that this would be make or break for them. They knew that they could no longer rest on their laurels like they have been. They could no longer go “oh we can be half hearted or not put our best team on this as the players will still play it”. They wont!

With Cataclysm heavily slammed, and with Rift biting at WoW’s heels and with other games coming out, they knew they had to pull something out of the bag this time, and my early impression is that they have done just that. Will it live up to that impression? Only time will tell. I have my fingers crossed for it though. 

Part I can be found here 

Welcome to my continuation of last week’s Blizzcon.

Mists of Pandaria Panel – Continued

… Also announced during this panel was “Talents 2.0″. This is basically Blizzard going through yet another talent tree revamp. Only this time it’s a complete overhaul and not just a “refresh”. I will cover this in detail later on when I get to the “Talent Tree Panel”, but for now all I will say is that it sounds very promising!

PvE scenario’s

 This is something that caught my eye. Basically they are PvE “battlegrounds” where a small group of players (sometimes as little as 3), can enter into these and complete a serious of objectives. They are meant to be short, sharp affairs but the major benefit to this PvE scenario system is .. THERE ARE NO ROLES TO FILL. In theory this means that queue’s will be instant as you wont need to wait for a tank or a healer before you can enter. As soon as three people are available, you are in. They are also considering making these replace the current group quest system. I have mixed feelings about this, whilst it would be nice to have an instant 3-5 players available to do a quest, seeing these quests disappear from the outside world would be a bit of a shame too. My general opinion of the proposed PvE scenario system is that this will be a very good inclusion into the game, and as Blizzard intends, a different thing to do when you are bored.

Challenge Mode Dungeons

Whilst I don’t think that this will be my cup of tea, I can see this being very popular. What are “challenge mode dungeons”?. For those who have been around in WoW for a bit, think “Strat 45″. Basically you will enter a dungeon and have to complete it in a specific timeframe and depending on when you complete it you will be given either a bronze, silver or gold star. You will always receive valor points and stat-less gear designed for the upcoming Transmogrification and hopefully for you lovely role-players out there. The challenge dungeon mode will also have leader boards so you can jump back in and try to do better next time and climb up the leaderboard. Now for those who did see this at Blizzcon or who hasn’t read a summary you will be thinking “I will just wait and then when I out gear the dungeon I will go in, get gold and get the number one position”. This wont be possible, as your gear will scale down to the dungeon if you over gear it. It’s a good idea in my opinion as it will test players skills/responses and general knowledge about the dungeon instead of what ilevel gear they are wearing.

Pet Battle System

The inclusion of Pokemon into the game … alright, alright, old joke is old, but still that is basically what this is. Using your companion pets you can battle against other people’s companion pets and level them up. You will be able to rename your pet and give them stats. You will also be able to use the pet battle system to acquire “wild pets”. These will be found out and about in Azeroth and you can engage with them and if you win then you get to add the pet to your journal. Pets will also be account wide which is an excellent change.

One of the things that I find quite interesting about the pet battle system is that it is going to be turn-based. This is a step in a different direction to what normally happens in WoW but never the less it is certainly an interesting idea. Whilst this doesn’t appeal to me, I can certainly see how many will spend hours doing this in between their calendar scheduled events.

You will also be able to “gear” up your companion pet. I haven’t seen what you’d be able to gear up with but i have a hunch there will be special accessories for them, i.e. rings, necklace, things like that. Blizzard are considering allowing pet gear to gemmable, but personally I don’t see the point of this and they should just keep the gear “pure”. The final thing about the pet system is that the trainers will be spread all over the world, I have a feeling this is part of the “bring the players out of their Stormwind/Orgrimmar bubbles”.

Dungeons/Raids/Questing

For dungeons Mists of Pandaria will come with 9 new dungeons with 2 old school dungeon heroics. These will be Scholomance and Scarlet Monastery. Whilst I’m not too bothered about Scholomance, i must admit I did punch the air with the thought of Scarlet Monastery returning. This however turned into dread as Scarlet Monastery is probably my favourite dungeon (or series of dungeons), in the game and I just hope that they don’t make a mess of it like they did with two of my other favourite places. Deadmines and Zul’Gurub.

There will be 3 raids, of which I will cover later. Again my main fear is that they will try to “con” the user base like they did in Cataclysm. 3 NEW RAIDS! … ah but with the same number of bosses as you got in every other launch of WoW. I hope that Blizzard don’t go down that route for this expansion.

As for questing it sounds like they are making a concerted effort to correct what went wrong with Cataclysm. There is going to be a greater focus towards end game content this time around. In Cataclysm when you got to 85 your options were extremely limited, and as the patches that were released after turned out to be just half patches the level 85 game got stale pretty fast. They are hoping to correct this by making more quests available at max level. When you are doing these max level quests, if i understand it correctly then you will be able to choose what you get for completing them, whether it’s gold or valor points.I think this is a good change as it will allow players to build up what they want to build up in a way that they want to do it. I know there will be people complaining about this, but variety is good.

PvP/Achievements

It’s been a long stated fact from Blizzard that they would like to be able to churn out battleground at a faster rate and with Mists of Pandaria they are hoping to release three new battlegrounds.

Stanglethorn Diamond Mine – This will be a “payload” style battleground and the best way I can think of it is the Payload maps in Team Fortress 2. If they are anything like that then I will enjoy playing them. What you have to do is escort .. well a payload (obscene i know!), to a destination whilst the opposite side tries and stops you.

Valley of Power – Blizzard is calling this a “Murderball” battleground. The best way I can describe it is that if you have ever played Rift and participated in “The Black Garden” warfront then you will know exactly what this battleground is all about. You pick up an item (I believe in this case it’ll be a relic), and as you hold it your team accumulates points. The closer you are to the center of the battleground, the more points you receive. There is just one catch. You take damage from holding this relic and overtime the damage increases more and more. The winner is the first team to reach a certain point tally. I hope that this is one that Blizzard can definitely get in as it’s a hell of a lot of fun in Rift,

Aszhara Crater – This is apparently going to be a “DOTA” map although nothing else was said about it. This lends me to believe that it’s not as far in production as the other two battlegrounds. I sure hope it makes it way in though as Aszhara Crater is something that’s been “around” since vanilla and I know a certain other half of mine who really wants to see it included.

When it comes to achievements, Blizzard are hoping that they can make achievements account bound. This will be a great inclusion in my opinion, if simply to stop the 14 year olds in trade chat going “lolz u don’t av the achieve on that char, i dun wanna take u”, or something a lot less comprehensible.

Class Changes

With the exception of the usual “we want to clean up the spell books, improve rotations etc” spiel that we always hear, Blizzard dropped some very interesting changes on all the classes.

Firstly they announced that Resilience will become a base stat. The idea of this is that when you jump into a battleground as a fresh level 90, you wont be eaten up and spat out just as viciously as you would’ve done in the past. I think this is a very good change and something that can only help people when they reach max level.

Next came the massive set of humdinger changes…

Hunters will longer have to worry about a minimum range, BUT, they will no longer be allowed to carry anything but ranged weapons. This will come as a relief to every single class in the game as we all know that hunters try to steal everything.

Relics are gone completely. I’m not surprised by this as it’s always been a poorly thought out idea in my opinion and at the time was only introduced to given Shamans/Druids/Paladins/Death Knights something to have in the “offhand slot”.

And then we come to what to me is the biggest change in all this (slightly biased but it is the biggest to me). Casters will no longer have a ranged slot. Wands will become main hand weapons, like swords, maces and daggers. This is a very interesting change and as a mage I must admit it’s a change I’m quite looking forward to. Wands have always been nothing more than a stat stick, the same way that melee weapons were stat sticks for hunters, so to bring these into focus as a main hand weapon is a great move in my humble opinion.

The other change which I will mention before I conclude this part is that all spells/abilities will be automatically learnt, you will no longer have to go back to a class trainer to learn them. I have mixed feelings about this, whilst going to the trainer meant that people had to be more aware of what they had, I must admit there have been times where I’ve been the other side of the world and have waiting 4-5-6 levels before I went back and learnt new stuff. For this one I think the pro’s outweigh the little con I had…

Part III coming up within the next few days …

Blizzard’s 4th World of Warcraft expansion … Panda’s and more!

So if you play World of Warcraft you will have either A) Had watched/visited Blizzcon and would’ve seen or B) would’ve at least heard that Blizzard’s next expansion for the behemoth of the MMO world is called Mists of Pandaria.

Now I will admit I was going to write a post about each panel that came around in Blizzcon, but after writing the first post “Blizzcon (Opening Ceremony)“, I decided that for this wouldn’t be the right way to go. So instead I’m going to right about my opinions on what I heard through the convention. I was one of those who had to sit at home, well at my girlfriend’s and watch the live feed. I do hope to go to a Blizzcon one year .. As my adorable other half say’s here. But anyway! :)

The Opening Ceremony

When Blizzard dropped the first announcement about the “WoW Annual Pass” my first thoughts were “now that’s blatant bribery to get people to stay subscribed to World of Warcraft. They must be really concerned about the way the subscriber base is plummeting”, but also I couldn’t help but say bravo to them. By giving a mount, by guaranteeing access to the next WoW expansion beta and by giving people a free copy of Diablo 3, I couldn’t help but be impressed. It is blatant bribery but it’s also a masterstroke. Those who were committed to WoW already would sign up in a heartbeat and quite a few of those who were sitting on the fence may have been swayed to sign up for the year (I was one of them).

The other announcement was of course the revealing of the expansion. Now a few months ago it was found out that Blizzard had trademarked the name “Mists of Pandaria”, now many people including myself thought “they really wouldn’t go down that route would they?” .. but sure enough they did. As the trailer for MoP rolled, I couldn’t help but think they while the scenery looks absolutely beautiful, panda’s … really?. I still think that a little bit, but not as much as I did the last week. The new class that was announced “Monk”, certainly sounds interesting to me although I am a little disappointed that it’s not going to be a healer along the lines of a Chloromancer in Rift.

Mists of Pandaria Panel

So the next panel shed some more light on this expansion. The fact that there is no “main boss” this expansion certainly raised a few eyebrows but as Blizzard said, there was no “main boss” in the original World of Warcraft, but to go back to that after three expansions of a main boss is certainly a risk and it will mean that Blizzard will have to make sure they stay fully focused on the objectives for both factions.

I’m happy that they want to get people back into the world, now they didn’t say whether that’s just in Pandaria or in Azeroth as a whole, but either way I think it’s a good move. In a time of instant/group teleports, it becomes all to either to sit in Orgrimmar or Stormwind and wait for something to “pop” and kapow! Before you know it you’re in the battleground/dungeon/raid. I also like the fact that it is going to be a unified continent. One of my biggest gripes about Cataclysm is how disjointed the zones feel. They don’t feed into one another. Instead it’s “oh you are done here? Go back to your capital for the next portal”. The expansion just didn’t flow.

Also the fact that once you reach Pandaria you wont be able to fly until level 90 is a big plus for many people. Not being able to fly in, kill a mob, fly out, is going to increase the time it takes to level, but it will make you feel like your travelling a world again, which can only be a good thing. I’m probably one of the few who enjoyed questing in the old Azeroth. I loved that you had to ride from A to B, sometimes across continents or even the world. It made me feel like I was apart of that world, and it’s something I will fully enjoy to experience again in Pandaria. Whilst I understand you wont be required to travel from one side of the continent to the other, I appreciate the chance to feel part of the world again.

Perhaps the biggest revelation of the Pandaren race is the fact they are neutral to start with. This means that until level 10, they have no faction. Only after level 10 will you be required to choose whether you want to join the horde or the alliance. I think this is a very interesting move and I have a hunch it’s something they would’ve done with goblins if they could have found the right way to do it. As a young Pandaren you level on a turtle that left the continent 10,000 years ago. With the main Pandaren race being fully neutral this is a good move to allow for an isolated caste of the race to feel like they need to join one of the “traditional” factions in Azeroth. I’m not going to talk about the various zones, needless to say from the footage and the screenshots, they look absolutely beautiful. Also we are going to come across their version of a Kobold, but who would want to kill this?

*aw what a cute little bu… MY HAND!*

The Pandaren Race

The Pandaren race will be able to choose from the following classes, Hunter, Mage, Monk, Priest, Rogue, Shaman and Warrior. I’m a little surprised that they are going to be rogues and that they aren’t going to be druids. I would’ve thought a race that is meant to be as “noble” as the Pandaren’s would’ve chosen a much more “innocent” route.

Blizzard also announced the racial’s for the Pandaren which I think the vast majority have a very good chance of being changed before the game hits the live servers.

  • Epicurean – Increases the stat benefits from food by 100%
  • Gourmand – Cooking skill increased by 15
  • Inner Peace – Your rested experience lasts twice as long
  • Bouncy – You take 50% less fall damage
  • Quaking Palm – You touch a secret pressure point on an enemy target, putting it to sleep for 3 seconds.

Now I don’t know about you, but I can definitely see Epicurean getting either nerfbat taken to it, or deleted completely. A 100% stat benefit from food, would be seriously powerful at endgame. I can also see Inner Peace maybe being brought down a notch or two. Whilst the rested experience would last a maximum of three levels instead of one and a half, it would give them an unfair boost compared to other races. If anything the extended rested experience should be implemented across the board.

The Monk Class

The monk will be the new class come this expansion. It’ll be a melee class with a healer spec and tank spec and a dps spec and unlike the death knight class, these guys will start at level 1. They will wear leather (agility for the dps/tank specs and intellect for the healer). I must say that I’m a little disappointed by this as I would’ve loved the monk to be a cloth wearing class for some reason, although there are already 3 cloth wearing classes so it sort of makes sense to make the Monk class the 3rd leather wearing class after Rogues and Druids.

They will also use their own “energy” called “Chi”. It’s only used for two abilities. “Jab” and “Roll” but by using these you generate “Light” and “Dark” force (Oh hai Luke!)

My own opinion is that this is a very interesting class, in which they are trying to make more unique than they did with the death knight class. Will it end being as unique or fall into the same homogenization trap as the other classes? Only time will tell on that one…

(To make sure this isn’t one giant wall of text, I’m splitting it up into a couple of parts.  So using common sense, that would mean that Part 2 is on its way soon).

Welcome to first of what will be a series of posts covering Blizzcon 2011. They will be focused on World of Warcraft as personally I have very little interest in Starcraft 2 or Diablo 3 (although the latter I will be playing and I’ll explain why later).

So this Blizzcon from a World of Warcraft viewpoint had everything riding on it one felt. Over the past twelve months WoW has lost players faster than they ever have (900,000 was the last official figure I believe), Cataclysm was seen by many to be a huge disappointment, rushed, with a severe lack of high level content, half-raids and with that half-patches. Heroics, whilst the difficulty at the start in my opinion was spot on, the length of them were far too long. With all of this any many more grievances I think Blizzard knew they had to pull something big out of the hat this expansion and in my opinion they have (so far) successfully achieved that, although it’s too early to say if that opinion will come true, but it does seem like they’ve put a lot more creative talent into this expansion. Yes, I understand the old world was revamped in Cataclysm but that came at the cost of the rest of the game one felt. It also felt like that they had rested on their laurels and with Rift establishing itself as a very good MMO, and with SWTOR and Guild Wars 2 on the horizon, their laurels have moved out the way forcing them to stand up and say “we have to do something here”.

Today’s blog is about the World of Warcraft announcements in the opening ceremony…

So Mike Morhaime dropped what was I think is both a fantastic move and a move which shows they are clearly worried about the subscriber base and falling numbers.. The World of Warcraft annual pass. For those that missed it (I believe your rock now has its own post code), it is basically a commitment to play WoW for one year. You can still pay in either 1 month, 3 month or a 6 month subscription cycle BUT by signing up to the annual pass you have committed yourself to paying for WoW for the next 12 months. This on its own would’ve had even raised a murmur, however the perks you get certainly cause a stir.

You get…

  • An exclusive in-game mount : Tyrael’s Charger
  • Guaranteed access to the next World of Warcraft expansion
  • AND Diablo 3 for free

Yes you heard that right. By committing to pay for WoW for the next 12 months you get a FREE digital copy of Diablo 3. That in my opinion is an absolute masterstroke from Blizzard. Whilst the in-game mount and the access to the next expansion would have convinced most WoW players, the free copy of Diablo 3 would’ve swayed some people who were on the fence or who were even on the verge of quitting. Like I said, it’s a fantastic move, but also shows that Blizzard are concerned about the falling WoW subscriber base. Nevertheless i was certainly on the fence and this deal has brought me right back into the game.

Next up came Chris Metzen. If you’ve never heard him speak I suggest you get onto YouTube and go watch any announcement or any panel he has ever done. The guy is a fantastic public speaker and has charisma to spare. Oh and he is also one of the main men behind the lore in Azeroth.

After going through some cinematic for the other two games, Metzen then announced the next expansion … “Mists of Pandaria“. Yes ladies and gentlemen the rumours were true. Blizzard are going with panda’s. I must say when I saw this I was a little deflated. I thought “Blizzard are really going with this?” “Are they that desperate?”. That thinking basically lasted until the MoP Panel.

What else was announced about Mists of Pandaria during the opening ceremony?

  • Talents 2.0
  • Companion Pet Combat System
  • Level Cap Raised to 90
  • New Race : Pandaren
  • New Class : Monk
  • PvE scenario’s
  • Dungeon Challenge Modes

And that was it for the opening ceremony. I must say it left me both was a sense of disappointment (Panda’s? Really?), but the rest of what was said certainly raised my interest. I got the impression that Blizzard knew that it is make or break time for World of Warcraft, and that this time they were going to add chapters to the book and in some cases completely rewrite it.

During the break between the opening ceremony and the Mists of Pandaria panel, Metzen joined the hosts on DirectTV and he revealed a few other snippets.

  • Pandaren were original going to be the alliance race in The Burning Crusade
  • Pandaren will be neutral to start with.
  • Only after the starting zone will you choose which faction to align yourself with
  • Alex Afrasiabi, the lead world designer of World of Warcraft has been moved to a “top-secret project”, obviously “Titan”

That is all I can remember from that interview on Direct TV. My next post will be about the Mists of Pandaria panel. Thank you for reading.