Archive for April, 2010

Blizzard Unveils the Quest to Retake The Echo Isles

Blizzard’s made a number of Cataclysm-related announcements recently (leading up to an Alpha or a Beta perhaps?) including the upcoming Operation Gnomeregan and new zones coming in Cataclysm including Mount Hyjal and Vashj’ir.

Now, as a Horde mirror to the quest to retake Gnomeregan, the Trolls are out to retake their homeland, The Echo Isles, and Blizzard has released a boatload of information about what they and their allies will have in store when they move to retake the islands:

After years in exile, the Darkspear trolls are preparing to invade the Echo Isles and reclaim the land once bestowed to them by Thrall. Led by Vol’jin, a wise and highly regarded Darkspear, the tribe’s bravest warriors will set out from Orgrimmar and Sen’jin Village, seeking to bring about Zalazane’s fall and begin the process of rebuilding their homes and villages on the Echo Isles. In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, new troll adventurers will begin their journey on these tiny islands off the coast of Durotar, where they’ll be able to experience this time of trial and transition firsthand.

Though the Darkspears may once again have their land, the tribe’s turmoil is far from over. The impending cataclysm will spark rivalry among the Horde leadership, and after years of running from a seemingly endless string of conflicts to preserve the Darkspear nation, Vol’jin is done fleeing. The Darkspears have reclaimed their islands and have no intention of settling elsewhere. Of course, as an untested member of the tribe, you’ll have some training to do before tackling the Darkspears’ larger matters.

Looks like there’s more to this than meets the eye and there may be implications for the leadership and future of the Horde. Very interesting story implications indeed. So while the Alliance are happily off to retake Gnomeregan, the trolls will have their homeland back, but at what cost and what will amount from it?

Ars Technica Tours Blizzard HQ

The fine folks at Ars Technica recently had the opportunity to visit Blizzard Headquarters and tour their magnificent offices. While this doesn’t have to do specifically with World of Warcraft, there’s no coincidence that after 5 years of service to Blizzard, each employee gets a sword, and after 10 years they get a shield. The one shown in the article just happens to bear the crest of Lorderon.

The offices are amazing, and complete with life-size sculptures of figures like Illidan and a massive bronze Orc wolf-rider out front of the building. Head through the photo tour (and even note the “artists representation of Blizzard’s datacenter -although I’m sure they have many- that they weren’t allowed to take pictures of) and see the gloriousness for yourself!

Cataclysm Raid Changes Announced

Looking to get your raid on when Cataclysm finally lands? There are a few very serious major changes incoming that will rock your Vanilla/BC/Wrath world that may lead to the end of raiding and dungeons as we know them…or maybe it won’t make much difference to you.

All in all, this is going to be a lot to swallow for most players, and will represent some serious and significant changes to the way they raid. Some of the highlights?

First of all, 10-man and 25-man raids will drop the same loot, just in different quantities – that means 25-man raids won’t get higher item-level gear like they currently do – a lot of people have been fighting this point on both sides, and it looks like while at first Blizzard was coming down on the side of the people who favored better gear for 25-man raids, they’ve reversed course a bit.

Second, 10-man and 25-man raids will share the same lockouts. That means a 10-man group gets the same amount of time to complete a dungeon as a 25-man group. Yowch. That would be a problem if not for the fact that also announced is the fact that 10-and-25-man bosses will be very similar in difficulty, and not the pretty big difference they are today.

Blizzard also has some plans to change up the way raids are done, and create shorter raids with fewer bosses (much like the heroic Onyxia and Sarth runs) that are still difficult enough to accomodate a large number of people, but that just have fewer bosses.

Like I said, all of this is still up in the air, and Blizzard reserves the right to change all of it, but if anything I can see it’s a pretty big leveling of the playing field between 10-man guilds and 25-man guilds and the dungeons they run. If anything, it may lend itself to the thought that Blizzard’s noticed that 10-man runs are mostly guild runs with tight social groups, and 25-man runs are largely pugs that are done for efficiency and loot. Interesting.

What do you think? Will the new announcements impact you at all?

Read Blizzard’s full announcement and leave your comments behind the jump!


Massive Cataclysm Badge and PVP Changes Incoming

Massive changes came down the line in a blue post last night with regard to the way we’ll be buying gear in the future: almost all badges for PvE and PvP gear, and personal ratings for PvP gear will be going away. Instead, there’ll be new point systems based entirely on numbers and not necessarily items that drop from bosses, for example.

Here’s the skinny from Bashiok on the forums yesterday:

We’re continuing to refine the badge/emblem and PvP point systems in Cataclysm and we’d like to share some of those changes with you today. Please enjoy!

Our primary goal when approaching badges in Cataclysm is to address a lot of the confusion that comes with these currency systems. To that end we’re changing badges to a more straightforward point system, similar to the ones we’ve used for a while for Arenas and Battlegrounds. There will be a total of four types of points you can earn in Cataclysm (two for PvE and two for PvP), and these will remain the same even as we introduce new content.

Here’s the breakdown:

Hero Points — Low-tier, easier-to-get PVE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, but no cap to how quickly you can earn them. Earned from most dungeons. (most like the current Emblem of Triumph)
Valor Points — High-tier, harder-to-get PvE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, as well as a cap to how many you can earn per week. Earned from Dungeon Finder daily Heroic and from raids. (most like the current Emblem of Frost)

Honor Points — Low-tier, easier-to-get PVP points. There will be a maximum cap to how many you can own, but no cap to how quickly you can earn them. Earned from most PvP activities.
Conquest Points — High-tier, harder-to-get PvP points. There will be a maximum cap to how many you can own, and a cap to how many you can earn per week. Earned from winning Rated Battlegrounds or Arenas. (currently called Arena Points)

When a new tier of raiding gear is released or a new PvP season begins, your higher tier of points will be converted into the lower tier. For instance, if a new tier of raid gear is released, your Valor points will be converted to Hero points, and similarly if a new PvP season begins your Conquest points will be converted to Honor points. Of course that means with these new releases you’ll always begin without any of the higher tier of points, and thus be unable to stockpile them.

As noted for Conquest points, the Rated Battlegrounds and Arenas will be sharing this same point type. Because of that, it will in fact be possible to get the best PvP items without setting foot in Arena; however, more powerful armor and weapons will of course require more Conquest points, so players who win their matches more often will still gear up faster. We’re removing personal rating requirements on almost all items; they’re definitely removed for weapons. We might offer a few items to the absolute best players based on personal rating, largely as cosmetic or ‘bragging rights’ type items. And you’ll have the option of purchasing the previous season’s gear with the more readily available Honor points.

We do plan to have a way to convert Honor points (PvP) into Hero points (PvE), and vice versa, at a loss. The conversions will be possible, but it won’t be a 1:1 rate, and you’ll have fewer points after the conversion process. We won’t allow the higher tiers to be exchanged for each other, however.

To explain the reasoning for the weekly cap on points for the higher tiers, this is to provide flexibility in how players choose to earn the points without feeling like they have to do all of the content as often as it is available. If your Valor income from raiding is sufficient, you may not feel the need to run Dungeon Finder every night, or perhaps even at all. Likewise, a PvP player could choose to participate in a lot of Rated Battlegrounds but no Arenas, or focus on both, and still be able to earn the points they want.

We realize that with any changes to progression pathways there are going to be questions. We’re eagerly awaiting any that we may have left unanswered. To the comments!

In the end, there’ll be four different kinds of “points:” hero and valor for low and high-quality PvE items, and honor and conquest for low and high-quality PvP items, respectively. No more badges, no more badge trade-ins, no more marks of honor or honor points and then arena points, no more worrying if one type of badge will be phased out in the next patch, and so on. In the end it’ll be all about collecting those kinds of points by doing the activities that earn them, like heroic versus regular dungeons, arenas versus battlegrounds, and so on.

The changes should make things much simpler, but at the same time it opens the door to oversimplification – considering it’s all virtual, aren’t points the same as badges anyway? Even so, it’ll definitely make the process of getting gear and figuring out how to acquire the gear your really want much much simpler.

What do you think about the changes? Sound it out in the comments!

MMO Champion :: Updated Class Previews for Cataclysm

Gotten your fill of class preview information yet? MMO Champion has compiled a list of the most recent updates to the class previews and presented them in a very simple to navigate and use series of posts.

In lieu of having to do it myself, head on over and take a look and see what’s in store for your class when Cataclysm comes!

NoxyChu :: Celestial Steed Comic

Celestial Steed Comic by NoxyChu

There’s been a lot of fuss and discussion over the unveiling of the Celestial Steed in the Blizzard Store, and the fact that one can be yours for $25 USD if you have the cash to blow on it. I think the above summarizes my feelings on the matter entirely, although I haven’t dropped the cash on one just yet. I’ve considered it, but the price is a little steep for me. But that’s just for me – if you want one, can afford it, and want to, then by all means I wholeheartedly endorse you buying and riding your shiny star pony for ever and ever.

But the comic above from the lovely Noxychu, whose art I absolutely adore (seriously, go see her work, then buy commissions from her), brings together the fuss over the Celestial Steed with one of my favorite flash games ever in the history of ever, Robot Unicorn Attack, in a collision of epic proportions. I love it.

Now then, who’s gotten their shiny star pony?

The Daily Blink: The Cataclysm Feature We’re Waiting For

You know, I’d probably actually use this. Not like it’s not easy to order pizza online as is, but really? Now I wouldn’t even need to tab out to do it!

Image above (and the laughs it got out of me) courtesy of The Daily Blink!

Blizzard Announces: Vashj’ir: Surviving The Depths

Blizzard has released a ton of new Cataclysm related information this week, including this week’s previous news about Mount Hyjal. Now, Blizzard has announced details about Vashj’ir, the undersea city that will house the instances of the Abyssal Maw and the Throne of the Tides.

Here’s the lowdown from the official page:

The Sunken City

Vashj’ir is a level 78-82 zone in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm where players will be called to explore the depths of the Great Sea and stop the naga from seizing immeasurable power from the realm of Neptulon the Tidehunter. This expansive underwater zone will feature an unprecedented fight for survival against the naga overwhelming the area, several new quest hubs — including Alliance and Horde naval ships and submarines — all-new underwater travel and combat mechanics, several pocketed undersea caves free from water’s grip, two new five-player dungeons (Throne of the Tides and Abyssal Maw), and the first-ever opportunity to explore the remains of the once-majestic city of Vashj’ir!

It’s really impressive that more details about Cataclysm have been released so soon, but it’s also really impressive that the entire zone appears to be underwater, feature underwater combat, and puts the Alliance and the Horde’s constant battles at the root of a much larger conflict that’s managed to embroil them all.

Celestial Steed and Lil’ XT Available to Purchase!


Remember when I stumbled on the above video of the Celestial Steed? At the time we had no idea where it would come from, but now we know all too well – we got the word from today that the Celestial Steed and Lil’ XT are both available to purchase in the Blizzard Store.

The Celestial Steed mount is available to purchase for $25.00 US, and the Lil XT pet is available for $10.00 US. Both of them will work at whatever riding level you have, so you don’t have to wait until you level up your riding skill to even use the Celestial Steed, for example.

This will likely re-inflame debate over micro-payments and pay-to-play items in a game like World of Warcraft; but for those of us who really don’t care all that much, we can just sit back, drop the cash if we have it, and enjoy the pretty.

Blizzard Announces Mount Hyjal: In Defense of Nordrassil

Among the Cataclysm related news Blizzard’s been trickling out has come the next big zone announcement for the expansion, Mount Hyjal:

For years, Mount Hyjal and the wounded World Tree, Nordrassil, have remained cut off from the rest of Azeroth. Sealed away within a protective field of dense foliage by Malfurion Stormrage, Nordrassil has been slowly recovering from the devastation of the Third War, when Malfurion called upon the tree’s power to destroy the archdemon Archimonde and repel the forces of the Burning Legion and Scourge. Now, with the impending cataclysm, the World Tree’s well-being is threatened once more. From the Firelands within the Elemental Plane, Ragnaros and his minions prepare to burst into Hyjal and set Nordrassil ablaze — and the conflagration would endanger all life on Azeroth.

In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, players will have the opportunity to explore the newly reopened Mount Hyjal as Azeroth’s heroes, with the help of Ysera, Malfurion Stormrage and Hamuul Runetotem, are called upon to push back the armies of the Firelord, banish Ragnaros to the Elemental Plane and lay waste to the twilight dragon stronghold in nearby Darkwhisper Gorge. This all-new level 78-82 zone will feature multiple quest hubs, phased terrain and quest lines, portals to micro-zones within the Firelands, an all-new raid dungeon, and much more.

Hear that, kiddies? Mount Hyjal will be a zone in Cataclysm, and not only will you be able to finally get in there, but you’ll have a job to do and some pretty serious allies to do it with. We’ll see Ysera herself, along with Malfurion and Hamuul (and possibly Malorne!) ready to stand against the elementals that will likely be raging through the area once Deathwing breaks through the Elemental plane.

Now the other amazing thing is that not only with Hyjal be an open zone, but the world tree itself, Nordrassil, previously thought completely destroyed after the Third War, will be present in the zone and will require our protection.

There are some amazing other tidbits here, like a insinuation that the Night Elf leadership will be somehow “fractured,” implying that we’ll finally see the tension between Tyrande Whisperwind and Fandral Staghelm coming to a head, and the two of them likely engaged in some kind of battle (likely not physically) for resources, allegiances, and the right to rule – something which is probably distracting the Night Elves from the task at hand: protecting Azeroth.

This is huge news, and only the second piece of zone information we’ve seen since Blizzard gave us a preview of the Abyssal Maw!

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