Well, today’s it folks – if you’ve been waiting for Patch 4.1 and all of the goodness inside, the realms are slowly coming back online and you’re about to get what you’ve been waiting for. Whether it’s a newly redesigned and revamped Zul’Gurub or Zul’Aman, or you’re just looking forward to the Guild Finder, it’s all landing today.
Above is the beautiful trailer that sets the stage for the events in 4.1 – including a little insight into what we’ve been waiting for for a long time: the trolls are antsy and eager to regain their place at the top of the food chain, instead of be forced to be scattered and disorganized as a people.
If you needed a reason to queue up and join the dungeon finder, well…now you have one. Alternatively, if you’ve bemoaned the lack of people in queues and the time required to get a decent group, get ready for some relief. In patch 4.1 Blizzard is poised to unveil the Dungeon Finder: A Call to Arms.
Here’s the lowdown from Blizzard:
In patch 4.1 we’ll be introducing Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms, a new system intended to lower queue times. Call to Arms will automatically detect which class role is currently the least represented in the queue, and offer them additional rewards for entering the Dungeon Finder queue and completing a random level-85 Heroic dungeon.
Any time the Dungeon Finder queue is longer than a few minutes for level-85 Heroics, the Call to Arms system kicks in and determines which role is the least represented. In the case of tanking being the least represented role, the “Call to Arms: Tanks” icon will display in the Dungeon Finder UI menu where class roles are selected, and will also display on the UI when the queue pops and you are selected to enter a dungeon. Regardless of your role, you’ll always be able to see which role currently has been Called to Arms, if any.
Call to Arms is meant to lower wait times by offering additional rewards for queuing as the currently least represented role. To be eligible for the additional rewards you must solo queue for a random level-85 Heroic in the role that is currently being Called to Arms, and complete the dungeon by killing the final boss. Every time you hit these requirements (there is no daily limit) you’ll receive a goodie bag that will contain some gold, a chance at a rare gem, a chance at a flask/elixir (determined by spec), a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount. The pets offered come from a wide variety of sources, and include companions like the Razzashi Hatchling, Cockatiel, and Tiny Sporebat, but the mounts are those specifically only available through dungeons (not raids), like the Reins of the Raven Lord from Sethekk Halls, Swift White Hawkstrider from Magister’s Terrace, and Deathcharger’s Reins from Stratholme.
Allow me to use this YouTube video to express my reaction:
This system is meant to address the unacceptable queue times currently being experienced by those that queue for the DPS role at max level. The long queue times are, of course, caused by a very simple lack of representation in the Dungeon Finder by tanks, and to some extent healers. We don’t feel the tanking and healing roles have any inherent issues that are causing the representation disparity, except that fulfilling them carries more responsibility. Understandably, players prefer to take on that responsibility in more organized situations than what the Dungeon Finder offers, but perhaps we can bribe them a little. While this system gives tanks and healers something extra, the incentive is being provided so that we can help players in the DPS role get into more dungeons, get better gear, and continue progressing.
While the gold, gems, flasks, and elixirs are OK incentives, we knew we needed something more substantial. We had briefly considered Valor Points and epics, but decided that wouldn’t be working toward the goal of helping DPS players progress, and ultimately wouldn’t keep tanks and healers in the Dungeon Finder system for very long. We settled on pets and dungeon-found mounts as they’re cosmetic/achievement items that players tend to try to get on their own, so why not change that up and offer them a chance to get some of those elusive pets and mounts in a way that also helps other players? Even if they don’t get a pet or mount, or get one they already have, the gold and other goodies still feel rewarding enough that it won’t feel like a waste of effort.
We think it’s a pretty solid incentive to get tanks and healers queuing, give max-level players another way to collect the pets and mounts they so desire, and above all, to improve wait times for DPS players sitting in queues. In the case of lower level dungeons, it’s actually not uncommon for DPS to be the least represented role, and so if this new system works out and we’re pleased with the results, we may consider applying this same mechanic to lower level dungeons as well.
Wow. Color me impressed. That’s really something, and personally I think the lure of loot just may work. After all, it worked during Wrath to get people to actually stay and finish The Oculus, why won’t it work here?
Blizzard posted a note over at the official forums about what changes we’ll see in patch 4.1.11; the one that will contain the Tomb of Immortal Darkness. They don’t normally go to such lengths to tell us what’s going on behind the scenes way before a patch like this, but I’m glad they’re being open and honest with us.
All in all though, the changes look good! They’re finally taking Dance Studio out of the game – no one used that anyway, and adding a Random Guild Finder! Awesome!
Also, to encourage people to get out of capital cities, they’re adding a new debuff:
Players in capital cities will receive a 2-hour debuff “Homebody” that increases damage taken and reduces damage and healing given by 10% for every 10 minutes they’re within city limits. We hope this encourages something.
Oh snap! And look, class improvements too! For example:
Druid forms are now considered vehicles, allowing one player to ride on the druid’s back while in any form, even their humanoid form.
and for Hunters:
Ettin’s Grip (new talent) allows the hunter to equip two ranged weapons simultaneously.
(ooc: that would actually be badass. seriously.)
And a few others worth noting:
* Invisible walls have been added around all harmful ground effects.
* All dungeon & raid bosses now have legs. If they already had legs, they got more legs.
* In order to make the Cataclysm expansion appeal to all players’ sense of nostalgia, shaman, druids and paladins may now only queue as healers when using the Dungeon Finder.
* Tank Stimulus: Successfully completing 25 Dungeon Finder runs as a tank will grant you a $400 Federal tax credit. (Requires Form 8863)
Woot! A tax credit! Time to respec my Paladin! And honestly, who doesn’t appreciate more legs? I know I do. I can’t wait for this patch to land!
Q: Are there any plans to update Outland and TBC zones to facilitate better level flow? – Atreydes (Latin America)
A: We think the flow of the zones works out well. It is true that you can finish the continents before hitting every zone because of the accelerated quest experience (further enhanced by mechanics such as heirlooms) but most players going back through the content on new characters seem perfectly happy to get through it faster than they did with their original character. What we don’t like is the strange way you go back in time when you go to Outland and Northrend and then back to the future (heh) when you go to the level 80-85 zones. That is definitely something we want to fix.
A similar but slightly different question was asked by one of our Russian players:
Q: Will the Outland and Northrend be “renewed”? Will there be new quests? – Мандрэйк (Europe [Russian])
A: Because we did those areas more recently than Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor, we don’t feel the same urgency to go update them. They just don’t have the level design and quest flow problems to the same extent as the original content. We recognize though that some players are getting awfully tired of Hellfire Peninsula, and we’d like to come up with a good solution there.
This one is of particular interest to me. While I agree that the biggest issue with Outland and Northrend is that the player feels like they’re going back in time when they’ve leveled and then move into those zones to continue leveling but somehow the events of the Cataclysm haven’t happened there yet, I’m just as concerned with level tuning and story that players are missing when they push through all of those zones just for the sake of racking up dings.
I think the content of TBC and WoTLK deserve more than just a slight tweak to get the characters to give a nod to the fact that old world Azeroth isn’t the same as it used to be: I’m not saying they need to be directly affected by the Cataclysm, and I’m not saying that quests need to be reworked or zones completely changed, but I do think that when you go into outlands you should see the fruits of the past several years battle against the Burning Legion, and when you go into Northrend now you should see at least a little progress from the results at the end of Wrath of the Lich King, even if it’s only to note that the war is still open on that front and there’s still work to be done.
Q: What is your favorite escape/distraction when you arent working on WoW? – Danksz (North America/ANZ)
A: We polled the entire World of Warcraft development team and included the most interesting, unusual, and potentially terrifying responses. They included: roasting my own coffee; hiking all over SoCal; gardening with yuccas and bamboo; building my own 3D printer; attempting to turn my living room into a live action scene from Tron using blacklights, stencils and a helluva lot of paint; autocross racing my sweet ride; board games (I have over 450 of them); being spinal tapped to Tumblr, Reddit and 4chan; mastering cooking (duck confit, breads, pastas, more breads); building Star Wars Lego sets; trying to control my computer using brainwaves and an EEG reader; plein air/outdoor watercolor painting; geocaching; hockey; painting miniatures; swing dancing; crafting old-time cocktails; running 5 / 10 Ks / mud runs; motorcycling; go; blending smoothies; skydiving; work on my Jaina/Varian fanfic; baking bread; playing drums; reading sci-fi; comics; playing WoW.
Sounds like a fun place to work! Or at the very least fun people to work with.
Q: Will the devs consider giving us reason to interact in the new world of cataclysm? We sit in cities waiting on queues. Theres little reason to leave the city gates outside of farming and archeology. The *main* cities feel alive, the world however feels quite dead. – Odiem (North America/ANZ)
A: While you’re leveling up your character and gathering professions, you’re more than likely interacting with the world plenty. World of Warcraft’s endgame has centered on dungeons, raids, Battlegrounds and Arenas for some time, so it’s natural that you spend more time in cities organizing and preparing for those group-based events. We do think there is more that we can do to promote compelling solo gameplay for max level characters, though. The 4.2 patch has a pretty epic questing experience involving the Firelands and we’re really excited to see how players respond to it.
A similar but slightly different question was asked by one of our Korean players.
Q: PvP realms are getting indistinctive from the PvE realm as players are not engaging into PvP contents, since they are not finding it attractive. The only difference from the PvE realm is that it’s possible to attack opponent around zones in Conflict. Is there any plan to strengthen the difference between PvP and PvE realms? – Soulcube (Korea)
A: We don’t think it’s that world PvP is unattractive, we just think it’s just the cumulative effect of a lot of changes we made to the game to meet other goals. For example, flying mounts are really cool and convenient, but they mean you are much less likely to stumble upon someone from the opposite faction while travelling. We considered teleportation a mandatory feature for Dungeon Finder to succeed, but then you are less likely to bump into an enemy outside of a dungeon. To get world PvP back in some form, we’d have to develop something like the Isle of Quel’danas: a non-flight zone that is not a sanctuary where players congregate to finish quests or earn rewards. We’ll think about ways to do something like that again in the future.
I can’t say I’m satisfied with the devs’ answer on this one. While I agree that there’s plenty of world interaction when you’re out and about and questing and gathering and boosting your professions, I think that the concern of PVP players is probably more serious for them than the devs are really picking up.
Back in the vanilla days, when mounts were both expensive and far off, and when beginner mounts were slow enough that you could still be ambushed on one successfully, it was pretty hazardous playing on a PVP server during those early levels. I remember trying to just quest as a poor level 25 Tauren Druid and getting repeatedly ganked in Stonetalon by level 60 Night Elves coming through the pass.
Admittedly, I moved on to play on PvE servers after that, but I understand how global combat is a core component of playing on a PVP server, and between flying in old world and earlier/faster mounts, it’s become all but a moot point.
Q: I think a lot of people would like to see some more options for inventory storage are there plans for any of the following? Bank slots/Equipment manager storage/Upgrade backpack/storage for costume, cosmetic, toys/tabard storage. – Shinysparkle (North America/ANZ)
A: We do have some storage solutions in the works. We’d like to convert tabards in particular to something like the current UI to manage titles. We don’t want to just keep giving players larger and larger bags in which to lose items. We’re focusing more on better ways to organize items.
Finally! A fix is coming for my tabard addiction!
Q: During the expansions released since vanilla, the specialities of the different classes were watered down more and more. By now, many classes can do almost everything and almost none is still special. Are there any steps planned to give the classes more “charisma”, so that they are more distinguished from each other and regain their special flair? – Blades (Europe [German])
A: Sometimes when players say “special flair” what they really mean is “something so awesome that everyone will have to take me.” We really don’t want to go back to that model, which just isn’t tenable in a game with 10-player raids and 30 different talent trees. We have no problem spreading around buffs and utility that we consider more-or-less mandatory, such as the battle rezes and raid buffs. At the same time, we think there are enough unique abilities out there to make the various talent trees shine. Shaman have a great interrupt with Wind Shear. Warlocks can get out of danger with Demonic Portal. Discipline priests can mitigate a lot of damage with Power Word: Barrier, but Unholy death knights have their own version in Anti-Magic Zone. We struggle a lot with how much homogenization is good for the game, largely so that you can play with your friends, and how much is bad for the game, because then your character feels less special. It’s something we’ll continue to work on in an attempt to strike that perfect balance.
I really REALLY like the answer to this question. A lot of players who have been around for a long time miss the days when people formed their raid or dungeon groups because specific classes had “ubertalents” that were so good in the situations the raid would put you in that you absolutely wanted to have them – and it made the people who played that class feel uber as well.
In reality, that’s indicative of a lack of balance, and I’m glad that Blizzard is trying to strike a line between giving people talents that feel epic and important without being essential to specific – or every – encounters.
So what do you think? Blizzard developers took this one in stride, I think – and there were some great questions. I don’t think this will be the last dev Q&A that the developers do, so stay tuned for more in the future. What would you ask Blizzard developers if you had the chance? Sound off in the comments.
So now that the world has shattered, Deathwing is free from the elemental plane, there’s a lot of brand new smoldering gaping holes in the ground where lots of cities and zones used to be, and the battle between Horde and Alliance are themselves burning anew, how’s it going?
Seriously, earlier this week, most of us went to bed on Monday with one Azeroth – old Azeroth, the one we’ve known, many of us, for the past 6 years – and we woke up the next day to the world breaking while the servers were down. When the servers came back up, we got a brand new world, brand new zones, new character class and race combinations, and more. We essentially got a brand new game.
So how are you adjusting? Still overwhelmed with all of the changes? Already happily leveling your new gnome mage or tauren paladin? Or maybe you’re still keeping your head down and waiting for the fuss to blow over and the queues to dial down so you can get into your server? Sound off in the comments!
Okay, for those of you who read the title and were looking for the song that it matches up to, here you go. Still, while we’re all sitting here, waiting for the servers to come back up, waiting for our beloved Azeroth to change forever, and waiting for The Shattering, I figured I would ask everyone what they’ll miss from old Azeroth. You can see a lot of those responses over at Twitter if you’re following me (I’m @halophoenix,) but I asked the Twitterati what they would miss the most, and the responses were great.
I started the discussion with one of mine:
@halophoenix says: think the Crystal Caverns in Un’ Goro were the first place I saw and said “wow, that’s really really gorgeous.” #goodbyeoldazeroth
Here are a few or the responses I got:
@immamoonkin asked: “I wonder what’ll happen if I jump off this big tree.” #goodbyeoldazeroth
Which of course got her, myself, and a few other people talking about the quintessential newbie Night Elf experience: finding the branches off of the World Tree in Teldrassil and jumping off. The first time I jumped off was the first time I landed somewhere that I couldn’t wisp back to my body. I was so freaked out I thought I had broken the game. I even logged off for a while hoping I’d be able to sort it out when I came back. Yup – completely forgot about the Spirit Healer. We also discussed that first epic ride from Darkshore into Ashenvale, and the huge, towering, bright trees and winding paths we encountered.
Speaking of which, one of my friends had a minor freak-out about the event, and explained there were a number of things she’d miss about old Azeroth:
@tongarityphoon: – EVERYTHING. I don’t even know. Darnassus, Teldrassil in general. ASHENVALE. Oh my god.
– Mene hit level 20 and I was so fucking PUMPED for Ashenvale, it was BEAUTIFUL and I felt so big and strong ;;
– Oh gosh, and Blackrock Depths. THE PLAGUELANDS, those were always what made me feel like I was really reaching the high levels.
– WHAT ABOUT SCHOLO dear god I three-manned that once at level 60, pre-BC.
– AND I WILL MISS STRANGLETHORN VALE. I never thought I would say that but BOOTY BAY T_T OH GOD. And the cities. THE CITIES.
– Stormwind and Darnassus not so much Ironforge OH GOD AND ORGRIMMAR and the UNDERCITY Thunder Bluff, meh. I MIGHT CRY
– THE DEEPRUN TRAM AND THE SEA CREATURES YOU CAN SEE THROUGH THE SIDES OF IT I already miss running to Ironforge as a baby for AH
– WINTERSPRING AND ITS LUDICROUS BEAUTY
You can see she’s a little distressed about the whole “end of the world” thing, but then again, who wouldn’t be?
I have to admit, I’m right there with her though – I remember the days of having to make the Wetlands run from Menethil Harbor all the way to Ironforge as a lowbie, with crocolisks on your ass the whole way. Oh, those were the days.
I took the opportunity to remind her that Orgrimmar is currently on fire. I’m not mean, am I?
@errant_pastor said: sob. uh. everything. ;_; so many goals unaccomplished. sob
And @immamoonkin had another one for me – one that reminded me of me back in the vanilla days:
@immamoonkin chimed in: I got another: “Oh… there’s a FERAL and RESTO tree? Uh… *continues to put points in balance*” #goodbyeoldazeroth
Yeah, this was me with my first hunter way back in the day. My horrifically embarrassing n00b claim to fame? For a while there I never trained traps. I was level 60, and my hunter main couldn’t lay a trap to save his life. I looked at them as optional: I didn’t NEED them for anything, and I had gotten this far without them, so…why bother? When I went into an instance with a PUG and they asked me to lay a trap to CC a mob, I sheepishly admitted I didn’t know the skill. Yeah, you can imagine how well that went over. But it did get me to train them up right quick!
@Raevyns had this to say over IM:
– The calm green purple of the forests around Auberdine..
– Hours spent in the Barrens, killing Quillboar…
– And those loooong twilight’s hammer quests in Auberdine and Silithus…
– Being pounced by Tiny in Ungoro
I wish I could say that Quillboar were going away, or their horrific dying scream would be changing, but alas, I know from what I’ve read about the Tauren starting quests now that we’ll still hear from the Quillboar, whether we like it or not.
And oh, “Tiny.” Tiny was our name for any of the three devilsaurs that roam Un’Goro Crater – their massive hulking frames scaring the bejeezus out of characters who ventured into the crater for the first time. They’re huge, they make the ground shake, and they had a HUGE aggro range. Yup – when you’re level appropriate, those guys are seriously OP.
We waxed rhapsodic about the time in the game when you HAD to get faction with the Timbermaw to get through their tunnel, and that was pretty much the only way to progress in the game – sure you could try and do other things, but all of your level-appropriate quests were in Winterspring, and well – good luck getting there if you weren’t a Druid.
My friend Syddie took the high road though, and reminded us to not look back, but look forward to all of the new and wondrous things we would see in Cataclysm!
@thesyddiegirl said: I’m going to miss being able to somewhere and have certain memories tied to it but really looking forward to changes as well!
– There’s just too much that is new and exciting and revitalizing for the game for me to fuss about things that are going away.
She has a good point! The world will change, but now there’ll be much much more to explore and see!
So what are some of your memories of old Azeroth? What will you miss the most, and what will you be looking forward to as soon as the shattering is all finished and the realms come back up again? Let us know in the comments!
So it might still be a little early to ask the question we always ask after every major content patch or series of changes, but we’re going to ask it anyway: How’s that patch 4.0.1 working out for you?
See that image up there? If you haven’t been paying attention, Druids lost the ability to permemently stay in the Tree of Life form, and to boot, they lost the familiar old stubble-legged tree that we’ve come to know and love. Now, when they turn into a tree, they become the model you see above (with different colors to match their character appearance) and can only stay in the form for 30 seconds. Makes staying in tree form during boss fights pretty difficult, don’t you think?
In 4.0.1 we essentially all got a brand new game. Add-ons are still largely broken for a large part, the UI and graphics have been updated remarkably, Archeology has been added to the game, and all in all the groundwork has been laid for Cataclysm to be released.
In the interim though, what do you think? How have your characters been adjusting to the changes? Any highs or lows to report? Are all of your add-ons still busted or did you make it through the changes unscathed? Sound off in the comments!
Today’s the day folks – patch 4.0.1 lands today, and with it every single one of us gets to learn how to play all over again. Significant changes are afoot in the new patch, including brand new talent trees, new currencies, new talents and specs, and just about everything else required to lay the groundwork for Cataclysm. Patch 4.0.1 will be the last significant overhaul patch prior to the expansion, although we’ll likely see at least one more prep-patch that includes some events and activity leading up to the big event come December.
If you haven’t logged in for a while, this is the patch to log in for – partially so you don’t have to re-download it when Cataclysm comes out, but partially so you can familiarize yourself with all of the myriad changes that have been made up to this point so you’re ready when the expansion hits.
Oh, you want to see the patch notes? Head here or click through the jump.
With Blizzard officially announcing the release of Cataclysm, the question now becomes when does 4.0.1 drop? There has been much speculation based on the hidden patch notes, what has been live on the PTR, what’s available and tested on Beta, etc. So many rumors, but no concrete evidence. One Tuesday we’re all going to attempt to log in and see that we have on our hands a hefty wait time while the game patches.
So many changes are awaiting all of us when path 4.0.1 becomes live on the servers, but what does this mean to the players? First, the talent changes we’ve all been hearing about will finally be a reality. Which means all of the players will be learning how to play their characters all over again. Playing the game will suddenly be brand new for all of us, all over again.
What achievements are you trying to score before they become Feats of Strength? Anything you’re terribly sad to see go? Are there changes you’re glad to see happen? Or are you one of those who are not at all lured by achievements at all and thus are just ready for Cataclysm to release already?
After today’s maintenance, Horde and Alliance players will find that the updated instances for Operation Gnomeregan and Zalazane’s Fall will be available to enter, so Horde players can head into the Echo Isles to retake the Troll homelands and put an end to Zalazane’s tyranny, and the Gnomes and their allies can muster their forces to retake the Gnomes’ home city of Gnomeregan.