Archive for the ‘Wrath of the Lich King’ Category

Blizzard Wieghs in on WoW’s Difficulty

A lot of people have a bone to pick when it comes to the overall difficulty of World of Warcraft – many of them go right out and say that they think the game has become easier over time, that Wrath of the Lich King was probably a low-point in the simplicity of the game and the changes made during that period made the game so simple that you could play without paying attention. Those same people are generally grateful that Cataclysm has seen the pendulum swing back in favor of a more difficult game overall.

At the same time, there are plenty of people who think that the game was fine early on in Vanilla WoW, and hit a pretty broken and difficult period in The Burning Crusade. They’ll say that the balance and difficulty were adjusted in Wrath of the Lich King, and the game found its sweet spot during that expansion, and that the changes in Cataclysm to make the game more challenging were unwarranted and the game now has just too steep a learning curve to really be accessible to anyone but people who play all of the time.

I’m curious what you think, but before we get to that point, Bashiok – one of the blue posters at the official forums – had a few things to say on the matter, and they’re worth reading:

I understand and respect gaming masochism. But, I think that changing mechanics to be more reasonable and less punishing is an improvement, not a detriment, to games in general. Many of us Original Gamers pine for the days of D&D-based yore when games were seemingly intended to break us down into sobbing masses created by an uncaring necromancer of pain and suffering, or at least didn’t try to avoid it. Overcoming all of the obstacles (I CHOOSE NOT TO SHOOT HER WITH THE SILVER ARROW… NOOOOO) was a big part of what gaming (I HAVE 1 LIFE!?), and especially PC gaming (HOW DO I LOAD MOUSE DRIVERS?), were about. But, I feel we’re lucky to now be in an age where those ideals (intended or not) are giving way to actual fun, actual challenge, and not fabricating it through high-reach requirements (I NEED A FAIRY MONK WITH A MAGIC LOCKPICK?).

What we’ve always been trying to do, what WoW has always been about (and to which much of its success is due) is to make an accessible MMO. Anyone that looks back at the game at launch and wishes it was as challenging now as it was then is not aware of the painstaking effort put into making this game accessible as compared to its predecessors. Since release we’ve refined that intent, eventually evolving the very few masochistic designs WoW actually ever started with, but ideally still offering those same prestige goals that give that feeling of achieving something great if you’re able to pull it off. We’ve made a lot of progress toward striking that balance and continuing to evolve the game, but it’s not something we’re ever likely to perfect, and we’ll be constantly working to hit that elusive goal. Hopefully it’s to the benefit of everyone playing and enjoying the game, and they’ll continue to enjoy the journey that a living, breathing, persistent universe will take us on.

I have to hand it to Bashiok partially for slamming so many old school gaming references into such a tiny addition to the thread, but he has some good points too: there’s a sense of nostalgia among people who have been playing video games – especially PC games – for a long time and remember the days when games were still fun and exciting, but far more punishing and difficult. But he does pose the question: does difficulty and punishment for making the wrong decisions make a bad game? Does a strict game with rigid gameplay styles automatically equate a GOOD game, or does it just make it a game that some of the most dedicated and determined gamers will love but no one else will ever play?

It’s a difficult line to walk, I have to admit, and while I have no real complaints about the difficulty level in Cataclysm (while I will be one of the people to say things in Wrath of the Lich King were a little on the easy side, and I thought Burning Crusade was a good place, especially with some of the changes Blizzard made at the tail end) I can see how difficult it is for them to walk it. At the same time, I think it’s clear that Blizzard isn’t fooling themselves: they know they can’t make everyone happy, and they shouldn’t try to – stick to their principles and their guns, and the game will continue to be successful.

What do you think? Is Cataclysm just too damned hard, or are people complaining about nothing? Sound off in the comments!

WotLK Bucket List

I sort of met a new blogger through random chance on Twitter. It’s a very small world, in the grand scheme of things, when you start posting what you’re doing in game on a site like Twitter. I started doing it simply for a couple of my friends, one of them including the blogger Kurn. There’s a whole bunch of backstory here, but to put it simply, come Cataclysm, Kurn is bring back the ol’ gang. And so, because of the the forums have been reopened for all of us who are transferring or have transferred1.

Through Kurn I kinda met Apple. Followed Apple on Twitter and then we were chatting and DruidMain joined in the mix.

DruidMain has made herself a WotLK Bucket List. And I started thinking, what would I put on that list if I were to make one. I have yet to actually sit down and create my list, but I’m sure some of my items will look similar to DruidMain’s list.

With Cataclysm just around the corner, what sort of things would you put on your WotLK Bucket List? What achievements or things would you like to see and do before the expansion comes out?

1: I transferred a couple days ago due to some ridiculous nonsense on my old server.

Waiting for Cataclysm

Cataclysm is months away at least, the alpha is raging on but even a private beta hasn’t been announced, and the only content we have to look forward to before Cataclysm is released will be the Ruby Sanctum, the retaking of Gnomeregan, and the quest to retake the Echo Isles….not to mention all of the pre-planning and world events that will lay the foundation for the events in Cataclysm….okay fine, there’s plenty to look forward to before Cataclysm hits store shelves, but that’s not the point.

It’s clear that we’re through all of the major content for this expansion. So now that Wrath of the Lich King is about over and done with from a story and lore perspective, what are you doing while you wait for the next big event, raid, dungeon, or feature to drop?

I’ve seen a number of people taking breaks from the game so they can come back fresh when Cataclysm is ramping up, and I’ve also seen a number of people taking the time to do their “bucket lists” of achievements and events that will likely go away once the expansion is released and Azeroth is irrevocably changed. Others are just bored, running around in circles or doing battlegrounds or leveling alts – how are you passing the time? Let us know in the comments!

Get Lich or Die Tryin’


The best thing about Get Lich or Die Tryin isn’t just the awesome rap, or the hilarious color commentary, or the fantastic call-out of Twilight, but actually, for me, the best part is the gratuitous use of an old Scooter track called Cold as Ice!

(which itself is a sampling of an older dancefloor track by a band called StarSplash, called Cold as Ice, which of course all of this is a cover of the 1977 Foriegner song of the same name, Cold as Ice. But ANYWAY!)

Seriously though, since our days of dealing with Arthas as the primary villain are winding down, this is a great way to pay a little respect to the big bad dude who’s been making our lives difficult since we washed up on the shores of Northrend. We love you, big guy. Now give us some loot – like those T-shirts your boys are wearing!

[Spoiler Alert] Fall of the Lich King Cinematic Unveiled – (Working Video)


I’m the type of person who loves to spoiler myself on things like this, but I absolutely hate spoilering other people – so if you’re not interested in finding out what happens when we eventually confront Arthas in Icecrown Citadel and what happens with him and other major figures up to this point, stop reading now!

Seriously, the video of the cinematic is after the jump. DO NOT CLICK if you don’t want to be spoilered. If you do want to be spoilered however, please, by all means, read on.


Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: Looking Back at The Beginning of Wrath


Remember that? (Seriously Blizzard, we’re still waiting for those new dances, what the hell – you promised them in the trailer!)

That trailer was our first glimpse of Northrend, our first taste of some of the sights and sounds we would see in Wrath of the Lich King before it was released. We were all level 70 running about Outlands when that teaser was released, and we were wondering what exactly was in store for us.

Looking back it’s clear that the teaser was created long before a lot of the content of what we now consider Northrend was completed – we really only see Howling Fjord in there – maybe a little Dragonblight, and maybe some Borean Tundra, but we certainly don’t see Storm Peaks, or Icecrown, or Grizzly Hills, or even Zul’Drak. Looking at the teaser now is actually specifically interesting considering the debate now over what Arthas’ eventual fate may be.

Considering at the beginning of the trailer we hear Arthas’ voice in almost a normal, human tone, and over the course of the trailer his voice becomes more echoed and disjointed, finally ending in something of the dual-voice deep, rumbling echo that we’re accustomed to now (even though even that voice was eventually replaced with the final Arthas) showing his progress to become who he is now from the person he once was. It’s almost a human-sounding Arthas, reminiscing over his personal history. It also makes me wonder whether we’re giving Blizzard’s story-writers the short end when we wonder if they have this all planned out or they’re taking it as it comes: there’s always been this notion that eventually all of your work against Arthas serves to put yourself in his shoes. Even that makes me wonder about the inevitable climax, Shadowmourne, and the whole notion that someone has to be the Lich King, lest the undead go mad and ravage Azeroth unchecked.

Lore and rumors aside though, Wrath has come a long long way since the beta and since the launch. We’ve seen zones unlocked one at a time, we’ve seen instances opened up, we’ve seen several content patches, we’ve seen classes evolve, be tweaked, buffed, nerfed, and more. We’ve seen the fall of arena-based PVP to the point where even Blizzard says they were a mistake; that they messed up with the way they implimented it, and the rise of battleground, massive PvP with the introduction of battleground after battleground after battleground in patches over the course of the year.

We’ve seen the rise of the Argent Crusade and the Kirin Tor as the major factions to stand against Arthas, and the bitter conflict between the Aldor and the Scryers half-heartedly replicated with the cold-war between the Sunreavers and the Silver Covenant. We saw the fall and the subsequent rise again of resilience as a worthwhile stat, we’ve seen itemization change significantly with the introduction of armor penetration and a heavy emphasis on haste rating. We’ve even seen the basic graphics of the game change. So much has changed since The Burning Crusade.

I’ve just listed a number of things that have changed, but some of the things that have most affected me personally have been the significant talent changes most of the classes have felt at some point or another during the course of Wrath. I’m still recovering in some ways from the Great Hunter Nerf of 08, when Beast Mastery saw its monstrous DPS slashed and the bulk of raiding hunters moves to other specs like Survival and Marksmanship. I’m loving the rise of the Retribution Paladin as a top-notch DPS spec even in a hybrid class, and I’m loving the way Mages have had their talents reworked so that all of their specs are at least somewhat viable.

What about you though? When you look back on Wrath of the Lich King, what do you think has changed the most? What’s mattered the most to you over the course of Wrath? The evolving story and lore? The class changes? PvP? Dungeons and instances? Shout it out in the comments!

Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: Warcraft 2009 Year in Review


2009 was quite a year for the World of Warcraft – the launch of Wrath of the Lich King was late 2008, and most of us spent the holidays and wee months of 2009 exploring Northrend, the announcement of the next expansion, Cataclysm, a host of incredible changes to the game, from the Dungeon Finder most recently to the ability to change your character’s race to the announcement of a Warcraft movie (and it’s director).

Over at Blog Azeroth, an interesting shared topic came up for this week: to do a common retrospective against the previous year and some of our personal highlights. The questions are really thought provoking, so let’s give them a whirl:

  • What did you do in the World of Warcraft in 2009 that you’d never done before?
    * Leveled a second 80! This may surprise a lot of you, but I’m pretty casual. I love to run dungeons and raid, but I’m not on every night, and I’m not on for hours every time I’m on. The weekends I can find myself playing for hours on end, but I had only had one character at level cap since vanilla. I changed that this year by leveling my ret pally to 80. I still don’t play her as much as my main, but she’s there if I need her.
  • What was your favorite new place that you visited?
    * This is a toughy. I suppose I would have to say it was Howling Fjord – up until then I had pushed all of my characters through Borean Tundra, since that’s the zone I played in beta and I really liked it. Howling Fjord didn’t disappoint, either. A lot of the zones in Wrath are gorgeous and I’m glad I visited them – places like Grizzly Hills (which I really really like even though a lot of people seem to hate it), but Howling Fjord was probably my favorite new place.
  • What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
    * More raiding time! I’ve been so busy lately that even if I had an easy way to raid, I wouldn’t be able to. I don’t mean to imply that I want to join a hardcore raiding guild – I like the casual and laid-back attitude of my current guild and I don’t want to turn WoW into a second job, but I would like to experience a little more of the endgame. I’d also like to level some more classes and alts. Are those contradictory?
  • What was your biggest achievement of the year?
    * Completing the Argent Tournament, repping all cities, and earning not just Champion of the Alliance, but Exalted Champion of the Alliance and Exalted Argent Champion of the Alliance, complete with all of the titles and reps and everything. A close 2nd is my World Explorer title and achievement.
  • What was your biggest failure?
    * I really regret not finishing What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been. Stupid Children’s Week came at the worst possible time and I didn’t finish it. Now that Winter Veil is over, it’s literally the only thing between me and a Violet Proto-Drake.
  • What did you get really, really, really excited about?
    * Cataclysm, easily. In fact, I’m still excited about it. More so than Icecrown Citadel, more so than the Argent Tournament. I’m incredibly eager for it, for the new races, and everything about it sounds amazing and interesting.
  • What do you wish you’d done less of?
    * I wish I’d done less waiting around for things to happen. My guild, as I’ve mentioned previously, is super-casual, so I tended to just sit and wait for things to happen to me, for runs to form or people to take leadership roles. The dungeon finder changed all of that, but I was already on the path of making new friends, leveling more characters in different places, and positioning myself to get more out of the game than I felt I was, all without leaving my beloved friends in my current guild behind.
  • What was your favorite WoW blog or podcast?
    * The Azeroth Metblogs, of course! Okay, okay – when I’m not writing here, I’m usually reading or Aspect of the Hare. When it comes to podcasts, I loathe to miss an episode of the WoW Insider Show (the podcast of or RawrCast – since they’re back to back I tend to catch them live.
  • Tell us a valuable WoW lesson you learned in 2009.
    * I learned that the World of Warcraft is full -literally full- of players of all different types and personalities. There’s absolutely no excuse to stay in a situation you dislike, or play with people you hate, or be lonely in this game. There are guilds galore, all of them recruiting and all of them taking new players, and regardless of how you feel about the game, there’s bound to be a community somewhere, either in-game or out-of-game, that’s likeminded as you. WoW is a social game, so go make the best of the whole Massively Multiplayer part of MMO and meet people! I learned to!

There you have it! The week is winding down, so there are plenty of similar responses from elsewhere in the World of Warcraft blog community! Check out some of them here at Twisted Nether’s Shared Topic: Year in Review!

So what about you? What did you accomplish in 2009 that you’re really proud of? What are you looking forward to in 2010?

Discussion: How’s that Patch 3.3 Working Out for You?


So patch 3.3 landed and has been out for a couple of weeks, and we all have hopefully had a chance to rol around in it for a bit, give it a good whirl, and see what we think. So – how are you guys feeling about the changes made in the recent patch? From the dungeon finder (which is apparently getting rave reviews around the Web) to the death of a number of popular add-ons that have claimed no plans to update for 3.3 (like my beloved Cartographer), how has your experience been with the patch so far?

Have you picked up your Merrymaker title? Given the dungeon finder a whirl?

My own experiences have been largely positive: granted, I haven’t had the opportunity to run any of the new instances yet mostly because I just haven’t hit them in the dungeon finder or my gear isn’t up to par, but I did manage to pick up my Merrymaker title in pretty short order this year, and ever since then I’ve been running random heroics and dungeons for the fun of it, and while not all of my groups have been stellar (run into a couple of jerks, run into a couple of groups where people simply afk’d out, run into other groups where we all looked at each other, realized it was Oculus, and then disbanded) the vast majority of them have been amazing, quick, to the point, and a lot of fun – something I can’t claim to have gotten from my guild prior to the dungeon finder. Just last night I picked up my Northrend Dungeon Hero and Dungeonmaster achievements!

But enough about me – how about you? Have you stood against Arthas only to realize that YOU CAN’T STOP HERE, THIS IS LICH KING COUNTRY and run the heck away? Let us know in the comments!

Today’s the Day: Patch 3.3 – Fall of the Lich King – is Live!


So today’s the day, and the realms are currently having some stability issues but they by and large seem to be up and running. Patch 3.3, “The Fall of the Lich King,” is up, out, and ready for players to download. Some guilds will already have their plans to start bumrushing Icecrown Citadel tonight solidified, and other folks like myself will probably give the new dungeon finder a try. Still others are fiddling with add-ons to make sure that they’re not all busted, and others may be poking around the data files to see if there’s anything juicy in there that we missed from the PTRs.

In any event though, make sure you go grab the patch and install it, and then let us know what you’re most excited about now that the patch is live! Is your guild headed straight for Icecrown? Maybe you’re going to use the dungeon finder to catch up on old instances and gear up your characters? Maybe you’re just going to sit back and let the issues work themselves out for a day or two and THEN jump into the fray – shout it out in the comments!

World of Warcraft EU Unveils Icecrown Bosstiary


Well ahead of the release of patch 3.3, if you’re curious about some of the bosses you’ll be facing when you get a crack at Icecrown Citadel, you can head over to the WoW Europe site to see some of the bosses at the Icecrown Bosstiary. So far the site has information on the Forge of Souls, the Pit of Saron, and the Halls of Reflection, and you can click each to see a map of the dungeon and where the bosses are located. Hover the mouse over each boss to read about who it is.

At the top of the page there’s a wealth of additional data about Icecrown and what to expect in patch 3.3, so if you’re not in the loop about what’s in store, click around to read more about the story, major characters, the quest for Quel’Delar, and more!

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