In November, World of Warcraft will celebrate its 8th anniversary. It would have been eight years since we walked, awestruck, through the frozen tundra of Dun Morogh, and the bleak terrain of the Barrens. Spawning endless memes, giving birth to a new revolution in the MMO industry, defining and redefining what an MMO could be, WoW continued to climb in both popularity and subscription numbers for nearly seven years.
Shortly after the release of Cataclysm however, there was a decline. Wired magazine’s Game|Life has a very strong argument for why World of Warcraft has lost its cool, and how evidence suggests that the Goliath in the MMO world may be the cause for its own undoing. Many reasons are cited, from aging technology and a subscription model that audiences no longer connect with in a post-F2P world, to a decline in the mental maturity of the general player base.
It is worth a read, take a look.
Personally I think they need to innovate beyond better looking dungeons, world events and pet battles. The new expansion has a lot of cool features, but it seems to me these features were implemented begrudgingly, only after other MMOs beat them to the chase. For example, in WoW, pre-MoP, you would need to loot everything manually, which was a major time-sink for players of the farming persuasion. SW:TOR came out with AoE looting, and weeks later it was announced as a feature for MoP. Lame.
I think WoW needs to make a big, bold change, and soon. Or Goliath won’t need a David to fall.
On September 25th, 2012, Pandas will invade and the world will forever remember the day the near-extinct species rose out out of the fog, and invaded the world of mortals.
In other words, Mists of Pandaria will be out.
Will I get it?
I don’t know. I am pretty occupied with life at the moment, and the very limited time I have is consumed by the likes of DayZ. Then of course, I have to consider trying The Secret World, a title that I have been rabidly excited for, but have not invested in simply because I have no time. I suppose only time will tell!
Via, MMO-Champion, I came across the following change to the new Hunter Stampede ability.
Stampede – Now has a 10 min cooldown, up from 30 sec.
So the cooldown has gone from 30 seconds, to 600 seconds, 20 times the amount! What the hell is going on in this beta? Did some poor monk get steamrolled by three hunters and their stampede of 15-odd pets, and threaten to light himself on fire in front of Blizzard Headquarters if the ability wasn’t drastically nerfed? Sheesh!
The level 21 guild perk, Have Group, Will Travel was a huge blessing. But with cross-realm raiding, this has an even greater impact that usual.
As someone who regularly runs raids through the fantastic OpenRaid.eu website (I am on there as Jehangir), this little perk is fantastic because you have people from potentially 25 different servers coming together in a raid instance to get some achievements, transmorg gear and have some fun. MoP is removing this perk altogether, meaning every raid member will have to fly to the instance manually.
Blizzard stated that their reason for doing so was because they wanted players to get out in the world and interact with it and each other. This clearly does not apply to cross-realm raids. In addition, the meeting stones (unless moved inside the instance) are useless because you cannot summon someone from another realm to your realm’s outdoor environment. The only other viable option then, is to ensure you always have a Warlock, so you can get going as soon as people are summoned.
The perk that replaces Have Group, Will Travel is called Ride Like the Wind, which increases your flight path speed by an unknown amount. Now understand that this is flight path speed, not flight speed, which means that after getting your flying mount at the level cap in MoP, unless you are an alt leveling, this perk will be largely useless to you.
There is another change that I came across. Chug-A-Lug has been replaced by The Doctor is In. Chug-A-Lug effectively cut your flasks costs in half. The new perk will help a little sure, but it is highly situational and not as uniform an advantage in a competitive raid. On the plus side though, the new perk will likely help boost cloth sales and prices. But then again, the supply demand curve could actually screw sellers as well.
Here are some random new pieces of information on the upcoming expansion:
- Humans and Orcs are slated to receive updated character models next
- Pandaren may have a “dragon turtle” mount
- There are 8 core buffs, and they will be shown as a number on your UI (e.g. 5/8), with information on which ones are missing
- Character customization has been revamped, and if you have played the Diablo Beta, you will be right at home with it
- The giant statue in Jade Forest will be destroyed as a direct result of the Horde-Alliance war
- Guild experience caps will be removed
- Here is an interesting statistic, during The Burning Crusade, less than 1% of the player base saw the Sunwell raid
- We could see content patches every two months, since raid tiers are “supposed” to last four months, with smaller content patches in between
- World bosses are back, with Anger in Kun-Lai Summit and Fear in the Dread Wastes
- World bosses will have unique mounts in their loot tables
- “The new LFR loot system will grant a bonus roll when you have an item purchased from one of the Pandaren factions. These tokens can also be used to purchase the normal epic gear that is usually associated with factions. This extra roll works in all three difficulty levels. If you win a roll in LFR and the boss has no item for you, you will get gold instead.”
- Quests of all difficulty levels above (and including green) will give a flat amount of guild experience, allowing lower level players to contribute to guild leveling
Hodge Podge Analysis
Most of this actually sounds fine. I have always been a fan of world bosses, so that is a plus point in my book. The buff management system also seems intuitive. Instead of looking through 25 odd buffs to see if you are missing anything or using addon help, one glance will tell you which critical buffs are missing.
More content is a double-edged sword though. Putting out content faster implies Blizzard may not have enough time to polish everything properly. Let’s take a look at some silly and largely meaningless statistics for number of raid encounters in each expansion:
- Vanilla WoW – MC (10), BWL (8), AQ40 (9), AQ20 (6), ZG (6), Naxx (16) = 55 Total
- The Burning Crusade – Karazhan (10), Gruul (2), Mag (1), SSC (6), TK (4), ZA (6), Hyjal (5), BT (9), Sunwell (6) = 50 Total
- Wrath of the Lich King – Naxx (16), OS (1), Eye (1), Ulduar (14), TotGC (5), Ony (1), ICC (12), VoA (4), RS (1), = 55 Total
- Cataclysm – BoT (5), BWD (6), TotFW (2), Firelands (7), DS (8), BH (3) = 31 Total
I know they also (re)released the Troll instances, and create three solid instances leading up to the Deathwing conflict, but they added more instances to the previous expansions as well.
My point is that we are getting much lesser content at the end game with Cataclysm. One could say that the 1-60 new player experience revamp may have taken a chunk out of this, but I fear that with bi-monthly patches, we may be getting more content patches, but lesser content in them.
Maybe, Maybe Not
Some features are still up in the air. They are either under debate, or they will be implemented shortly after launch.
- Titles, if made account-wide, will be available on other characters only after you reach the level where you earned it
- Mounts will be account wide, and this will happen shortly after launch, if not right at launch
- There might be another Troll dungeon, bringing the number to four, after Zul’Farrak, Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman. It will be called Zul’Panda. I made that last one up.
- The 10-man and 25-man shared lockout may be revisited.
- A third battleground, which didn’t make the cut, is modeled after DOTA
- Pet battles may come to WoW-Remote
- Visible librams and quivers may not be implemented by launch
Maybe, Maybe Not Analysis
Account-wide titles and mounts are a no-brainer. I know MMOs are very much married to the grind, but if you have put in a significant chunk of time to obtain something rare on one character, it is just cruel to force you to start the grind again on a new character.
The 10-man and 25-man shared lockout is a tricky subject. As much as people moan and bitch about how this is taking away loot opportunities from them, two facts will always work against the reversal of this decision. First, it would imply that larger guilds would have their work effectively tripled, with the 25-team splintering into two 10-mans, or three 10-mans (with reserves/alts), every week, and therefore put a lot of pressure on players that have grown accustomed to one lock-out. Second, it would be ridiculously unfair to small guilds that only (can) run 10-man content, as they will miss out on nearly 5 times the amount of loot they could get their hands on, if they were a 25-man guild.
The DOTA battleground got cut from launch, but apparently it will still make its debut in Mists. I am very excited about that!
Visible quivers might be cool for (cross)bows. But what about guns? Do we get an ammo pouch? Or perhaps a criss-crossing bullet vest?!
What Got Cut
Some things got cut:
- There will be no Tri-Spec
- Monks will have an auto-attack, the previous plan was to only have specialized attacks
What Got Cut Analysis
Tri-spec would have been nice, but it is not a game-breaker. No auto-attack really would have made monks unique. Oh well!
More posts on the way, stay tuned!
The NDA for the press tour was lifted today, so the information floodgates have overrun the tubes (of the internet). This series of posts is not an attempt to rehash the information, but simply to give you my take on it. If you want comprehensive, in-depth coverage, go to WoWHead, which has compiled a very nice comprehensive list on a single page here. Or you can the list of Wow Insider posts on the event put together by good old Syp (Justin Olivetti) here.
First up, here is a map of Pandaria:
There are a few things you should be excited about in this map. For one thing, there are two new entire zones, the Dread Wastes and the Krasarang Wilds. This change occurred because the team designing the content fell in love with these sub-areas of larger zones, and decided to flesh them out into their own complete locations. Second, as was the case with Outlands and Northrend, the entire story takes place on one collected content, and thus avoids the insanity of the chaos brought about by Cataclysm’s disconnected zones.
PvP = Panda vs. Panda
Pandas can be Horde or Alliance, depending on if they go with the Houjin or Tushui disciplines. This may sound confusing, but really, these cool lore elements are there to manage the faction titling of the Pandaren race. The Horde Panda will be called Houjin and Alliance Pandas will be called Tushui.
But that is not the point of this sub-title. There are three reasons I am excited for PvP in MoP:
- There are world objectives, like Tol Barad and Winterspring, but with a twist. Whichever faction holds the world objectives has their conquest point cap raised. If that is not incentive to constantly hold the world PvP conflict zones, I don’t know what is.
- There are two battlegrounds. The first is very similar to Murderball, where you hold an object of power found in the center of the map. the longer you hold it, the more points you get, but the object also damages you with increasing severity over time, andwill eventually kill you. The object will then drop for either side to pick up. It might sound like a good plan to drag the carrying player closer to your graveyard, but there is a twist. The close you are to the center, the faster the points will accrue. So you have to weigh the onslaught of the enemy against more frequent respite closer top your graveyard.
- The second battleground is my third reason. For anyone who has played the minecart escort maps from TF2, this should be very familiar. You have to escort your mine cart along a set path, and the cart only moves if players from your team are near it. However, again, there is a twist. Players escorting will have a good reason to not be next to the cart. Opposing team can flip switches throughout the map, adding length to the route you take, and thus slowing you down. It is in your best interest to stop them from doing so.
So far so good. I know a lot of people, especially ex-WoW players are pointing their fingers and laughing at the lolPandas, but so far I am quite impressed with everything seen during the press tour. More posts to follow, stay tuned!