May 172012
 

Now that we’ve covered the Pandaren starting area I’d like to talk a bit about the experience starting from the Cataclysm level cap up to level 89, the limit in the current version of the MOP beta.

Where as a young monk in training we endeavored to rescue the island our people lived on, which also happened to be a turtle, here we begin a fight against a malevolent force known as the Sha, essentially evil spirits which both feed off of and generate negative emotions. Perhaps most prominent of these emotions is hatred, something which also happens to be in no short supply among the Horde and Alliance fighting over who will possess the new found land making me curious to see if this factors into the story at some point in the future.

Our battle is not solely against the Sha themselves however, but also those controlled by the Sha such as the Yaungol (Basically Tauren) and Saurok (Lizard People,) in addition to the conflict between Horde and Alliance, as well as their allies and with others such as the Hozen and Virmen. Finally, given the prominent martial arts aspects of the expansion what with the inclusion of the new Monk class, a number of quests also involve challenging yourself to become stronger with the expected amusing parodies of the genre.

As with the Pandaren starting area, the new regions are quite beautiful to look at with a number of forests, plains and mountainous regions. As far as the actual leveling experience, I particularly enjoyed the humorous tone which the vast majority of the quests take on, although this does make it a bit hard to take the actual story behind the expansion very seriously given that at least 90% or more of the dialogue and content is poking fun at itself rather than truly emphasizing the seriousness of the enemy. Of course none of this is new to World of Waracraft, but I would say that this expansion feels particularly this way.

In addition to the prominent humor, MOP gives us a few new quest types such as one in which you play the role of sniper, supporting an ally dwarf as he makes his way through enemy territory by taking out the approaching enemies from afar. MOP also brings a welcome new feature in the form of bosses that provide quest credit to any player who participates in the battle before the boss dies, rather than solely the first player or team to tap the mob. This new feature makes it much easier to get quests done in crowded zones and encourages a measure of cooperation even across factions as every player stands to gain.

Despite the fact that the beta is missing a considerable amount of content which is still under development, including key features such as the pet battle system, I would say that I’m already rather optimistic about what Pandaria has to offer.

May 162012
 

When I first read of Blizzard’s plans for the new World of Warcraft expansion I must admit I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing, but after spending some time in the beta, and leveling a new Pandaren character through both the starting area and from levels 85-89, (89 being the current maximum level available in the beta) I found my opinion on the new content, class and race changed considerably.

The new regions introduced in Mists of Pandaria, both the Pandaren starting area atop what you find out is a massive, moving turtle, and the new continent for everyone level 85-90, have a refreshing visual design to them. The obvious Chinese influence in the architecture and terrain of the new continent and starting area help breathe new life into the game, providing a welcome change from what we’ve become used to in Azeroth, Outland, and Deepholm.

While admittedly not everything about the leveling experience was fluid, given that a number of quest areas simply end without further guidance in addition to some quests being outright broken, I found that the humor and innovation Blizzard employed in the quests was enough to make even someone like myself (having played since launch) enjoy himself immensely.

I’ll comment further on some of the new types of quests when I go over the my experiences from level 85-89 in depth, but to put it simply I had fun and that’s exactly what I wasn’t expecting going into the beta, being rather cynical about the concept of the Pandaren as a whole, as well as having long extinguished my interest in reaching the new level cap brought with each expansion.

To come to the point, the Pandaren starting area is basically a low level version of what you’ll be doing on the level 85-90 continent in that it involves Pandas, rodents with strange attachments to vegetables, and alcohol. Also fun.

As I mentioned above the entire starting area is in fact a gigantic moving turtle, and the primary quest chain you’ll be completing relates to your quest to rescue this turtle from death after it suffers a mysterious injury. Eventually you’ll discover that this injury is the product of a massive Alliance airship crashing into the side of the turtle, bringing with them the faction politics of the Horde and Alliance that we’ve come to know and love.

After completing a series of quests where you help both Horde and Alliance survivors before healing the Turtle of its injury to ensure the safety of your people, you’re allowed to choose which faction you wish to join. While playing the beta I was unable to use my favorite leveling guide, but once the game is fully released you’ll be able to benefit from its guidance in navigating the new content in Pandaria.

Read part 2 here: A look into Mists of Pandaria part 2

Apr 212012
 

The World of Warcraft expansion: Mists of Pandaria is coming soon, although as of this writing it’s still in early beta test and has lots of bugs. Still, all of the bugs will be fixed (or most, anyway) and the expansion will launch and the rush to 90 will start. (I predict 17 hours in-game time for the first person to hit level 90.)

Sub Rogue wandering about OrgrimmarThe talent system is being completely revised, more so than when Cataclysm hit. All those 41 points spent (at 85) wil go poof, though some will be retained as spec specific abilities. Of course, everything might change between now and launch, but that’s where the fun is, right?

Subtlety Rogues, for example, will have ten unique talents and all Rogues will share some talents that were previously reserved for the particular specs. As to their primary abilities… Sub Rogues will get Backstab, Hemo, Find Weakness, and Shadowdance.

Will they still be the PvP machines that they were in Cataclysm? That remains to be seen, but some of the abilities do look well designed for ganking. The talents can be picked by any spec of Rogue, so some Assassination Rogues will be able to Shadowstep and some Sub Rogues won’t. (You can play with a Mists talent calculator here.)

Time will tell…
Continue reading »

Mar 252012
 

Well, Bliz is staying mum, but they are working on it.

…the “general layout” for number five is already in place.

“They’re [the] lore creators. They’re the ones who drive what the world looks like today and what it’ll be like tomorrow and beyond,” said Sims. “I think the future of World of Warcraft continues to be bright and I think Mists of Pandaria is going to breathe huge life into what I believe is the best MMO out there.”

From: Blizzard is Already Working on the Next “WoW” Expansion

So, in some mystical universe, Blizzard puts you in charge of whatever comes after MoP. What’s gonna be in it? New race(s?) New Class(es?) New evils to stomp out?

There’s another version of this post, with many people’s ideas for a new expansion. See it here: The Next World of Warcraft Expansion

Mar 022012
 

This is a repost of Ghostcrawler’s coverage of stat changes coming with Mists of Pandaria. Keep in mind that all things are subject to change. First, a quick summary:

  • Spell Resistance and Spell Penetration are going away
  • Hit and Spell Hit are being merged
  • Hit and Expertise are being tweaked
  • Block has been tweaked and Block values will have diminishing returns
  • All spells and abilities will crit for 2x damage, baseline.
  • Resilience is being changed into “Defense” and players will have a base value, in PvP.
  • PvP gear will also have a “Power” stat that will increase damage done to other players. Defense and Power may have name changes between now and release.

Here’s the whole post

Our recent talent calculator changes led to some players asking questions about how character and item stats were changing, because some spell and talent tooltips suggest that changes are coming. We compiled this list to attempt to explain more of what’s coming in Mists of Pandaria. First of all, please note that we actually aren’t making many stat changes compared to the ones we made in Cataclysm (“armor penetration — gone!”). Second, the stuff below can get a little technical. If you’re not into the subtle nuance of gear itemization, then don’t worry about it — you don’t need to be to enjoy the expansion — but we know there are plenty of you who enjoy some nuts and bolts talk, so here we go.

Spell Resistance

  • Spell resistance is gone. There are no buffs that improve it and there shouldn’t be much, if any, spell resist gear left. We always thought the system was hard to understand and we weren’t getting much gameplay out of it. Now taking a step back, we can imagine how to develop a game where you’d want various forms of resist gear for certain situations and opponents. Resist gear could potentially be interesting, but it isn’t currently in World of Warcraft — the game has just been moving away from that sort of thing for years.
  • In the absence of spell resistance, there is no need for spell penetration on gear, so we’ll remove it as well.

Hit and Expertise

  • We still think having stats that can be capped is a good game design. Rather than focusing solely on stacking your best stat, you have to decide how valuable it is to hit your target before you go back to stacking your best stat. However, we are making some changes.
  • Hit and spell hit will no longer be separate stats. The hit stat negates melee miss and spell miss.
  • Expertise will negate dodge and spell miss, then parry.
  • Expertise will be listed as a percentage, just like hit, instead of having an intermediary stat.
  • We are normalizing hit with expertise, so that 1% of each stat will require the same amount of rating.
  • We are normalizing melee and spell hit, so that spell hit is equal to miss plus dodge.
    • Against an equal level creature: 6% spell miss, 3% melee miss, 3% dodge, 3% parry (from the front only), 3% block (from the front only).
    • Against a +1 level creature: 9% spell miss, 4.5% melee miss, 4.5% dodge, 4.5% parry (from the front only), 4.5% Block (from the front only).
    • Against a +2 level creature: 12% spell miss, 6% melee miss, 6% dodge, 6% parry (from the front only), 6% Block (from the front only).
    • Against a +3/boss level creature: 15% spell miss, 7.5% melee miss, 7.5% dodge, 7.5% parry (from the front only), 7.5% block (from the front only).
    • Ranged attacks will be able to be dodged. Hunters will benefit from expertise and will have it on their gear, which will also allow hunters and Enhancement shaman to share gear more easily.

Block

  •  The chance to block will be handled by a separate combat roll for each attack that is not avoided. In other words, we first determine if an attack misses, or is dodged or parried. If it is not, then the attack has a chance to be blocked.
  • This gives block a consistent value, regardless of avoidance. Currently block becomes more valuable the more you have.
  • Block will also have diminishing returns, much like dodge and parry. This doesn’t mean that the value of block will go down as you get more block. It means that it won’t go up by as much when you get more block.
  • We don’t expect Protection warriors or paladins to get “block capped” other than during temporary effects, such as mastery procs on trinkets. Block tanks will be balanced around this change. Our intent is to make playing block tanks more fun, not to nerf them.
  • Also notice how Shield Block and Shield of the Righteous have changed in Mists.

Criticals

  • All spells and abilities will crit for double damage, baseline. There are a few exceptions where crits can get larger, but the default is x 2.0 for everyone.
  • This means that Enhancement shaman spells and rogue poisons will crit for double damage. Rogue poisons will also use the melee hit chance.

Resilience

  •  We are renaming this stat to “Defense (PvP)” or possibly “PvP Defense.” All players will have 30% base Defense, the same way all characters have some base Stamina.
  • PvP gear will have Defense on it, as well as a new stat, “Power (PvP).” Power increases the damage you do to other players as well as the healing you do to other players in PvP situations.
  •  If you have a lot of Power, you’ll do more damage to other players, but they likely have Defense as well. If you fight players in lots of PvE gear, they’ll take more damage. Likewise, a player in PvE gear won’t have enough Power to effectively penetrate your Defense.
  • The names PvP Power and PvP Defense may not be final, but we’re leaning towards going with stat names that are obviously PvP-related, rather than “fluffier” names that might not be as easy to grasp. We want it to be clear to players that neither Power nor Defense have any relevance when fighting creatures, such as in dungeons or raids.
  • PvP gear will be lower in item level than PvE gear of an equivalent tier, however the Power and Defense stats will make sure that PvP gear is more powerful in PvP (both offensively and defensively) than PvE gear. In our budgeting system, the PvP stats will be free rather than causing other stats, such as Strength or haste, to be smaller as a result of including Power or Defense.
  • The goal of this change is to make it easier for a PvP player to participate in PvE, or for a PvE player to get started in PvP. Currently, we feel it is too large a barrier to go from one to the other, and the result has been that we see more and more players choosing to focus exclusively on only PvP or PvE. In earlier expansions, it was more feasible to use PvE gear in Arenas or Battlegrounds until you acquired the more useful PvP gear. The same was true of being able to use your PvP gear in a dungeon or raid until you acquired something better. In Cataclysm, stepping into PvP with no PvP gear would result in a player being so ineffective that it was difficult to even make progress towards acquiring PvP gear.
  • For the higher-end of PvP or PvE (say Gladiators or heroic raiders), we believe those players will still gravitate towards the dedicated PvP or PvE gear. It is the players who are working towards those two end games that will benefit more from some cross over.

That’s a lot of information, and it probably sounds more set-in-stone than it really is. We’ll continue to iterate as players poke holes in our ideas, tell us what is working out and what isn’t, and finally get to experience it first hand in beta.

Original post

Jan 122012
 

Curse Network has posted a video tour of the new Mists of Pandaria zones.
A Serene Pandarian

  • The Wandering Isle
  • The Jade Forest
  • Valley of the Four Winds
  • Kn-Lain Summit
  • Vale of Eternal Bloosoms
  • Townlong Steppes

Now who isn’t looking forward to ganking the opposing faction under those beautiful cherry blossoms?

Or climbing to the top of the summit to learn the Zen of Herbalism?

More about Mists:

Oct 292011
 

Your gold is welcome hereReading all the usual nonsense that passes for wit in the in-game chat, or the endless QQing on the forums, one might think that Mists of Pandaria was some awful wrist-cutting exercise by Blizzard and that the Pandarians might not be the most requested race in all of WoW.

The LawBringer (Joystiq.com) has a nice article dispelling some of these myths. People still might not care for the Pandarians, or hate them, or whatever, but at least we can get some basic info straight.

Come. Fight me. See how long you live.
Come. Fight me. See how long you live.

With the announcement of Mists of Pandaria and the inclusion of the Pandaren race in World of Warcraft, the most-asked question that I received was “How is this possible with the laws in China against killing pandas in video games?” The second most-asked question was “How is this possible when Kung Fu Panda will just sue Blizzard?” After I got over the initial hilarity of imagining the actual Jack Black-voiced Kung Fu Panda taking a dude to court, I realized that the myths about China’s involvement with pandas in games, as well as what constitutes a real cause of action in terms of copying characters, are finally issues at the forefront of WoW topics.

The Lawbringer is all about pandas today. You might be sick of them, you might love them, or heck, you might be on the panda fence. I can promise you that even if you aren’t a Pandaren fan, you just might learn a little something or two from today’s all-panda fun. Sit back, relax, get all Zen-like, and let’s see what the Pandaren have to offer us.

Read it all, here: The Lawbringer: Dispelling the panda myths

Pandas? Will I play one? Probably. I’m certainly looking forward to the new zones and everything else. The one thing I’m not looking forward to is revising a bunch of guides to the new talent system!  Ah well, it’s something to keep me busy, right?

Kung-fu panda ripoff? Yawn. I think Bliz has done a great job of making them not silly. As not silly as a panda can, be, They don’t necessarily work for me, but I’ll definitely be there.

 

Oct 252011
 

Gotta Catch 'em All!In the new World of Warcraft expansion Mists of Pandaria, not only will you be able to play as the awesome new fat bear race Pandaren, but you will also be able to catch and train your very own Pokemon vanity pets!

Mists of Pandaria Alpha version leaked screenshot
Mists of Pandaria Alpha version leaked screenshot

You will be able to train your pets by practicing with your friends and teaching them new unique abilities and attacks. From what I saw, it seems like you build your team of 3 pets and have battles against other trainers players. If your current roster of pets is lacking, then you can wander the world looking for some better pets. If you spot one you’d like to enslave catch all you have to do is beat it up with your current pet and capture it. These wild pets you catch will have somewhat random stats, but you will have a small chance to catch one with exceptional stats.

Lashtail Hatchling, I choose you!

There are special pet trainers you can go to, who will be able to teach your pets new tricks and abilities. However, the trainers will challenge you to a battle sometimes.

It does seem a lot like Pokemon, but Pokemon was and is still really popular with millions of people. I used to love Pokemon when I was a kid and I think this sounds like it could be fun if done right. So, I’m really looking forward to this part of Mists of Pandaria (MoP.) The Kung-fu Pandas… well, not so much.

Pet information and abilites