Aftermath of Blizzcon 2011

Blizzcon 2011 is over and it’s another year where I regret only being able to watch it online and not having the money to go there myself to experience the sights and sounds.. though preferably not the smell.

The announcement of playable Pandaren themselves weren’t really an exciting prospect for me, but seeing their animations during the amazing art panel warmed me right over. I still find the culture centered around brews pretty boring, after all, we just had Brewfest and have a race dedicated to drinking – nothing new, but I can’t wait to do some Tai Chi on my Pandaren.

I also like the idea of the Monk class, specifically the healing designed around the enemy rather than the GUI seems something that will make healing more interactive rather than staring at bars. Having no autoattack seems strange but I can’t wait to try it out since I tend to be a bit of a key masher anyway. And as for tanking, I have been a warrior since Vanilla and have played three out of the four tanking classes at max level during Wrath and Cataclysm, and I enjoy the responsibility of the role. So despite the fact I don’t like levelling much I may end up biting the bullet and take a Pandaren Monk from 1-90 at some point in the next year or two. The fact that I will have access to all three roles and therefore have low queue times and don’t have to quest at all makes this a definite possibility.

As for the lack of a ‘big bad’ and other complaints about Pandaria, bear in mind that we lost Abyssal Maw because it didn’t fit in with the Cataclysm storyline about Deathwing, so sometimes having an antagonist like that limits what developers can bring out. Pandaria is a ‘filler’ expansion, there’s no doubt about that. It’s a stopover on the way to Argus, Emerald Dream, Vashjir and Sargeras himself. But that’s not to say that it is worthless, at the very least it’ll provide a nice Nagrand-style of lush grasslands to explore for a while. And while I don’t really get the hate on Pandaren, I do find this interview on how Samwise got the idea for Pandaren pretty funny.

Other stuff from Blizzcon that’s cool: Pokemon and everything to do with it, helps that I really like collecting pets. More in-depth specializations and talents as that means I will get Silence without needing to sacrifice DPS talent points to take utility. Similarly related, I do like the Shadow Orbs being less RNG and more like a Holy Power secondary resource. PVE Scenarios seem interesting but I’m slightly worried that by diversing the player pool among various ways to earn valor it might lead to longer queue times overall. Challenge mode dungeons will be great – it’s something to do after completing achievements. Speaking of achievements, I hope account-wide achievements will solve problems related to heirlooms not being cross server, among many other things.

Not quite sure about questing giving benefits to running dungeons though. Don’t most people queue for dungeons while questing, instead of afterwards? I hope the lack of a set-in-stone PVP zone means they plan to update Wintergrasp and Tol Barad in some fashion, though that would be a wild possibility. I’m also skeptical about their lack of announcements over new player models. In the end there was a blue post about the fact that they’re working on it, which is all fine and dandy, but they could’ve shown some concept art. Personally I don’t really want Kalecgos type models – even they’re starting to get stale. If they have avoided implementing this for so long, I hope by the time they do add it in, they’re something that competes with Pandarens. An all round new skeleton if possible, not just scaled up textures and a bit more polygons.

Finally, the WoW Annual Pass. It is a desperate way for Blizzard to hang onto subscriber numbers in a year where several big budget MMOs are coming out, and probably won’t be as popular as I initially thought it was because not everyone likes Diablo, and not everyone likes World of Warcraft to subscribe to it for one year. I tend to take breaks from the game a lot, most recently a few months into Cataclysm til just over a month ago. With that said, I may end up taking up the offer because I don’t really intend to buy Diablo 3 Collector’s Edition, and I -really- want to play in the MoP beta to try out the Monk as soon as possible. It’s a decision I’ll surely regret in the long run but for the time being I’m considering taking it.

And that’s that. Another end to Blizzcon, one of the best in years. Next year with Diablo 3 released and the WoW and SC2 expansions imminent, they may end up announcing their MMO, Titan. With four IPs, those two days will be looking a lot more crowded.

Feb 28th 4.1 Update

Another day, another PTR update. The latest one brings about some interesting changes, such as Death Knights getting their battle resurrection whilst Warlocks still rely on the power of Nostradamus (Why did I never name my warlock this?) to use theirs. I don’t really have a problem with Death Knights getting that functionality since anything that breaks Druid’s last powerful monopoly is great, and it piggybacks on an existing skill, so it’s not too far out of the blue.

For priests, shadow in particular, the only notable change is the fact we don’t have to recast Inner Fire/Focus since like Vampiric Embrace it is more like a toggle now. It’s strange that they just didn’t include it with 4.0.6, but at least they are doing it.

A slightly controversial change is the reduction in gold for soloing old raid bosses, obviously done to deter people from using up valuable instance space or encouraging them to be more social. I don’t believe inflation to be the primary reason since they already materialise gold as a guild perk and Random LFD rewards much more when we compare time spent.

I am one of those players who doesn’t really play WoW much outside the guild raiding, and I assume Blizzard is wanting more of those people either by forcibly segregating content so you can’t do both 10 and 25 full runs or removing incentives from farming solo raid content. But its beginning to feel a bit like Vanilla in that there isn’t a lot of things to do when you’re not raiding. Archeology might as well be another reputation grind in how meaningless and boring it is. However unlike Vanilla we are starting to get competition from MMOs that actually somewhat decent and reaching on WoW’s level. Rift was a game I felt would be a game I would be playing if I didn’t play WoW already, and the only thing stopping me from doing so is my guild. I’m sure many others have the same feeling.

Will 4.1 be able to keep the attention of those who aren’t in a raiding guild? The hints of a mount grind in ZG/ZA seem like Blizzard are attempting to try and do so. But luckily with the focus of Firelands in progression raiding we might begin to see more raiding PUGs for current dungeons, much like towards the end of Wrath when 25man Trial of the Crusader was still being ran.

Preliminary 4.1 Patch Notes

The very first inkling of 4.1 details have just been released on MMOChamp, and with it we can build up what to expect in terms of progression of the story as a whole. Mathies has written a decent speculative post on what might happen, and in a way it could be plausible.

I’m not a big fan of dailies, especially on a PVP server where the Horde greatly outnumber Alliance, but I enjoyed the Sunwell dailies and how it was done. As for rehashing the troll instances, I think it was a long time coming, given the lack of Gun’drak in Wrath and the lack scope to create a new troll instance in the new Cataclysm areas. The ability to grab another raptor or tiger mount is a bonus for some people, but I noticed in the MMOChamp patch notes that the awesome bear mount model was missing! Surely not, Blizz?!

Oh yes, and the small matter of the new caster legendary. But without any more details to go on it is hard to be excited. Anyway, the priest changes weren’t all that great:

    Discipline

  • Absolution (Mastery) *New* – Enables your Dispel Magic spell to be cast on friendly targets to remove 2 harmful magical effects.
  • Dispel Magic can now only be casted on yourself to remove harmful effects, and now only removes 1 beneficial spell from enemies, down from 2.
  • Power Word: Shield now costs 34% of base mana, up from 25%. Now lasts 15 sec, down from 30 sec.
  • Divine Aegis now lasts 15 sec, up from 12 sec.

    Holy

  • Body and Soul now increases the target’s movement speed by 12/25%, down from 30/60%.

    Shadow

  • Shadow Power now increases Spell damage by 15%, down from 25%.

I’m pretty apathetic towards the dispel and shield changes, mainly since I rarely PVP as shadow and shield kinda sucks anyway. It’s not nice to lose any utility but given some of the other changes I feel like we got off fairly lightly, but as always it is still too early to tell. However as a Holy offspec however I don’t like the change to B&S at all. Running at 25% more speed for 4 seconds is hardly worth it at all. Thankfully for all the haters 4.1 is still some ways away, possibly 4-5 months even.

EDIT: Boubouille updated with some new items! Highlights include some trinkets from the new tier and Rare and Epic BoA Guild Tabards, which boost guild rep gains by 50/100%. That’s pretty insane. It also seems like theres a bunch of stuff for the card game:

Fool’s Gold – Consumable so probably TCG common
War Party Hitching Post – Consumable so probably TCG common
Landro’s Lichling – Likely TCG Uncommon
Savage Raptor – Has a iLevel of 20 so probably TCG rare

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