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Category: RPGs

Blizzcon Day 2: Warcraft Roundup

So Day 2 is mostly done and dusted, and we had the final half of our televised WoW panels.

First up was the Game Systems panel, and here we learnt quite a bit, including some massive news for transmog junkies!

No cross faction chatter in Class Halls

This is a big one. And an amazingly dumb decision to boot. The fantasy is that you’re the leader of your entire class, the head honcho, the boss, the guvnor. A leader of considerable power and repute, fresh from commanding a successful force on Draenor.

But you can’t talk to those guys over there. Yeah, those guys, the other faction. They have cooties. Eww.

Despite, in lore, both factions being able to communicate freely with each other (see any cutscene featuring Horde & Alliance such as the end cinematic for Siege of Orgrimmar), you, as the leader of your entire class, can’t.

Yep, that’s right, you won’t be able to communicate with 50% of the class you’re meant to be leading.

Sigh…

Demon Hunters will rule them all

Demon Hunter mobility, if it wasn’t already ridiculous enough, seems to have gotten even more OP. Not only can you double jump, but you can glide in mid-air and shoot yourself forward mid-air at will. If you thought DK’s were overplayed in Wrath, man you ain’t seen nothing yet…

Class Changes

Some good ones here for me.

First up, DK runes are being changed to all the same type of rune. No more death vs frost vs blood vs unholy runes. Nope, they’re all going to be the same rune type, thereby simplifying the DK playstyle considerably and making cooldown usage a lot easier. This for me is a great change, because the current rune system is something I’ve never really gelled all that well with tbh. How will current DK players will react? Probably negatively, as I’m sure that complexity is something they’ve come to appreciate over the years since Wrath.

Arcane Mages now have Arcane Charges as a secondary resource in addition to mana.

Shadow Priests are changing quite a lot. They no longer use mana, and instead their new resource is Insanity. The story is that their power comes from the old gods IIRC, and the more they use their power, the more insane they go. The more insane they go, the more powerful their attacks become, and when they hit full insanity they go all hentai and sprout tentacles. This only lasts a short time before wearing off however, so Japanese schoolgirls the world over can breath a sigh of relief.

Disc Priests are also seeing a change in their play-style, albeit one they’ll already be familiar with. In Legion Disc is going balls deep back into Atonement. They’re going full on smite mode, and this is going to be their play-style going forwards, and considerably less waving of their bubble wands.

Demo Locks are going to be all about demon summoning, getting back to the classic vision of Demonology Warlocks. No more Lock tanks.

Guardian Druids, big and bulky as they are, somehow became about dodging incoming damage? Doesn’t fit with common sense, so they’ll be the tanks with high health as they are now, but a lot more armour and straight up soaking damage.

Subtlety Rogues are becoming fucking ninjas bitches. Zip, zip, zip STABBY STABBY STAB….zip. Rinse & Repeat.

The big change though, it gets its own section…

NO MORE RESPEC! TRI-SPEC! QUAD-SPEC!

You get a spec, and you get a spec, everyone gets a spec!

Yes! Finally, after years of pleading and begging, having to make a choice of specs and having to re-spec at the trainer if you wanted to go from Resto/Guardian to Resto/Boomkin, no more! You’ll be able to use any spec available to your class at any time. For most classes that will mean tri-spec, and for druids it means quad-spec…

Professions get *some* love. Finally.

While there was no news on improving the levelling of professions in a similar manner to that seen in Engineering during Warlords (see my 1-700 Engineering guide in under 6½ minutes here), what is there at the moment is going to see some improvement.

Recipes won’t all be learnt from your profession trainer, but will instead be picked up out and about in the world. These recipes themselves will have 3 levels, and the higher a level you are in making something, the more efficient you are at making it.

Each profession will also have a tab with all the unlearned recipes you’re missing. This tab will also have information against each as-yet unlearned recipe about where and how to get it. Nice, and excellent for completionists.

Engineering helms btw? Oh yeah. And as a bonus? THEY FIRE FUCKING MIND BULLETS GAIS! Seriously, they have an on-use effect that fires a bullet at your target.

Major glyphs are GONE. DEAD. NO MORE. Instead it’ll all be minor glyphs. However, you’re not limited to 3 glyphs any longer. Instead, you’ll apply the glyph directly to the spell slot for the ability it amends. Without limit. Awesome.

Itemisation

So, it looks like orange is not the new black, it’s the new purple. Well, to a degree.

Legendaries will drop in the over-world, and these will be items with awesome effects. Like HoT/DoT effects doing their remaining damage all at once? Yeah, ok, so big deal right?

Well when you have that big chunk of damage/healing tick, it’ll tick again, and again, and again on each further tick, for the full duration of the effect. Like I said, awesome. Nerf durids OP.

Duplicate personal loot can be traded. If it’s the same ilevel or worse than what you’ve got or had in the past (yes they track that, and that’s going to be mega-important later in this post, I’ll come back to it), then you’ll be able to trade it to anyone else that was in on the kill. Any reason to keep using Master Looter? Nope! \o/

Transmog

Ok, this is the big one. This is what absolutely sold me on this expansion. Even if the raiding’s shit. Even if the 5 mans are wank, I’ll still be buying and playing Legion. Why exactly am I so excited?

Ok, first up, the Wardrobe is definitely IN and working. Once an item is soulbound to you, it will be unlocked in the Wardrobe.

ACCOUNT WIDE!

Yep, if you unlock a piece of mail on your hunter, you can use that look on your shaman. Unlock the sweet DK helm in Heart of Fear on your Paladin? You’ll be able to use that on your Warrior. Or DK if you must.

You’ll also be able to save a set of trans-mogged gear as an outfit as well. Per spec! So you can have different looks on each spec!

They’re going to take everything in your current void storage & banks and automatically unlock those as well.

The kicker? The thing that had the crowd go absolutely fucking nuts?

Blizzard are going to go back through all the quest items you’ve ever had, and they’re going to unlock those and put them into your wardrobe too!

EVEN THE ONES YOU DIDN’T FUCKING CHOOSE!

giphy

best-cry-ever
SO. HAPPY. RIGHT. NOW. I need a moment…

Seriously. That is one mega-sized shit-ton of work. Every quest you’ve ever done. On every character you’ve ever had. Unlocking every quest reward you’ve ever had and never had.

Whoah.

stop_penis_erect_archer

Q&A Panel Info

So after the awesomeness that was the transmog junkies wet dream above, we were straight into the Q&A panel. Let’s bullet point this mother:

  • Flight will be unlocked later in the expansion, not unlockable at launch. However Hunters get some awesome class-specific flight paths no other classes get.
  • The one reality-transcending Legion vs one Legion per-reality will be addressed in Legion.
  • No updates for the TBC races’ starting zones.
  • Running into Alleria and Turalyon will change the way we view WoW…?
  • Class Quests are pretty much the Artifact quest system this expansion.
  • Dalaran has some big secret protecting it from the Legion.
  • Artifacts will have catch-up mechanics for secondary/tertiary specs.
  • Karazhan may become a new 5 man dungeon at some point in Legion?
  • We will be running into the expansion-end boss throughout the expansion, similarly to Arthas in WotLK.
  • Bolvar will be making a cameo appearance.
  • Jaina is a dreadlord. They said she wasn’t, but we all know they’re lying.

So that was Day 2, and I’m finishing this Blizzcon a bit happier than I was going in, but I’ll process my thoughts and do a final thoughts blog post in a day or two.

Blizzcon Day 1: Warcraft Roundup

Ok, so day 1 is done for WoW, but given there were only 2 panels that didn’t take long…

First up we had the movie trailer!

Looks a lot better than I was fearing, so pretty relieved. Hopefully it turns out well and kicks off a full trilogy.

Anyhoo, first up for WoW we have the Legion Intro Cinematic! 😀

Pretty fucking epic, right?

Love the interpretations of Wrynn and Sylvanas, but just had to fit this concept artwork for her in here somewhere:

sylvanas
Cinematic Sylvanas: Beautiful

Honestly wasn’t expecting this cinematic to be ready today, especially in light of the news that we may have to wait another 10 months for Legion’s release…

Legion Release Date

Yep, pre-orders are now live and it has a latest release date (on or by) Sept 21st 2016:

legion_info
Click to open in a new window, and read the small print…

So that means we have a 3rd quarter 2016 release window clarified.

Anyway, after the intro cinematic we headed straight into the content panel for Legion.

Important points to note here are as follows.

Levelling up has no set zone to zone path in Legion.

They’re going balls deep with the scaling tech again, and will make the world around you level up with you. This was a terrible idea in Oblivion and was hated by players, so I’m not overly fond of this idea just yet, but Blizzard might pull this one off and make it a cool feature…

Each zone will have its own story as you try to recover the Pillar of Creation for each individual zone. Scaling means you’ll be able to either re-do your favourite zones first or last, depending on your inclination.

Suramar however will remain a level 110 only zone.

Also note that this scaling applies to the level up dungeons as well, so you can tackle them in any order.

Dungeons are being positioned as an alternative to  raids, not a pre-cursor.

There will be 10 dungeons altogether in Legion. Half will be played during levelling, while the other half will serve as the max-level dungeons.

Blizz are intending these max level dungeons to scale in difficulty the more gear you get, the harder you’ve completed them previously etc etc. Gear drops will eventually be as good as those in raids, so 5 man content will be a real alternative to raiding. Given WoW’s severely dwindling population this is a must, given how hard it will be to get even a 10 man together for a full raid.

Endgame challenge dungeons will also feature mutators each week, leading to different effects, such as all mobs in the dungeon enraging at 30% health and doing double damage until killed.

Supposed to be less emphasis on the go-go-go mentality of the current variation of CM’s, and more about the actual challenge of playing in it. Still a timelimit, but more lenient than current silver level, so easily achievable.

Two (staggered) raids at launch.

The Emerald Nightmare raid instance will be available right at launch with 7 bosses, whilst the raid on Suramar Palace will launch later with 10 bosses, in a similar manner to how Blackrock Foundry worked in WoD.

One key boss to note: Cenarius will be one of the corrupted bosses in the Emerald Nightmare raid instance!

Cenarius
Cenarius in the Nightmare

Demon Hunters start at level 98.

Demon Hunters will begin their starting story just before the raid on the Black Temple from back in TBC, and will finish on the Isle of the Wardens, breaking out of the same prison that’s held Illidan’s corpse all these long years.

Day to day over-world at 110

The fact that the world around you in Legion scales means that content at endgame can be placed anywhere and still be relevant. Whilst not exactly daily quests (they will come and go at different times), they will appear on the main map and can be tackled at leisure.

Beta Launch

Closed beta launches in a few weeks! I fully expect to keep up my fine tradition with closed Blizzard betas and not get into this one too early as well.

Artifact Weapons

I’m not going to go into them all here, because WowHead has a great and complete run down on all the Artifact Weapons for all classes and specs. But I’ll copy & paste the Hunter info in here.

[blizzardquote author=”Blizzard” link=”http://www.wowhead.com/bluetracker?topic=19932655″ source=”http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/19932655/legion-hunter-artifact-reveal-10-23-2015″]

Originally posted by Blizzard (Official Post | Blue Tracker)Collapse

Blizzard

Legion: Hunter Artifact Reveal

Only Azeroth’s most seasoned veterans possess the fortitude to wield Artifacts of legend against the Burning Legion. Your myth-forged weapon grows in power as you do, and your choices will change its abilities and the way it looks, sounds, and feels in combat. Fashion your Artifact into the perfect instrument of battle, and guide your faction in its most desperate hour.

You have become one of the greatest Hunters in Azeroth, deserving of a weapon not only with power—but with a name.

Masters of the Hunt

Hunters have three distinct specializations: Beast Mastery, Survival, and Marksmanship. Each brings with it a unique identity that is reflected within the Artifact weapon choices.

  • Beast Master Hunters are uniquely bonded with the beasts they hunt, blurring the lines between predator and prey. To offset the dangers they face in the wild, they wield the rifle Titanstrike, a techno-magical engineering marvel, perfect for staying on target.
  • Marksmanship Hunters are at their best killing from afar. Having a trustworthy weapon in hand is vital, and no finer bow exists than Thas’dora, Legacy of the Windrunners.
  • Survival Hunters are masters of enduring in the wild, using traps and snares to bleed their enemies. With the Ancient-touched Talonclaw, Spear of the Wild Gods in hand, they can finish their foes with one final thrust.

Each Artifact is a symbol of the might of the Hunter that wields it. Names have power—learn those of these mythic weapons well, for they will be your constant companions against the deadliest foe you’ve faced yet.

Beastmaster – Titanstrike

A peerless example of techno-magical engineering, the Titanstrike was designed by Keeper Mimiron, a titanic watcher and brilliant inventor. Securely housed in the heart of the rifle, a relic known as the Thunderspark powers the Titanstrike, harnessing the essence of storms and focusing it into concentrated blasts of energy. The rifle’s power source can also be credited to Mimiron, who devised it for his comrade, Keeper Thorim, in ages past.

Marksman – Thas’dorah, Legacy of the Windrunners

A proud heirloom of the Windrunner family, Thas’dorah was carved from a bough of the mother tree of Eversong Woods shortly after the elven kingdom of Quel’Thalas was founded. Handed down to the eldest of each generation, the bow was last wielded by the high elf Ranger Captain Alleria Windrunner. It disappeared along with its owner following the destruction of the orcs’ homeworld, Draenor, and the subsequent formation of Outland.

Survival – Talonclaw, Spear of the Wild Gods

The Highmountain tauren crafted this spear, which predates the first demonic invasion of Azeroth more than ten thousand years ago. Talonclaw’s wielders have fought alongside many guardian animal spirits, also known as Ancients, to defend the world of Azeroth and its wildlife in particular. Over the millennia, these Ancients have bestowed their blessings on the weapon, imbuing it with a portion of their power.

[/blizzardquote]

So that was Day 1 in a nutshell. Started the day off on a bum note with the news/leak of the release date, but was overjoyed at how the trailer looked and the release of the full cinematic intro.

As mentioned above, still wary about the scaling up of the zones in Broken Isles, as it did not work well in Oblivion, but we’ll see.

Did Blizzard screw up with Legion already?

Or, how to cope during downtime…

So, Blizzard announced Legion as the follow up to Warlords of Draenor about 6 weeks ago, and whilst we were all excited to see what comes next, the announcement has had a palpable negative effect on the game as it stands right now. So how can we cope in the downtime?

Too soon Executus, too soon!

Ragnaros, the Firelord
And lo, fiery the angels fell…

Blizzard mistimed the announcement of Legion. They announced it way too early in my opinion. Just look at what has happened with the game since the reveal back in mid-August: the population of the game as it stands has declined massively again. Subs may be active, but people aren’t physically playing right now. Is this because people no longer view WoD as current content?

Possibly, because once you announce what’s coming next, it takes the shine off of the current expansion (or in WoD’s case what little there was of it to begin with) and people just want the next big shiny content drop.

The announcement killed interest in playing the current game for far too many people, and raiding especially has massively suffered as a result. Certainly on my trio of merged servers raid signups right across the server have dropped to an all time low.

Our raid signups seemed to dry up a week or two right after the announcement, and presently we can barely scrape a 10 man side together at the moment to get anything on the go. We’re testing out joint raids with another guild on the server just to see if we can get regular games out, but it’s a largely untested premise as yet.

What Blizzard should have done was hold on, at least until Blizzcon, and done the big reveal there. At least there might have been a chance of a beta right after, igniting people’s interest even further still, because as it is, it was a brief bright burst of interest for a week or two, before dying back down to a background noise level and taking more subs out of the game.

Coping in the downtime is hard

After all this time, you better be prepared...
After all this time, you better be prepared…

As we continue to get closer to the Legion release date, whatever that may be (we should get it revealed at Blizzcon), continued long term interest in the game will surely wane further still.

In fact, the longer that players are out of the game for, the less likely they will feel like they’re still invested in the game as a whole, and the less chance there is of them coming back with any great gusto and renewed longer-term plans come Legion.

As this happens, communities and guilds within the game will only continue to fracture and break down as more and more players let their subscriptions lapse.

This in itself places further peril upon the long term future of the game, as subs numbers continue to decline. The subs decline over the course of WoD has been screamingly and worryingly rapid. Faster than any expansion drop off before it.

Even during the 14 months of Siege of Orgrimmar at the end of Mists there was nowhere near the level of drop off that WoD has seen during the first six months of the expansion.

Was Mists a fluke?

Dear Mists, please come back, love, Warlords.
Dear Mists, please come back, love, Warlords.

I read an article on Forbes the other day from a game analyst and WoW player that stated that after Wrath, WoW’s storyline was essentially done. Everything after that has felt like an added on excuse to keep the game going long after the main protagonist has left the stage. And up to a certain point, I find it hard to disagree with him.

Cataclysm was terrible, and until WoD it was the worst expansion without question. Unlike WoD however, the first tier and first six months of Cata were its strong point. Tier 11 was one of my favourite raid tiers.

The remaining raid tiers in Cata were pathetic, with minimal bosses and massive recycling of mobs and locations. Mind you we’d see Blizzard being even more environmentally conscious and recycle mounts, quest rewards and storylines in WoD…

Mists came along after Cata and whilst the so called purists hated the entire premise “Pandas, in my game? Eurgh!”, those of us who actually went with it and played it loved it.

The oft-mentioned dailies burn out at the start of Mists, and the poor quality of the Heart of Fear raid instance aside, Mists was IMO the best expansion overall, very narrowly edging Wrath out of the number one spot.

Then Warlords came out. Everyone was massively hyped for it, they loved the notion of seeing these iconic figures brought to life again, and they presented a real and credible threat not only to Draenor, but potentially to Azeroth as well.

I mean, we were going up against the pre-nascent Lich King in Ner’zhul for crying out loud, and he was only ONE of them!

Then he got killed in a 5 man dungeon and everyone went, “Erm, what? Nah, he’ll be back, he’s the fucking Lich King bitches!”

Spoiler: He, like over 5m others in the game, didn’t come back.

Bazinga!
Bazinga!

Levelling was excellent, as I’ve often admitted, the first couple of times through. It was fresh and different, and it seemed like there were a stack of things to discover.

But after those first few trips through the 90 to 100 journey, it slowly became apparent that there wasn’t really anything worth discovering out in the world, and the levelling process then quickly became very strained and we were back to the normal drudgery on the scale of pure quest levelling again.

The Warlords themselves were all dispensed with rather rapidly and without much fanfare. In fact the only Warlords that got anything more than insultingly minimal lip-service were Blackhand, Kilrogg and Daddy Hellscream.

Even Garrosh, the reason we were here to begin with, was killed off cheaply in a cut scene. Naturally by the green Jebus himself, kill stealing a major villain in a cut scene for the second time (Deathwing anyone?), robbing players of any agency in his demise. Criminal.

But then again, robbing players of agency was something Blizzard has excelled at in Warlords, but I’ve spoken about that already at great length…

How to cope with lengthy downtime periods?

So very, very bored.
So bored. So very, very bored.

So how does one cope with these periods in WoW, where raiding is for all intents and purposes dead in the water, and progression is by and large finished? Especially in an expansion like Warlords, where non-raid content was already very thin on the ground to begin with?

Well, if you’re anything like me you are a bundle freak, and you more than likely have an embarrassingly large pile of neglected games on various services, most likely Steam. At this present moment my Steam collection numbers over 620 games, and according to SteamDB, I’ve not played 72% of those.

Now a large percentage of that 72% will be games that came in bundles that I have absolutely zero interest in playing. Similarly I have about 50+ games in my Gog.com account, only a handful of which I’ve played at all, let alone completed.

That’s one of the reasons I was trying to run game giveaways several months ago, but given that that initiative fell flat on its arse I knocked it in the head. I guess people just don’t like free games…

So the obvious route to go is other AAA games, even other Blizzard games. However over the past couple of years, I’ve found I’ve gotten a lot more joy from playing games from the more Indie end of the gaming spectrum. Games like Ori and the Blind Forest, A Story about my Uncle, Her Story, Pillars of Eternity (currently 50% off!) etc etc.

In fact the only AAA game I can remember playing recently outside of the Blizzard stable that I’ve really enjoyed is the one I’m currently playing, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (hence the header image, make sure to use this -23% voucher though!), Hideo Kojima’s final MGS game. One that brings the MGS storyline full circle, and is seemingly Konami’s last big release outside of yearly PES updates.

Quick side note: If you’ve been completely in the dark about recent goings on over at Konami and why Castlevania and Silent Hill and indeed MGS are now all but dead franchises, I thoroughly recommend you go watch or indeed read yourself some Jim “fucking” Sterling son. PS: #fuckonami 

But Bundle websites are a great place to build a game collection if you’re only starting to do just that. Likewise there are some great websites to visit in order to get really cheap games outside of the obligatory Steam sales.

Places I recommend:

I’m sure there are hundreds of other smaller bundle and sale sites out there, and if there’s any I missed let me know (comments are working now!). Just be aware that quite a lot of bundles will have one or two gems whilst the rest of the bundle is filled out with complete dross. Caveat Emptor and all that jazz.

Looking to the future

Likely going to be utterly shit, oh well.,,
Likely going to be utterly shit, oh well…

Looking on the bright side for WoW players, we have several things to look forward to. Legion of course is released next year, the earlier the better for the long term health of the game as well.

The Warcraft movie is due out next June, and whilst I have serious misgivings as to the quality of the movie itself (in all honesty I think it’s going to be a car crash, sadly), I’ll no doubt be a good little fanboy and toddle off and see it in the cinema, and cringe alone in the dark…

Legion will of course bring with it promised lore and answers to some long standing questions, prime amongst them for me: What is it about Azeroth that makes it so important in the Warcraft Universe? Yes it’s the planet we call home in the game, but beyond that, what is it that makes this particular planet so interesting to the Burning Legion, demons that we’ve found out in WoD that have easy access to multiple dimensions and versions of reality?

The caveat I’ll place on that though is that we were promised new Blood Knight lore in WoD, and we’re still waiting….

So yeah, not holding my breath 100% on answers to any of my burning questions.

Of course there’s the usual end of expansion things to take care of, such as farming old content for mounts, pets, titles and so on, as well as old transmog gear.

And for transmog junkies like myself, of course Legion bears the promise of a Diablo/Wildstar style transmog system, which alone will free up something ridiculous like 90% of my storage space!

Wrapping up

So how are you guys coping with the current downtime, especially as it looks like it’s going to rattle on for another 6 months or more while we wait on Legion? What other games are you playing at the moment? Any good sites for deals on individual games or bundles that I’ve forgotten? Let me know in the comments below!

Pillars of Eternally writing Sheet Music

I’m really enjoying Pillars of Eternity so far. The storyline appears very interesting, pretty Planescape-ish in tone, and the classes seem good and varied.

As per the video, the class I chose for my first game was a female Moon Godlike Priest, and whilst she’s not a straight up healer archetype, she can throw out the occasional heal here and there, as well as dish out the damage 

The game by all accounts racks up at about 40+ hours of gameplay, so a real epic along the lines of the Baldur’s Gate series, which should keep me occupied for a good while


I’m going to try and tie down a specific day of the week for new videos, be they WoW-related, gameplay of other games or whatever, but I want to try and get regular content up on YouTube. First up though I want to try and get a new intro together.

Believe it or not this involves the use of sheet music and me writing the music for the intro!

This also involves me re-learning musical notation (I used to play multiple instruments as a child/teenager) and composing 8 bars of music.

All this just for the 6 seconds of an intro length. Yeah, I might be a little bit nuts, but #YOLO! *cough*

The First 30 Minutes: Pillars of Eternity Retail

#pillarsofeternity

Making good on my old promise to start bringing you more than just WoW, I bring you the first 30 minutes’ gameplay of Obsidian’s new magnum opus, the superb Pillars of Eternity!

A love letter to the Infinity Engine games of old, such as Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 and the Icewind Dale & Planescape games, Pillars of Eternity is the best traditional CRPG since Divinity Original Sin, and bests it!

Garnering scores over 90% in many reviews so far it’s destined to be a classic.


For this run through I decided on a female Moon Godlike Priest. And let me tell you, spellcasters in this game are nothing like the wimpy clothies you’re used to in WoW, this one? Carries a big bloody sword & shield and wears mail armour!

There’s no commentary for this video, as I wanted you to enjoy my first 30 minutes in the game without distraction. This is a straight run with no edits, so warts and all!

I’ll be following it up with another video at the weekend with commentary on how I’m finding the game so far.

And of course if you’d like to see more games like this then let me know!

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As usual, rate, comment and subscribe, and as always, thanks for watching!
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