We've got the hot pre-Wrathpatch 3.0.2 coming soon, with the much-anticipated Wrath of the Lich Kingstorming along in mid-November. But the game doesn't stop there. Blizzard's already planning for the time after Arthas stomps his kicky, icy little boots into Northrend. The big-MVP-on-campus Schwick has already started building his "what we know" thread for 3.1 and beyond.
I'll grant that what we know right now is a little slim, and doesn't include the myriad of buffs and nerfs we should expect after the expansion. Schwick -- and WoW Insider -- will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
For now, after Wrath releases, we're already expecting:
Icecrown Citadel -- A raid instance for groups to explore, this will be released after Wrath's initial live date.
A built-in Outfitter -- The ability to organize your gear in convenient, logical, and easy-to-swap functionality. Now you're in tank gear, and then one second later, now you're in DPS gear!
Guild Bank upgrades -- Better controls and organization for the often-ninja-plagued Guild banks.
Personally customized tabards -- The ability to create your own, personal tabard.
Of course, there's a lot of stuff on the "to-do" list that isn't necessarily going to be put in 3.1. Dance studios, cross-server chat functions, and account-based achievements, to name a few.
Activision doing well, Blizzard has spent $200M in upkeep on WoW - Tue, 16 Sep 2008 18:00:00 EST Activision Blizzard (the parent company of Blizzard Entertainment) held an Analyst's Day earlier this week (in which a bunch of stock analysts sit down to crunch numbers and predict the future), and they came out of it really well -- according to those in the know, Activision Blizzard is set to do very well in the future. Buoyed by Blizzard and their other big franchises (do we have to name them by now? Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, etc.), 99% of analysts give the stock a "Buy" or "Hold" rating, and many were impressed with what Activision told them about their releases in 2009.
And we got another interesting insight into just what kind of money Blizzard is looking at -- they reported on the call that since 2004, they've spent $200 million on the upkeep of World of Warcraft alone. That includes things like payroll, customer support, and hardware updates, of which there have been plenty of those. $200 million does seem like a lot, but of course when you consider just how much revenue they've pulled in via subscriptions (ten million players paying up to $15 a month, though Blizzard has all kinds of different subscription plans around the world), $200 million over four years isn't all that much.
We're told, though, that that money doesn't include any development costs (pre-release, and we're not sure if it includes patch/expansion development or not, either). And it certainly doesn't include Blizzard-wide costs, like their new HQ, or what they spend on advertising, promotion, and those big events held around the world. There's no question, however, that there's plenty of money coming both in and out of Blizzard's doors.
15 Minutes of Fame: Lean and mean with WoW - Tue, 16 Sep 2008 17:00:00 EST 15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes - from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.
Just a few weeks ago, we published a post about two guys who connected their treadmills to their computers to find out just what it would be like to really take a little jog down the road from Shadowglen to Darnassus. (Hilarity ensued.) But that got us thinking ... What if these guys had actually kept playing that way, turning their WoW-time into a potent weight-loss strategy?
It turns out that quite a few players have done exactly that. Back in 2006, The Weight Lifter lost more than 40 pounds with two-hour "WarBiking" sessions on an exercise bike while playing WoW. ("If things got crazy -- as in, I ended up running for my life in the game -- I would end up peddling really fast on the bike. LOL, I know, kinda weird. You try it and see what you do!")
Then we talked to Althaea of Terror Nova-H on Eitrigg. Althaea has lost almost 100 pounds playing WoW from a treadmill, shrugging off a diagnosis of sleep apnea and creating an exercise routine that has definitely stuck. Find out how he put it all together, after the break.
There's always enough interest in the Blizzard Authenticator that we wanted to make sure our readership (who is clearly smarter than the average bear) is aware that it's back in stock. There's been a little rockiness, as Daniel put it, and there's sometimes a little question whether it's actually available. This time looks to be for real, and with an added benefit -- the Authenticator is now available in New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and Latin America.
The Authenticator has had some history behind it already. It's an obvious preventive against the many and varied keyloggers. There's nothing worse than getting your account hacked, since it often puts both you and your Guild in danger of getting robbed blind. There was an issue reported a while back about someone getting hacked even though they were using the Authenticator, though Belfaire confirmed that the Authenticator wasn't actually removed. Also, as I mentioned, there've been some oddities in whether it's in stock and if the order process goes smoothly. Trying to place an order for the Authenticator today, one of your intrepid Insider reporters saw style-sheet errors similar to the time of Failoc, the Fail Murloc.
Still, it's an added level of protection for you and your account. If you're at all worried about the security of your WoW account, you should see about picking one up.
The usual email answering: we answered questions about why there are no Auction Houses in Shattrath or Dalaran, what to do when your guild won't let you roll on damage gear when they ask you to heal, and why getting Champion tabards at Exalted would be a horrible idea.
And finally we asked around for AH tips, so if you want to make more money on the AH, definitely listen in.
If you've got tips or questions of your own, definitely drop us an email: the address is firstname.lastname@example.org. We do this every Saturday, so if you weren't free last week but happen to be around next Saturday at 3:30pm Eastern, jump on over to WoW Radio and tune in to hear us live. Thanks for listening, and enjoy the show!
Both by way of the World of Warcraft official website and Felicia Day herself, the news is out that the cast of The Guild will be at BlizzCon. The cast of the web-based sitcom will be sitting on on a discussion panel and giving a preview of the upcoming second season of The Guild.
If you have absolutely no idea what The Guild is, you're really missing out and I recommend giving it a watch. The first episode is embedded above to get you started. If you want to know a little more about Felicia Day (who you may know from the more recent internet phenomenon Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog), WoW Insider interviewed her back in August of last year. What do you say, Felicia. Up for round two? You can bring the whole crew this time! We won't try to groom you, I promise.
The other night I was able to test out another of the new raid dungeons in Wrath of the Lich King: The Obsidian Sanctum. To give a little background on the zone, the Obsidian Sanctum is the Black Dragonflight's wing of the Chamber of the Aspects, beneath Wyrmrest Keep. There's a portal for each of the Dragonflights, but only the Black one is active right now. The portals take you to a dimension/chamber tailored to the aspects of the Flight.
With that out of the way, the Obsidian Sanctum is home to Sartharion the Onyx Guardian and a trio of black drakes. They look more purple, perhaps lavendar, but we'll stick with black. The Drakes are mini-bosses, only with a few minor mechanics to learn and understand. Killing each one of them removes an ability from Sartharion himself, who you attack last. There is some trash between mini-bosses, but it's minimal.
The bosses are currently somewhat undertuned, but they're not going to be particularly difficult for a reason. Downing them one by one is not the challenge of this raid zone. Like Zul'Aman, it has an additional challenge for you to tackle after you've killed everything on "easy mode." You can pull Sartharion before all of the Drakes are dead for bonus loot. That bonus loot includes a Black Drake Mount
Demonology 101: the Infernal - Tue, 16 Sep 2008 13:00:00 EST Alright, we've covered all the basic pets on Demonology 101, including the Felguard talent from the Demonology tree. Today we'll take a look at one of two gimmick pets that hardly see any actual play -- the Infernal. The Infernal is a pet summoned through the Inferno spell and isn't technically a Warlock pet in the traditional sense. With a 20-minute cooldown to the spell, think of it as an emergency pet like a Shaman's Elemenals.
Unlike an Elemental, however, the Infernal can be controlled with traditional pet commands but has no special abilities. Used purely for amusement purposes as the standard pets perform better in most situations, it gets even more left behind in Wrath of the Lich King as there are no new talents or abilities that make it more useful.
The date on the video says 8/13/08, but we suspect it's actually meant to be September 13th, as that's when, this past weekend, WorldofWar.net did that Gnome race for a few beta keys. And this is a fun documentation of it -- the Gnomes all run from the front steps of Ironforge all the way down south to the Dark Portal, with a little fun bit at the beginning using real marathon audio.
Big player-run events like this are always a good time. We wonder if there's some way Blizzard could actually support this stuff with an ingame UI feature -- maybe show distance run or time traveled with an option? But even if they don't, players are creative enough to come up with all kinds of strange fun to have in Azeroth. Whether it's fun races like these or Gurubashi Arena challenges, one of the best things about a social game like this is all of the games players come up with on their own.
If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.
The image above has almost nothing to do with the content of today's Ask a Beta Tester, but I found it funny so you get to deal with it. We'll jump right into things with Turfing's question...
I have a priest alt getting close to 70. Planning on doing healing come Wrath. With the conversion to spell power should I be picking up healing gear or damage gear right now? How is, for instance, Spell fire stacking up against Primal Mooncloth? Is spellfire actually able to heal better right now in the beta? How about damage?
I strongly recommend hopping over to Wowhead's Wrath site and doing some research on how the numbers turn out. In most cases, DPS gear has better DPS stats (hit, crit) and Healing gear has better Healing stats. The spell power numbers are just much, much closer. In your particular example, the Primal Mooncloth Robe has more spell power than the Spellfire Robe, but it has mp5 and the Spellfire has crit. A DPS spec/class would rather have the crit.
My local GameStop up here in Fargo, ND has them available for pre-order as of this morning. However as is standard policy with them, you can only pre-order games by going into the store. It has been my experience that in general you cannot pre-order over the phone, but your mileage may vary.
If you're interested in pre-ordering online, the two major sites that I found to have the C.E. listed are Amazon and GameStop. Other sites, such as Best Buy, don't have the C.E. up yet. Remember however, if you want to get the game at midnight you'll most likely need to deal with a local retailer.
A DVD with developer interviews, commentary on the cinematic, etc.
Mouse pad with a map of Northrend
Two starter decks for the CCG, and two exclusive cards
All of the latest news can be found on our Wrath page. Also, Ask a Beta Tester answers all your burning questions, Lichborne will walk you through the Death Knight class, and in Skill Mastery we've been explaining each class's new spells and abilities one by one. Prepare yourself; this is going to be fun.
A number of readers wrote in to tell us about a 'hypothetical WoW-hatched terror plot' from the Pentagon, which Wired posted just last night. The scenario detailed in the presentation given by Dr. Dwight V. Toavs is meant to display how terrorists could potentially use the pseudonymity of an MMO combined with the obscure gamer lingo to hide a terrorist plot within the massive, mostly unmonitored (by them) playerbase. This isn't the first time we've heard about the government looking to virtual worlds for potential terrorist hideouts, but it's the most ridiculous.
The presented scenario is as follows (summarized; full version at Wired): Two WoW players, WAR_MONGER and TALON238 meet up to plot. WAR_MONGER lays out the plan: They will approach via the South East of the Zoram Strand, and assault the 'White Keep' using a 'Dragon Fire' spell in their inventory. They will kill all of the 'castle guards' and when they've entered the keep, they will acquire their treasure of 110 gold, 234 silver.
Translation: These two terrorists will meet South East of the White House (the White Keep) and take out all of the security before sneaking a weapon of some sort through. The 'treasure' is the coordinates for their attack.
Phoenix wings? Avenging Wrath wings? Halo? Olympic tabard? Sxei of <Divinity> on Cho'gall certainly doesn't have a problem with low self-esteem. Sxei sent in this pre-raid screenshot to honor his guild, and its commitment to continuing to raid with the expansion on the horizon. "We are still together progressing through content that will soon be forgotten just for a good time and to get some money for the guild," Sxei writes. "The phoenix wings can represent the radiating power that blood elves get because of their close relationship with their old master Kael'thas, to help empower us as we push our way through Sunwell where our first magic was born." Good luck to Divinity in all your travels! Sorry for the unusual optimism -- Around Azeroth will be back to its usual snark tomorrow.
Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing email@example.com with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!
Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards.
It's been one week since we opened our most recent Caption This! contest to entries. We've allowed them to age to perfection over the weekend, and they're now ripe enough for you to pick the winner! Members of the WoW Insider staff (actually, just me this time because I figured everyone was super-busy with all the new info) have chosen their favorite captions from the bunch. Now you get to decide who goes home with a 60-day game card, an Eastvale Logging Camp or a Camp Taurajo ringer shirt from J!NX, or nothing but an overbearing feeling of failure. Just pick the best caption for the above picture. Voting closes tomorrow, Wednesday, September 17 t 11:59 PM EST, and winners will be informed shortly afterward by e-mail.
Once again, we have an entry that's too long for the poll form. Here's Gideon Wells' take on the picture, available as the last option in the poll:
"The more Gron'gok thought about it things just weren't adding up about this new dark lord who filled the void left by Illidan's demise.
The pink ceremonial robes? Gron'gok was an open minded Fel Orc.
The almighty world shattering fel beast promised that turned out to be a pink bird? Sure, that tauren they tortured said back in Mulgore that some of his kind feared a similar beast. Still, the way he seemed to be trying not to snicker just aggravated that nagging feeling.
Now the mandatory eight hour Sex in the City marathons every Tuesday? No, that was just wrong. It seemed to Gron'gok that the new dark lord might actually be a Blood Elf in disguise."
Remember, entrants must be U.S. or non-Quebec Canadians at least 13 years old. If you'd like to peruse the contest's official rules, they can be found here. Happy voting!
[UPDATE] WTB fashion sense - Tue, 16 Sep 2008 09:00:00 EST I see a lot of the Professions are getting a lot of love lately. Cooking, specially, has been particularly awesome in Wrath of the Lich King, with cooks able to prepare feasts for raids that give excellent buffs. Engineering has been fun, too, although I have yet to see the schematic for my Harley Softail Hog. I'm curious about one thing, though... where are my shirts? With all the options to customize characters in the game -- I mean, those barbershops are pretty neat -- how come there aren't any new shirt patterns?
There are over 50 different shirts in the game, 22 of which are tailored. The rest are uncouth styles that are simply too unfashionable for my needs. I've picked up enough Sleeveless T-Shirts in Alterac Valley to clothe an army. It makes me cringe to see Level 70 characters still sporting their original Thug Shirt. Let's get some style, people! There are a good number of shirts to choose from, but frankly, we need Fall fashions for Wrath of the Lich King. I mean, the last great (and saleable) shirt pattern was the Rich Purple Silk Shirt. And that was from vanilla WoW.
Fashion in World of Warcraft has fallen behind. At least, tailor-made ones. Would you believe that there wasn't a single new shirt pattern throughout the whole Burning Crusade? I mean, I know that demons were at our gates and some dude named Illidan was plotting to take over everything we know and love, but come on! Where was my Netherweave shirt? If I'm going to fight a war, I want to fight in style!
Breakfast Topic: What would you wish for? - Tue, 16 Sep 2008 08:00:00 EST Today's breakfast topic is a bit of a roleplaying question as well. Yesterday we heard about the new coins that were added to the water fountain at Dalaran in the Beta of Wrath of the Lich King. There, usinging your fishing skill, you can find coins tossed in by anyone from King Terenas Methenil to "Prince" Magni Bronzebeard, and see what it was that they once wished for.
It got me thinking, what would your character wish for if you could toss a coin into the fountain? Even if you don't roleplay, just imagine it for a moment. Or if that's really too much of a stretch for you, imagine that you the player could stand at the edge of that fountain and toss a coin in. Would your wish be any different from a fountain in the real world somewhere? Would you wish for epics, PvP glory, class buffs or something else related to your real life?
Even though my main character is a hunter, and war has kind of become her business, she's still a pacifist at heart. She always tries to disable her enemies rather than kill them, and she silently prays to the Light for the soul each person to cross her path, whether friend or foe. At the fountain, she would wish for peace on Azeroth. For my part though, I would personally wish for less QQ, bad mouthing and generally stupid communication in the game (I would save my wishes for peace on earth for a real fountain).
Welcome to another bright and sunny Tuesday Morning. Downtime is a little complicated this morning. Most Realms will be getting some short rolling restarts at 5 AM, but a handful will get a 2 hour downtime instead, while another handful will get a full 3 AM - 11 AM PDT extended downtime. Hardware upgrades for Wrath, perhaps? You can get the list of downed realms here.
This means there was plenty to talk about this week. Why not get caught up on it now? You can look below for a selection of some of the hottest topics of the past week, or start browsing through the tag, category, and author links to the right if that's more your speed.
Meet the bad boy of Warlock pets, the Felguard. This 41-point Demonology talent is the favorite pet of many Warlocks -- and I have to confess, after speccing Demonology in the WrathBeta -- I kind of like him a lot, too. He's tough, he dishes out some hurt, and he can stun opponents every thirty seconds. It was also originally the only demon with Avoidance, but the passive ability was buffed and handed out to all demons in Wrath or Patch 3.0.
When solo, the Felguard makes a great tank, although it loses out to the Voidwalker in terms of armor and health. However, Anguish and a higher DPS makes it generate more threat, allowing it to hold aggro better. Having Demonic Frenzy means that the Felguard gets stronger and stronger (up to 50%) with each damaging attack, and Cleave is a basic attack that can hit multiple opponents -- although care needs to be taken when used in PvE as Cleave can break crowd control. You should key bind Intercept as it can interrupt spellcasting, although it has a minimum 8 yard range so stunning its current target can sometimes be tricky. Think of a Felguard as Warrior lite.
In an effort to further balance the game, Koraa levitated over to the PriestBeta forums to drop the bomb that Blizzard was canning all Priest racial abilities in an upcoming Beta build. This comes long after Fear Ward, formerly a Dwarf racial ability for Priests, was made baseline and trainable at Level 20. However, Koraa makes a few important points, the most notable being that Desperate Prayer, the Human and Dwarf Priest racial ability, will become the 11-point talent for Holy. Holy Nova, on the other hand, will become baseline. Desperate Prayer will likely be retuned to better fit an 11-point talent (it currently has a 10 minute cooldown).
Koraa adds that the formerly Undead Priest racial Devouring Plague will also become a baseline spell, with a reduced cooldown of 30 seconds (down from 3 minutes) and "greatly reduced" mana cost. The Draenei racial ability Symbol of Hope will be renamed Hymn of Hope and also become a baseline ability, now restoring 5% of total mana every 2 seconds for 8 seconds to the priest's party members. All other racial abilities, from Starshards to Shadowguard, will be removed from the game. Enjoy them now before Patch 3.0 hits!
There are a few interesting things in the Demonology tree in Wrath of the Lich King, but this 31-point talent was what jumped out at me the most. Replacing Soul Link, which was moved down to 11 points, Demonic Empowerment is the long-needed uh-oh button for our demons. Kind of like their own version of the PvP trinket. The cool thing is that, depending on the demon you have out, you get different effects.
Demonic Empowerment Requires 30 points in Demonology Grants the Warlock's summoned demon Empowerment.
Succubus - Instantly vanishes, causing the Succubus to go into an improved Invisibility state. The vanish effect removes all stuns, snares and movement impairing effects from the Succubus.
Voidwalker - Increases the Voidwalker's health by 20%, and it's threat generated from spells and attacks by 20% for 20 sec.
Imp - Increases the Imp's spell critical strike chance by 20% for 30 sec.
Felhunter - Dispels all magical effects from the Felhunter.
Fel Guard - Increases the Fel Guard's attack speed by 20% and breaks all stun, snare and movement impairing effects and makes your Fel Guard immune to them. Lasts 15 sec.
With a cooldown of 1 minute, this spell will come in very handy for a variety of situations. In fact, I've key bound it in the Beta simply because I've found it to be incredibly useful. Let's take a look at the various uses after the jump.