In Wrath of the Lich King, all spells are being reworked so that their cost, rather than being a static mana value, is a percentage of your base mana pool (this is largely to prevent downranking). For instance, in the current, live game, Levitate costs 100 mana. In the Wrath beta, Levitate costs 3% of base mana But what is base mana?
It's the amount of mana you have before talents, buffs, and stats (like intellect and +mana) are factored in, and before base mana from your race is taken into account. In other words, it's the amount of mana you would have if you were naked, unbuffed, and un-talented, minus whatever you get from your race. Thus, it is a static value for each character of a given class/level combination. Getting more Int from gear will not raise the cost of spells, because it does not raise your base mana pool (it raises total mana pool). [Thanks for the correction, Breck.]
So to the person who wrote in asking "what's the point of getting more Int if it will just make spell costs go up," I hope that answers your question: more Int does not affect your base mana pool. Ultimately we should see little difference from this base-mana-pool spell cost change, aside from the death of downranking.
Welcome to Know Your Lore, where each week (except for last week, sorry guys!) Alex Ziebart brings you a tasty little morsel of lore to wrap your mind around. Sweet, sweet lore. Mmmm. Have suggestions for future KYL topics? E-mail us! Or, if you have a question for our sister column Ask a Lore Nerd, e-mail us those, too!
Most of us probably know the Barrens as the far, far too big and empty zone that we all spent too long running through. I know I do. You whippersnappers these days and your three flight paths. In my day, we had one and we ran to Ratchet on foot every single time. You kids nowadays have it easy. All of that aside, though, did you know it was originally a lush forest, some of which was part of the ancient Kaldorei territory?
It used to be a much more peaceful (and tolerable) place than it is now. Of course, we're talking ten thousand years ago. That place totally sucks now. Don't get all sentimental on me and pretend it's deep and meaningful and spiritual to quest there or something. It's horrible. Let's learn about it anyway, because learning is fun! ...Right?
Totem Talk: Enhancement in the Wrath Beta - Thu, 21 Aug 2008 18:00:00 EST I'm resisting the urge to post more about downranking and shamans because I want to let it shake out a little bit more. However, since the change to downranking and the XP change happened at the same time in the beta, it's made my attempt to explore various specs a little harder to do: in order to see what all the new abilities can really do, I need to burn my way to 77 as fast as I can. Having done that on my warrior, I now move to leveling my horde shaman as fast as I can, and for that, there's still one spec that's the best in my opinion. So I took my resto/elemental geared orc shaman and started gearing him up in quest drops as an enhancement shaman.
I've deliberately been avoiding the Alliance side as my mains nowadays are in that faction, so I'm in part using the beta to catch up with old friends (and it helps that my Horde toons have worse gear, as it allows me to evaluate if you can get good enough gear questing to get through the zones) and I have to say I'm liking the Horde's quests and settlements, it's all tied together very nicely. Borean Tundra has lots of flavor quests that work well with a shaman, there's plenty of decent gear to help give you a leg up (in the picture above the only piece of gear that shaman is wearing that didn't come from Northrend quests are his shoulders) and the mobs, while not totally weak pushovers, aren't especially daunting for you if you're not geared to the teeth.
The spell power changes (I've been admonished not to detail how spell damage or damage/healing converts as it has been covered too many times already by commenter Mizatt) has had some interesting consequences: I've taken a trinket that has crit strike and spell damage on it as the crit works for both my melee and magical attacks, and as I've commented before you get a lot more out of your shocks and spells now with the addition of Malestrom Weapon.
Ahh Combat. The cornerstone of the end (and mid-) game PvE Rogue. While not perfect, the Combat tree can be hugely satisfying and bears with it none of the positional damage dealing that the other two trees require, at least in part. Getting in people's (as well as creature's) faces and crushing them is all just part of the experience of the combat spec. Many a Rogue has popped a pleasing-sigh-inducing Adrenaline Rush to burn through the last tasty bits of, well, whatever stands in its way.
Although things do tend to change quickly in beta, I'm going to take a look at the five new expansion Combat tree talents. The most important question I had when looking at them, as well as all the discussion surrounding them, is "are they worth it" and "do they reflect the kinds of changes or improvements that players have been asking for." This is especially important in raid settings where Rogue vs Caster DPS and overall damage done can mean the difference between getting another invite or not.
I'd like to subtitle this column: "The Expansion Combat Tree, Now in PvP Flavor!"
Their answers about the "biggest advancement" in Wrath are interesting though -- Brack says that he thinks the fact that they're introducing a new class to the game for the first time has been the biggest design challenge so far. Chilton is excited about the achievements (as am I) -- they should provide a lot of new ways for players to extend their gameplay and get rewarded for new accomplishments.
They also talk about a few things players don't usually associate with MMOs: social networks and consoles. Brack says that both are possibilities for Blizzard, though consoles wouldn't really work with World of Warcraft as we know it. Any MMO, they say, for consoles would have to be designed from the ground up to work with the hardware, and that's not something (including the next-gen MMO, we assume) that Blizzard is working on at the moment.
Who doesn't love a cannibalistic, rotting, undead corpse? With this cuddly ghoul you can be sure to weird out your friends and family while charming them with cuteness at the same time. Here is what you will need:
Have you ever woken up and known you were going to have one of those days? It's been one of those days for going on a week now. Before you say anything, I went outside of the "lines" in a few places on purpose on my elemental there. The lines and I are having a disagreement, perhaps next week we shall come to a resolution of our differences.
This is something I would like to be doing right now. Maybe in a slightly larger facility, not to mention one without its own face. I once saw a screen shot on the World of Warcraft homepage that had a Gnome standing inside of her Voidwalker. So I wondered, you know those giant water elementals found here and there? Yeah, totally on top of that sport.
I thought now would be a good time to use this idea, seeing as how some people are starting school again soon. Missing summer? Try this!
Barrens Chat is a weekly comic strip that brings to light some of the stranger things in Azeroth. From emo oozes to mooching floozies, nothing is safe from the battered and bruised tablet of doom. Stop in weekly to see a new comic, spy on some old faces, or perhaps meet a new victim.
They start out by talking about the changes with 10 and 25 man raiding, and Kaplan says plainly that the Burning Crusade endgame was just too plain hard: "We just had: 'OK, welcome to level 70, here's a brick wall. Maybe you can climb it.'" There will still be a hardcore endgame in Wrath, but it'll be later on, near the very end of the raiding ladder. They also describe Wrath as a "coming home" moment -- after an "exploratory" period in Outland, Wrath will be a return to Warcraft's tradition and lore. And perhaps most surprising, Brack actually lends a lot of credence to a question about a graphical overhaul "from the ground up." He says that by the next expansion they'll "probably" have to look at updating the graphics system completely.
And finally, Blizzard believes that yes, even though it doesn't seem like it now, eventually there'll be something bigger than World of Warcraft. Brack's last word is an interesting look at the future: "Something will come along and WoW will be like EverQuest: a great game I played back in the day."
Is the tauren above about to cut off his own head -- or lunge forward to attack? Perhaps he's just feeling confused about upcoming changes to hunters? Would you, too, like to know just what's going to happen to your class? Well, you can rest easy now, because Scattered Shots has all the answers to your most urgent questions.
The short answer is: You don't; at the moment there is no making sense of all the Wrath hunter changes. We find ourselves at the mid-point of Blizzard's mysterious scheme for hunters, right in-between significant changes already in-progress and vague changes which they've promised or the future. We remain uncertain about which ones are going to make it live, which will be changed again, and which will be removed or added later on. Any analysis we do right now (and indeed much of the analysis we've already done) may or may not be completely out of date in a matter of days or weeks, and if your head hurts from all the ups and downs of turbulent beta-zone theorycrafting, rest assured that Scattered Shots feels your pain.
The long answer is: Even though the jigsaw puzzle isn't complete, it's still a pretty neat picture to look at. Today isn't the day for point-for-point talent analyses plus spreadsheets of sting/shot-damage coefficients -- what a headache that would be. No, today is an opportunity to stand back and look at how all this is beginning to fit together, to see how the path our class is trekking through the wilderness of beta-testing ambiguity solves some of our long-standing problems, gives us more of what makes hunters great, and leaves us with several crucial questions mysteriously unanswered.
What follows, ladies and gentauren, are the X-files of hunter beta mysteries, a fuzzy look through the crystal ball into the future of our class, the thrilling buildup to the surprising twist that comes just before the epic climax of the Hunter Saga season finale and leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat, biting on the tip of your fingernails, and gasping for air in the thrall of cliffhanger suspense.
Welp, the cinematic is out now for your viewing pleasure, and the response is... mixed. While pretty much everyone praises the technical quality (Blizzard's got that cinematic magic, which makes it all the more surprising that they went with live action for the movie), there is some back and forth on whether this cinematic stands up to the other two. While fans of Arthas definitely got their fill (and it was interesting to hear Terenas' voice echoing from the past, which hearkens back to perhaps the best cutscene Blizzard's ever done), other players were disappointed to see that this cinematic doesn't follow the standard "various classes and races battle it out" formula. And that only shows that this expansion will be very much more about the guy in the Lich King suit than anything else.
We'd point out, too, that this trailer didn't really have a "You are Not Prepared"-style catchphrase (though the word "King" definitely echoes with significance right at the end there). Clearly, Blizzard chose to go a different direction this time around, and whether it worked or not, of course, is up to you.
Unfortunately, Gnomes didn't get their day... or did they? When players cry foul on the forums, Vaneras (in official blue text) answered with the picture above. Can you see the Death Knight Gnome hidden in among the Undead army? I like Schwick's answer even better, though -- there's probably a Gnome Rogue stealthed right behind Arthas. Those little buggers are everywhere.
Update: A few people are suggesting that there is more to the trailer that we haven't seen, but Nethaera has confirmed that that's everything. She commented on the forums that the trailer only showed half the battle, but later confirmed that she meant the story was incomplete (and that we needed to complete it by going to Northrend), and not that there was more of the trailer to show.
It's just one contest after another for the good people at Wowhead. They just wrapped up their Olympics contest for some Wrath beta keys. Not to be outdone by themselves, their newest contest is giving away WWI goodie bag cards, which means a Wrath beta invite and a Tyrael pet for each of 20 winners. And the grand prize is a FigurePrint for one lucky competitor.
So what do you have to do for these fabulous prizes? For today and the next three days after (that's August 21, 22, 23, and 24), at 10 AM pacific time (1 PM Eastern), Wowhead is going to post five screenshots in the contest thread, without telling you what they are screenshots of. Your task is to identify them all; the first five people to correctly identify all the pictures each day will get a WWI card. Send your responses to email@example.com, with the Wowhead URLs, in order, of the things in the screenshots. You must list all five URLs, and no extras.
On the fifth day of the contest (August 25), the FigurePrint competition will be revealed. And European readers will be pleased to note that these prizes work for both US and EU accounts.
The first round of screenshots should be up in about fifteen minutes; keep an eye on the forum thread.
When I wrote about Silent Wind on Tuesday, I mentioned that WoW was lacking in the horror department. I had no idea that Legs was working on the most epic vampire flick I've seen! It's been a little over two months since her last machinima, Silversun, but she hasn't lost her touch at all.
Precious Blood is a story of heartache. Love is lost and lives are changed -- some for eternity. You can expect plenty of blood from this film, but it's not distasteful. Legs has a flare for cinematic shots and quality content. More gore, please!
Ready for more questions? Let's dive right in and ask: Northrend, is it not epic?
Does entering Northrend have the same "epic feel" that entering Outland for the first time had? You know, the whole "stepping out of the dark portal to find yourself already in the middle of a massive battle against the Burning Legion, intense music blaring, frantic scramble to keep your mission from being destroyed just as it starts" feeling?
I've gotta say: Burning Crusade wins on the epic entry. You step through the Dark Portal -- which had looked like an impressive edifice until you stepped through it and discovered it was many times larger on the Outland side -- and into the middle of a tremendous demonic battle. The sky overhead is filled with unfamiliar stars and bursting with colorful flows of energy... or... whatever they are. (But don't they look awesome?) Pardon me Dorothy, but we aren't in Azeroth anymore. When you enter Outland you hit the ground running and jump right into the midst of the fight against the Burning Legion.
For more on Northrend's epic proportions -- and other questions -- read on! But if you're the sort who wants to avoid spoilers, turn back now. We're aiming to avoid major story spoilers, but this feature is all about beta content and we can't talk about the beta without giving a few things away.
Pyramids are funny things. The Egyptians and the Mayans developed them independently of each other, in a great example of the concurrent evolution of ideas. Some people refuse to believe this could happen, and maintain that both styles of pyramids were actually the creations of Atlanteans/aliens/a more spiritually advanced race of humans. I wonder what these people would think of this bone and graffiti-covered pyramid, erected by the not-at-all-spiritually-advanced satyr of Axxarien? (Thanks to Hawkblaze of Emerald Dream-EU for the pic!)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 sunsets.
Here's a nice tidbit from the Games convention at Leipzig, Germany in the form a bundle of Wrath news. Tom Chilton and J. Allen Brack gave a pair of interviews to Getbuffed.de and Gamona.de. In the Getbuffed interview embedded above, they discuss the future of the lore and raids, most notably Icecrown Glacier, the home of Arthas.
It hasn't shown up on the Beta servers yet, but it's probably still one of the most eagerly anticipated instances of Wrath of the Lich King, especially for us old timers. I'm talking, of course, about The Culling of Stratholme in the Caverns of Time.
The nice thing about the Caverns of Time is that you can do stuff like this, sending people back to visit pivotal places, people, and things in the past without creating a whole new game. Despite the stumble in Mount Hyjal, when we appeared to go as tourists instead of agents of the Bronze Dragonflight to combat the Infinite Dragonflight, the Caverns of Time has been solid and well-liked, with 5-man instances that allow you to experience some important and intriguing lore and give you a definite story to follow in the instance, one that can be done in well under an hour.
Certainly, this model has lead to a lot of fans, and a lot of people hoping we'll see many more CoT dungeons to come. There's even rumors (or wishful thinking) that we'll get another Caverns of Time raid for Wrath, possibly The War of the Shifting Sands.
Whether it's true or not, I can't say, but the caverns definitely have room to expand. As the custodians themselves explain, passageways to new times could open up without warning, sending us off on new adventures. What times, places, and people would you like to visit via the caverns?
Is there anything left to be said? The Wrath of the Lich King cinematic was unveiled to the public earlier today on Blizzard's sites... and it's freaking awesome. The trailer features Arthas, the Lich King, trudging the icy plains of Northrend with the echoing narration of the late King Terenas Menethil, his father. Haunting music, a chilling narrative, and imagery that shows the frightening power of the Lich King is all packed into the short trailer, which can be downloaded in hi-resolution for Macs and PCs. "The truest victory, my son," King Terenas says, "is stirring the hearts of your people." I can tell you right off that this cinematic stirred my heart... and sent a shiver down my spine. Check out the full version over at the Wrath site now.
Update: Our friends over at Big Download now have the trailer in downloadable form, so if you want to preserve it on your hard drive for future generations (or just to watch it a lot more), you can do so.
The results aren't exactly a surprise, which supports the analysis's validity. Warlocks -- once the Arena juggernaut to the sounds of much QQ -- have lost 8% of their dominance in the Gladiator ranks. By comparison, Rogues have picked up 6.5%. Druids are the big winners, though. Only 7.5% of Season 1's gladiators were druids, compared to 16% of Season 3's. And yeah.
There's a lot of metagame interpretation that could be done regarding these numbers. Melee have slowly risen in power over the span of three seasons, and Paladins -- once the bubbling unstoppable -- have really dropped in performance. Druids used to be unremarkable, but now the "science" of Line-of-Sight and Mobility has taken the day.
Arena Junkies promise to further update their analysis when the Hall of Fame is updated for Season 3. But I agree with Tyveris: I think the current sample is indicative, and we're not going to see any huge differences between these numbers and those.
Four of the top ten PC games are World of Warcraft - Wed, 20 Aug 2008 17:00:00 EST Normally, we don't concern ourselves with sales charts too much -- we really only cover the one game, so comparing it to others really isn't our thing. Unless it's the only game in town, which, according to this month's NPD PC game software sales charts, posted by WorldofWar.net, it pretty much is. Out of the top ten PC games, Blizzard is responsible for a full half, and of those five, four are World of Warcraft related. 1. WoW: Battle Chest 2. The Sims 2 Double Deluxe 3. World Of Warcraft 4. Nancy Drew: The Phantom Of Venice 5. Spore Creature Creator 6. Diablo Battle Chest 7. Warcraft III Battle Chest 8. WoW: Burning Crusade 9. The Sims 2 Ikea Home Stuff 10. Call of Duty 4
Just wild. Diablo's Battle Chest is undoubtedly there because of the Diablo III announcement, but the rest is all World of Warcraft -- people are picking up the game, its expansion, the Battle Chest (which combines both), and even the predecessor Warcraft III (in which the Wrath backstory features prominently) in droves.
PC gaming isn't dead at all. But there's no question that of the struts keeping it standing, Blizzard is definitely one of the strongest.
Wrath of the Lich King is shaping up to be one hell of an expansion. It looks like Blizzard has pulled out all the stops with remarkable quest design, breathtaking landscapes, and even wonderful music that really sets the mood for adventuring in Northrend. Even though World of Warcraft allows players to access iTunes from within the game -- and I know a lot of players turn up their own music when playing -- I highly recommend playing Wrath with the music on and turned up when it finally hits retail.
Music in World of Warcraft has always been a point of pride for Blizzard, with their work on Karazhan being widely praised for setting a great mood and being enjoyable overall. The music in Wrath continues that tradition with scores from Blizzard veterans Russell Brower, who composed the login screen theme for the new expansion. Brower was also behind the music for The Burning Crusade login screen as well as the affecting melodies of Eversong Woods and the Ghostlands (some co-written with New Age musician David Arkenstone and fellow Blizzard veteran Jason Hayes).