The upcoming expansion, Cataclysm, will be incorporating greater levels of character customization than ever before. From guild talent trees, a different talent tree system, new races and race/class combinations, to a new profession that will be all about customization. Enter the Path of the Titans, and the new secondary profession, Archaeology.
Pass through the break for all the details, but be warned, spoilers lay ahead!
We've got video from Cataclysm, giving you flythroughs of a number of zones, both new and old, featured in the expansion. The Barrens, Ashenvale, Darkshore, Desolace, Stonetalon Mountains, Gilneas, and the Lost Isles are shown, and for the old Azeroth zones, great transitions between the old and new terrain is featured.
We'll have more videos for you as the day goes on, but for now, enjoy the view, and appreciate the grand scope of this expansion!
The Guild was at our meetup last night (bloggers and Internet stars -- guess who's who above), and now they're about to take the floor at BlizzCon. We're standing by to hear what Felicia and the cast have to say about the new season, the upcoming comic book, and the geeky tour de force that is The Guild.
Liveblogging starts right after the break -- newest at the top. Should be fun!
One of the quiet pleasures for me every BlizzCon is taking a trip through the Art Gallery -- it's not quite as flashy as the panels or the hands-on demos, but it is awesome to see the real core of Blizzard's work, the art that inspires all of these various universes and characters.
Take a look through the gallery below -- there's some cool concepts and art from all three of Blizzard's universes (and some excellent looks at what we'll see in the very newly announced World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. You can also see the noobz figurines on display. Many of those were created by Blizzard artists, and some of them were created by fans as well. The whole gallery really shows off the kind of talent that's putting these games and their concepts together.
Not at BlizzCon yourself? Don't fear -- while all of us are here fighting with massive queues and the door boss (live in person, above), you can enjoy BlizzCon from the safety of your own computer via the live stream and our own live coverage (glance to the right for our BlizzCon live blog schedule). We expect to see many more costumes over the course of the weekends and we will be certain to keep updating this gallery as we get more screenshots photos. Until then, enjoy!
With official word that there will be new race-class combinations in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, Blizzard has posted the official matrix of what races will have what classes available to them. Big surprises so far include Worgen Druid and Goblin Shaman!
Blizzard's official Cataclysm site is going up and down every minute or two right now, but I managed to load their FAQ for the upcoming expansion, and there is plenty of interesting information in it.
Barrens is split in two. Darkshore is flooded.
New zones: Uldum, Grim Batol, the Sunken City of Vashj'ir.
"More raid content" than previous expansions
A new "Wintergrasp-like zone" called Tol Barad
Archaeology, the new secondary profession, lets you "unearth valuable artifacts and earn unique rewards"
The new starting zones will be heavily phased, and will be similar to the DK starting zones
Azshara is now a low-level Horde zone connected directly to Orgrimar
Azeroth will be changed whether you buy the expansion or not
I'm psyched. I'm sure we'll learn more about all of these details as Blizzcon goes by, so keep it locked on WoW.com. In fact, check out the live blog of the Cataclysm panel going on right now for more info. I'm especially curious about Archaology, and about whether they can keep their promise to have more raid content.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has just been announced at BlizzCon 2009. The expansion promise to bring about a whole new adventure for World of Warcraft players as they work their way through a destroyed and changed Azeroth.
And as we announced before, Goblins and Worgen will be the new playable races. The level cap will be raised to 85, and there will be a whole new swath of raids, dungeons, and quests for everyone to enjoy. The old world raid dungeons will be revamped and deliver new heroic opportunities for players. There is a new secondary skill: Archaeology.
Skip the lines! Skip the crowds! See all there is to see from the BlizzCon 2009 show floor in our gallery without having to leave the cool comfort of your computer chair. We will, of course, be updating throughout the weekend as we see more strange and unusual sights.
Founding and nurturing an up-and-coming raid guild can be quite a daunting task. We see it every day in trade chat <New Guild Name> is now recruiting players of all levels. "We're a fun, friendly guild that regularly raids 10-mans and is looking to build our 25-man team. We have a tabard, bank tabs, and Ventrilo. PST if you're interested." The bark is always the same, the only difference is the number of spelling errors. How do you gracefully move from 10 to 25-man content?
If that's your guild, first of all, congratulations on some early success in progress in getting to 10-man raids. When you're not quite there, you have a few options are a few options, all of which have their upsides and their downsides. You can pug into 25-man content, you can run guild raids and take pugs along, you can work with another guild, or you can be content with 10-man content. Let's take a moment to explore each of the options.
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.
When is a troll not a troll? We can't answer that one for you (when he's a Goblin, instead? /shrug) - but we can definitely tell you when a non-troll actually is a troll: more often than you may oh-so-righteously imagine. Only two weeks ago, the Drama Mamas were reminding readers that you cannot "fix" other people. This week, we must add on to this principle: You may neither "fix" your fellow players, nor may you "beat" them. In fact, when you try to beat 'em, you join 'em. The Drama Mamas explain why.
As an FYI for all those who have ordered the service, the internet stream for the DirecTV broadcast from BlizzCon is working, although all you'll see for the moment is a looping series of advertisements for the feed itself (still scratching my head over why they feel the need to advertise a service you've already purchased, but oh well), a recap of BlizzCon 2008, and the Starcraft II, Diablo III, and Wrath of the Lich King trailers.
We've gotten some reports from people that the stream seems buggy and that they've had some problems with logging in, so if you've ordered the service, I would recommend logging in early and keeping a tab up with the feed just in case. The main page for the DirecTV feed is here, so head over and make sure you've got everything in place. Don't forget that you need to press the Login button while entering your username and password; don't just hit enter! We'd guess the actual broadcast will begin shortly before the opening ceremonies at 11:00 am PST/2:00 pm EST.
UPDATE: For those of you getting an "Account expired" message, Michael Sacco suggests refreshing the page several times and clearing out your cache/cookies if all else fails. Apparently that's worked for a lot of people -- try it and let us know.
A friendly tipster has let us know that currently on the official WoW site, the map of Azeroth is listed as "really outdated" (see screenshot above). This is the clickable map that gives information about each zone. The Outland and Northrend maps are still up, but the Azeroth map is down.
Hm...a portent of Cataclysmic events, anyone? This is an entertaining little leak from the Blizzard web team. I'm sure we'll get the full story in a few hours from our Anaheim ground team, but for now, this is a subtle hint at what might go down in the next chapter of WoW history, and where.
Just in time for the inevitable announcement of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, IGN have decided to turn in the opposite direction and take a peek at this history of this momumental franchise. They've posted an epic five-page retrospective feature on the entire Warcraft franchise as part of the run up to BlizzCon.
It looks at everything from the original game, Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, to the failed Thrall-centric loregasm that was Warcraft Adventures right on through to Warcraft II and III. Of course, they also look in detail at World of Warcraft and its two expansions, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King.
If you only discovered the Warcraft franchise with WoW, as I did, it's a fascinating glimpse into one of gaming's biggest franchises. World of Warcraft is not just a game or a single mythology, it's the culmination of a decade of gaming history. So if you've got an hour to kill before the fun and games today, you might want to check this out.
What a night! Last night, the Anabella Hotel in Anaheim, CA played host to the WoW.com BlizzCon Meetup, and WoW.com readers turned out for the festivities. And festivities there certainly were!
Master of ceremonies Mike Schramm ran some great giveaways with gear from Creative and other WoW-themed items, Daniel Whitcomb drank too much and confessed his undying love for me, 1400 readers joined in on our live Ustream show ... and then the cast of The Guild showed up and the place exploded. Not literally, but metaphorically.
Oh, and over 1200 of you showed up at the meetup throughout the entire evening. There was that too. (And the WoW.com crew out there were beyond thrilled to see so many of you.)
Felicia Day (pictured above with our very own Zach Yonzon) and pals seemed to enjoy themselves quite a bit as they hung out with fans and fellow gamers, posing for photos and poundin' brews with the WoW.com crew. Thanks to everyone who came out, and I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves despite my conspicuous absence.
A special, 25-man-sized thank you to our own Mike Gray for working tirelessly in the weeks leading up to BlizzCon to make this meetup happen.
Check out our shots of the meetup in our gallery below!
Magic mushrooms might be illegal in Amsterdam these days, but Taurion of <DutchInc> on Turalyon-EU can still appreciate a good spore. Taurion snapped this shot of the suspiciously freshman-dorm-like area around optional boss Amanitar in Ahn'Kahet. Hey, Manny, I heard multicolored light strings are on sale for five bucks at Spencer Gifts these days. Take the time to upgrade your digs, and pick up a Bob Marley blacklight poster while you're at it.
Do you have any unusual, beautiful or interesting World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see them 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. Please include the word "Azeroth" in your post so it does not get swept into the spam bin. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards, gold seller ads with dead gnomes any race at all, or pictures of the Ninja Turtles in Dalaran.
Yes, technically that's a screenshot from last night's Ulduar alt PuG. Since there's a Marrowstrike and several other pieces of TotC gear in it, as well as a female draenei warrior (how often do you see that?) I'm gonna let it go. Draenei women hold polearms really weird, in my opinion.
Last week we covered weapons, trinkets and rings from both heroic and normal Trial of the Champion. This week, we'll cover plate drops, capes and neck pieces. We may actually be able to get it all in, although there's a decent amount of plate in this instance. I'm actually surprised at how expansive the loot table (for a 3 encounter instance) TotC has managed to support. For the short duration there's a lot of gear in here.
Also, I can confirm that Marrowstrike and Edge of Ruin are 212 DPS weapons now. (That's cause I'm using one in the back there.)
Still, it's hard to deny the coolness we'll be missing. (No, I'm not going either.) Previews of upcoming games! Possible expansions! Panels where people who work at Blizzard talk about why they're nerfing or buffing your class! Swag! Murloc pets! My wife and I managed to at least get the Live Stream (she wanted a murloc, I wanted to see the panels, we're both happy) but watching it on the video feed isn't really the same thing as getting to go.
So my plans are as follows: finish up the week's raiding, fire up the live stream, and run as many alt runs through 10 and 25 man raids, heroics and assorted fun super happy time activities as I can to take my mind off of all the awesome news I'm sure will be leaking all over the place. How about you? Do you even care about the con? Are you sad, mad, or even glad not to go?
All about our BlizzCon coverage - Fri, 21 Aug 2009 07:00:00 EST BlizzCon is upon us today. WoW.com and the Joystiq network are pulling out the stops unlike any year before. There's a total of 15 staffers on the ground during the convention this year, representing the entire Joystiq Network (WoW.com, Joystiq, Massively, and Big Download). We're going to be brining you non-stop coverage throughout the day. And while there could very well be 20 or so posts on WoW.com alone in the next 24 hours, there's only a few places where you need to look to find it all.
WoW.com's BlizzCon Guide - Everything that happens about the World of Warcraft at BlizzCon will be listed there. I'll be updating this everytime we get something new in.
The Joystiq Network BlizzCon Page - Coverage of everything that's not posted directly on WoW.com: Diablo III, StarCraft II, and any unannounced games that might just be announced.
WoW.com's Twitter - Expect to hear lots from myself, Mike, Alex, and the rest of the team. Let us know your questions about the con and we'll try to find you answers!
WoW.com's Side Bar - See that nifty "BlizzCon Live Blog Schedule" on WoW.com? That's when our writers will be blogging live the various panels. When the live blogs are happening they'll be the top post on our site, and when they're done you can access them by links that will appear there.
Looks like the gang's getting started at the Tangerine Patio of the Annabella Hotel, and we've got the live Ustream feed here so you can hang out virtually!
If you're in the Anaheim area, swing by to say hello to the gang, and we've got prizes and giveaways from Upper Deck, Steelseries, WoWTCGLoot.com, Swagdog, and Creative Labs in addition to guests, a (we hope functional) kitchen and a cash bar! We may be able to give prizes away to virtual attendees as well, so hang tight. More updates will follow throughout the evening.
UPDATE: Yup, audio's lousy, we're working on it. Turpster apparently has another microphone. Now if only we could find Turpster...
Phat Loot Phursday: Onyxia Scale Cloak - Thu, 20 Aug 2009 21:00:00 EST Special edition of Phat Loot Phriday this week, on a Phursday! Why? Because tomorrow is gonna be full of fun in the California sun.
+7 Stamina, +16 Fire resistance. Ah, the days of level 60, they seem so far gone now. Compare this to a prime tanking cloak nowadays, and take a look at just how far we've come.
On equip, protects the wearer from being fully engulfed by something called Shadow Flame. What is Shadow Flame, you ask? Here's where this item really gets interesting: sit back and enjoy a tale of old level 60 raiding.
Shadow Flame is actually an ability used by Nefarian, Onyxia's brother, and a few other bosses in Blackwing Lair. He casts a huge unblockable AoE during his fight -- unblockable, that is, unless you're wearing one of these cloaks (although since then, Ice Block and Divine Shield will both stop it).
98 out of 100 people at that party would walk over my corpse for free gum. -- "Veronica Mars."
Ah, poor Veronica; so young, and yet so...correct. Well, let's not dwell on that for too long, because we've got more heroics to steamroll in pursuit of a badass mount. If you're just joining us or want a quick set of links, here's what we've covered in our Glory of the Hero series so far:
We're spending our day traveling to BlizzCon, so we figured while we were still in the air, we'd let you in on a little trade industry secret: what we're bringing to the show. The gallery below offers you a look at just what it takes to turn out the kind of BlizzCon coverage we'll be bringing you this weekend -- the tech, the gear, and the, er, beverages.
Good BlizzCon eve everybody! While Schramm was able to sneak in and get the inside scoop on the goody bag, some of us are still sitting out in here in line waiting patiently for our turn. While we were waiting, I grabbed my somewhat low quality woot purchased camera, had Michael Gray save me a place in line, and got some photos of the line. It's pretty long at the moment. At the least, it's snaked around the convention center. Check out our gallery below.
BlizzCon 2009: BlizzCon Bingo - Thu, 20 Aug 2009 18:30:00 EST It's that time of year again: BlizzCon is almost here, and WoW.com is proud to present our annual game of BlizzCon Bingo. The rules are simple: just print out this year's bingo card, bring it along with you to the show, and then when you see something printed on the card (like Chris Metzen with his sunglasses off, or Ghostcrawler drinking a liquid that may or may not contain gin), mark it off. Observe five in a row (you can have the welfare epics in the middle for free), and you win!
You'll notice that the options run the gamut, from an expansion named Cataclysm (a pretty safe bet) to seeing Ozzy play a Blizzard game (not so likely). Almost all of this stuff is probably available somewhere on the convention floor, though you'll have to really look to find everything.
And if you do win, make sure to find one of us from WoW.com at the show and show off your finished bingo card. We might just have a nice prize for you, from a pat on the back to something even better.
BlizzCon 2009 is upon us, and Blizzard was kind enough to let those of us with press badges in a little early to grab the bags even before the public got in the convention center. I stood right in line behind none other than Tom Chilton, and they waved me on through ("You're Michael, right?" said the guy as he read my name off the printed badge) to pick up this year's goody bag.
One interesting thing of note: there is no program in the bags this year -- there's a flyer that will let us pick up a program at the show. Probably means that a) there is secret stuff that's going to be announced, and b) that Blizzard doesn't want us knowing about it ahead of time. Interesting.
You can see everything in the bags in the gallery below, and after the jump, we've even listed all of the items out. Not as much in the bag as there was last year, it seems, but there are some very nice exclusive items to be had. NOTE: It appears that there is no beta invites in the goody bag, unlike previous years.
So, I'm sure at this point, the majority of you (the readers) are expecting the next WoW expansion to be announced during the BlizzCon opening ceremonies tomorrow. It's a pretty safe bet! And we're actually pretty sure it's gonna be playable, too. Here's why.
If you check out the BlizzCon map to which we linked earlier in the week, you'll see that there's a demo area set up on the right side of the convention center labeled "World of Warcraft". Unless they're having us play the Icecrown raid (probably not!) or open PvP, it's likely that this area is for playing the tidbits they'll have available of the new expansion. Playable starting zones for the new races, perhaps? A high-level zone or two? We'll just have to wait and see.
We'll have the WoW.com staff all up in that place, so we'll get you up-to-the-minute info on what they see and hear at those stations!
There really aren't a ton of Druid changes on the 3.2.2 PTR as yet, but two of them are rather intriguing means of handling current PvP concerns for the weaker PvP specs (Balance and Feral). Anyway, I wanted to get our commenters' take on them because PvP is definitely not my area of expertise.
MOONKIN FORM: This form now also reduces the damage the druid takes while stunned by 15%.
Ghostcrawler mentioned recently that the main concern for Balance PvP isn't damage or CC -- it's just survivability, pure and simple. This is a very welcome change in that vein, although I'm surprised that it went to us over other casters, who are arguably more vulnerable to melee stuns. Well...maybe not. Shadow Priests have Dispersion, Warlocks have Demonic Circle, Mages have Ice Block and Blink, and so on. All of these are instant-cast, which might be part of why they're more effective "Oh s^$t!" buttons than Roots and Cyclone, both of which can be interrupted and silenced. Travel Form leaves you more vulnerable than you are in Moonkin, Bear Form has limited options given that most moonkin PvP builds I see still don't put any points in Feral despite the change to Survival Instincts, and Nature's Grasp -- well, you have to get hit for that to trigger that anyway.
We'll see if this helps, although if the root of Balance arena issues lies in the vulnerability of caster form (which was one of the factors driving the "tankiness" of Trees in Season 6), this change just nudges the Druid to stay in moonkin more than they already are. Still, I'm curious to see what effect this will have.
Speeding up Trial of the Champion - Thu, 20 Aug 2009 15:00:00 EST Trial of the Champion, the latest dungeon, has quickly become a popular daily destination. It's no wonder why; in under half an hour, with little difficulty, you can begin outfitting your character(s) with epics of Ulduar quality!
At first, I wasn't sure if I agreed with Blizzard's decision to start handing out welfare epics again. Surely we can't be that close to the next expansion, Cataclysm!
Then I realized how easily I could now gear one of my alts, which was something previously impossible to me. Being a main healer, I knew I would never have the opportunity to bring an alt to a raid, so my favorites have not even hit 80 yet. Now that I know I could get them Ulduar-ready in such a short time, I have renewed interest in leveling them.
I can also see why Blizzard would want to help players gear up at this point in time. In Burning Crusade, so few people got to see Sunwell and experience what the expansion was all about, that this time around, they seem to be gunning for the general raiding population to reach Arthas (Icecrown Citadel).
Having accepted this acceleration in "progress," I was left with one major qualm.
The introduction to Trial of the Champion, which must be endured each run, is way too long. Unbearably long. Go and make a triple-decker sandwich long.
Then a few guildmates and I discovered that there is indeed a way to hasten the process.
Two Bosses Enter ... but only One Boss Leaves, in WoW.com's series of fantasy death matches. Welcome to Round Two of the five-man Wrath of the Lich King season. Grab a seat, and let's get ready to rumble!
Welcome back, everybody, to another edition of the Two Bosses Thunderdome! This week's deathmatch pits Keristrasza of The Nexus against Zuramat the Obliterator from the Violet Hold. Keristrasza enters the ring with one of the largest win margins of any competitor this season, glowing after a 75% victory over Cyanigosa in the first round of matches. Zuramat the Obliterator brings plenty of power of his own, however, following up a decisive 55% win over Hadronox in round one.
The ground rules:
Assume that the opponents and any minions share similar levels, health pools and comparative overall damage output.
This deathmatch takes place in neutral territory, which shall not hinder either boss from using his usual encounter abilities.
All the usual minions will be available to each boss.
Don't get caught up in gameplay mechanics and what actual players might do in each encounter.
Don't neglect style, story and scale.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls ... Dyin' time's here.
Everyone going to BlizzCon this year will get to roam around the convention hall with some of the very people who bring you World of Warcraft and other Blizzard games. While many World of Warcraft fans might be familiar with the online pseudonyms such as "Ghostcrawler" and "Nethaera," very few probably know what they actually look like; with the possible exception of Ghostcrawler. We've had our fair share of fun with him on WoW.com, as you can see above.
We've searched the internet high and low for pictures of these folks and have compiled them into a nice and handy gallery complete with some biographical information. The pictures are small and mobile enough that they can be saved to an iPhone or other mobile device that can be brought into the convention hall.
If you happen to be going to BlizzCon be sure to stop and say hello to these Blizzard people. And if you aren't going, check out WoW.com during the convention for the latest and greatest reporting right from the floor.
The author of this video, Ollgabopi, was inspired by a Lonely Place skit. He took the audio track from the skit, and presented in a WoW machinima context. Lonely Place has received this treatment before in Boombox. It's not the most complicated technique ever created, but I find that the WoW characters really help bring out the "extra funny" in many of these jokes. This video is titled Normal Guy, which is also the name of the Lonely Place original.
The video is pretty simple. I think that was a wise choice on the author's part, since he really needed to keep the audience's focus on the audio track. Of course, that also keeps the video from showing off his talent, but I imagine that wasn't the goal of Normal Guy.
Ultimately, these bite-sized pieces are fun, but I look forward to seeing Ollgabopi expand into something else.
Two Bosses Enter ... but only One Boss Leaves, in WoW.com's series of fantasy death matches. Welcome to Round Two of the five-man Wrath of the Lich King season. Grab a seat, and let's get ready to rumble!
It was Troll versus Troll this week, as Gal'darah and Moorabi squared off in the Two Bosses Thunderdome. Gal'darah impaled an easy victory, sweeping to a win with 68 percent of the reader vote. (However, nearly 9 percent of voters didn't award victory to either combatant. We didn't find their rationale in the comments anywhere ... Who knows what they were thinking?)
Kar On E: Welcome to the Pachyderm playoff, everyone! This match kind of reminds me of a trip I took to the zoo recently. I saw several elephants and a couple of rhinos. Although I think in RL that an elephant might be able to take on a rhino, I believe that the rhino takes it in this case.
First of all, Moorabi won't be able to transform if he spends most of the fight impaled. Even if not impaled when he tries to transform, there's still the small matter of charging ghost rhinos (which would be a great band name). Finally, even if the elephant transformation happens, that doesn't mean that Gal can't impale him ... it just means that he might not be able to juggle him in the air quite as easily. For my money, Gal'darah will prove to be the most powerful pachyderm in the place.