The Arena Junkies have been pretty active lately. Last week, they published insight to Gladiator class break-downs from the first three seasons of the Arena. Now, Arena Junkies has busted out a brand new tool -- its new Arena recruitment functionality. The goal is to provide someplace for Arena fighters to locate others of similar goals, and recruit one another for teams.
ArenaArc was probably the first of this kind of channel, but Arena Junkies is definitely home to all things Arena. According to Tyveris, there's a couple bells and whistles that will help appeal to harder-core Arena enthusiast. First, the listings expire, so you can be sure the current listings are up-to-date and valid. Second, high-level Arena players can restrict searches to return only players who have 2,000 or higher ratings. Third, Arena Junkies will fill out your resume with information they already know from the Armory.
This tool should be pretty useful to AJ's forum members, and maybe even to folks who are struggling with an up-and-coming team. And as always, the AJ team is already being very responsive to their customers, and updating the tool to meet feedback. So, go check it out, read up on some strategies, and good luck in the Arena.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Blizzard's J. Allen Brack revealed just a little more about the advancements developers have made with Wrath of the Lich King. As I raved about in my post about the Death Knightstarting experience, I effused about how the entire experience was instanced, creating a feel of progression through the world. It turns out I was wrong. The Death Knight starting experience isn't instanced at all. It uses what Blizzard calls "phasing technology".
In my defense, even Tom Chilton made the same mistake in the interview, saying "(the Death Knight starting area uses) instancing quite a lot more... the world changes dynamically as you move through the story." This prompted Brack to interject a correction, "It's actually not instances. What we do is we have different world states, and depending on what quests you've completed, it changes what world state you're seeing." He also mentions that the new phasing technology is used in other parts and other quests all over Northrend.
Which follows with what's happened already -- Burning Crusade got a few tweaks and upgrades, and Wrath has its own. Not only will they implement that shader system we heard about way back, but the shadows for each model ingame will be updated (and real-time, very cool), and Blizzard is increasing the view distance (to help out with vehicular combat, we hope?). But other changes, Brack says, will come in waves, not all at once.
He does mention an upgrade of how the water in the game looks, though of course he doesn't say when that might happen, only that Blizzard is looking at it. But it seems like a pretty sure bet not to expect an upcoming content patch to be "the graphical update patch." Blizzard is improving the way the world looks, but they're doing it one step at a time.
To tell the truth, we're not sure why Blizzard made this deal with DirecTV -- well, to be fair, we know why (to make more money), but they did provide a live stream of the Worldwide Invitational in Paris, and while sure, there were occasional problems, it worked far better than I ever expected it to. Why Blizzard didn't just upgrade the servers and send the stream of BlizzCon out into the world for free (as much as DirecTV wouldn't like it) is a good question.
The petition has already 1800 signatures as of this writing (more, we'll note, than the actual number of tickets sold to BlizzCon), and we're sure it'll be way more than that soon. It's likely that Blizzard has tied themselves down by selling the rights to stream the show to DirecTV, but you never know -- maybe a groundswell of public support for an internet stream will make them reconsider.
Be careful what you ask for - Mon, 25 Aug 2008 16:00:00 EST Amidst all the excitement surrounding the coming of Wrath and the beta testing revelations, I have a question. Does anybody care that Death Knights will be OP? I disagree with my fellow bloggers when they surmise that the upcoming Wrath world will not be overpopulated by Death Knights. On the contrary, I think you won't be able to sneeze without three Death Knights around you to say Gesundheit. And what's more I think they won't be a flash-in-the-pan like the Blood Elves and Draenei overpopulations were.
I believe this because I hate tanking and have never liked playing melee classes (my main is an elemental shaman and my highest alt is a warlock) and yet I'm having HUGE fun in the beta realm playing a Death Knight. I've played the class PvE to level 65, trying all three specs multiple times. I no longer fear dueling. I solo group quests that are above my level. I can approach elites one level higher than myself, alone and with no fear. I just run into a group of mobs with little strategy and almost always survive.
Although I think the clarity of the purpose for each spec is still a bit muddy, I see Death Knights mostly filling a tanking role. (Perhaps this was Blizzard's response to the tank shortage? Make a tank so fun to play that lots of people will play them?) And yet Death Knights have soloing capabilities like warlocks and hunters -- only they survive better. They are by far the best soloing class I've tried. For illustration purposes, I even made a goofy movie showing how badly you can play a Death Knight and still take some serious names without dying once.
Blizzard has proved that it knows what it's doing over the last four years. However, the current class system even without Death Knights has always had complaints about balance. As even Blizzard itself has admitted, adding a new class is not easy. Perhaps I am wrong and the tweaks they are making to the existing classes for Wrath will make everyone feel like they are overpowered. As it is, though, playing my new Death Knight gives me such a feeling of power that I've never had in the game before that I can't imagine that there won't be a lot of other players like me when Wrath hits the shelves this fall. Will this be good for class balance? More importantly, will anybody care?
And second was this Murky hair bow -- to tell the truth, I have no idea what a hair bow does (it must tie hair back or something, right?), but I am a huge Murky fan, or at least a fan of /punting the little guy, so any article of clothing with him on it, no matter what it's for, gets my approval. The bows are two for $11, and it looks like there's only one in stock, so SugarPopRibbons is probably making them to order. But I'm sure if you're patient, you can get your hands (or hair, I guess) on one.
A new spell popped up in the latest Beta build called Wintergrasp Rewards, which indicate that there might finally be another way to earn Arena points other than to participate in Arenas. Granting Arena points through Lake Wintergrasp also indicates an interesting direction for World of Warcraft PvP. Despite the ongoing and earnest efforts of Blizzard to balance classes for PvP, particularly Arenas, the format doesn't lend itself well to a complete balancing of classes. Because of the required team synergies and map limitations, there will always be class specs that will suffer in the Arena PvP format.
Battlegrounds PvP, on the other hand, is more open and spontaneous, even in pre-formed groups. No classes or specs are shunned, and every player enjoys relative viability and success. Giving Arena points through Wintergrasp achieves two things: first, it opens up Arena rewards to people who do not participate in or have limited success in Arenas; second, it greatly incentivizes participation in Lake Wintergrasp. The only question left is the matter of Personal Ratings, which is a requirement for most of the current gear, a trend likely to continue in Wrath of the Lich King.
Our sister site Big Download, purveyor of all things PC games, have released their list of the most anticipated PC titles for the rest of the year, and as you might imagine, Wrath of the Lich Kingis posted in there, nestled in among other sure-to-be-giants like Spore and Left 4 Dead. The game that's expected to be WoW's big MMO competition this fall, Warhammer Online, is in there as well, so for those of you who are PC gamers, the Fall and Winter future looks particularly bright (even if it does seem a little slow lately).
Of course, we have no idea how WoW's second expansion will fare on retail shelves this Fall, but all of the ingredients are there -- WoW is experiencing a resurgence lately (thanks in part to Blizzard's Recuit-a-friend promotion), and the news out of the beta has been nothing but encouraging for most everybody. Burning Crusade was gigantic, and that was back when 8 million were playing the game. All indications are that Blizzard stands to rake in the cash when their expansion goes on sale later this year.
BusinessWeek spent some time examining the indisputable success of our Blizzard overlords. At the very beginning of the article, BusinessWeek credits Blizzard's mastery of gaming to the often-spoken, often-hated "when it's ready." In a quote from Jay Wilson, Blizzard says that if "a product isn't good enough, we cancel it."
The BusinessWeek article talks a lot about the overwhelmingly involved culture of Blizzard employees. The developers play their own games, both on the clock and off the clock. Dedicated "strike teams" spend lunch cruising the games' latest builds. Players in beta provide instant feedback, which executives and designers hungrily consume to make the best possible decisions. And if a game isn't deemed "fun enough," it's sent off to black-can land, where it will never see the light of day.
According to the article, though, Blizzard still plans on releasing a new expansion every year. This is in addition to Starcraft IIand Diablo III. While we can obviously expect these games to show up "when they're ready," it paints a very active, competitive future for the Activision Blizzard group. The article does credit a new milestone for our beloved World of Warcraft. According to BusinessWeek, the subscriber base is now nearly 11 million. With the Recruit-a-Friend benefits, I hope we see this number grow to 12 million by the end of the year.
It's a question on many officers' minds right now: is 10 greater than 25? It's a question that would send any math teacher into a rage-fueled lecture about integers and number lines. But as we know, leading a guild isn't always about quantity -- quality is important, too. With the ability in Wrathto see all of the expansion's raiding content alongside just 9 other people, this question of numbers has become a legitimate issue. Some guilds who had success at the 25-player level may opt to keep it smaller this time around. One reader wants to know how to make the switch.
Scott, I am an officer in what has been a fairly successful guild. We built a great team and led it from Kara, through SSC and most of TK, and into Hyjal and BT over the past several months. But the intense effort that it took to go so far in such a short time completely exhausted me and the other officers. Along those lines, we read with great interest Blizzard's announcement to create a 10-man raiding scene. (I also note, although it might be inappropriate to do so on wowinsider, that a forum poll on mmo-champion about 10 vs 25 raiding resulted in many more people saying they were interested in the 10-man option, with lots of comments from leaders about similar burn-out!)
Though fairly new to World of Warcraft machinima, bi0man22 took a crack at this music video. Named after the main song, Riot, by Three Days Grace, it's all about the little guy. The troops, led by a wee gnome, take on their king, who had begun to cause problems for them.
What I find interesting about this machinima is that he used Adobe Premiere Elements, the lesser of the Premiere family, which retails for roughly 100 USD, and GIMP, a free image editing program. As evidenced, you don't always need a fancy editor to produce decent results. While he could use work on some of his handmade signs, he didn't do a bad job overall. If you're looking to rock out, check out the music video tag for more videos!
Today we're going on safari with a question from t_d, who asked....
Do we get to see Hemet Nesingwary do some big game hunting in Northrend and if so, who did he leave in charge of the Nagrand Expedition?
Where there's new adventures to be had -- and new beasts to hunt -- you will find Hemet Nesingwary, struggling to rid the world of dangerous creatures everywhere. Though on the beta realms, his camp in Nagrand still contains Hemet himself, we're guessing that when Wrath goes live they'll replace him with a stand-in, similar to what they did when he came to Nagrand from Stranglethorn Vale.
For more on on Hemet Nesingwary -- 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.
Psynei/Psyjin of Kul Tiras-EU/Spinebreaker-EU was one of those rare players who only played one class. Shamans were his thing, and he stuck to them, through Horde and Alliance. But deep inside, he always yearned to play a paladin. When the blood knights were blessed with the true light by A'dal in patch 2.4, Psynei figured it was a sign to try finding the light on his own new belfadin. Coming out of the blood elf starting area, he saw this sunrise and interpreted it as a good omen for his future as a blood knight. And looking at the lucky so-and-so's Armory, I'd say his premonition of good fortune has come true (possibly with the help of some level 70 friends with a lot of time on their hands.)
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 sunsets.
Daniel Howell contributes BigRedKitty, a column with strategies, tips and tricks for and about the Hunter class, sprinkled with a healthy dose of completely improper, sometimes libelous, personal commentary.
Do you understand that? Are you paying attention? Big. B.I.G. Huge. Massive. A whole lot of air-displacement. You may need to buy a bigger monitor.
Taurens, your dream of have a pet bigger than you is totally realized.
And if there was ever a pet that deserved to be a mount and one's pet, this guy is the best reason ever to start email-bombing Blizzard to develop that capability.
The Rhino is a Tenacity pet; it's a bad-@ss tank, baby. It doesn't do the DPS of a Ferocity or Cunning pet, but it has one of the best new pet-talents there is, Blood of the Rhino. That 40% bonus to healing includes everything from direct heals, to the hunter two-piece tier-five bonus, and even bandages.
As of this writing, Blizz hasn't released the Rhino's unique spell - every pet-class will have a unique spell in Wrath of the Lich King - but when they do, we'll be sure to let you know what it is.
Well, sort of. Our favorite wiki celebrates the recently concluded Olympics in Beijing by hosting a Worldwide Invitational card giveaway (which has a Beta key and Tyrael pet) called the WoWlympics which ends today at 11:00pm UTC. The contest is fairly simple -- visit their site and look for clues that jump from one page to the other. It's a fun, informative scavenger hunt that won't take ten minutes (alright, I'm lying, it took me about an hour or two because I got completely stumped with No. 2). Have fun with it and try not to cheat and look for the answers all over the web, although lore nerds might find it a real breeze. This is one of your last chances to get into the Wrath of the Lich King Beta, as well as one of the very few chances you'll get to own a dancing miniature angel, so shoot the guys over at WoWWiki an e-mail before 11:00pm UTC. Tell 'em we sent ya.
Over the past week we've run a couple of polls asking you all what classes and professions you plan to work on when Wrath hits store shelves this year. (At least we're all hoping it's this year.) And how better to start off a new week than by looking back at the results! For classes, we have: Death Knight (18.7%), Paladin (12.9%), Hunter (11%), Druid (10.2%), Mage (8.8%), Shaman (8.6%), Warrior (8%), Priest (8%), Warlock (7.2%), and Rogue (6.5%). Before you ask if the Paladin changes are really that good, I'm just going to jump right in and say yes, yes, yes. To my Paladin friends in the audience, happy days are here at last! To my Rogue friends in the audience, take heart in the fact that Rogues haven't been fully reviewed (Blizzard seems to be making updates one class at a time), and there are probably changes still to come for the class.
For professions, we have: Inscription (26.6%), Engineering (14.4%), Gathering (10.9%), Blacksmithing (9.7%), Tailoring (9.2%), Alchemy (8.6%), Leatherworking (7.2%), Enchanting (6.8%), and Jewelcrafting (6.7%).
It's no surprise for either of these polls that the latest and greatest Wrath content is at the top of the list, but will it live up to the hype? Are you sticking with the old or diving right into the new?
If you've seen Lord of the Rings, or read any other fantasy story in which orcs are portrayed, you probably think orcs are hideous humanoid monsters charging mindlessly forward to slaughter helpless innocents. Azerothian orcs are significantly different, however, with a shamanistic culture that prides honor above all other virtues.
But unless you've played World of Warcraft or Warcraft 3, you probably wouldn't know that. The orcs of Warcraft 1 and 2 were pretty squarely in "bad guy" territory, and it is only with the story of Thrall's rise to power and return to shamanism that we find out what the orcs' true history is.
Ironically, the story of the orcs is a bit like that of the horrors of modern Nazis and the lore of the ancient Jews mixed together. Imagine that the vast majority of your species came under the sway of a terrible and evil leader, utterly determined to commit genocide against your peaceful neighbors. After carrying out this deplorable task, your people sought a new enemy, and found a new world to destroy. In the midst of this conquest, however, your people's political leadership failed, the way back home was cut off, and you all ended up as slaves in exile, lethargic and utterly without hope. Suddenly, a hero appeared to unite your people, overcome your former masters, restore your ancient faith, reclaim your dignity, and establish a new homeland.
What follows is a brief account of the events most orcs know about or lived through, and a glimpse of the effects they would have had on your character.
Welcome to Hybrid Theory, where we discuss all things hybrid in the World of Warcraft. Hybrid Theory is brought to you each week by columnist/blogger Alex Ziebart.
Last week we talked a bit about gear and spell power, and various related things. I mostly approached it as supplying my personal experiences, but a lot of people wanted numbers. Specifically, how your current gear will translate into the new spell power mechanic.
A kind fellow named Dan helped us out with a little bit of that in the comments section last week, so let's expand upon it somewhat. Again, this will focus mostly on the Healer and Caster aspects of the Hybrids. You Melee guys don't really need to worry about how spell power will change your gear.
Alright, so the question is this: If you have a choice between taking +Damage gear or +Healing gear in the current game right now, which would be a better choice for taking with you into Wrath of the Lich King leveling? Let's make liberal use of Wowhead, shall we?
Addon Spotlight: Minimalist - Sun, 24 Aug 2008 17:00:00 EST Welcome to this week's Addon Spotlight, where I'm going to pay tribute to your feedback by giving an official thank-you to you all for turning me on to Minimalist. Basically, this addon does everything I've been using multiple addons to accomplish in one simple package, with a memory footprint even Tekkub would be proud of. (I think, he gets pretty fired up about wasted resources.)
Alright, back to Minimalist, the addon that makes a bunch of little adjustments, helping to clean up the some-times cluttered default UI. It provides a way to automate some simple commands and remove some unwanted knick-knacks. (Actionbar chickens, begone!) The good news is that this is an Ace addon and there is already a Wrath-compliant version for those of you in the Beta.
If you tend to be a strictly weekend-centric WoW Insider reader, you may have missed some of the best stuff to come out of the Wrath beta thus far: the eye candy! Class updates, mechanics changes, pfft, who needs that stuff? No no my friends, me, I'm all about the shinies. Okay, and I like all of that other stuff, too. Luckily, we have a little bit of everything, and in case you did miss our eye candy, let's take a look back at some of it, shall we? Be warned, however, that most of these galleries contain some minor spoilers. If you don't want to be spoiled, be careful!
The Borean Tundra The Borean Tundra, accessed from either the Orgrimmar zeppelin tower or the Stormwind Harbor, is one of two starter zones in Northrend. The Tundra houses Valiance Keep, Warsong Hold, D.E.H.T.A. the Coldarra (home of the Blue Dragonflight) and much more.
The Howling Fjord The Howling Fjord is the second of the two Northrend starter zones, accessed via Menethil Harbor or the Tirisfal zeppelin towers. The Howling Fjord is home to Valgarde, the Forsaken's Vengeance Landing, the Vrykul fortress Utgarde, and the Ember Clutch.