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By on Nov 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm, in MMORPG  |  Comments: 1 comment

Just in case you ever get a teensy bit bored while browsing the internet and find yourself thinking about your video game collection, we’ve got few questions for you to ponder over. Well, one a week in particular. Possibly more. The others will come in the later editions of Gamer Think Tank. By the way, we’re not totally sold on this column’s name yet, so if a cool idea strikes you, feel free to shout it out in the comments section. For now, let’s talk about what makes an expansion.

I won’t lie: I still follow World of Warcraft. The recent news on the upcoming expansion, however, doesn’t have me excited. Maybe I’m spoiled by my first MMOs: Asheron’s Call, Asheron’s Call 2, and Horizons (now called Istaria). Those games updated on a monthly cycle back then. I fully expected my $12 a month (those were the days!) to get me new quests, dungeons, events, and sometimes even new races. In fact, I remember AC2‘s level cap was increased without needing an expansion. Aside from Horizons, both games got expansions, but they offered something a bit different. AC1‘s first expansion gave us a huge new place to explore, bigger than what we usually got in content updates, plus I believe that’s when we got housing. AC2′s did the same plus gave us a new race.

The other thing, though, was that all these games also had GM events. GMs were in the world and not just smacking people with ban hammers. They were at RP events, hanging out in trade areas, or sometimes controlling lore characters for part of the monthly content event. We still got monthly updates, GM events, and on top of that, expansions that added a lot more content we didn’t normally get (especially not all at once). The expansion also didn’t slow down the updates! Like clockwork, the next monthly update would hit and progress the story.

WoW really was the death of this for me. Don’t get me wrong, I subbed to the game non-stop till the second month of Wrath of the Lich King, but my expectations for expansions changed. Now, I needed either a new race or class, a new landmass, and new mechanics. I found that GM events weren’t going to happen, updates would come every three months if I was lucky, and the story and world often lagged behind. This was one reason Cataclysm was a disappointment for me: there was no new landmass, they just introduced a few zones and redid the game world, something my old games did every few months to keep the game lore interesting (and up to date). I stuck around a bit longer for my guild, but honestly, I felt tired after only a few weeks. It wasn’t an expansion, just an update for me.

Warlords of Draenor is feeling the same, and I’ve noticed some other people making similar complaints. Outlands is being repurposed, which is fine, but… reminds me a bit of Dragon Age 2 just reusing the same dungeons a million times but using different monsters or moving some chairs. There are no new races or classes. Mechanics are changing, but WoW changes these so often, sometimes even while people are doing arenas, so it’s not exactly something positive, though I do respect Blizzard for being willing to experiment, once they finally get the courage to attempt it. Which brings me to my next point. Let’s be honest: housing is nothing new. WoW is probably one of the few games that doesn’t have it. The Garrison idea is Suikoden with SWTOR‘s crafting system from what I’ve heard so far, with a dab of customization, while being wholly instanced during a time where the new kids (WildStar aside) are going back to non-instanced. For me, this isn’t so much an expansion as a content patch, one of which will be desperately needed after months without a regular update. I can’t imagine WoW players will be seeing new content for at least 6 months. Maybe this is ok for people who started with WoW and haven’t tried other MMOs, but for me, I’m only left wondering what could have been. I won’t go into details, but most people familiar with RIFT can probably understand why the WoD seems to light to me compared to RIFT‘s first expansion that gave a huge new landmass, new souls, and multiple housing, plus the usual level cap change and additional dungeons/raids. That is how you do a theme-park expansion.

So what about you, junkies? What you do expect from an expansion? How should it be different from a patch?

By on Nov 13, 2013 at 9:45 am, in MMORPG, News  |  Comments: No comments yet

The second expansion for Snail Games’ Age of Wushu releases today and adds new instanced content, skills, and PvP/PvE challenges to the free-to-play martial arts MMORPG. The expansion, which is called Ultimate Scrolls, is also available to download for free. Here’s some more information about the expansion and the game according to this morning’s press release:

“The iconic and innovative MMORPG brings an authentic presentation of Chinese martial arts; immerse in the recreation of Ming Dynasty with beautiful visuals and artistic renders. In this new chapter of Jianghu, the entrance to the forbidden grounds has emerged.”

Age of Wushu: Ultimate Scrolls includes:

  • Peerless Skill – Master the teachings of the treasured Helianthus Codex and Star Vortex.
  • Advanced School Skills – Dominate Jianghu with the newest tier of martial skills.
  • Marriage System – Lovebirds rejoice, for the heavenly union of romance has finally arrived.
  • Heart of The Devil – The eternal battle of good and evil rages in every hero’s heart.
  • Forbidden Instances – Face merciless adversaries and take on the ultimate challenge in your own school’s gauntlet run.
  • Mastercraft equipment – The newest tier is now available for refining and upgrade.
  • Big Jianghu – Enter the world of Slaughter with the morality-based PvP system.
  • Single Player Challenges – Participate in solo timed challenges to defeat regional bosses.

For more information about Age of Wushu: Ultimate Scrolls, check out this news post on the official site.

By on Nov 11, 2013 at 9:58 am, in Article, RIFT  |  Comments: 12 comments

underwater content header

During last Friday’s Trion live stream extravaganza, Captaincursor showed up to answer some questions regarding RIFT 2.5: Song of Dreams and even a few regarding RIFT 3.0, which is our next expansion that will take place in the Plane of Water. Not too many new reveals were discovered during this live stream, but Captaincursor did mention a few things of interest.

In other news, Trion recently registered some new domain names under the name of “Trove”. It definitely seems to be a game’s name from the looks of it, as each are registered under URLs like “PlayTrove.net” and “TroveGame.com”. Could this be related to the title of the expansion? RIFT: Trove of Tides, perhaps? Or possibly it’s for another game the team is working on? There are lots of possibilities here.

Keep reading to take a look at Captaincursor’s hints regarding water combat in 3.0.

By on Nov 10, 2013 at 8:52 am, in MMORPG  |  Comments: 1 comment

Saturday’s panels at Blizzcon focused on a bunch of areas, but there were a few panels that highlighted more of what we’ll be seeing in WoW‘s next expansion– World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. Blizzard talked more about the item “squish” and the major itemization changes that will be happening across the board. The team also published more details about what’s coming in the expansion for PvPers and held a lengthy Q&A session that answered a whole bunch of questions attendees had about the expansion.

One of the definite highlights was learning that daily quests will not be a major part of Warlords of Draenor. Hooray for lessons learned! Ready for the rest of the highlights? Make sure to take a look at Part 1 of our Blizzcon World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor writeup if you haven’t already.

 

The Big “Item Squish”

It’s been something WoW players have talked about on the forums for quite some time and something that the Blizzard team themselves have eluded to more than once. Simply put, the damage, health, and healing numbers are so large (and would get even larger with 10 more levels) that they’re kind of ridiculous. Lower numbers would be easier to display on the screen, view in combat logs, and process overall. To do this, the overall player power and item level will not go down, but the displayed damage/healing/health numbers will.

  • Player power will not change at all and players will still ultimately be much more powerful than they are now.
  • The relative power of 5.4 gear will not change.
  • The time to kill mobs in comparison to now (with the same gear) will not change.
  • Likewise, the ability to solo old content and raids will not change whatsoever.

A sample of how stats will be affected is shown in the header image above. Everything that is displayed will be dropped by a certain percentage, but the actual power and item level of items will not.

 

Other Itemization/Armor Changes

warlords of draenor itemization changes

We went over some of the basic itemization and armor changes yesterday, but here are all of the changes that will be made:

  • Armor won’t be stat-specific and will just be type-specific. There will be no more Intellect plate, for example. All plate wearers will want the same armor.
  • Instead, armor will automatically change to the stats you need when you switch specs.
  • Jewelry, cloaks, trinkets, and weapons will be more role-focused in comparison to armor.
  • There will be less gear slots that can be enchanted, but those slots will have a greater variety of enchant choices.
  • There will be less gear slots with gem sockets, but gems will be more powerful as a result.
  • Gem socket bonuses and meta gems are disappearing.
  • Gem sockets will provide bonus stats and won’t count toward the overall stat budget.
  • Reforging is disappearing. Blizzard felt there was simply too much micro-management needed for every new gear piece.
  • Hunter weapons will be getting revised. Bows, crossbows, and rifles will be available. From the sounds of it, hunter character models may get a visible quiver too.
  • Hit and expertise are disappearing.
  • Dodge and parry are disappearing.
  • Some items will have new tertiary stats such as lifesteal, extra AoE avoidance, etc. These bonus stats won’t count toward the item budget at all.

 

More on Garrisons

  • Some starter Garrison buildings include town hall, mine, farm, and fishing shack. The town hall is the main building where NPCs are hired, etc.
  • Some medium-sized Garrison buildings include pet stable, trading post, lumber mill, barn, and inn.
  • Some large Garrison buildings include barracks, infirmary, armory, stable, academy, and mage tower.
  • Garrisons will allow players to cast powerful buffs on themselves. One example is a 4-hour buff that persists through death and increases crit.
  • Garrison followers can even be sent off to take on a scenario, dungeon, or raid. This takes a full group of followers, naturally.
  • Guild halls are eventually a possibility, but won’t be added just yet.

 

More on Leveling, Questing, and Raiding

warlords of draenor leveling

  • The main raid included in launch will be Blackrock Foundry and consist of 10 boss encounters. It will be non-linear, much in the style of Ulduar.
  • All raid difficulties except Mythic difficulty will be cross-server from the first day they are available.
  • Each difficulty of raid has its own separate lockout.
  • While leveling to level 100, zones will feature a lot more dynamic content featuring multi-stage events similar to RIFT‘s zone events from the sounds of it. The map UI will reflect dynamic content.
  • There will be chances while leveling to 100 to obtain rare and epic items as quest rewards.
  • There will be more optional quests while leveling that can be skipped entirely if players wish to just stick to the story quests.
  • There will also be more treasures and rares to discover while leveling and on endgame maps, much in the style of Timeless Isle.
  • We won’t be seeing too many new active abilities while leveling to 100. Most talents are passive bonuses.
  • The amount of daily quests will decrease by a ton. Instead, there will be different types of endgame activities for players to take part in and more variety.
  • There will be a new way for players to find groups. This can be used to find groups for world content, old dungeon content, etc. May be similar to Open Raid. LFD is still sticking around as well.
  • There will be a new bonus called “Stacking the Deck” that will grant players bonus Valor when they join an LFD queue with friends or re-queue with the same group.
  • Blizzard may do more things like Troves of the Thunder King using pieces from the environment.
  • The new dungeons being added include Bloodmaul Slag Mines, Blackrock Depot, Auchindoun, Arakkoa Spires, Shadowmoon Burial Grounds, Iron Barracks, and Upper Blackrock Spire. Yep, that’s right– a return to UBRS! UBRS will be play a critical role in the main storyline.

 

PvP

  • The new persistent PvP zone called Ashran will feature revolving objectives, creatures to summon, faction-based vehicles, and items to gather.
  • Players can enter Ashran before level 100, but it may be perilous to do so.
  • Ashran will feature cross-realm technology.
  • A new statistic called Battleground Score will appear on battleground scoreboards at the end of matches. This score will take objective goals, returning flags, stopping enemy captures, healing, and damage dealing into consideration.
  • Flag and objective timers will show on the map.
  • Battleground participants will be able to win random potions and BoE items at the end of matches similar to LFR goodie bags.
  • A new competitive PvP feature is being added called Trial of the Gladiator. Trial of the Gladiator will be similar to the arena system, but solo players will be able to queue for it. It will be based on seasons and reward special gear.

 

Other Tidbits:

warlords of draenor concept art 1

  • Justice Points will probably be going away.
  • WoW is not going F2P anytime soon. In an interview with Eurogamer, Production Director J. Allen Brack said, “We didn’t make the game to be free to play. We would have to rework the game pretty significantly in order to make it free-to-play. It’s not something we’re currently considering.”
  • Draenor will be accessible via the Dark Portal. Outlands will be accessible via Caverns of Time.
  • There won’t be a patch 5.5. Instead, Blizzard is working full time on the expansion.
  • The ability to instantly level a character to 90 will come included and can be used once when Warlords of Draenor is purchased.

Extra Sources: WoW Insider’s coverage from Saturday and Blizzard’s Warlords of Draenor PvP preview.

By on Nov 9, 2013 at 12:46 am, in MMORPG  |  Comments: 8 comments

Today was a huge day for World of Warcraft news during this year’s Blizzcon. Blizzard announced the next expansion– World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor– and showed off the highlights, new features, and huge changes we’ll be seeing when the expansion rolls out. We’re talking big features WoW players have been wanting for quite some time now– player housing, new character models, new raid structures, major item/stat changes, and a return to some pretty cool and iconic places. The team also showed off a ton of artwork during the presentations. Let’s take a tour and go over the highlights.

 

Warlords of Draenor Overview

  • Increased level cap to 100.
  • New level 100 talents.
  • Expansion will be set on the homeworld of the Orcs: Draenor.
  • Players will get to revisit both new and familiar areas.
  • New player housing/customized campaign system called Garrisons.
  • New PvP zone called Ashran near the Dark Portal that will be a PvP sandbox with a permanent, ongoing battle that will mirror old-school Alterac Valley.
  • New character models.
  • Special character boost feature to raise a character to 90 instantly.
  • Stat removals: Hit and Expertise will be disappearing.
  • Stat additions: Cleave (gives you a chance to do extra damage or healing to additional nearby targets) and Movement Speed.
  • New armor itemization will make gear disbursement easier.
  • The often-discussed item level “squish” that drops down stat percentages to non-ridiculous numbers does seem to be in effect according to Blizzcon attendees that tested out the expansion.

 

The World of Draenor

draenor map

Draenor is the original homeworld of the Orc race and the continent that we have come to know as Outland. Warlords of Draenor will focus on taking players back to Draenor in a time travel-esque fashion. As you can see from the map above which Blizzard published on the official Warlords of Draenor site, there are definitely some familiar places from The Burning Crusade. Other zones have been changed so dramatically that they are known by a different name. Throughout the day today, Blizzard posted a handful of screenshots from these zones on Twitter. Here are a couple (click on any to enlarge):

Frostfire Ridge (the Horde starting zone):

frostfire ridge

Shadowmoon Valley:

shadowmoon valley

Other zones were briefly showcased in this video Blizzard released and can be previewed as concept artwork on the site. We’ll also be seeing some familiar faces in Warlords of Draenor including Kargath, Blackhand, Kilrogg, Khadgar, and Gul’dan.

 

New Character Models

warlords of draenor new character models

Blizzard’s goals for the much-anticipated new character models for the older races were simple– they wanted to ensure the models still kept the same charm and “soul” of the original models yet featured improved visual definition and fidelity as well as better animations and greater details. We’ll be seeing new models on every race and gender up to and including both Draenei and Blood Elves, but for the moment, all that is previewable are the updated Dwarf, Gnome, male Orc, male Undead, and male Tauren races.

Here’s a gallery:

 

Inventory Improvements

Quite a few changes are coming in Warlords of Draenor to make sorting through our inventory and bank a lot less messy (finally!).

  • There will be a new account-wide collections tab similar to the mounts tab that will include heirlooms, toys, and possibly tabards.
  • Toys and fun vanity items will be placed in a spellbook-type toy box interface and will not longer take up bag space.
  • The toy box can be used for setting favorites and there will also be a way to randomly use a toy.
  • Bags will be finally be sortable without any addons.
  • Recently-looted items will be highlighted in your bags.
  • Items in bags will have colored borders for their rarity as well as gold icons next to them when they can be sold to vendors.
  • Quest items will no longer take up bag space and can be activated from the quest tracker (finally!).
  • Players can craft directly from the bank.
  • Stack size for many crafting materials is increasing to 100 (finally!).

 

New Raid Structure

warlords of draenor new raid structure

We’ll be seeing quite a few changes to the way raids work in WoW with the expansion. First off, flexible raids will no longer be called “flexible raids” and their functionality will instead be incorporated into almost all of the raids. Most raids (except the highest difficulty raids) will have a certain amount of built-in flexibility as far as the number of players that can take part.

  • Raid Finder groups will still be based around 25 players, but if a few people drop and the finder is unable to find replacements by the time the group gets to the next boss, the encounter will scale down to the number of players present.
  • Normal raids will scale exactly like flexible raids currently do. Their difficulty will drop down slightly to be more like current flexible raids.
  • Heroic raids will scale exactly like flexible raids currently do. Their difficulty will drop down slightly to be more like current normal raids.
  • The most challenging raids will require a fixed raid size, and will therefore not use the flexible system. These will be called Mythic raids. The fixed raid size is being changed to 20 players.

 

Garrisons

warlords of draenor garrisons 1

World of Warcraft will finally have housing! Garrisons will be the housing system of Warlords of Draenor, but it will actually be much more than a simple housing feature. Players will get their own little settlement to build on and add a house, of course, but also add various buildings, etc. and employ plenty of NPCs. These NPCs become your followers that can be sent on missions while you’re offline.

These missions depend on the type of buildings you have in your Garrison. Completing these missions can reward you with profession items you normally wouldn’t have access to as well as gear. Your NPC followers will also be able to level and gear up. It’s almost akin to an RTS campaign, from the sounds of it.

Here’s a mockup of the NPC follower UI:

warlords of draenor garrisons 2

Special thanks to WoW Insider’s fantastic coverage for helping us put this together.

For more info, make sure to check out Part 2 of our writeup covering Saturday’s Blizzcon panels.

By on Nov 1, 2013 at 4:36 pm, in Buzz  |  Comments: No comments yet

We don’t know if this is remotely true or not, but there is a rumor going around MMO-Champion:

Thanks to a very loose-lipped bunch of employees in the Versailles office I can confirm 100% that:

  • The upcoming expansion is called Warlords of Draenor and will feature Grom as the antagonist, although for legal issues he will be refered to as Grommash. This expansion will see the heavy use of time travel.
  • Reforging is changing, soon you will no longer need to keep hold of an item to “own” the transmogrification appearance.
  • The upcoming Blizzcon secret gift is an Elite Tauren Chieftan Hearthstone gift card.
  • The Dark Below has been registered for ‘Titan’, not World of Warcraft as is the rumor.

A big thank you for this information goes out to:

Will we be traveling in time back to Warcraft 1? Or maybe we’ll see a re-use of the old Azeroth world. Titan is still something of a mystery but “The Dark Below” trademark rumor we saw months ago might point to a Diablo-like theme or something closer to a current day Cthulhu type of horror game.

By on Oct 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm, in Breaking, MMORPG  |  Comments: 2 comments

Today we get an announcement from EA SWTOR announcing their first digital expansion that brings it’s playerbase something they’ve been asking for, for a long time: Free Form Space Battles. Early access begins December 3rd for subscribers. Details are not released yet, but there will be ways for you to level up your pilot, customize your ship and play ships that have different “roles”. Currently they are planning for only having 12v12 free flight space combat games along with multiple battle zones and gameplay modes that are described as “Travel[ing] to multiple space locations and fight through exciting battles with different gameplay modes.”

This could either mean actual zones that you can travel to or something similar to what exists now with missions.

This is a huge turn for SWTOR that could bring a lot of players back to the game. Currently, no MMORPG has space combat gameplay. For more information please visit the official website. Keep reading for the official press release.

By on Sep 17, 2013 at 9:45 am, in Console, PC  |  Comments: No comments yet

The folks over at DiabloFans have put together a huge roundup of datamined info regarding what’s most likely in store for Diablo III fans when the expansion named ‘Reaper of Souls’ goes live. We’re talking some petty huge reveals here– skill and class changes, animations, skills, and weapon art for the new Crusader class, new expansion areas, story spoilers, new (and familiar!) characters, NPCs, and bosses, a new ladder feature and clan system, new game modes, and more.

Feel free to take a peek, but beware the spoilers!

Keep in mind that all of this information is completely subject to change and most of it, is in fact, still in the very early stages of development. Blizzard has yet to announce a release date for Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.

By on Jul 4, 2013 at 9:45 am, in Buzz, GW2  |  Comments: 1 comment

unlikely expansion title

Yesterday, Eurogamer reported that Guild Wars 2 lead content designer Mike Zadorojny stated in an interview that ArenaNet is not currently looking to make an expansion for the game. Here’s the quote:

“So right now we’re not really looking at expansions as an option,” lead content designer Mike Zadorojny told me on his visit to London last week.

“It’s something that’s on the table but it’s not something we’re focused on, because what we want to do is – our idea here is that with Living World, we can do what expansions would have done but do it on a more regular basis.”

I pressed him to tell me whether there would be a Guild Wars 2 expansion this year and he shook his head to indicate no. What about next year, I asked?

“If we do this right,” he answered, “we will probably never do an expansion and everything will be going into this Living World strategy.”

Colin Johanson later followed up on the official forums with another message that clarified what was said during the interview a little. Keep reading to take a look.

By on Mar 25, 2013 at 9:06 am, in Article, Buzz, GW2  |  Comments: No comments yet

charr overlook

During this past weekend’s PAX East, ArenaNet held a question and answer session with the press. The subject of future content releases came up quite a bit, understandably, and we found out a few interesting bits of information:

  • While we won’t be seeing a Guild Wars 2 expansion in the near future, we may see new skills, new traits, and new maps to explore. These are all possible content additions that may be within future major patch updates.
  • Overall, the ArenaNet team is beginning to shift over to a content release schedule that focuses on getting content updates out there as they are developed, not as they are planned for the long term. This is part of the reason why the team has been a little hesitant to announce update details months in advance.
  • Most of the new content will focus on endgame and the higher levels.
  • The next few months should add additional content for WvWers to enjoy.
  • ArenaNet is fully anticipating that WvW players will immediately feel that the new WvW progression system being added this coming week will take too long to complete. This is intentional. The team would rather have a progression system that feels a little slow and then possibly adjust it at a later date than have a system that players race through far too quickly.
  • The story of Orr isn’t over yet!
  • Custom PvP arenas and spectator mode are both coming in the near future.
  • Town clothing will eventually be expanded a bit and will allow players to don it at any time as long as they are out of combat.
  • In general, ArenaNet will continue to make content that appeals to all players. Smaller guilds will see improvements to guild missions for this reason. Dungeons will also continue to receive improvements for the same reason.

Head on over to Massively’s PAX writeup for more details!

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