blizzcon 2015

Blizzard’s sometimes-annual convention in Anaheim. Official site: BlizzCon

Diablo III’s sixth season kicks off next week, but seasons aren’t coming to console

Diablo III’s sixth season is bearing down on us — are you prepared? The fun kicks off on Friday, April 29th, at 8 p.m. EDT. As promised at last year’s BlizzCon, seasons are expected to run three months, including this one, so you’ve got about 90 days to rush through the tiers and get your loot. Blizzard reminds players that getting your set gear will be a matter of completing individual chapter objectives — specifically, reaching Level 70, besting Izual at level 70 on Torment II or higher, and completing a level 20 Greater Rift solo.

The studio also addresses the potential for seasonal content on console:

“Some features on console are best designed for that platform, and the same is true for the PC version of the game. A large part of the fun of Seasons is the entire community rerolling heroes together at the same time. Because the offline and disconnected nature of console does not support this style of play, we do not currently have plans to implement Seasons on console.”

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WoW emulator Nostalrius’ sunset renews calls for retro WoW servers

As we reported last night, Blizzard lawyers issued a legal threat against popular vanilla World of Warcraft emulator server Nostalrius, propelling its administrators to begin a sunset of the server. According to those administrators, the illegal emulator hosted 800,000 accounts and 150,000 active players, a swarm of whom can be seen in the video floating around Reddit today.

A petition started by the server admins yesterday nears 25,000 signatures as of press time; they appealed to Blizzard President Mike Morhaime, asking that the studio reconsider its decision and work with vanilla emulators, even offering to share its resources. “We don’t have the pretention to come up with a complete solution regarding legacy servers that you and your company didn’t already think about,” the admins write, “but we’d be glad and honored to share it with you if you’re interested, still on a volunteer basis.”

Blizzard isn’t likely to be amenable to such appeals. At BlizzCon 2015, studio reps answered a question about vanilla servers that seems rather on the nose. Said Tom Chilton,

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Blizzard confirms BlizzCon dates: November 4th and 5th

Blizzard has just confirmed that this year’s BlizzCon is on for November 4th and 5th in Anaheim. That means it’s almost time to fight to the death for your tickets!

BlizzCon 2016 tickets will go on sale in two batches on Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m. PT and Saturday, April 23 at 10 a.m. PT through the online event ticketing service Universe, priced at $199 each (plus applicable taxes and fees). Check out the BlizzCon Ticket webpage for all the details.

A virtual ticket for streaming and the optional swag bag are once again planned. “Further details on the Virtual Ticket, including pricing, availability, and programming information, will be announced at a later date,” reads the press release.

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Rumor: BlizzCon 2016 aims for November 4-5

When is this year’s BlizzCon? We don’t know. It hasn’t even been officially announced yet. But the eagle-eyed folks over at MMO Champion spotted a brief revision to the official BlizzCon page claiming that this year would mark the 10th year of the convention and that it would be held on November 4th and 5th.

Is that a given? No, at this point nothing is a given. That timeframe marks it as post-launch for both of the company’s two big releases slated for this year (Overwatch and World of Warcraft: Legion), so it’s definitely plausible, but nothing is yet set in stone. Watch this space.

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WoW Legion makes major changes to specializations and transmog sets

Are you tired of dealing with dual specs in World of Warcraft? It was revealed at BlizzCon that the existing spec system was going to change so that players could freely switch between specs, a feature that has been added in the most recent build of the Legion testing. As it stands, switching specs costs 100g a round, with a free swap back to your primary specialization. The developers have stressed that this cost is a placeholder, with ongoing discussion about whether or not there should even be a cost.

Being unable to freely switch between two specs would break up the gameplay for several players, but another change coming in the expansion might break up appearances more thoroughly. Armor types will no longer change for Warriors, Paladins, Shaman, and Hunter players at level 40; all of those classes will use the appropriate armor from level 1, which means that several old Mail pieces are being upgraded to Plate. That means that existing transmogs for Shaman and Hunter may well become unwearable and unusable, something worth considering as you determine your character looks going into the expansion.

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WoW celebrates Diablo III’s latest patch with Demon Hunter tmog gear

In honor of Diablo III’s latest patch, Blizzard has something special in store… for World of Warcraft players who also play Diablo III:

We’ve added something new to the collection of goodies you get when you purchase the Digital Deluxe Edition of World of Warcraft: Legion. Take on the terrors of Diablo III in style with the Legion-inspired Demon Hunter helm transmog. Wear it with the Wings of the Betrayer, and you’ll truly look the part as you hunt demons across Sanctuary. Both of these items, along with everything else in the Digital Deluxe Edition, are available in-game now when you pre-purchase.

All Diablo III players can satisfy themselves with a ton of free patch content, which includes Greyhollow Island and the new season first previewed at BlizzCon. Check out the trailer below!

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MMO Year in Review: Blizzard’s big plans (November 2015)

This year, we’re taking a time-machine back through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we head into 2016.

BlizzCon dominated November 2015 with details on World of Warcraft’s Legion expansion and its beta that apparently was not going to start “within weeks” of the con after all. The game’s sub dip was barely noticed amid news that Actiblizz had bought up Candy Crush dev King and opened a TV and movie studio.

Meanwhile, Funcom was granted a financial reprieve (and put it to good use), CCP raised money for VR, Guild Wars 2 got raids, and Bless and The Repopulation suffered delays. Read on for the rest of November’s top MMO news and editorials.
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WoW Legion aims to flatten the PvP gear curve

Last night, Blizzard posted a dev blog to explain just how World of Warcraft Legion plans to drive a wrecking ball into the game’s existing PvP paradigm.

For starters, honor and conquest currencies are being replaced with honor points akin to experience points and awards on the new honor track, all the way up to 50, at which point you can “prestige” — that is, start over at level 1 and increase your prestige level and rack up some cosmetics. Awards include honor talents that work only in PvP.

Gear, on the other hand, will no longer matter, aside from a “small modifier based on your average item level” because you know they just couldn’t let that go.

“As soon as you zone into a PvP instance, the stats on your gear will be nullified, and you’ll be given a pre-determined set of stats that’s uniquely configured for your specialization. Furthermore, any set bonuses, enchants, Legendary bonuses, or trinket effects will be deactivated.”

This also means PvP gear is going away as a thing to grind for. So basically it’s close to what Guild Wars 2 does, and it’s what Blizzard has been hinting at off and on since it first introduced arenas back in Burning Crusade.

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World of Warcraft’s Legion testing is taking a holiday break, too

We hope you weren’t planning on playing any of the World of Warcraft: Legion alpha during your own holiday break (assuming you have one). Blizzard has announced today that the alpha test will be going on break on December 21st, to return sometime early next year. There’s no discussion of whether or not the testing pool will be expanding as well.

World of Warcraft: Legion was announced at Gamescom this year, with a promise of beta later this year; it was later stated that beta would begin in the weeks following BlizzCon. It is worth noting at this point that Blizzard has been very careful to call this build an alpha through its testing.

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WoW Factor: Legion testing is an exercise in absurd decisions

One of my favorite bits from The Office is when Michael is having his budget explained to him. You don’t need to know the context; the funniest bit is right on YouTube, as it’s explained to him that there are elements of his budget that are devoted not to bills or to luxuries but to things that no one would ever need under any circumstances. It’s absurd. It’s ridiculous.

That’s how I feel about the World of Warcraft process on Legion testing so far. It’s not that the decisions being made are bad, although they are, it’s that they are absurd. They do not make any sense. It’s like trying to read about the Time Cube, where every time it starts to sort of make sense you realize that no, that actually makes less sense.

I can’t even really say they’re altogether bad decisions, just… weird ones. Ones that don’t make a heck of a lot of sense. Let’s just sort of… walk though them, analyze them, and try to make sense out of it. Even though I know it’s ultimately a fruitless exercise.

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Adopt Brightpaw in World of Warcraft and support the Make-A-Wish foundation

How is your cat collection in World of Warcraft? Could it use another cat knocking things off of tables and squawking endlessly with a side order of sitting on your face when you sleep? Because the game’s latest cash shop pet is a new cat, only it’s a magically empowered cat, so that won’t be significantly worse.

There’s a preview video for the pet just below, following its initial announcement at BlizzCon. You can feel good about buying this one, too, since 100% of the pet’s adoption fee will be donated to Make-A-Wish so long as it is purchased before December 31st of this year. So, magic cats, why not?

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WoW Factor: The look of the Legion class previews

Last week was a pretty fun ride, I have to say. Leaving aside everything else we had to chew on after a weekend’s worth of BlizzCon, the World of Warcraft team really went to town with the class previews. I didn’t discuss them last week mostly because we had other things to talk about, but I did greatly enjoy reading them, and after a week or so to mull over all of the changes I think we’ve got enough space to consider all of the changes being made.

Overall, I’m thoroughly happy about what’s being done with all of the classes. There are a couple of losses and a few classes not receiving perhaps as much attention as they deserve, but on a whole the class changes are positive and improve the game for the better. There’s also a lot we don’t know, unfortunately, and the changes aren’t actually the same as opening the beta that we kind of need to already have running at this point, but the first impressions are positive.

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WoW Factor: In the wake of BlizzCon’s Legion content

Well, folks, we’re officially living in a post-BlizzCon world. Until the next one. The point is, we’re done with that convention, and all that’s left is considering what is coming next for World of Warcraft and how close we got to all of the various elements that I said we really needed to come out of the convention. So how did Blizzard do?

Pretty well, actually. If you missed the four liveblogs I did and didn’t see my reactions in real-time, I suppose that’s news. (The Grand Magistrix has power over time.)

As with any convention, there was good and bad. Now that we’ve all had a few days to digest the information that’s come out of the weekend festivities, it’s a good time to examine the systems that were announced, the order of the presentation, and how well the job of managing expectations while building hype has been achieved. It’s not perfect, and it’s too early to call it even a return to form, but this far nothing has knocked my cautious optimism off the rails, so that’s something.

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