Recently World of Warcraft introduced Mists of Pandaria timewalking dungeons, which allowed me (believe it or not) to experience these dungeons for the very first time. What can I say? I wasn't there for this era.
I actually think that the whole timewalking concept is pretty neat because it always bugs me that MMOs seem to abandon older content when they keep adding new zones, new dungeons, and new expansions. There's so much potential to reuse areas and systems, and one would think that such repurposing would be cost-effective for the dev team as well.
What do you think? How should MMOs repurpose older content? What would you like to see happen with the long-neglected areas in your game?
Do you believe in coincidences? How about meticulously planned cross-media marketing synergies? Either way, prepare to have your mind oh-so-slightly blown as World of Warcraft tests its Un'Goro Madness event just a week after Blizzard revealed the upcoming Un'Goro-themed expansion for Hearthstone!
The micro-holiday, which isn't scheduled to arrive in WoW until this August, will populate Un'Goro crater with giant elite dinosaurs from all over the game. During the event, players are supposed to hunt down and kill these majestic beasts for their "adaptations." These adaptations give players strange temporary abilities, such as being unstuck in time and secreting toxins.
It should also be noted that today marks the very first run of the brand-new Mists of Pandaria timewalking dungeon events. Players can use the unique timewalking system to level scale to old dungeons and enjoy appropriate rewards.
If you don't mind spoilers, you can get an early preview of the Un'Goro event after the jump!
So at the risk of being dinged for spoiling the current World of Warcraft expansion, let me say this: Azeroth is not going to be destroyed or completely overtaken by the Burning Legion. That's a given. The threat certainly feels real, and I hope more than anything that when our victory comes it feels like a natural outgrowth of the story rather than an arbitrary "well, the story says you win right now so the Burning Legion just got dumb," but it's pretty much a given that we're going to win out in the end. The basic premise of the game doesn't work otherwise.
The question, of course, is where we go next.
A lot of people have been speculating whether Legion is meant to be the final expansion for the game for precisely that reason, and while I think that's obviously wrong on the face of it (it'd be silly to turn down that money, after all), the point stands that from a narrative perspective, this is it. This is the big confrontation that has been built up since Warcraft III, and if you have no doubt that there will be a next expansion, it still raises the question of "where does it go?"
Let's explore the possibilities.
Gamespot has a new interview out with four members of the "300 strong" World of Warcraft live team this week, and while the quartet bring up micro-holidays -- kind of a lot -- there's also a bit of insight on what the team has learned over the years. Unsurprisingly, they don't like the word "drought."
"We know and remember well the narrative or the sentiment from Warlords, where people were very happy at the start and then after that, there were the concerns we heard, that you described, about droughts," Class Designer Jay Gill says. Senior Designer Paul Kubit explained that the team is trying to address those criticisms with content.
"When working on WoW, we constantly learned from the past expansions--we learned things from Cataclysm going into Pandaria, Pandaria into Warlords, and so on. The big one that we learned from Warlords is we just need to do more patches. We need to keep the game vibrant with content, and the way we do that is by making sure, every couple months or so, we have something new to do. And that's the point of these .5 patches--it's to have, even if it's not the giant raid tier and outdoor farming zone, something new that you can play."
With Elder Scrolls Online's new housing system coming early next month and LOTRO testing out some much-needed housing improvements, homemaking seems to be a subject on the mind of many players these days.
Contains Moderate Peril says that MMO housing has yet to live up to potential: "What you can do with housing is a far more interesting talking point. At present housing mainly offers in the MMO genre additional storage, an opportunity for aesthetic customisation, and convenient support services [...] What housing across most MMOs fails to do is offer any additional social facilities or unique group content."
Meanwhile, Dimension Gallery featured one house designer that came up with some impressive dimensions (my favorite is the Spongebob Squarepants!).
Housing not your thing? After the break we have blog essays on Final Fantasy XIV, welfare epics, and the true endgame activity of MMORPGs!
If you're hoping for new content in today's World of Warcraft patch, you will be largely disappointed. Not entirely disappointed, perhaps, since the patch is bringing in Mists of Pandaria dungeons as a timewalking option, but by and large this patch is all about improving the quality of life on Azeroth, starting with several changes to Artifact Knowledge. You can now more easily catch up on alts, with purchased items that allow for instant gains of Artifact Knowledge and direct purchases for first characters reaching level 110.
The patch also contains adjustment to a wide variety of Legendary items and several class abilities, along with secondary stat tuning and PvP balance fixes. You'll also see a reset of all the world quests available to fix a persistent issue with Kirin Tor emissary quests. So there's nothing new in this particular patch, but it should help level the playing field just the same... and the Nighthold does come out next week if you've got a regular raiding group to explore that.
It looks likely that World of Warcraft's Patch 7.1.5 -- a surprisingly packed "in-between" update -- will be coming very soon now. It's always a good sign of an imminent update when the devs bring out a new survival guide video to sum up the patch's main selling points.
If you're into the game's PvP scene, you might end up with better rewards from Legion's Season 1 than what was doled out. This is because Blizzard's standards for top-tier rewards were too strict and resulted in fewer than anticipated winners. The studio said that it will reevaluate rankings and redistribute rewards soon.
Patch 7.1.5 will introduce Mists of Pandaria timewalking dungeons, micro-holidays, the return of the Brawler's Guild, secondary stat adjustments, and class balance changes. You can check out the survival guide after the break.
This year has been a pile of garbage and I'll be glad it's over. It's not that I'm convinced 2017 will be any better than 2016, mind you; it's just that I'll be glad that 2016 is gone, since it contains a whole lot of strife and misery and evil. And I could just predict 2017 for World of Warcraft, but the reality is that what I see as the most likely possibilities for the game involve the developers not learning obvious lessons and sailing gleefully into another big content gap, which doesn't exactly make 2017 feel more welcoming.
That doesn't mean that's inevitable, though, so instead of just a set of predictions, I'd rather go for a more straightforward wish list. Forget what I expect to see; what do I want to see? I mean, aside from the Draenei rising to a place of prominence rather than being perpetual victims, since if there was any expansion to do it this would be the one, but I think that whole Light's Heart thing already shot the chances of that to hell.
Talking about World of Warcraft in 2016 is really different because the game had two different years this year. And unfortunately for anyone trying to develop a comprehensive picture of the past year (yo), we're on the positive side of the year.
I mean, remember when Legion launched at the end of August and everyone was pumped? I sure do. I remember the prepatch and the events leading up to that launch, too, and everyone was excited. You could run around and get weapon skins and transmog outfits, that was nifty. And you could level your alts up nice and quickly; I took major advantage of that. There are issues right now, sure, but the general feeling is that Legion delivered what it promised with aplomb.
But I can't just talk about the past three and a half months because before that came eight months with nothing. No expansion, no patches, no new content, nada. I freely admit that I'm spoiled by the content cadence of other games, but it makes this past year - and its much busier last third - a very complex thing to discuss in the context of WoW.
One of the most common questions that I'm asked from my adoring throngs on the street is, "Justin, where oh where can I get some of these marvelous MMO soundtracks that you talk about all of the time?" OK, that just never happens (on the street, that is), but people are often curious how they can go about starting to amass an MMO soundtrack collection or where to find their favorite album.
The sad truth is that so much music from these games is never officially released in any capacity, which is why I scour YouTube for fan rips of the music files. However, every so often I do discover a studio release somewhere, and I try to keep an up-to-date log on these to help others in their quest for video game scores.
So in the spirit of Christmas and sharing, today I'm going to show you how you can get your ears on more than 120 soundtracks and scores from MMOs, MOBAs, and other online titles -- some of which are free and legal for the taking. You're welcome; don't mention it!
It's been a little while, friends, but that happens. Last time I was making bets about what we'd see for World of Warcraft at BlizzCon, and as it happens I came up within a pretty solid margin of error. Since then, it's been a pretty straightforward few weeks of plugging away at the test server whilst punching at various enemies on the live servers, running through world quests, looking for Legendaries that never appear except by pure, blighted luck.
Of course, seeing as how luck has been the watchword of every part of this expansion to date, it's not exactly a surprise.
I could rant about that, obviously, but at this point it seems a little counterproductive and not particularly new; the fact that this expansion is a soup of random rewards with random stats at random intervals is a problem, but not one I haven't already discussed, and not one I want to dwell on right now. Instead, I want to focus on the patch after 7.1.5, because we've heard enough about 7.2 that I'm already looking forward to it, even though it's a way away. It's something every WoW expansion has tried to have, but this time it might actually get pulled off.
World of Warcraft's "What's Next" panel this evening more than made up for the game's lackluster mention during the BlizzCon opening ceremonies earlier in the day. Newly minted Game Director Ion Hazzikostas took the stage to talk about not just the last patch and the next patch but 7.2 and even a tease for 7.3.
In patch 7.1.5, Blizzard has promised a return to older expansion content (specifically, Mists of Pandaria) via Timewalking, the return of the Brawer's Guild, micro-holidays (most of them pretty funny, like Ahn'Qiraj Remembrance Day), and a ton of class updates -- yeah, they're adding back some of the stuff they took out.
7.2, dubbed The Tomb of Sargeras, sends players back to the Broken shore to work on their class order campaigns, fend off legion assaults via invasion world quests, dungeon through the Cathedral of Eternal Night and raid the Tomb itself, take part in PvP brawls (Southshore vs. Tarren Mill is back!), and upgrade their artifacts. Soloers, that last one is for you, no kidding. Flying is also finally on the way; expect account-wide unlocks there... and class mounts for everyone.
My original plan this week was to talk a little bit about patch 7.1, but two things have made that less than possible. The first is that a rather nasty depression jag has kept me from having the gumption to do everything required to hit the inadvisably limited revamp of Karazhan, and the rest of the patch just feels like, well, the parts of the expansion that were pretty much finished but not quite ready for launch. The other is the fact that this is the BlizzCon weekend, and that means I really ought to be talking about that first and foremost.
Last year, obviously, BlizzCon managed to hit some weird notes for World of Warcraft, made worse by some baffling decisions surrounding Legion's test schedule and information release. This year, of course, the expansion is already out, so we're not waiting in an awful drought of information. So it seems like now is an excellent time to predict what, exactly, we'll see out of BlizzCon for WoW fans. There might be some stuff for fans of other franchises too, but that's not what I'm here for at the moment. So what are the odds we'll hear about this stuff?