warlords of draenor

Official Site: Warlords of Draenor
Relevance: The fifth World of Warcraft expansion.
Launch Date: November 13, 2014

See: World of Warcraft

WoW Factor: Why can’t Blizzard stop messing with everything?

It’s funny to me that people had such an aggressive reaction to the changes coming to Hunter pets and damage formulas in Battle for Azeroth. The latter in particular should be both invisible and completely immaterial for actual play; the only real change is that they now use weapon damage on abilities which were previously disconnected from weapon damage, but these formulas have always taken into account, say, the difference between two-handers and dual-wielding options. The former is, at its core, an opportunity to make pet families relevant again after most of the pets of Legion were more or less difference in appearance only, which is a far cry from the days when your choice of pet was significant.

To make it clear if it’s remotely ambiguous: Yes, these are changes I support and ones I think are good for the game on a whole.

And yet all of this does prompt a pretty salient question about World of Warcraft because even if these are intelligent choices, the weapon damage issue has existed for ages now. The time for fussing about with Hunter pets was also ages ago. It’s a big change to functionality being tossed into the mix more or less out of the blue with no other prompting, and that raises the question that’s been relevant ever since Cataclysm rolled around: Why is it that Blizzard can’t stop messing with everything?

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WoW Factor: How could multiclassing work in World of Warcraft?

Not so long ago, our editor-in-chief was talking about how World of Warcraft needs some form of multiclassing system. So let’s talk about how the game could do that, yes? That’s something we haven’t talked about.

It’s actually one of those weird things that has, for various reasons, never actually come up at all as a promised feature of any sort, especially as the various specs within a class have become more and more diversified. In the earliest days, an Enhancement Shaman and an Elemental Shaman both had the same tools and had talents to emphasized different ones; these days, they share a minority of abilities and mostly get their own unique kit. You can swap between specs pretty freely, but not between classes.

But that’s not to say we couldn’t get some form of multi-classing. Heck, it felt like the various spec-bending talents for Druids were already halfway toward this sort of support, and Druids themselves sort of lean into the direction of multiple classes under one roof. So with absolutely no indication that such a feature has ever been seriously discussed beyond fan theories, let’s look at how this could work in World of Warcraft.

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Jukebox Heroes: World of Warcraft’s best music, part 2

Probably the most challenging aspect of creating a “top 32” list of the best World of Warcraft music isn’t coming up with a track list. Heck, that’s the easy part, considering how many great tunes Blizzard’s composers have added to this MMO over the years. No, the difficult job is taking those 32 tracks and then ranking them as part of a countdown.

What makes one track better than another? Do I go by perceived popularity or by my own preferences (hint: I went with the latter while remaining influenced by the former). Is it a slight to put tracks further down on the list? What happens when we count down to the number one spot… and still haven’t included a track that a fan considers essential to such a list?

I’ll have to get over these worries and fears. That’s on me. For your part, all you need to do is enjoy the next batch of World of Warcraft’s best tunes as we travel through the 20s!

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WoW Factor: First impressions of allied race leveling in World of Warcraft

Last week, I wrote about the addition of allied races without having actually gotten to play around with them much. You have to understand that at some point in the past I angered an elder deity of some sort, a fact which I myself was not previously aware of, but which remains the only real way to explain World of Warcraft releasing its pre-orders on the same day that my other game of choice released a major update which demanded my attention.

Or it was just bad luck, but “angered the gods” feels like a more all-encompassing explanation of same.

The bright side, though, is that it meant I finally had a chance to experience both big new things at the same time, enjoying the worldwide level scaling at the same time as I was enjoying my new allied race characters. So now that we’ve talked a little bit about the conceptual side of things, let’s talk about the actual leveling experience beyond the first unlocks.

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WoW Factor: So Battle for Azeroth is out for pre-order

Well, folks, I hope you’ve made your pre-purchases of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth and started playing your allied races. I found out about the opening of pre-purchases when I was busy being out of the house and unable to buy anything, so I admittedly managed to get a bit of schadenfreude out of the fact that everyone else was equally unable to buy the expansion in the interim. When I actually got home I decided to give it a shot mostly for a lark, at which point it went through without a hitch.

The lesson here is that very mild patience is rewarded, and if that patience is a result of not having any alternatives that’s close enough, I guess.

The opening of pre-purchase brings along with it plenty of fun stuff to discuss, ranging from the actual unlock quests and scenarios to how the release date compares with predictions and existing data. So let’s all put down our moose-cows for a little bit to think about thing in a larger context, and then we can collectively get back to tearing up low-level zones with our allied race alts.

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Perfect Ten: Ten more World of Warcraft races fans would like to play

Sometimes, you write a column more or less as a mental exercise, and then World of Warcraft drops an expansion pre-purchase that makes it all feel highly relevant.

The world of Azeroth is a world of astonishing variety. On Earth, we have exactly one form of intelligent bipedal life, but when it comes to species native to Azeroth that are gifted with speech and cognition, the plethora of playable races available barely even scratches the surface. And that’s without even getting into the various races available on Draenor and Argus, although at least the latter seems to be mostly limited to various flavors of demons and more subraces of Draenei.

The point is that even with a grand total of 19 different playable races, it’s easy to come up with other playable races that would be a fun time. And now that we’ve got allied races on the docket, that’s pretty viable as an option. So let’s look at a sampling (based on personal preference) of the races we can’t yet play but would still be pretty fun. Blizzard, take notice.

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WoW Factor: The debate over World of Warcraft’s refer-a-friend nerf

Ah, another day and another thing to enrage people in World of Warcraft. Last time, it was that the Allied Race unlocks might (will) require you to actually play the endgame a bit. This time, it’s that the refer-a-friend service no longer allows you to gain huge chunks of experience just for turning in a breadcrumb quest to arrive at a new zone. Or, alternatively, it’s that Blizzard has just noticed that a decade-old service could be used for some unscrupulously fast leveling roundabouts, and now that it’s sort of proud of the 1-100 leveling experience again, we can’t have that.

Much like the bit ages ago with Star Wars: The Old Republic and the pointless controversy over a cash shop lightsaber, this is one of those situations where everyone involved is being either willfully or unintentionally dim. It’s not that the players grousing about this are right, and it’s not that it was the right decision to make. So, just as I did for that, it’s time to sit both sides down and explain why this is dumb across the board.

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World of Warcraft confirms that raid boss health bump is a mistake and being fixed

It was sort of a smack in the face to go to old raids in World of Warcraft yesterday. Not in the slap-in-the-face disrespectful sense, but in the sense of just being extremely surprising. Every raid boss was suddenly sporting way too much health, and some more recent raids were suddenly impossible to beat at level 110 with decent gear. What the heck? Were we never meant to do Mists of Pandaria raids solo, even when they got patched to make it easier to solo some of them?

The answer is that it’s not you; it was an error. Due to the changes made to health calculation with the patch, raid bosses wound up with far more health than they were meant to have, and the team is looking into how to fix the issue, especially for raids in Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor. So you might have to wait a little longer for your transmog farming runs, but it’s a known issue that is getting addressed and fixed.

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World of Warcraft’s patch 7.3.5 abolishes expansion-specific flight skill requirements today

Since the ability to fly was added in the first expansion to World of Warcraft, there’s always been the question among players about when we get to fly in every new zone. For several years, the answer was simply “when you’re high-enough level to purchase the flying skill.” Want to fly in Northrend? There’s a skill for that. Pandaria? Ditto. But the advent of zone scaling means that these skills and the associated hassle have vanished. Now, when you learn how to fly, you can just… fly. No Cold-Weather Flying or the like to worry about!

These changes only apply to areas that had specific trained skills needed to unlock flight; you still need to clear the Pathfinder achievements for Draenor and the Broken Isles. (Those achievements are account-wide, however, so only one character needs to clear them.) Still, it should make it much easier to just level and fly about without needing to stop and buy a new expansion-specific flight skill, especially when the expansions aren’t gated by levels in the same manner they used to be.

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WoW Factor: Guessing at Battle for Azeroth’s release date using math

The “when will Battle for Azeroth” speculation train is rolling once again because it looks like patch 7.3.5 is just around the corner. We haven’t actually been told when that’s landing yet, of course, but the World of Warcraft community continues to push forward with the sort of boundless optimism that it’s so well known for. “This time is going to be different!”

Here’s a spoiler for the future: It’s not. This time is going to be exactly the same, just like how previous times have been exactly the same, just like each time we’ve talked about this have been exactly the same. Betting on anything before October is optimistic, betting before September is wildly unrealistic. Similarly, betting on 2019 is pessimistic, and later than January is wildly unrealistic just as surely.

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WoW Factor: The fate of the class orders post-Legion, part 2

Back before the winter break, I took a look at how the various class orders are going to handle the increased conflict between the Horde and the Alliance. The short version is “in a variety of ways.” Some of them are going to care a lot and it’s going to make a big difference; some of them are just going to continue on or split up. Or, at least, they would if the developers felt like giving them a proper send-off.

They definitely deserve one, mind. The question remains whether or not they will get one.
But regarldess of that, there are still a half-dozen class orders that I didn’t cover before, and they’re just as important as the first batch. So let’s finish up the second part of this particular series looking at the other half of the class order halls, starting with one that really seems like it ought to be renting office space in Dalaran most of the time anyhow.

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WoW Factor: Do World of Warcraft’s allied race requirements make sense?

We still do not know exactly when World of Warcraft will make allied races playable. What we do know is that it sure as heck looks like it’s going to happen before the next expansion is out; that’s not announced, no, but there is an awful lot of material about them already on the test server. Everything points to them being a pre-launch thing, most likely along the lines of Demon Hunters with Legion. All well and good. And we also know the preliminary requirements for these various races, which is… more contentious.

There’s a lot of stuff we don’t know yet, of course; while achievement tracking is account-wide, it’s not yet clear if you need to have the reputation and achievements on multiple characters or just on one. (It’s plausible, for example, that you might need to have the reputation on the character but can get the achievements on another.) But there’s already some debate about whether or not these requirements are too steep, and I think it’s an interesting thing to discuss and analyze, even while I’m of the mind that it seems pretty reasonable thus far.

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WoW Factor: The fate of WoW’s class orders post-Legion, part 1

In the lull between expansions, I’ve been hard at work bringing my alts up to the level cap, unlocking all of the class mounts, picking up the occasional appearance that I really want from the Mage Tower challenge… you know, the usual stuff. And the result is that I find myself asking a question that surprises me a wee bit in the context of World of Warcraft: What is going to happen to all of the class orders?

I neither had an answer nor cared about one when it came to garrisons. Presumably, they’d continue to sit there, a testament to what happens when designers try to make housing that isn’t housing and don’t understand why people like housing in the first place. But the order halls are different. They’re cross-factional, they’re important, and perhaps most importantly, they represent something that makes different use of the resources of the world.

So what’s happening to these orders? How are they changing? How does this play into the war between the Horde and the Alliance becoming properly hot? And might we get some extra lore about these things?

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