Remember all of those times that Blizzard said that it was going to speed up the rate at which it produced World of Warcraft expansions? Well, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, the studio has finally given up on this notion, saying that it’s going to focus on longer expansion cycles that feature more content updates than before.
This word comes to us from yesterday’s Legion Q&A Twitch stream. As Blizzard Watch noted, it’s been almost a full year since the last meaty patch for the game, and players have gotten increasingly exasperated with Blizzard’s cadence following the content droughts of the last two expansions.
While World of Warcraft players will have to wait until the very end of August to dive into the new expansion, a major event and update is coming before that to keep the summer interesting. We speak, of course, of the Legion pre-expansion patch.
This is the patch that gets everything in motion for the expansion, and it is now up on World of Warcraft’s public test realm. As with past pre-expansion patches, this update will contain an event along with many changes and features that are part of the Legion package.
Here’s a quick and dirty list of what players will see with this patch: the improved transmog collection system, the revamped PvP progression system, the ability to swap class specializations and talents on the fly outside of combat, the removal of the glyph panel, a massive increase to a player’s gold cap, improved graphics (hooray for long draw distances!), the removal of Draenor perks, and the anticipated overhaul of classes and their specializations.
Considering that Illidan Stormrage is the origin of all of the Demon Hunters double-jumping around in World of Warcraft: Legion you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he’s a pretty important lore figure. Blizzard revealed yesterday that the master of preparation himself will be getting a new series of animated shorts to coincide with the release of Legion in much the same manner as the Overwatch shorts, a chance to examine the lore behind the character outside of the game’s confines.
No definitive release date has been announced, but with Legion due out in about two months, “soon” is a given. The developers also revealed that they’re considering implementing the level scaling technology to the old world that currently exists in the Broken Isles, assuming it works well there, which is good news for players tired of leveling past their favorite storylines.
We trust it hasn’t escaped your attention that your current World of Warcraft talent build won’t be surviving Legion’s launch intact. The talent system is but one of many that Blizzard’s never-quite-satisfied designers are retweaking, reshuffling, and reworking for the expansion.
Those hurt and confused by the changes can consult a new post on the subject in which the team said that this will provide “more meaningful choice” than before. While the devs are still evaluating and juggling the tree as the beta test progresses, what is sure is that the idea of having three talents on a row that provide different approaches to the same ability has gone bye-bye.
“We don’t want to go back to a world where a talent row is about picking which slightly different flavor of AoE you want,” Blizzard said. “We’ve opted to rearrange things such that you have more choices that mix generally useful talents vs the more specialized talents. Hopefully that line between the theoretical best talent and the others will be a bit more blurry now, and the talent you do choose won’t feel like a wasted talent point in many situations.”
As of the time that I’m writing this, we don’t know when the Legion pre-patch will hit World of Warcraft. I had to double-check that; these days, I’m never sure any longer. You would think that wasn’t information that could somehow slip through my notice, but with the release schedule and announcements around this expansion, it could theoretically happen. You could almost believe that it would be sandwiched in there without fanfare.
But even if we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, we have some idea. So now it’s time to start getting ready for the pre-path, getting all of our characters primed and ready for when the patch actually hits World of Warcraft. There might not be much new content with that pre-patch, but boy will there ever be a plethora of stuff to deal with just the same. So whenever it hits, let’s get ourselves all ready to go, and we’ll start with… shopping.
There comes a time in every boy or girl’s life where changes start happening. Yes, it might be scary, but it’s also exciting because it indicates that an important transition is underway. We speak, of course, of World of Warcraft’s move to welcome the previous expansion into its base game while it prepares to launch the next chapter.
As we count down to Legion’s launch in August, Blizzard has finally moved to make Warlords of Draenor part of the base game. This means that if you purchase (or receive) World of Warcraft, you’ll get all five expansions to date with it.
Blizzard customer support had advice for those who had purchased the expansion but didn’t activate it yet: “Separate Warlords copies should no longer be available from retailers, as the registration code for the expansion can no longer be redeemed through Battle.net. If someone has an unregistered code for the Warlords of Draenor expansion, my recommendation would be to reach out to us via the options this page, and then be able to provide the registration code once you’re in touch with us.”
There is no actual gold cost for swapping around your specs or talents in the next World of Warcraft expansion. That’s gone. You want to be Shadow one minute and Discipline the next? Go for it. And there’s no gold cost for swapping your talents, either… as long as you’re in a rest area. That’s the game’s new compromise, allowing players to swap talents freely within designated safe zones but nowhere else.
Switching specs already has a large enough number of restrictions – having the appropriate artifact, the right gear, proper hotbars, and so forth – that putting a gold cost on top of it felt superfluous. By contrast, allowing players to simply swap talents anywhere at any time for no cost encouraged players to swap talents at a moment’s notice for a specific fight. There are plans to introduce a consumable item for Inscription so that players can respec in the field if necessary, but for the most part, you should expect to be sticking with your talent choices once you leave safety. Back in safe spaces, though, you can do whatever.
World of Warcraft’s next new race/class combination will be playable before Legion launches.
Blizzard announced yesterday that players will be able to roll (or change into) Gnome Hunters when Legion’s pre-expansion patch comes around later this summer. Gnome Hunters are notable not just for their newness and size but for the fact that they’ll be able to “tame” mechanical creatures in addition to the rest of the world’s bestiary (Goblin Hunters will get this ability as well).
Things had looked bleak for Gigantic. Setting the game up as being only on Windows 10 and Xbox One hadn’t exactly bolstered its playerbase, and developer Motiga had to go through more than one round of layoffs. But the future of the game does indeed seem secure now that Perfect World has signed on as a publisher, which extends the game’s support to Win64 operating systems as well. Happy news is good news!
We also say farewell to Tree of Savior this week with the game’s official launch as a free-to-play title. Goodbye to one of the most arboreal titles we’ll see all year.
Meanwhile, the rest of the week was… well, lousy with beta news, let’s just say it.
- If you’ve got a hankering for some turn-based antics, Atlas Reactor invites you to come check it out this weekend. Everyone gets in for a small cover charge of absolutely nothing. It’s win-win, except for the people who made bets that the game wouldn’t have an open test this weekend, in which case you should probably stop making ridiculous bets. It’s also already in early access, if that helps motivate you.
- World of Warcraft: Legion has finally hit its beta testing, with launch just a couple of months away. Still, beta! It’s a grand time if you’re invited.
- When will you get to play even the earliest test versions of Pantheon? Not for a thousand upon a thousand generations. Or maybe by the end of the year. Depending on what sort of generations we’re talking about, both might even be true. Like fruit flies.
- The development team behind Crowfall is looking to push some features back and move forward with a soft launch so that more people can get in and play the game while other features get more polished. Which means less testing on the game before you get to start playing, take that as you will.
- As a historical footnote, everyone in the world logged into the Overwatch open beta. And then some pets logged in. Or maybe it was more like 10 million people. Still a lot.
And yes, the list is still down below, as it is every week. Is something wrong on that list? Let us know down in the comments, would you kindly?
Alpha? That’s so early 2016, you guys. Starting today, World of Warcraft: Legion is all about its beta test, which will run until the expansion’s launch at the end of August.
The beta is purportedly a much more complete version of Legion than what was seen in the alpha, and as such Blizzard wants all testers, new and old, to start over. Those invited won’t be able to import their characters or create new ones but instead will have to choose from several level 100 templates. Blizzard said that there’s no NDA during this beta period, so chatter about it to your heart’s content.
Even if you haven’t gotten a beta invite yet (or don’t want one), you might be interested in reading through the expansion’s beta patch notes. Legion introduces a new hero class, the Demon Hunter, as well as five additional zones, 10 dungeons, two raids, the artifact system, class halls, a revamp to the transmog system, and world scaling and questing.
For the past six years, World of Warcraft’s Stormwind Park has been a smoking crater in the otherwise beautiful city thanks to Deathwing. Players have wondered for a while now when the area would be rebuilt following the events of Cataclysm, and now they have an answer: when Legion drops.
Blizzard confirmed that the park would be coming back in the expansion pack (heavy spoilers at that link) to be the resting place of a fallen hero: “The hard-working citizens of Stormwind have been hard at work rebuilding the remaining destroyed section of the city. It is there that a monument of such significance will go.”
Anyone up for a Massively OP picnic and BBQ later this summer?
Are you a high roller in World of Warcraft? Do you frequently make it rain on lesser players? Do you see things that cost tens of thousands of gold and think, “Darn, that’s cheap?” Do you know the fastest route to the auction house in every city while at the same time needing a day planner to remember your own birthday? If so, you’ll probably be happy to know that Legion is letting you get more gold.
The good news here is that if you’re struggling to find ways to spend gold as quickly as you earn it, you’ll be able to store a lot more in the very near future. The bad news, of course, is that if you never even reach the six-digit marker, you’re going to be lagging behind the gold cap even further. What this will do for prices in the long term remains to be seen; for now, just rest assured that you can at least theoretically fill your Garrison with gold coins.
This week, Blizzard announced that World of Warcraft’s sixth expansion, Legion, will indeed arrive this summer as planned. August 30th is the big day. Got your preorder in yet? Here’s what else is new in the land of MMO beta testing:
- Tree of Savior banned 3000 cheaters and dealt with pricing fallout from scheming arbitrage artists.
- Tree of Life — yeah, all the trees are confusing — launched its beta (along with its cash shop).
- Origins of Malu announced it has suspended its development as it shops for investors.
- Camelot Unchained announced its beta one release has been delayed, likely several weeks.
- Nexon’s flying MMORPG Riders of Icarus began its second round of closed beta.
- Hi-Rez’s shooter-hybrid Paladins patched its closed beta with, Dragon Punch, which pushes live new champion Drogoz, The Greedy.
- Guild Wars 2’s live beta test of world linking for WvW began today.
- Cube World is alive!
- Fragmented released a trailer ahead of next week’s Steam early access launch. Stress tests are ongoing.
- Glitch-spinoff Children of Ur updated its open alpha with a new build.
- The Black Death lurched like a plague-ridden zombie into Steam early access.
- Nexon launched the alpha for LawBreakers with a new trailer featuring no less than Ice-T.
- The Culling’s first big early access patch introduced female playable characters.
- Asta’s still in beta too, but it’s also getting a big content patch.
Check out our complete list of games in testing below!