As the final few days count down before Battle for Azeroth drops, World of Warcraft’s developers are making some significant last-minute class adjustments to make sure that players will be in a good place at level 120.
This class change hotfix is mostly made up of buffs — mostly. Many builds, such as Frost Death Knights, Beast Master Hunters, Marksman Hunters, Holy Priests, Elemental Shamans, Feral Druids, and Demonology Warlocks are getting across-the-board increases to their damage output. There are a few nerfs as well, most notably to Assassination Rogues, but they are not nearly as extensive. Many PvP tweaks are being made as well.
And if you’re still hot and bothered over the recent storyline, you may want to listen to this recent interview with former Blizzard lead Chris Metzen, who discusses the negative reaction to the War of Thorns storyline and the harrassment of the writing staff.
I’m think I’m over factions in MMOs. I get why RvR games need them, and I’ll grudgingly concede that the average player is far better off joining an arbitrary NPC faction for PvP than wading through the morass of player gangs and protection rackets that pass for guilds in some sandboxes. But for MMO themeparks where the PvP is minimal or walled off or without any impact on the world, I’m kind of sick of them.
That feeling’s come to a head the last few weeks thanks to World of Warcraft’s cheesy attempts to rile up the playerbase and make us shout down the “other side” like sports hooligans. One reader pointed out how these kinds of factions still functionally divide friends from playing together for no reason. Another called faction jabber “forced propaganda.” I wouldn’t be sorry to see factions go away in most MMOs. The whole thing feels so fake and exhausting.
Is it time to move on from PvP “factions” in MMORPGs? Am I missing some vital and necessary function for this type of design?
Here’s a new one for us, and if you like it, you can throw money at it right now: It’s called Endless Trials, and it is gunning for some of the more tedious and repetitive tropes of MMORPGs. With graphics that look more like FML than WoW, Endless Trials – ET – bills itself as “an MMO without the boring parts,” which to the three-man Danish dev team means a focus on endgame instead of “tedious leveling and grinding.”
“We all love a good challenge, something fun, something that pushes us and affords us a sense of accomplishment. The leveling and grinding part of the game, however, that is where boredom can creep in. With that in mind, we have set out to create a new, semi-hardcore MMO that focuses on endgame content. We are calling it Endless Trials, and it is our attempt at making raiding great again! Each new character will follow a brief introduction quest, and when we say ‘brief’ we mean exactly that: it will take just an hour to finish. From there, you get some basic gear and get in on the real action, battling dungeons with your friends, completing daily quests for rep and rewards, farming for crafting materials, and hanging around the space station with other players. This is a game in which leveling plays a minimal role. The key here is excitement. We want Endless Trials to feel fresh every time you play, not like a job that you are doing half the time just to get to the real fun!”
You know what gets me excited about upcoming MMOs? It’s certainly not the list of expected systems and features that have since become standard for most games in this genre. Good-looking fantasy online RPG? Neato, that’s terrific, but what else are you selling?
No, what truly grabs my attention is when a dev team uses its imagination and comes up with a creative feature that makes me sit back and say, “Wow, I wish they all had this!”
It’s a shame that we have seen plenty of these systems over the years that were tried maybe once or twice but never adapted into the greater sphere. Today we’re going to come up with 10 examples of such features that truly did try something revolutionary (or at least pretty cool) but haven’t seen follow-ups in games since.
Unlike some console and PC titles, online RPGs don’t typically offer “god mode” (despite what you may have heard about certain classes). We don’t get to flip a switch and suddenly be invincible and uber-powerful to rofflestomp all over our enemies.
Except… sometimes we do, thanks to over-leveling. The other night I had a great amount of fun revisiting World of Warcraft’s Northrend raids, steamrolling through these old endgame instances without any challenge. Seeing hordes of enemies die at a single spell while not being able to touch me at all was pretty amusing, but I enjoyed the ability to explore and experience these raids far more.
Do you think that god mode is fun for MMO play? If so, when and how should it work in games — and to what purpose?
On this week’s show, Bree and Justin sift through the ashes of World of Warcraft’s burning developments, make sense of Chris Roberts’ “You win by having fun!” mantra, get cozy with werewolves and tieflings, and more!
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
So, to the surprise of absolutely no one, burning down an Alliance capital city did not actually demoralize anyone
other than players and now the Horde is getting one of its cities attacked in World of Warcraft. Equally unsurprising to anyone who followed reveals about this, that means the Alliance is marching on Lordaeron, and players can take part in this push right now in the game.
Players who have tested the beta for Battle for Azeroth will be familiar with the scenario, as it’s the same one kicking off the expansion in the testing cycle. If you want to get a start in on the pre-expansion hullabaloo and conclude the storyline before the full launch next week, hop on in and make your way to Stormwind for the Alliance or Orgrimmar for the Horde.
Also strap yourself in for the people trying to explain how capturing and holding a city in response to an unprovoked attack is the same thing as razing a city on a whim with no existing state of war.
Hearthstone’s Doomsday Project
expansion is live today with its typical goofy scenario, this one revolving around World of Warcraft’s
Netherstorm zone and a gobbo mad scientist enjoining players to crew his lab of “bleeding-edge scientists” for mischief and mayhem. What else?
“No project is deemed too difficult (or too dangerous) for Dr. Boom and his colorful team of scientists, engineers, and researchers. In The Boomsday Project, players will encounter raw, unfiltered science in the form of irresponsibly powerful Omega cards, which become incredibly potent when played at 10 mana crystals. They’ll also be inexplicably attracted to the new Magnetic keyword, which allows Mech minions to merge, combining their attack, health, and abilities to form mind-blowing amalgamations of doom. In addition, unwilling participants will be subjected to Projects, maniacal spells that appear to be mutually beneficial to both parties. And players will surely handle the immensely powerful new Legendary Spells, representing the pinnacle of scientific achievement, in a proper and responsible manner.”
Blizzard has goodies in store for “early adopters”; if you log in right away, you’ll pick up some freebie card packs as well as a random class legendary or hero card.
There’s no shortage of World of Warcraft news as Battle for Azeroth looms next week, so let’s hop to it! Players should steel themselves for another round of class tuning changes, which are arriving today and will most notably impact Druids and Priests.
Blizzard continued to stoke the fires of Horde vs. Alliance conflict with the release of two free e-stories that look at the different sides of this conflict. Of course, some players are still coping with the huge lost of Teldrassil from last week, using art as a coping mechanism to express their sorrow.
The studio also posted a zone overview of Vol’dun, a Horde-side region full of sand, salt flats, and rocky terrain. There are a lot of secrets to be uncovered here, and players will also bump into the fox-like Vulpera and the snake-like Sethrak.
With a week to go until Battle for Azeroth releases, players are running out of time to bone up on all of the features and zones coming with World of Warcraft’s seventh expansion. So consider this your homework for today, to read up on the naval-themed zone of Tiragarde Sound.
Doesn’t sound like Alliance characters are going to have it easy here: “Any hopes for a warm reception in Tiragarde Sound will be quickly dashed upon your arrival. Wounds run deep between the Alliance and the Kul Tirans, inflicted by the tragic events that led to the death of Daelin Proudmoore. Your mission of diplomacy will begin on rough political seas, and the journey to redemption will be a long one.”
Meanwhile, the recent travesty of Teldrassil’s burning has done more than rile up players to protest Sylvanas’ action — it’s created a whole new wave of memes to keep us entertained. One good one? The confirmation of a new Horde ally race, the salt elemental (because players are… you know… salty right now? You get it.).
If Blizzard was looking to manipulate the World of Warcraft community into caring about this MMO prior to the expansion launch later this month, then it’s mission accomplished. The story events of the past week, most notably with the Horde Warchief Sylvanas’ decision to burn down the Night Elf world tree, has riled up players like little we’ve seen in the past few years.
The backlash against the story beat is so strong, especially among Horde players, that a unique protest is spreading in the game itself. Inspired by the recent “Old Soldier” cinematic, in which the Orc leader Saurfang removes his shoulder armor in response to Sylvanas’ war crime, many players are emulating that fashion in-game. Considering how notoriously big and bulky World of Warcraft’s shoulder armor is, the lack of it is drawing attention from more than a few passers-by.
Why do people care so much about the story in World of Warcraft, to the point that they are rioting across social media and freaking out in the comments? That’s something WoW Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi has addressed in a rather timely new interview with him out on Aussie website Science Alert this week; he argues that story is what motivates players to do – and to justify – what they do in MMO worlds.
“If you look at story as a layer that we put atop the game, it’s a motivational factor in the things that you do and your actions in the world and it gives them consequence and weight,” he says. “It puts emotionality behind things. Why am I killing gnolls anyway? Just a bunch of furry dudes that are minding their own business. Without the story, that activity becomes meaningless – and in some ways potentially mean, right? Well, as soon as you find out that the gnolls keep raiding the orphanage and they’re eating children – which they’re not but let’s pretend they are. That suddenly gives you the urge to stop these gnolls at any cost! Story explains your actions as a player and gives you the ability to choose the things you want to do and the method you want to do them in. […] So it’s integral to the gameplay. Integral.”
Even in a quarter that didn’t see a single major product or expansion release, Activision Blizzard made even more money than it did the year previous. The company’s Q2 2018 earnings report
showed that the mega-publisher brought in $1.64 billion during the period. This must be making some execs pretty happy, as this managed to pass the company’s target goals for the quarter quite handily.
Blizzard said that it hosted 37 million active monthly users across all of its games during the quarter. World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth has enjoyed “strong pre-orders” to date, and both Hearthstone and Overwatch also were highlighted as particular studio strengths. And this is neither here nor there, but we should point out that yesterday marked the 5,000th day of World of Warcraft’s live operation.
Looks like the money’s going to continue to stream in, with fall expansions and the big announcement that the company signed a deal with Tencent to release Call of Duty Mobile in China.