Archive for the “WotLK Beta” Category

Well, it isn’t much of a secret, depending on if you listened to the WoW Insider podcast last Saturday.

The secret is, I haz a Beta key… and I used it to check a few things out, do a little investigative journalism… and to report on what I could find to the Devs, of course.

I still have the Beta key, but at the moment I have no access. One of my hard drives went down, and ate the WoW.exe file while the latest 8970 build was being patched.

Hard drive issue, not the patching process. But since it happened in the middle of patching, yeah, it took me a while to figure out what happened.

I’ve since recovered my other data, but the Beta program is gone and I’ll need to re-download and install from scratch. Just haven’t had the time.

But what I did do, aside from testing Druid stuffs, was play the Death Knight class from 55 to 58 and Hellfire Peninsula.

Not once, mind you. Twice.

Yes, it is that much fun, even with insane lag.

I started on the PvP server, made a gnome with pink pigtails… and immediately deleted her. I went back and made a human female with rather pale visage, and went with that instead.

Why?

Well, first and foremost, while I had thought it would be awesomely ironic to have a big bad evil Death Knight be a cute gnome with pink hair… when I logged in with mine on the Beta Server, what I found was, so did everyone else. An army of gnome DKs with pink hair.

Blech.

The reason I went human in particular instead of night elf or tauren, was the Human Expertise racial bonus, of course. I’m a tank and DPS, I know what Expertise is used for, my good friends.

The PvP server was lag free. I went all the way through to Hellfire, leveling Unholy spec the entire way, and had a great time. Every part of the entire quest chain and playstyle was awesome.

I didn’t like playing an evil character, but the care and craftsmanship that has gone into the quest chains, area, and staging of the play from 55 to 58 is truly epic. Everyone should at least take one that far, even if you go no farther.

Amazing.

There are also a few new quests that bring a lot of fun.

Do you remember, those of you that played pre-BC, how astonished we were when we had our first ‘bombing run’ style quest in Hellfire that first day or two?

The gushing in general chat over how awesome the bombing run was, and how people just wanted to do it over and over again, because of how neat it was?

It was a new, fresh experience in the game, a new style of quest that reminded us how sick we were of “go kill 10 of xxx and bring me 30 ears”.

There are actually a COUPLE of new styles of quests in the starter zone that give you that exact same feel.

Seriously. They did a great job.

The gear you get also looks great. No question. Very nice design job. It is fun seeing the difference your new gear makes in your appearance.

I had so much fun, I went and made another DK, on a PvE server, to experience the lag, and leveled that one Blood.

Ice is the third spec, but from what I saw it was truly a tanking spec, so I didn’t try that for the leveling feel.

I can tell you that both Blood and Unholy are incredibly fun.

With Blood, so much of the Talent tree is built around giving you health back when you do damage, that at the time I played, I was almost never damaged after a fight. Even after hitting Hellfire, I could easily take two or three Orcs in Hellfire, even a wandering orc plus an orc and his wolf, kill them all, and still be nearly full afterwards if I rotated Dots on all of them and payed attention to what I was doing.

With Unholy, you have a lot more downtime from Health issues, but your spells are just more fun. You get lots of neat spells, like corpse explosions and anti-magic party shields and permanent Zombie pets that it just feel like a ton of fun.

Basically, I think of Blood as going Alchemist to get the useful pots, while Unholy is going Engineering to play with all the neat toys.

One is all business, and one has a lighter side. For an evil bastard, that is.

Do I feel they are overpowered?

Well, that’s a hard question to answer.

They are supposed to be an Epic class. And they certainly feel epic.

Are they more powerful, in direct comparison with a similarly geared level 58 DPS toon, when just entering Hellfire?

Yes. Without question.

However, they are undoubtedly still being adjusted for balance. And they are Epic class, after all.

But I have to say, if this is an example of the care and the attention to detail they are putting into an Epic class, then I really, truly hope that the rumors of a possible Arch-Druid epic class for an Emerald Dream expansion someday come true.

Comments 13 Comments »

People keep asking me if it’s going to be worth being an Engineer in Wrath.

I keep wondering why they’re asking me, but that’s okay.

I guess the answer to that is, “What class are you, and why are you an Engineer now?”

I have always felt that Engineering was mostly a Hunter profession. You get to make ammo and bang-bangs. Kind of self-explanatory, ain’t it?

But there are plenty of folks that love the explosives and neat gadgets, myself among them.

And I have to admit that I leveled it on my Feral Druid for one primary reason; Epic Goggles. (The Mote Extractor was a super lucky bonus).

So I guess the question could be, is it any good for Hunters, and will it be worth having for non-Hunters too?

I’m gonna leave the whole question of whether you like guns or not as a Hunter out of the equation. I love the guns the most, and if you don’t, I can’t really quantify the experience for ya.

So, Non-Hunters… I bet you’re wondering, will there be new Epics you can use?

Yes, yes there are. There are new Epic Goggles for the expansion, for each class.

An example? Okay.

For Rogues and Feral Druids, let’s take a look at the Weakness Spectralyzers.

weakness-spectralyzers.jpg

Equips at 72, and requires Engineering of 400 to use.

It takes a Frozen Orb to craft, which seem to be the Wrath version of a Primal Nether. As of now, they drop in Heroics, or can be purchased for 10 Emblems (which are  the first level of Badge lookalikes… You get the idea.)

Right now a TON of stuff is BoE. Remember, Blizzard wants stuff accessible for testing. Expect a lot of this to be BoP in live. PLEASE keep that in mind.

But you get the idea. An Expansion version of the Epic Goggles for each class, along the same concept as we are already used to.

So, what else?

Well, I’d like to point out to my Hunter friends one of our very first recipes… the Mark “S” Boomstick.

marksboomstick.jpg

Let’s compare that to the Crossbow of Relentless Strikes, which can be bought for 150 Badges.

crossbow.jpg

Think about that. In Wrath, an Engineer will be able to equip, at level 73 I’ll grant you, a weapon nearly identical to one that costs 150 Badges now. Pretty nifty.

Okay, you want more non-Hunter specific stuffs?

How about the Sonic Booster?

sonicbooster.jpg

Oh what the heck, let’s kick it up a notch with the Hyperspeed Accelerators.

hyperspeed.jpg

Ahhh, but are we going to have another freaking tanking gun at 80?

Well…. yes.

But we ALSO get one of these!

The Long Range Cranium Drill!

craniumdrill.jpg

Okay, can I cry with happiness? I may not be raiding past Naxx, but I’ll get to have an Epic Bang-Bang!

Yes, there are new ammo machines, and new repair bots. There is even a new Teleporter called a Wormhole generator that take you and your whole party to Gadgetzan, much like the current Direbrew Remote we are seeing drop from Coren Direbrew.

There are new Mana and Healing Injectors, there are Scopes, and of course there is the new Motorcycles.

But there is just one item I think caps the whole dang thing.

Engineers, I present to you…

The Gnomish Army Knife.

armyknife.jpg 

That sucker alone is going to replace 5 items I always carry in my bags right now.

Is it going to be worth being an Engineer in Wrath?

Oh, HELLS YES!

(I can’t believe I said that.)

Comments 10 Comments »

Good morning, sunshine!

You know how, when you went to bed last night, you figured it was going to be a slow news day?

Surprise!

In a move my more cynical and bitter readers will no doubt attribute to a sneaky ploy by Blizzards marketing team to cut Warhammer off at the knees, Blizzard has apparently set a hard release date for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion to be November 13th, 2008.

Hey, I was figuring that was when we were going to see it, I think I even went so far as to say so on a WoW Insider podcast months ago…

I just didn’t expect to see that in the news at WoW Insider first thing this morning.

After all, Blizzard is famous for the “We ship it when it’s done, and we ain’t saying when that will be until we are SURE” philosophy, and I for one love them for that.

But if they are going to buy ad space at WoWhead trumpeting it, I figure they must have some firm plans in place… either that, or their marketing team is still high from snorting lithium after the massive success of the “Recruit a Friend/Multibox a Zhevra” program.

So, eight and a half weeks from now. Two months. PLENTY of time for more adjusting of Talents.

Yes, I counted. Two months. Plenty of time.

Comments 6 Comments »

Newsflash of the utterly obvious; there have been a LOT of Beta invites going out the last week.

Word is, there has been such a deluge of new Beta players on the three Beta realms (2 PvE realms, one PvP realm) that, at least in the starter zones, things are virtually unplayable from lag.

As the old quote goes, “Cry me a river, liberal.”

Sorry, movie quotes make up 56%* of my vocabulary. If you take them away from me, I would no longer be able to string together these word-type thingies into what I like to call complete sentences, but what my old english teacher might have better called “A brutal violation of the rules of English, and a crime against the very concept of language itself.”

Anyway…

Yes, there are many, many, MANY people playing in the Beta right now.

Chances are good that many of you, however, are not amongst that number.

Let me speak, for a moment, to those of you not in the Beta.

Right now, there is a large group of people that are acquiring that most sacred and valuable of things, from which all other power is derived; knowledge.

They are finding out where to go. They are discovering who the quest givers are. They are finding out where the mobs are to complete those quests. And they are exploring the land, mapping it out, and getting a solid feel for where flight paths, vendors, Inns, mailboxes, and quest hubs are all located.

When the expansion is released, there will be a very large group of people that have already done it all once, and they are going to make a mad, crazed sprint for the front lines to get a jump on everyone else in the race to 80.

Even better for them, they are learning lessons right now, in the Beta, that are helping them to prepare their live characters for what to do.

Like clearing out their quest logs of old filler, so they are clean for the new quests in Northrend.

Or clearing out bank space and bag space of old world things that they will not want cluttering up room, like tons of Netherweave Cloth or Adamantite Ore.

When BC was released, remember all the Enchanting mats that were suddenly worthless on the AH? The other formerly end game mats for crafting that tanked?

The market found a new balance for those old world mats, based on the age of the BC expansion, and altitis as people finished their first level 70s and began making new alts and powerleveling new tradeskills. But it took a long time to happen before the value of those mats rose again.

After about 4 months, most folks that hit 70 already made alts, took their massive reserves of money, and bought mats to level powerskills right off the AH instead of farming themselves. You have had time to become used to the going rates for Thorium Ore, Heavy Knothide Leather, Felweed and Void Crystals.

Kiss that market goodbye. The stuff that is your current end game material will be tomorrow’s vendor trash.

And the people in the Beta know this now, and are clearing their bags of hoarded goodies right now while there might still be decent demand.

And that’s just the financial part of what is to come.

So you have some decisions to make.

Do you want to be on the leading edge of the leveling to 80 wave or not?  

If so, and you are not in the Beta, you need to be looking for maps of the area, and trying to mentally chart where you will go first, and figure out in advance where flight paths and quest hubs are, and profession trainers, and know in advance how you will repsec and where to train class skills (Hint: See old world class trainers. Still.).

If you want to be in the front of the pack, you will need to work harder to develop that knowledge.

But it can certainly be done. And if you do it, you can take pride in not having gained an advantage through the Beta… no matter how much of your research depended on the efforts of those Beta testers to help you out by sharing their experiences.

But there is a flip side to this.

As the mad dash floods the harbor of Stormwind, ready to catch that boat to Northrend, there might be another option for you.

For most of us, that moment when we finally nailed 70 was the moment we stopped really completing quests, and started working on Professions, doing 5 man instances, raiding, and working on leveling alts.

I know there are those folks that did every quest at 70 for the money to get an Epic Flying Mount, but for most of us, the option remains to stay in the Outlands, and hit up those quest givers in Shadowmoon Valley and Netherstorm.

Even if you did clear every single possible Outland quest on your main, you probably have at least one level 70 alt that could do those quests for, say… a week. Right? Quests that will suddenly be giving you XP all over again.

So you have to decide… do you compete with other folks, who will know where to go and will be flooding the new zone, causing lag, server instability, and a crushing competition for mob spawns…

Or do you take a week/weekend off from Northrend, let the rest of the players get a weeks head start on you and level past the starting zones, while you continue to gain XP in Netherstorm and Shadowmoon Valley on known mobs and locations, in places where your epic flight mount still works?

It’s a tough call. No, I’m not kidding. It really is.

The desire to see new things and experience new challenges burns strong in us adventurers…

And you know most of your friends will be rushing forward, and trumpeting in guild chat every drop and quest reward that is an upgrade, making you feel left out, no matter how much fun you’re having.

But it’s a serious question… if you go into Northrend on opening week, and you weren’t here when Burning Crusade was released, you have NO IDEA how swamped that first zone will be, and just how… heck, theres no other way to put it, how downright nasty so many other players truly show themselves to be.

That first week in Hellfire Peninsula was an eye opener for me, I’ll tell you that.

The most obvious ones were the soloers and small group or guild players that you never saw before, the ones that are strangers to everyone. People who either have no guild tag, or have guild names you just can’t remmeber ever having seen before in the entire time you’ve been playing.

They came pouring out of the woodwork as massive ganking kill-stealing large group chain-pulling mob-slaying loot-whoring asshats, reveling in the fact that they can get to a mob just a millisecond before you did… and then /spit at you, just for fun.

Do you remember them? After a week or two, they disappeared again, having speed leveled up to 70 and returned to whereever the heck hole they came from. Maybe that expains why the asshats in Trade channel have so much free time.

But there are the other problems, problems mostly seen in raiding guilds. Raiding guilds filled with people that had always been friendly in raids and quests and instances, laid back and ready to drop what they were putzing with and coe lend a hand, or hang out and just have fun. People that would see something drop and say “No, you go aherad and take it, it’s cool. That’s a nice upgrade for you.” People that just seemed to like to hang out and enjoy playing with others in the guild…

And then when the expansion came, they showed themselves to just have been bored and not cared about that stuff cause it wasn’t that big a deal to their bored selves, but once there was a new expansion, and new stuff they actually WANTED dropped or was possible to be found in instances, or there were new shinies to go find… they vanished into small, tight cliques of 5 people and no longer had time for anyone or anything else, including civility to their guilds.

Previously unsuspected inner cliques were revealed, and people that thought they were friends found out they were just there to fill out 40 man raids.

Guilds crashed big time, do you remember? Guilds wouldn’t have been torn apart as bad if they hadn’t cut the numbers needed to raid from 40 to 25, and even to 10 at the beginning, but all that means is that the inner cliques would have kept kissing up to people they didn’t really like that were just there for raids. It wouldn’t change the fact that the inner cliques existed.

There will still be 25 man raids… but all content can be done with 10 people now. Are you certain that the 25 man raiding guild you’re in now actaully WANTS you on the runs?

Yeah, so did most people in most guilds.

Were you there that first week? Do you really REMEMBER?

Burning Cursade, in that first week, changed a lot of things, and brought out a side of people we really didn’t want to see, no matter whether we knew it was there or not.

After a week or two, things calmed WAY the heck down. The ramifications of guild politics were long lasting, but the immediate asshattedness was short lived.

Yeah, it’s a serious question… how badly do you want to hit Northrend first? Or are you willing to follow behind the wave, and be behind the discovery curve, and listen to others talk about what they saw, and what they did…  and wait until the crush of players clear a little so you have a calmer, more relaxed trip through the fresh new content?

Whether you are in the Beta or not, now is the time to prepare yourself mentally and decide just what it is you want to do…

Are you going to clear your existing quest log and be ready to dash to Northrend…

Or are you going to seek out every quest you can find in Outlands, and be ready to level in familiar territory?

Either way…

Right now, it pays to at least find out where the new Profession trainers are, and where you will need to go to get your next level of mastery. Because whether you are in the new world or the old, you’ll still be farming Herbs, Ore or Skins that will give you skillups, and there is no sense in wasting that time without reason.

The rest… well, the rest will come when it comes.

EDIT Added:

Well, there is one more thought for ya’all…

Death Knights are super awesome cool… so cool that tons of people are going to want to play one. And they are designed to level super fast in their starting zone, so that right when they finish their quests, they are actually dinging 58 and can go straight to Outlands.

So as Lady Jess said, there will be a flood of brand new 58 Death Knights, of both factions, invading Hellfire Peninsula, and desiring mats to powerlevel their professions.

I’m sure some of them will be in the old Azeroth zones leveling Mining, Herbing and Skinning, but I’m gonna guess most will want to get higher in Outlands first, to get their 51 point Talents.

Be that as it may… on PvP servers, you will have an entire zone loaded with level 58 characters…

That first week of leveling in Hellfire is going to be HELL for those level 58s.

I am POSITIVE that there will be lonely level 70 gankers just wandering around, slaughtering at will.

My advice? Find some leveling buddies to team with who will also play a DK at start, so you can present a force of five or more level 58s to show a united front.

Or, of course, enlist a friend or two from your guild to chaperone! But where is the fun in that? Wouldn’t it be more fun to take them down as a roaming pack of 58+?

* By the way, did you know that over 96.4% of most published statistics are made up on the spot?

Comments 22 Comments »

Welcome to my first ever look at the future direction of Bear Tanking in Wrath.

Remember, I am not going to be telling you that things as they are in the Beta right now are finished. From what Ghostcrawler has said, we have to believe that what we see now is two builds previous to what they are working on. But I think there is enough history built up now to talk about a few directions we seem to be headed.

So buckle up, buttercup!

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 42 Comments »

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