Blizzard Press Presentation: World of Warcraft
It’s hard to imagine that less than a year on it since its release, Cataclysm is about to receive its last big content patch, thus signalling the downward spiral toward its untimely end before a new expansion raises from the Deathwing charred ashes and the cycle starts anew. With patch 4.3 comes the long awaited raid encounter with Deathwing, Cataclysm’s major badass that happens to be hell-bent on turning the world into nothing but a pile of ash. Nothing is shown on the encounter, but some hints and directions were given from which you can get the vague idea of how the fight is going to pan out.
No fight against a dragon would be complete without riding on its back as it continues to fly and it’s something you can at least expect from one of the many phases the fight is touted to have. The raid comes in both ten and twenty five man variants, but for those looking for something a bit smaller, then one of the three brand new five man instances will likely tickle your taste buds at the thought of all that wonderful loot.
Life within Azeroth is more than just saving the world and wearing armour that has been eloquently crafted from the nipples of ancient dragons, you need time to rest, relax and kick back a bit. The Darkmoon Faire could just meet those requirements as it has had a bit of a touch up. Long-time WoW players will be all too familiar with the Faire, seen as some as one of the last remaining assets of a World of Warcraft that now resides in the history books. Rather than just tack on new bits to the already existing system, the Darkmoon Faire is getting a complete overhaul, redone from scratch, built from the ground up. Now residing on its own spooky themed island, the Faire looks set to step in line with Blizzard’s current design ethos of accessibility en mass. Not much was given in terms of details, but it was teased that one of the new events is akin to that of a whack-a-mole fairground attraction – one can only presume that the mole may just get replaced by a Gnome, just a hunch.
Moving on, the presentation began to cover the three new core systems that are set to be added. Players of The Burning Crusade will remember the Ethereals, the spirit-like bandage men made of air. Always on the lookout for a new business model, they’ve now returned with a whole host of new features that, once again, look to add that extra bit of diversity while also filling that accessibility gap which Blizzard deems so very important.
Players have been complaining about the customisable options, or lack thereof, since the game’s release and, while systems such as the barber shops did address that to an extent, it often fell short of the last hurdle. In a world where you don epic sets of armour, clad head to toe in supreme plate or elegant cloth, the fact that you have one snazzy hair cut underneath it all means nothing. The biggest gripe has always been that one person’s armour matches that of another’s. If you and a friend both play the same class, then sooner or later you’re going to end up looking like each other; it was that individualization that was missing. Transmogrification looks to eradicate that, as it uses a system whereby you can combine two pieces of armour to make one brand new one. Simply take the stats from one, the looks of another and, hey presto, you’ve got yourself some top quality gear that looks exactly how you want.
Do you play a Paladin and are fed up of looking like a pink Power Ranger, simply combine your end-game gear with that of the fantastic looking Tier 3 Judgement Set and you’re onto a winning combination. What this inevitably means is that the streets of Stormwind and the halls of Orgrimmar will be awash with variety, everyone will be their own person. WoW’s customization tools just took a big step forward. It does, however, come with some restrictions. Not being able to ‘clone’ the looks of a Legendary Item for one, nor will you be able to cross over classes in terms of armour type and player class, but apart from that it’s all fair game, including the option to change the look of Bind on Equip items also planned to be allowed in at launch, and it adds a whole new level of possibilities in terms of trade and the economic side of things.
Eavesdrop on any discussion about WoW and, odds are, the topic of bank or bag space will come up somewhere down the line – and at a guess, it wouldn’t take very long either. It’s a testament to this that even ’til this day, the moment a Blizzard employee steps onto a stage you can be guaranteed that they’ll get a question similar to “when will the bag pack be increased in size?” The bag pack, or bank space, isn’t getting an increase in available space, but with the Void Storage system players will be given the ability to store approximately fifty items into the hands of the trusty Ethereals for later use.
No longer will a bag pack have to be full of your favourite armour sets from past eras, as they, along with any other item you have laying around, can now find a new home. As with most things, it does come with a fee, but you can’t really put a price on space. The OCD players among Azeroth’s populace can now rejoice, at least until they’ve filled those slots up too.
The ability to use the dungeon finder to get yourself into a five man instance has proved invaluable for many. No longer would you have to search for hours manually, but at a click of a button the game takes care of everything for you. Since its release, the dungeon finder has had huge success and, as a result, its next evolutionary adaption comes in the form of the raid finder.
In essence, the raid finder is quintessentially the same as its dungeon counterpart but, as you may expect, adapted somewhat to fit the needs and requirements that come with organising a raid. Set how many tanks, healers and damage type folk you want to find and the system sets about it, scouring not only your server but also the several others that happen to be located within your battlegroup. While searching manually would have resulted in only having the option to pick players local to your own server, the raid finder has the ability to call upon the population of many others, thus resulting in a much shorter queue time, meaning a lot more time spent in the raid itself as opposed to setting it up. It’s clever too, as it won’t simply throw together the first available people, but will instead opt for variety in who it decides to include, ensuring that your raid composition has as many bases covered as possible.
The World of Warcraft section of the presentation winds to a close and 4.3 is looking like a more than worthy addition to Cataclysm’s evolution. On that note, a random piece of trivia that was mentioned by Frank Pearce was that during the launch of World of Warcraft, for a while they had to stop shipping units to retailers because Blizzard simply did not have the hardware infrastructure to support it.
Stay tuned for upcoming articles based on the events of both the Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm and Diablo III segments of the presentation, for the Horde!
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