Monday, August 24, 2009

Post BlizzCon Review - Part 1

I don't know about you, but I am a little shell shocked. There is so much to talk about, that I'm going to have to break this post into two parts. The first will focus on the leaks, the changes to Azeroth, and the Class & Professions panel. The second will focus on the game systems panel, the PvP changes, and the Raid/Dungeon's panel.

Leaks and World Changes:

The pre-BlizzCon leaks took most of the sting out of the announcement that Azeroth would be changing quite a bit, but I still think it is worth commenting on.

First of all, I think Blizzard did the leaks on purpose. There are so many changes that I Blizzard wanted to prepare people. It also makes people excited for the expansion, and helps sooth some of the back lash that might come from some of the more significant design changes.

I like the idea of them revamping classic Azeroth. It makes sense from the players perspective and from the designer's perspective. I've now level 4 toons through Azeroth and have started a 5th. Believe me, I am not excited to do it again. For Players, this may make leveling pun again because you get to see new stuff. It gives us a a reason to try a new class, and hopefully makes it easier to level with out having to travel across the world to complete a quest or get to a new leveling zone. For Developers, it should help attract new players. Leveling has to be a big barrier to attracting new players. The content is 5 years old, and the game doesn't really begin until Northrend any more. If I was a new player it wouldn't seem all that attractive to me to go through 70 or 80 levels of out of date content just to get to a place where there are people. Its a win/win.

For Max level toons they are increasing the level cap to 85 and opening 5 new zones for players level 80 and higher. It's nice that they they are going back and reusing some of the inaccessible lands on the map but there is one change here that I like the most. All of the new lands will be accessable through Deepholm, one of the new areas. I was not looking forward to the long flights from Hyjal to Uldum or riding a boat between the contants.

Though I have to say one of my reactions to this change was a little unexpected. I now want to play Horde. I'm not talking about abandoning Graylo or the Alliance in general, but there is a lot of content out there that I haven't seen, and I may not get to see it after the expansion. So, I have an urge now to level a couple of horde toons, but probably not to 80. I mainly want to see the starting areas and check out the primarily horde zones like the Barrens and Thousand Needles. So I will likely level a couple of horde toons to 20 or so to see the starting zones. I've already done a Blood Elf so that is one down. I'll probably also try and level one to 60 or so. It doesn't sound like Outland or Northrend will change much so I probably won't need to take a toon past 60 right away.

Itemization Changes:

It would have been really interesting to be in the room and hear them make all of these changes. I can only imagine what the shock of thousands of people felt like. If you've read the reports then you know that these changes are huge. They are basically eliminating 6 stats by combining them into other stats or talents. Creating a new stat called Mastery. They're are completely revamping out some of the stats are used by some classes. Here are the highlights as I saw them.

  • Spell Power - Gone!!! It's now being included in with Intellect.


  • Mp5 - Gone. It is being converted to Spirit.


  • Spirit - Is a regen stat only useful to healers.


  • DPS Mana Regen - Based upon Int now?


  • Mastery - According to MMO Champion "Makes you better at what you do."
I was talking to a guildie about these changes and he was pretty unhappy. He thought that it was taking some of the complexity out of our gearing choices and that ultimately all of our choices will be based upon iLevel. I can see where he is coming from but I don't think it is an issue.

What is are we (and caster DPS in general, he is a mage) losing? Spirit is a marginal stat that no one wanted. Mp5 is an even worse stat that people wanted even less. We're not really losing Spell Power, it's just being combined with the marginal stat of Int to make it more relevant. Since we don't balance Int, Spirit, or Mp5 as it is so we aren't loosing any complexity. In fact, we are gaining complexity, because we will have to worry about Mastery.

I only have two worries coming out of this topic. The first is regarding regen. I assume that regen is still going to be important for DPS, I just wonder how we are ment to manage it. My second worry is how this will affect how we gem our gear. Spell Power is the only red gem stat the we currently want. Blue doesn't really have anything we want, and Yellow has a ton of useful stats. If they don't redesign how gems work then we won't have any stats we want from red. Stam will be the only desirable stat from Blue. Yellow will have Int, Crit, Haste, and Hit. Hopefully they will move Int to red, and make Mastery a blue gem stat.

Reforging:

This is a new ability that will work through the professions and allow you to modify the stats on your gear and I the sound of it. If I understand the mechanics correctly, we will be able to reduce one stat on our gear to add a little bit of another stat that is not already on the item. For example, if the item currently has stam, int, crit, and hit on it you could reduce the amount of hit on the item and add some haste to it.

This is awesome. This will make managing our caps a whole lot easier. Just think of all the current items with tons of Hit Rating on them. Those items be come more desirable because you can now convert some of the excess hit into a more desirable stat.

Racials:

Once they first started listing the new racials for Worgen and Goblins I started to get a little jealous.

  • Worgen:
    • Viciousness - +1% damage

    • Dark Flight - +70% run speed for 10 seconds. 3 minute cooldown

    • Abberation - Length of Curses and Diseases reduced by 15%.

    • Flayer - Skinning skill increased by 15 and allows you to skin faster

    • Two Forms - Purely cosmetic


  • Goblin:
    • Best Deals Anywhere - Always receive the best possible gold discount, regardless of faction.

    • Pack Hobgoblin - Calls your personal servant allowing you bank access for 1 min. 30 minute cooldown.

    • Better Living Through Chemistry - Increases Alchemy skill by 15

    • Rocket Barrage - Launches your belt rockets at an enemy, dealing scaling fire damage. 2 minute cooldown.

    • Rocket Jump -Activates your rocket belt to jump forward. 2 minute cooldown.

    • Time is Money - Cash in on a 1% increase to attack and casting speed.
Those are some awesome racials. With paid race changes becoming available at some point, there would be no reason for me to remain Night Elf when I could get access to those awesome Worgen racials, though I would rather have the Goblin racials.

The good news is that they plan on revamping the old racials as well. Hopefully they are along these same lines and just as awesome. Otherwise your going to be sing a ton of Worgen and Goblins running around. There would be no reason ont to switch.

Other Changes:

Professions - The big change here is the addition of level stat gains when you craft Rare or Epic items. For example, if you craft a green item it will only give you 1 skill point but crafting a Blue item may give you 2 or 3 skill points. This should make leveling professions easier and less costly. They also said that they are looking to make Gathering Professions and Fishing more fun.

No Spell Ranks - In the future you will only train a spell once and its damage and mana cost will scale with your level. Not earth shattering but nice. We won't have to run all the way back to a trainer when we level up anymore unless we get access to a new key ability. It's not really surprising given how they changed the way mana costs are determined.

Hunters - They will no longer use Mana and will now use a new resource called Focus. It will behave very similarly to Energy. Not a big impact on me since I don't play a hunter, but thought it was big enough that I should mention.

Warlock - The shard system is getting completely revamped. As a part time lock the changes look good to me, but I will leave it up to the real warlocks to really evaluate these changes. Basically, you will only have 3 shards and they will work like the DK rune system. Shards will only be used in combat to enhance spells.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

what classes these new races will have? i hope not rogue or warrior...already they have too many talents to catch up to range, like hunters...getting those racials will make them invincible

Sitruc said...

Re: leveling a Horde toon, I would definitely recommend it, especially since mounts are now available so cheaply and early. I play Alliance primarily but I leveled an UD mage to around 40 for a change and enjoyed it for exactly the reasons you outlined. I thought Thousand Needles was an especially cool zone, some of the lore is much different on the other side, and the atmosphere of the Horde cities should be experienced as well.

Kerry said...

Mastery is actually part of the talent trees and not related to item stats. Blizzard is trying to eliminate the "must-have" flat bonus damage/healing/etc talents and rolling those into Mastery bonuses. The more points you put into each tree, the better the Mastery bonuses you have. The example I saw was for rogues... one tree had Mastery bonuses to melee damage, melee crit, and poison damage; the seocond melee damage, hit, and armor penetration; and the third melee damage, melee haste, and energy regeneration.

So Mastery won't be a gear balancing issue, but a talent balancing one. We'll have to weigh how much we allocate into the non-Balance talent trees, seeing how much Balance Mastery we'd lose, if the other Mastery gains were worth the talent points, etc.

Kerry said...

*facepalm* That's what I get for thinking I know something. I just found mention of the stat, though the stat ties into the talent Masteries, boosting your highest-point tree's Mastery bonuses as well as giving its own class/spec-specific bonuses. Kind of confusing, actually. I don't really see them changing Int to red, so maybe the Mastery gem will be, as I really doubt they want to leave dps casters in the position of only having one gem color that's of any use.

Anonymous said...

Leveling through Barren's will scar you for life. Avoid it at all costs.

Kheldar said...

it will be very interesting to see this expansion develop with more information coming out over time.

i guess we are year or so away from it releasing so plenty of time for more details and more or updated changes.

i've only ever levelled 1 char to 80. (I do have a 58 mage but he's not levelled in about 18 months and is a back chat).

part of the reason i did not level another char was time but also the fact that i did not want to re-do all the same zones and quests.

so a big re-vamp of Azeroth could make it worth levelling a new char and class.

i've actually just started a DK - months and months after Wrath came out because again i did not want to face the outland grind again.

i'm currently 61 and in HFP /sigh once again doing the same q's and struggling to find people to help me kill Azzarious the Cruel and Grillok Darkeye.

as to the big changes to mp5/spellpower etc i'm all for not making stuff to complicated that only mathematicians can understand !

for many months i've wanted the ability to be able to change a stat on an item for something else and now it appears i'm going to get it :)

Kring said...

> Spirit is a marginal stat that no
> one wanted.

This is not correct... at least not for warlocks. And, actually, I think it was fun to have multiple useful stats.

Besides that, I think they should not remove spell power. If you compare it with melee.

Agi (AP and Crit) -> Int (Mana and Crit)
Str (brute force AP) -> Spellpower (brute force SP)

It's always bad to have some classes scale with more stats than others. When everything scales with Int, the classes will scale way to good with Int.

I did use "of the shadow wrath" in molten core because it wasbetter than epics for some slots. Please don't let me wear "of the intellect" for this expansion...

And, the Blue Slots should be a sacrifice, that's why the meta requires two blue gems. So, having just Stamina for blue would be ok.

Anonymous said...

It would have been really interesting to be in the room and hear them make all of these changes.

Some of the panels can bee seen at youtube. It's actually quite entertaining to hear how the crowd reacts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_xB4opuRb4#t=2m10s

Shem said...

I think the Spell Power removal makes sense. Currently Spell Power comes in close-to static amounts based on ilvl. There's never any choice between an item with SP vs an item with crit... You take the SP item in 99% of cases. Look at gemming- usually it's practical to fill yellow and blue slots with pure SP gems missing out on socket bonuses because of how "necessary" and potent SP is.

I think the new int will be the baseline caster stat that will exist in almost static amounts on all items and that will be gemmed for at the expense of socket bonuses. But good- I'm glad to see a return to core stats. Int being so marginal was sad.

Kring said...

I think it would just make sense to have 2 damage stats for casters.

If Int will increase you spell power, your crit rate, your mana pool, your mana regeneration, your mana gain through effects like judgement and replenishment...

... why not remove the stats altogether and only care about item level? Like for Flame Leviathan?

Thorn said...

What I'm not clear about is when Blizz say only healers need worry about spirit whether they're talking class or spec.

It feels like the WOTLK announcement that spellpower would solve all our (balance druids) gear problems and then we discovered they meant because we could wear leather gear itemised for resto.

I doubt they're ever going to create large amounts of gear for one spec so we'll still be expected to share with resto (I suspect)outside of tier and while reforging offers a partial solution I really want to know if because we're a healing capable class we'll be redesigned to want spirit more or as a dps spec we won't but the leather caster gear will still carry it in larger quantities than we can reforge into more useful stats.

I guess only time will tell though

Kring said...

That's correct, you will wear reforged healer leather and we (the cloth wearer) will wear way superior cloth gear perfectly itemized for damage dealers.

... or reforging will allow to reforge the item type.

Maybe even remove leather and replace it with int or remove armor and replace it with int.

~Gargen said...

@ Kring

"Why not remove the stats altogether and only care about item level? Like for Flame Leviathan?"

Interesting idea but it’s not dynamic. However, I would rather have gear this way so I can wear the gear I like to look at the most. I abhor some of the designs as I don’t like wearing a dress or a funky looking C on my forehead and yes I know I can not have the helm show and most of the time I am in form… I would like to see LW be able to deconstruct or alter gear’s appearances. How cool would it be if you had the ability to alter gear if it’s your skill? I would re-stitch all my gear to look different and I would show off those sockets better. It would be easy for Blizz to program that. Like the old paper dolls you could have patters to choose from but the stats would stay the same or even improve a little with some costly thread…. Blizz puts their efforts into weird things why not something like this?

David said...

There is going to be paid race changes? Faction changes, yes. But race changes?

Pypsi said...

Paid Faction and race changes, yes. According to inital Blizzard responses, Goblins and Worgen will be locked for several months after release. After the expansion has been out a while, you can change to them too.

My friends and I used to jokingly compare Blizzard's frequent stat revamps to 1984's "Newspeak", saying that eventually all gear would just have different values of "+ to Awesome". Maybe we laughed too soon.