Let me start this by saying the most obvious: I am the jaded World of Warcraft player. I played for 4 years and got tired of it. So my view may be a bit skeptical or a bit pessimistic. If you still enjoy WoW, you’ve been warned.
I’ll use the RipTen article about the changes, as it provides a nice bullet list to analyze everything.
- Outdoor world raid bosses will be returning
“Returning” is a weird word here. As far as I know, Cataclysm did add the world raid bosses after they have been unseen since Vanilla. I did farm Azuregos with a certain frequency, but never saw the new bosses.
- Valor points will be available as quest rewards via dailies
The type of daily quest isn’t mentioned. It could be something like “Timear Foresses”, which require you to do a dungeon to kill a certain number of dungeon-citizens. And, since you were there, there was no reason to complete the dungeon for the points/emblems. It could be, on the other hand, that you have to kill things around the dungeon, which you can do it alone.
In a way, if we are talking about the second option, it means that the inherent value of points will be diminished, and you’ll need more to get your dungeon/pre-raid gear. If it’s the first… then nothing really changed.
- 5 new zones to level up in
Probably in Pandaria, for the Pandarens. Worgens and Goblins had less zones, but there was a heavy use of phasing, but it you count them, it will probably bring it close to 5 too.
- One continent with an Asian influence
That’s Pandaria. Expected due the title and the only real surprise is that Blizzard decided to make an expansion based on a joke.
- Banking, Auction House and quest hubs all available on the new continent
This only means the new zone will not be overrun by an enemy faction or completely blown up.
- Flying will not be available until level 90 on the new continent
… for now. I guess it will be completely open in WoW 6.0, as almost the same thing happened to Icecrown, although it was even before 4.0 landed.
- Pandaria rests on the back of a giant turtle
“Turtles all the way down”? Still, just design, it probably won’t affect anything.
- Pandaren are a neutral race. At level 10, the player pledged alliegance to the Alliance or the Horde
This is the first point I have a problem with. I kept hearing over and over again that Blizzard wanted to keep a different silhouette for PvP, so one could see, from far away, if that guy coming was a friend or an enemy, which is pretty good, IMHO. The problem now is that, because Pandaren can be either Horde or Alliance, to keep the silhouette, they will have to create different gear based on faction — and Tier 9 (and related Arena season gear) proved that it’s a huge deal for Blizzard: They couldn’t come with good designs for it and later scrapped the whole thing.
They could resort to coloring the gear (e.g., a Tauren paladin will have red-ish gear, while a Draenei paladin will have the same gear, but with blue tint), though, but that screws them in the other way: Right now, when a new tier is introduced, they add some bells and whistles to the previous one and add some coloring. By making the gear color based, to introduce a new tier, they will need to add much more differentiation.
- A new race known as the Mantid will be threatening Pandaria
Here comes the new enemy… Fortunately, this means Kael’jaden, Ner’zhul, Deathwing and all dragons where finally vanquished, so Azerothians can move to save other things.
Also, I can’t stop thinking about Cantha. Cantha is the continent introduced in the Factions expansion of Guild Wars, which have an Asian feeling around it (like Pandaria). And guess which is the first type of enemy you find? Mantids!
If there is any relationship between Asia and insects, I do not know. But it’s kinda curious this, isn’t it?
- Pandaren classes: Hunter, Mage, Monk, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warrior
So you can’t be a hero Deathknight, which solves the problem people had with the lore with the introduction of Worgen and Goblins. I just don’t get why a race can be warrior and priest and not a paladin, which is just a combination of both.
(Actually, I can: It probably means there are too many paladins already).
- Monk Races – Draeni, Dwarf, Gnome, Human, Night Elf, Pandaren, Blood Elf, Orc, Tauren, Troll, Undead
Everyone except those pesky Cataclysm races.
Again, probably ’cause the Goblin and Worgen population is high enough already.
- Pandaren racials: Bouncy = Falling damage reduced by half. Inner Peace = Your reseted xp bonuses lasts twice as long. Gourmand = Cooking skill increased by 15. Epicurean racial = Increases the stats benefits from food by 100%
Bouncy is not interesting at all (RIFT’s dwarfs have density which is pretty much the same thing and it’s said it’s one the worse racial of them all), Inner Peace is there just to let people rolling new Pandaren catch up with their friends, Gourmand is meh and Epicurean is just that racial to make the whole race worth anything (racial-wise, that is).
- Monk Brewmaster = tank / Monk Misterweaver = healer (melee based) / Monk Windwalker = melee DPS
(Combined to reduce space). Honestly, I’m really really curious about Misterweaver. Somewhat, I expect it to be what a RIFT “Justicar healer” would be, if such soul combination was possible and viable (currently, it isn’t): Sacrifices a bit of damage but each attack heals the party or a single, buffed target. Unless they make it a “touch”-based class, which would require you to run around touching people to heal them.
The Brewmaster will probably be RIFT rogue tank with a lots of evasion (like a ninja/Kung Fu master) or either a bear tank: Some evasion but lots of health.
Windwalker, by the description of the weapons (there is a bullet point of it later) probably means it will work somewhat like enhancement shamans worked in Vanilla/The Burning Crusade.
- The Monk is not a hero class and begins at level 1
- Monks will wear leather armor and primarily wield staves and fist weapons
That’s what I meant by saying that the DPS will work like the Vanilla/TBC Enhancement Shaman — with the added staff, obviously.
- New resource system for the Monk uses Chi (energy). The Monk’s primary attack of Jab generates light and dark force, which are the resource for other special abilities
Same bar, different color.
- The Monk has no auto attack
Oh, look! Blizzard is trying to make what every other MMORPG is doing these days. How cute! I wonder how the other classes will work. Will they also lose their auto-attacks or will the monk be the “odd one”?
Soon: Dodge attacks.
- Talent trees are being redesigned (again). No longer will there be talent points or ranks. There will be one talent tree per class. Talents will be learned every fifteen levels and each talent will be between a choice of three. The design goal is that there be no mandatory talents.
I guess what will happen is this: First, you select your tree. Then, every 15 levels, a new row appears and you have to pick one of 3. Once done, you have to play another 15 levels to get a new row and a new talent.
This is a big “FUUUUUU”. They took even the talent trees away. It probably means, if you want to be a paladin tank, for example, you just pick the talents in the second column every 15 levels.
Instead of making talents more relevant or interesting, to the point that each one would be interesting in different situations (so that those characters with mixed trees would behave a bit differently in different situations, one covering the other), they simply gave up any thinking this kind of stuff and took everything away.
There was a joke when Cataclysm was released about Blizzard taking all talents away and you would only chose a tree. This is pretty much the step before that.
- Talents will be changed in a similar manner to glyphs
Glyphs are still there, so scribes don’t need to QQ.
- A new UI has been designed
I guess this will be a response to the number of people using Tukui/ElvUI or whatever. I pretty much doubt the will completely overhaul the UI and go with something that looks like Guild Wars 2, for example.
- PVE scenarios: Short instances for a small number of players, similar to questing and without any class or role requirement. Essentially epic quests which reward valor or justice points
Group quests removed in Cataclysm, now return with the name of “PVE scenarios”. Also, instantiated. Same old.
- Challenge mode dungeons: Complete a dungeon in a set time to receive bronze, silver or gold medals. Also a source of valor points. Will include competitive rank and leader boards
You know, when I heard about “Challenge Mode Dungeons” the first time, I thought they would add something like what Guild Wars 2 will do with their “Exploration mode” dungeons. In there, the dungeon difficulty is increased, being aimed to concise/organized groups, capable of playing together (while in “story mode”, which you must do in the first time, is targeted to PuG groups). Basically, Exploration Mode is a 5 man raid.
(Also, “Exploration Mode” for dungeons, you can chose up to 3 different paths, which means you can play a single dungeon in 4 different ways.)
But Challenge Mode is simply “run it as fast as you can”. If there is any skippable boss, you can be sure that more people with better gear will skip it, even if you want to kill all bosses to get more points/emblems. Happened before, will happen again.
- Pet battle system: Essentially Pokemon – Use 3 pets to challenge another trainer (I mean player) to a turn based combat. Pets can hold items. You can travel around the world to defeat Pokemon Masters (I mean, plain old Masters). Defeating them earns you their ability
Soon, Tamagochis for your character!
Instead of making the vanity pets a bit more useful like, say, Torchlight pets, allowing you to send them to a city to sell your trash and get some gold in return, or giving them the ability to warn you of some enemy approaching (in PvP/PvP servers, like vanity pets do in Aion), they came with Pokemons.
Yes, yes, it’s another minigame, so you have something to do while waiting for your raid group instead of dueling outside where you can be ganked but meh.
- 9 new dungeons will be available at launch, including 6 within Pandaria. The remaining 3 are Heroic Scholomance and Heroic Scarlet Monastery (wings 1 and 2)
And the recycling continues.
- 3 new raids at launch, featuring Mantids as enemies amongst others
Wanna bet this will be one of the scratched points on release?
- Raid finder will continue to be operational
Nothing much to say besides “ok”.
- More focus will be given to max level content. Blizzard acknowledges that Cataclysm had a dearth of activities to occupy players at max level
I just hope that Blizzard finally learnt that “max level content” doesn’t mean only dungeons and raids. Seriously. I didn’t enjoy PuGing around and there was almost nothing to do after I reached level 85 in Cataclysm.
- Incentives to complete dailies – complete 5 dailies, a special piece of loot may become available in a dungeon which can only be rolled upon by those who have completed said dailies
So first you need to complete your dailies, then you can do your dungeons. This will piss some people claiming that they have a life and they can’t just do all dailies and then do dungeons and what Blizzard is thinking and the same things we heard before.
I’m not sure what Blizzard is trying to accomplish here. To keep people playing more time? Why? If people play for 30 minutes and feel that they accomplished something and got rewarded for it, the better, as this will required less server power, allowing some servers to be run on the same machine. It’s a win situation ’cause it will save on hardware on the long run. Doing this does exactly the opposite.
- Less grinding to earn faction rep
But just faction rep. You will still have to grind 5 dailies to get a good reward in the dungeon.
- New battlegrounds being considered – Diamond Mine (first to X resources wins),Valley of Power (hold and retain an object, object damages player over time, multiple point zones), Azshara Crater (DOTA)
A new Arathi Basin, a new Black Garden and a new Dota.
It shouldn’t be “considered”. Battlegrounds are basically stale, with only 4 types of gameplay availble. Valley of Power and Azshara Crater would make this number jump to 6™, which would reduce the boredom of doing “capture the flag” over and over again in two different maps.
- New arena – Tol’vir Proving Grounds
Wasn’t the focus shifting to battlegrounds ’cause that was easier to balance? Why a new arena?
- Resilience is now a base stat. PvP gear will add to it
Which means gear level didn’t increased as much as they wanted. Or they wanted to keep something for lowlies to defend themselves against ganks. Or that they plan to free points spent in Resilience in other stats.
- Hunter minimum range removed, along with melee weapon usage
- Ranged and relic slots removed for all other characters. Wands are now main hand weapons. Warriors and rogues can throw their melee weapon
Less things to design, less things to balance. Basically, lazing out.
Oh, I just realized that Warrior tanks will probably get their own “Avenger’s Shield” now… HOMOGENIZATION FTW? MEH!
- Warlocks: Each warlock spec will utilise a different resource. Soul shards for affliction. Demonology warlocks will morph into demons once their demonic fury maxes out. Destruction warlocks build up fire energy then release it devastatingly
Curious, but it feels like Afflication will have a decreasing resource, while Demonology and Destruction will have a Life Force-like resource (do damage, get resource; use special ability, consume resource).
- Shamans: Buff totems have been removed. Earthgrab totem = big root. Repulsion totem = prevents mobs from closing. Bulward totem = absorbs damage
And then Shamans will gain Blessings-like spells and the homogenization of the classes will just follow its course.
- Druids: Have 4 specs. Feral = cat melee DPS. Guardian = bear tank. Restoration and Boomkin round out the remainder.
What I’m wondering here is if Restoration and Boomkin will have to share the same spells, making them a Chloromancer of sorts — which is not bad, it was one of the funniest classes I ever played, specially as healer.
- All class rotations have been improved, as have spellbooks. Spells are automatically learned. Trainers will exist for the purpose of respeccing
No more not enough money to buy spells. At the same time, it feels a bit like spell unlocking in Guild Wars 2, which is based on how much you played (Guild Wars 2 does based on weapon, WoW will probably do it based on level).
It starts as “Oh!”, “Ah!” and ends with a big “MEH!” Sure, some things are interesting but one have to ask if that’s enough to bring 1 million people back to the game. Also, you must remember that, till this is finally released, Star Wars: The Old Republic will be already going on, Guild Wars 2 will be probably out and RIFT will have 2 or 3 more content patches (by the speed they are doing things these days).
It’s a rought time to World of Warcraft. Which is a good thing. The more pressure other MMOs put on WoW, the better Blizzard have to work; the better Blizzard works, the more the other MMOs will improve. It’s good that Blizzard is finally feeling some heat, and we all, no matter which one is our favourite game, will win.