Alpha News

All the interesting Blizzard news seems to happen while I’m sleeping so this is what I woke up to this morning – news from the Alpha for the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion.

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Here’s what I found most interesting:

A New File Format

A new proprietary file format called CASC (Content Addressable Storage Container) will be used in the Warlords of Draenor alpha and beta tests, with the intent to convert everyone to the new format in a pre-expansion patch.

It provides a ton of benefits not only for us and our ability to support and patch the game, but also for players. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • File Corruption – File repair tools are a thing of the past. The file structure maintains itself, helping to prevent errors during installation.
  • Speed – Real-world game performance should increase for many players thanks to a non-redundant file structure—in layman’s terms, the game can find the assets it’s looking for more quickly.
  • Patching – Updating your game files should be faster and more reliable. Patch data is integrated seamlessly, and no longer requires double the installation size on-disk when patching.
  • Client Hotfixing - CASC allows us to be able to hotfix client game data, similar to server hotfixes, giving us the ability to address client-side issues that would normally require a patch.
  • Streaming – The new format provides better support for streaming data and gives us greater flexibility to define how content updates are delivered and released.
  • Expandable – The file structure is built to allow easy integration of new technologies in the future that we haven’t even thought up yet.

. . . and more!

This new format is currently being used for the Heroes of the Storm alpha.

Blood Elf Spell

Blood Elf Racials

  • Arcane Acuity is a new racial passive ability that increases Critical Strike chance by 1%.
  • Arcane Torrent now restores 20 Runic Power for Death Knights (up from 15 Runic Power), 1 Holy Power for Paladins, or 3% of mana for Mages, Priests, and Warlocks (up from 2% of Mana). Other parts of the ability remain unchanged.

Instant cast heals

Priest (mainly Discipline) Changes

We’ve made a few significant changes to Priests as well, focused mostly on reining in Discipline absorbs, improving quality of life for both healing Priest specializations, and solving single-target damage issues for Shadow.

Atonement was the original damage-to-healing conversion ability, but grew out of control during Mists of Pandaria. We decided to reduce its effectiveness, to bring it more in line with our goal of it being an option to trade significant healing for significant damage (ending up somewhere between a full healer and a full damage dealer). Another place where Discipline’s absorbs were too strong was in their interaction with the level-90 Talents, especially in large Raids. Near the end of Mists of Pandaria, we uncapped the AoE healing of that Talent row; that has proven to be a mistake in Discipline’s case, not because it caused the level-90 Talents themselves to heal for too much, but rather because the gigantic overhealing that that produced translated into gigantic Divine Aegis absorbs. To get back to a balanced place, we’ve reapplied the AoE caps to the level-90 Talents, making them consistent with all other AoE heals.

  • Atonement now heals for 25% less than before.
  • Halo and Divine Star now follow standard AoE capping rules.

Professions

Some of our goals with Professions in Warlords of Draenor are to make them more of a personal choice, and less of a mandatory “min/max” selection. To that end, we’re removing the direct combat benefits of Professions. Additionally, we’ve made it easier to level Mining and Herbalism. Healing Potions have gone mostly unused lately, compared to combat stat potions. We chose to solve that problem, along with a problem with Warlock utility, by having Healing Potions and Healthstones share cooldowns.

  • Herbalists can now harvest herbs throughout the game world without hard skill requirements. The yield an Herbalist will be able to harvest from each node is now determined by skill level.
  • Miners can now harvest mineral nodes in outdoor areas of the game world without hard skill requirements. The yield a Miner will be able to harvest from each node is now determined by skill level.
  • Healing Potions no longer share a cooldown with other potions, but instead share a 60-second cooldown with Healthstones. The cooldown will not reset until the player leaves combat.

Garrisons

The Iron Horde army is massive and reinforcements from Azeroth are few. In order to stand a chance, you will need to build an army of your own.

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  • Undertake an epic quest to build a permanent base of operations on Draenor.
  • Find blueprints and materials to expand and customize your Garrison.
  • Recruit followers with unique skills and abilities to your cause.
  • Send followers on missions to level them up and acquire bonus loot.
  • Begin the quest for your Garrison in Shadowmoon Valley or Frostfire Ridge.

To read more, check out the complete list of Alpha Patch Notes for Warlords of Draenor™

As a reminder,

I can’t tell you how excited I am about Garrisons and the chat feature on the Battle.net launcher was a nice touch. What do you think of the notes so far?

Author: Cymre

A disc priest and relic hunter who loves collecting achievements, silver dragon shots and pets. Other hobbies include transmog / costumes, novelty items, class sets as well as all things pets.

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6 Comments

  1. Im really looking forward to the next expansion, that said. The alpha news and new file format is interesting and neat. little changes to priest but im holy here. So i think im fine but with Halo changes hmm… Hoping i get an invite for beta test for sure!

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    • I’m a bit nervous about the news of new cast times (1,5 sec) on many of the previously instant heal spells. I guess it’ll mainly be an issue in PvP, but it will effect PvE as well. For example “Prayer of Mending” is going up to 1,5 sec.

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      • I’m not a fan of those changes either so it will be interesting to try them out.

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  2. Garrisons sound like a lot of fun. I’m trying not to get too excited about anything after the path of the titans thing but it sounds like garrisons are a pretty sure bet.

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    • I’m pretty disappointed there isn’t any real pet news except for a few tweets now and then but hopefully that just means we’ll get a proper post later.

      Post a Reply

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