Expansion

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Alpha News

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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?

Dread Raven and Hatchling

Pre-Order Warlords of Draenor

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In the wee hours of the morning, my twitter and facebook feeds were filled with excitement about pre-purchasing the new expansion. Even with a possible release date as late as December (or as early as September) it’s hard not to wonder about a closed beta like in previous expansions. Now as much as I’d love to be involved in building my own garrison or seeing how many spots I’ll save with the toy box changes, I’m happy to wait for the developers and stakeholders to be at a stage where they’re ready for the next phase of testing.

WoD pre-purchase

Expect to pay AUD$54.95 and AUD$74.95 respectively.

Until then, here’s what you can expect from the expansion:

Forge your future from the iron of the past

The Iron Horde must be stopped. Garrosh Hellscream has escaped to the past and united with his father Grommash, fierce leader of Warsong clan. Together they are forging the orc clans of Draenor into a savage war machine. It falls to you to crush the Iron Horde before the Dark Portal is completed and the invasion begins. Travel to the Draenor of the past: a world of giants and monsters, a world the fearsome and legendary orc chieftains call home. Face the dangers of this untamable world and bring down the Iron Horde — before both the past and the future are lost forever.

Includes Level 90 Character Boost (saving of US$60 from the Blizzard Store)
Pre-Purchase: Game is expected to release on or before 12/20/2014
Includes levels 91–100
Requires World of Warcraft and Mists of Pandaria

Digital Deluxe Edition

Upgrade to the Digital Deluxe edition and enhance your adventures in Draenor with epic in-game items, such as the bloodthirsty Dread Raven mount and more. In addition to a full digital copy of the game, the Digital Deluxe edition comes with the following digital items (available in-game once purchased):

Dread Raven and Hatchling

 

Dread Raven Mount and Dread Hatchling Pet

Swoop down from the dark night skies on the back of a black-winged Dread Raven mount, a mortal progeny of Anzu. Then devour your prey in your next pet battle with the adorably ferocious Dread Hatchling.

 

StarCraft II – Portraits

Summon the strength of two of the most deadly Iron Horde war chiefs – Grommash Hellscream and Blackhand – as you take on the Dominion with these two StarCraft II portraits.

Diablo III – Warsong Pennant

Brandish this battle-torn pennant on your back, and channel the rage of the Warsong Clan against the demonic forces of Sanctuary in Diablo III.

Info taken from the Blizzard website

Considering how much a mount normally costs in the Blizzard Store, spending an extra $20 for a mount and pet combo seems like a great deal even if I’m not really interested in the other perks.

So, do you plan on pre-purchasing one of these editions or are you going to wait for the physical Collector’s release? As much as I love looking through the Collector’s Editions, I’m opting for the Digital release again.

Tox box

Plans for the Toy Box

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As you know, many of the fun items we’ve collected til now will soon have their own UI but a few questions still lingered, like the gimmicky items we need to equip:

  • Orb of Deception
  • Super Simian Sphere
  • Burgy Blackheart’s Handsome Hat
  • Time-Lost Figurine

Rygarius (the Community Manager at Blizzard) answered many of these questions today by saying “the idea is to have these items converted into something similar to a spell. You’ll be able to activate the effect without equipping the item”.

Although when asked about Disco Balls and Picnic Baskets (or more specifically redeeming the codes), we were urged to hold onto those items.

In terms of Archaeology toys, it was confirmed they’d be included in the Toybox tab. “But please continue hanging onto those items while details are still being worked out”.

They are currently unsure of how the Haunted Memento will work “as we don’t know how that item will interact with the Toybox tab yet as it has a number of special qualities (can be thrown, its effect is activated by simply having it in your inventory). The important thing is none of the items are being removed. If an item doesn’t make it into the Toybox tab, the item will remain as it always has”.

Other points of interest

Some items (such as Sylvanas’ Music Box) may be character specific if we find a need for it. Still, a vast majority of the items in the Toybox will be account-wide.

We’ll be keeping an eye out for quest items (like Archmage Vargoth’s staff) that players have been holding onto for fun and won’t convert it into a quest item so it wouldn’t go away.

When asked about the Jade Raccoon, Rygarius stated that they “haven’t determined what will or won’t be considered a toy and recommend that you don’t vendor or delete anything just yet”.

We’re still undecided on how the cooldowns will work at this time.

As a final disclaimer, he added:

This feature is still early in development. Depending on how it works out once we’re able to test it, some things may change. The goal of the Toybox is to free up inventory space. Items that don’t make it into the Toybox because of technical or other reasons should still be left alone with no change.

At the end of the day, we’ll still have a lot of room to play with which is what a lot of us need right now. I for one can’t wait for this improvement.

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