This is a great day to be a Blizzard fan!

gobmage

Level 1 Goblin LFG!

This is truly a great day to be a Blizzard fan.  There is so much information pouring out from Blizzcon that I won’t even try to report on it for you.  Go to WoW.com or your favorite news site and they’ll fill you in on everything.  I’m more interested in how these announcements will affect me personally as an avid gamer and lifelong Blizzard fan.

deathwingsmall
Deathwing

As I mentioned in my original blog post about the Cataclysm rumors (now confirmed), I said I would be returning to WoW if this all turned out to be true.  I meant it, and I plan to return now.  Just reading through their FAQ to gain an understanding about what to expect, I saw one line in particular that removed all doubt about what I should expect:

“Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms are central to World of Warcraft lore, and we want those areas to remain an important part of the game, not just a place to train or auction. Our goal is to make questing, leveling, and the overall story more fun for new, returning, and existing players. By redesigning areas of the original continents and introducing new content that matches or exceeds the quality of Wrath of the Lich King, we can revitalize the nostalgia and coolness of Azeroth.”

The “old world” or “vanilla WoW” (whatever you want to call it) receiving phasing technology, the same type of quality from WotLK content, and a major face lift means that I can return to the game and experience 1) Quality content and 2) Nostalgia.  We all know that looking back and remembering how content or gameplay was years ago never matches the reality of how it is today, so the opportunity for nostalgia to make an appearance and exceed the quality of yesterday is beyond words.

The trailer shows a few zones that are also mentioned in the FAQ.  “Nearly all of the game’s original zones are being altered to some degree, but the extent of the changes varies by zone”, states the FAQ.  I’m hoping that we see surprising changes throughout the game on the same level as Desolace’s transformation.   While I’m worried that I could possibly be building this up beyond even Blizzard’s abilities, I know that so far they have been the only company to ever match hype with results.

Bringing Deathwing into the fray makes me giddy with glee.  Day of the Dragon is an amazing book (that I am now searching for on my shelves to reread) if any of you are interested in some Deathwing lore.  Deathwing is probably the coolest “bad guy” in all of the lore making the Lich King look like a scrub.

So whether or not I return to WoW is no longer in question, but rather when.  Blizzard is saying 2010 for cataclysm which puts it at around 2 years after WotLK.  That gives me plenty of time to enjoy Aion (over a year) and establish whether or not I’ll play it longer.  Where this begins to conflict is with SWTOR… this could get messy.  On one hand I’m a Star Wars fanboy, and on the other I’m a Blizzard (Warcraft Lore) fanboy.  The only chance I have of playing both (due to $$$) would be dropping Aion and playing both SWTOR and WoW.    Maybe this should have been titled “This is a great day to be a MMORPG fan”.

Diablo 3 getting pushed into 2011 or later makes me die a little inside.  I was hoping for a late 2010 release.  Blizzard is really wanting Cataclysm and Starcraft 2 to be their 2010 titles though.  The new class announcement for D3 is the Monk.  I remember playing an unofficial Diablo expansion called Hellfire which was developed by Sierra.  There was a Monk in that game and he was really fun and seemed to fit right in with the game’s style.  The trailer for the Monk does not disappoint at all – in fact it makes me want to abandon any ideas I had about the other classes and play one.  Such a magnificent looking environment in that video as well.

I guess it’s going to be a busy year anyway without D3.  Finding time to play SC2, WoW, SWTOR (Assuming it’s 2010 and not push out further), and all of these games … awesome and horrible problem to have all at the same time.  As I find more information, or more becomes available, I’m excited where our discussions can go about the coming year.

Update: I just learned about the new Battle.net and its features.  Looks like we were right in predicting premium services and a Xbox Live direction for the system.   Profiles, Avatars, Account-wide (not game or character wide) achievements, communication across all games via this platform, and a marketplace.  It sounds like everything Graev and I predicted Bnet would turn into.

Makes sense why SC2 is delayed now – they’re adding crap we don’t need.  It will be the first game to utilize this market for premium custom made content.  I don’t like this idea at all as it appears to be the pandora’s box waiting to be opened.  Charging for the popular custom maps is nothing but a cash grab and I don’t buy the excuse about giving modders the credit and part of the money for their effort as a legitimate reason.  This won’t be the end of it.

SC2 Map Marketplace
SC2 Map Marketplace
  • considering picked up WoW again just to hit at least 60 again, the worgen look really cool. will try not to get sucked into the end game again though.
    didn’t think about the SWTOR clash, that might suck.

  • Right there with ya — they’re putting the content where their players are. There’s basically 2 groups of WoW players now, broadly speaking: the levelers and the endgamers. This expansion feeds them content at the expense of adding new levels at max (5 instead of 10, and no talent tree deepening).

    It’s a good move, and it’s probably meant to be a substitute for having to make WoW2. If they keep remaking the old world, they can advance the story without ever having to be responsible for maintaining dated or obsolete content.

    The downside is for nostalgia buffs — there will be places you’ll never be able to visit again, except in screenshots. Unless Blizz goes 100 percent back on their word and creates museum-piece “classic” servers. Which they won’t. 🙂

    All in all, a pretty bold step in my mind, though the Blizz haters will have plenty to hate, for sure.

  • Not that I really care much for it (I’m definitely not going back that road again), but one thing I was wondering: what happens to people who don’t want to buy the expansion?

    If you didn’t want to buy the previous two, than you could just keep playing the classic content, no problem (I have a friend who’s still doing that). But now what? After this expansion, there won’t be any “classic” content anymore, everything will be revamped.

    Will they have to buy the Cataclysm to continue playing? Can they get that without the others, or they’ll need to buy all three even if they only want to play 1-60?

  • Kemwer, if they do as they did with Burning Crusade, you’ll have access to all the leveling content except for the new races’ starter zones, which will be on a separate world server.

    However, if they accomplish Cataclysm entirely by phasing, you’ll essentially have 2 entirely different versions of Azeroth — one for people who buy the XP and one who don’t.

    I doubt they’ll do the latter.

  • Adding incentivized open world PvP (on the PvP servers) would really go far in gaining my resub. Otherwise, it’s still the same ‘ole same ‘ole at the endgame, which makes me a sad panda. A sad panda who won’t resub.

    Honestly, how hard would this be for Blizzard to do? It would probably take all of 30 seconds.

    -> Edit table_player
    player_loot = true
    player_xp = true

    How negatively would it impact the game? Not at all!

  • They stated that the world changes will happen for everyone, regardless of if they have the x-pack or not. The brand new zones (Mt. Hyjal/Uldum/and so on) won’t be available if you don’t have the x-pack.

  • What worries me is Blizzard’s current laziness affecting the expansion. Blizzard has always been lazy when it comes to environment models, character models, mob models and the like. Now they are putting an entire expansion on top of old content, does that mean that everything will be rehashed? I hope not.

    With the other horrible decisions that Blizzard has implemented lately (ability to role horde and alliance characters on the same server on PvP servers), going ultra casual with content and a host of others, this expansion, while interesting, is not enough to convince me to come back.

    Hopefully, they will make World PvP interesting, make the classes less homogenized and make grouping viable again in places other than instances. Do that and I may give a whirl, until then; count me out.

  • Well as an actual WoW newbie with less than two months played, I am in two minds about this. The only WotLK content I have seen so far is the Death Knight starting area, which does feature the phasing everyone seems to rave about. I didn’t think much of it, really. Seemed a bit of an unecessary gimmick.

    Luckily I have enough time left to see most of Azeroth as it is now, before the Cataclysm chnges it all. I do think that both these huge geological upheavals MMOs go in for are a terrible cliche now, as are the global wars. It would be more original for an MMO to have some peace agreements followed by resettlement and development of the battlefields.

    On the other hand, I haven’t played WoW long enough to have an emotional attachment tothe old version, so the news isn’t traumatic as it would be in other MMOs I’ve played.

  • Peace agreement? Thats where the current game is at basicly.. Well, you havent encountered anything else, so I doubt you could tell it apart.

    Following the leaks, Alliance and Horde are going at it again in 2010!

    Real war baby =3.

  • It will never be Horde vs. Alliance in open world until they rid themselves of the Arena system. At any given time the majority of PvP’ers are in the Arena or battlegrounds. No one world PvPs anymore except for the occasional gank.

    God, I detest arenas….

  • Very excited about WoW: Cataclysm. I think reworking the original content is a fantastic move by Blizzard… now I just hope that one day they rework the original character models 🙂

    I’d hope for a summer 2010 release but who knows with Blizzard. From interviews I’ve read, it sounds like they are trying to release expansions more frequently so I’d hope that it’s possible.

    I wouldn’t be surprised is SW:TOR ends up being a 2011 release.

    As for Diablo 3 being pushed back until 2011… I didn’t know that. That’s… crazy…

  • @Naamah: Perhaps not in open-world PvP, but I don’t see any reason why Blizzard can’t make an “abyss” style area.

    They mentioned during the preview panel that there will be a new pvp zone called Tol Barad which will be like Quel’Danas meets Wintergrasp that people fight over for control to do daily quests – sounds hideous to me that this is the reason to fight, but I don’t see why they couldn’t make a much bigger area for the Horde and Alliance to fight it out. Add real strongholds and stuff like that.

    The game needs some form of real struggle between the Horde and Alliance. They’re bringing the lore full circle; might as well.

    @We Fly Spitfires: I’m betting a late 2010 launch, somewhere around September to November for Cataclysm. If for no other reason than this, SWTOR should delay at least 6+ months after Cataclysm. Give people time to play.

  • I think this expansion is very “meh”. Sure there are some things people have asked for, old world rehash. (which by the will will effect everyone even if you don’t buy the exspansion)

    But nothing screams OMG come back! I will probably not pick this up.

  • Nothing about improving graphics? I just played the trial version and I felt as though I had stepped back in time. Graphics have improved in the last couple years.

    After a couple hours playing I had seen enough.

  • Blizz can’t make an Abyss style area because Blizz is completely clueless when it comes to MMO pvp. I assumed the past 5 or 6 years made that pretty clear 🙂

  • Also, after reading about this expansion, it seems almost a 100% cosmetic expansion. 2 new races? Cosmetic. New and redesigned zones? Cosmetic. No point in even mentioning the new BG, because all the BG’s suck in WoW. New instances? Nothing new there, they’ve been adding new instances forever, which just provide a slight obstacle to getting shinies. Flying in Azeroth? Meh, should have been in awhile ago, and it’s not like flying is a new feature to WoW. A month or two after Cataclysm is released, the end game will still be the exact same thing it has been for the past several years: Raiders on a schedule doing instances to get purples, Arena players flexing epeen to get Arena gear, and then the poor casuals just running some BGs and doing Heroic 5 mans so they can pretend they are even somewhat close to having the gear that hardcore raiders/arena players have.

    This is the same WoW people have been playing for the past several years, just in a new shiny package.

  • @ Idunaz

    You seem to miss that the entire 1-60 experience is different with the zones being redesigned with wotlk type storylines, phasing, and quests.

    Beyond that, it isn’t cosmetic so much as it is lore. The next 5 levels are all about storyline.

  • Like I said. New visuals for zones, with the same type of quests we’ve been doing for years? It’s impressive how Blizzard can convince players to start a new character with a class they’ve likely played before and level it for 80+ levels because it looks like a Goblin instead of a troll heh. You’re still leveling up through those first 60 levels just to get to the same endgame that WoW has had for 5 years. When you reach 85, there really isn’t any truly NEW content. It’s still 5/10/25 man instances for gear, arena for epeen, and BG’s for the people who can’t play enough to do the first 2.

  • @Idunaz: You’re more than likely right. I won’t deny it. I’ll likely end up playing 1-85, see it’s the same end-game, and quit a few weeks later. But would that 1-85 have been worth it? That’s what matters to me. And there’s always the (LoL) chance that Blizzard will see the error of their end-game ways. 😉

    Update: I just learned about the new Battle.net and its features. Looks like we were right in predicting premium services and a Xbox Live direction for the system. Profiles, Avatars, Account-wide (not game or character wide) achievements, communication across all games via this platform, and a marketplace. It sounds like everything Graev and I predicted Bnet would turn into.

    Makes sense why SC2 is delayed now – they’re adding crap we don’t need. It will be the first game to utilize this market for premium custom made content. I don’t like this idea at all as it appears to be the pandora’s box waiting to be opened. Charging for the popular custom maps is nothing but a cash grab and I don’t buy the excuse about giving modders the credit and part of the money for their effort as a legitimate reason. This won’t be the end of it.

    SC2 Map Marketplace

  • Although this seems like a cool idea I still have no interest in going back to WoW. 4 years of treadmill raiding is enough for me thank you very much!

  • @Keen, I would like to play this game with you again, seems my warhammer guild isn’t going to play WoW again.

  • > “Diablo 3 getting pushed into 2011 or later ”

    This doesn’t make much sense to me. The game 2.5D/isometric-view graphics are already dated *today*, in spite of better technology, models etc.
    In 2 years, who’s going to but such a crappy looking game?

    Still I agree the Monk class looks cool 🙂

  • D3 delayed until 2011. Not that I didn’t see it coming, but bleah. I’d consider coming back for this expansion if it really delivers a fresh, quality 1-60 experience and sound world PVP. Pretty impressive considering I was almost sure I was done. We’ll see….

  • Let me raid MC, BWL, AQ40, with 40 people for loot and I will play, if not just another expansion I will on be picking up. SWTOR looks alright at the moment but GW2 is my main choice.

    The landscape changes are alright but if I still have to kill 5 wolfs then some goblins at a mine I will never pick it up. Blizz needs to go back and really work on their begging quests since that is what we have to play through all over again.

  • Diablo 3 pushed back to 2011, so the next WoW expansion can be a re-hash of the old world?

    I really don’t see how this is a good thing. at all.

    Especially with SC2 just being a re-make of the original.

    Sounds like a company that has run out of their own ideas, continues to cherry pick other games and copy them, and who knows how to squeeze every last ounce of money from their player base.

    I have one word for this…

    MEH

    I really didn’t think this rumor was going to pan out.. but now it makes so much more sense.

  • I think the only stuff that really sounds cool is the Archaeology and… I dunno, the new Desolace? Maybe Azshara with actual content? Ok, Gilneas looks cool enough, in a “hey, look Ravenloft, cool” sort of way. The rest just sounds Meh.

    The re-use of content doesn’t even bother me, but the way they’re doing it – hey, look, we added LAVA! And Phasing!! And Heroic Effin’ Shadow Fang Keep!!! – it’s all just OLD, literally.

    The two new races don’t seem particularly cool to me, all I see is a couple stupid imbalanced abilities for PvP, and a fun toy for people who want to reroll again. I only got to level 60 the first time by dual boxing using RAF 300% XP, I’m sure not leveling an alt, new content be damned.

    BG design has been terrible since Arathi Basin, and frankly I don’t think WoW is suited to team pvp with more than 5 people to a side, so my excitement for rated BGs is seriously tempered. The stat culling seems really boring, although some of the class and profession changes are badly needed (if not inspired).

    Really, this feels like a lot of stuff that needed to be done years ago, or just obvious fixes, which just doesn’t cut it. This is coming from someone who still subs to WoW (to play weekly with IRL friends who have moved away), as well – I just don’t play more than I absolutely have to out of boredom. This expo won’t change that.

    Guildwars 2 trailer got me really excited, in contrast, just due to overwhelmingly cool design and imagination in terms of world design. I think my priorities have just changes and WoW doesn’t turn my crank anymore. I have to backtrack a bit, there are some very cool things in this news for WoW fans, and Blizz seems to be making a lot of the right (and hard) decisions here.

  • So in 2 years we will still have MMO magazines that actually do not much besides giving their daily report from the WoW court?

    I am pretty excited, but I cannot forget what made me quit WoW. They simplify the game even more, quite positive as spellpower, hit and other stats are probably really better as derived stats.

    The point of this expansion seems to be: “Hey, start a new alt and explore the new old & improved content”

    I think Blizz is super smart to combine a permanent world changing event with a little stat/mechanics revamp and a new expansion.

    It is still a bit sickening that one company sets so much the standards for all others, but I would rather blame their competitors and not Blizzard for that.

    I fear this is especially bad news for Guild Wars 2 which might have swayed some staunch WoW players otherwise.

    I still hope that GW2 will be good enough to beat that and Cataclysm is just the DikuMUD’s new clothes.

  • @Hazzerd

    If you make a good custom map and Blizzards decides to muscle in on it, yes. They’ll probably take it, force you to only release versions through them, sell it and give you some of the profit.

  • Honestly, I don’t see how it could be exciting to anyone that doesn’t already have a passion for the lore. Yuu have to really appreciate Deathwing and his role in the Warcraft story. You had to enjoy the leveling process in World of Warcraft and you have to cherish that feeling of nostalgia for it to mean anything.

    Looking back 4 years later, I remember the first time I went to Booty Bay, Orgrimmar, The Barrens, Silverpine Forest, Undercity, and all of these places. Most of them had previous meaning to me as places in Warcraft 2.

    I have fond memories of the game while leveling and to be able to go back and see Azeroth change a great deal and finally be set onto a path capable of taking it to another game makes me excited to be apart. I’ve been apart of Blizzard’s journey with the Warcraft IP since the early 90’s and I want to continue to be apart.

    The end-game will never excitement with the way it’s currently being handled, so I wouldn’t expect to last after seeing the story and the content. Unless Blizzard changes their end-game, I’ll likely quit after going 1-85 and doing the content once to see it.

  • @Phandy

    None of it’s rehashed, considering it’s all new.

    They’re completely redesigning all of the zones, as well as adding a lot of new zones.

  • I totally agree with Keen.
    To be honest, I will probably reroll server aswell. I doubt my friends would come along, but the ones I talk most to, are on msn aswell so.

    I for one, am actually excited about this stuff. Also I do hope they do something to Outland aswell, as I cba with Outlands for a 9th time…. :<

  • @Phandy

    I’m pretty much in the same boat you.

    The quest grinding of all those newbie zones might be charming for a bit, but in the end, it wills till be a quest grind in a zone i’ve seen before, even if it does now have Lava in it.

    Also, any new dungeons, battlegrounds or instances they implement might be fun the first couple of times. Once the grind sets in and you realize you have 100,000 marks to rub out to get those purples you need for the next raid, the nasty underbelly of WoW will come oozing out.

  • @Bartlebe

    I understand where you’re coming from, but the way I play is instead of always thinking “Ugh, only 6000 more honor till ‘furious gloves of whatever’, and I’ll have that epic!”. I simply play and not worry about any of it.

    Eventually as I play and have fun epics gradually come to me without the feeling of it being a grind.

  • @Hazzerd

    That is a great perspective to have. I try my best but sometimes its difficult not to fix “your eyes on the prize”, so to speak.

    It’s like refusing to look at the clock when its right in the room. If there wasn’t a way for me to easily check that stuff, it’d be easier for me do that too. Maybe I could find a UI mod to hide all of the token and honor stats. 🙂

  • 2010 is going to be bad news for any other MMO devs who plan to release next year (SWTOR maybe?). This was a logical step for WOW, anyone who’s currently leveling in the old world, would notice, how empty of players it is, which is such a shame. Azeroth is a huge place and is wonderful to explore and it’s currently wasted. Only shame is allowing flight to the old world will make it feel small, too convenient.

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