BlizzCon is upon us and Blizzard had lots of things to talk about at the opening ceremonies.
They talked about Hearthstone and actually kind of piqued my interested in it. I like that it will be on the iPad or iPhone. I am not sure I need another game on my desktop. Michael Morheim himself stood up and gave the big Diablo III auction house mea culpa. As was mentioned before, the auction house is coming out and the game itemization is being redone. That got a lot of cheers. There was talk about the Blizzard MOBA, called Heroes of the Storm this week.
And then there was the big announcement, the next World of Warcraft expansion: Warlords of Draenor.
The lore bit is that Garrosh Hellscream is going to escape from prison and travel back 35 game years in the past and through the portal to Draenor before it was wrecked.
And, of course, we have to go stop him.
Heh, yeah. Orcs are like that I guess.
The basics are:
- 10 new levels – Level cap will be 100
- Everybody will get one insta-level 90 option with the expansion
- 7 new zones
- Garrisons – a sort of housing
- 7 new dungeons, and 2 new raids at launch
- Character model updates for original races
- Inventory improvements
- A new open world PvP zone and a few updates and changes
I took some screen shots of the live stream and, thanks to 720p quality, they are not bad. I have those plus the details I gleaned after the cut.
On to my notes and screen grabs.
10 new levels was a bit of a surprise, but somebody called that. I guess that gets us back to more content to consume. Those of us who stroll through that at a more leisurely pace and like to see things will appreciate this.
Everybody will get a “boost to level 90″ option with the purchase of Warlords of Draenor. You can upgrade a new or existing character, much like SOE’s EverQuest II option. They want people to be able to buy the expansion and play on day one.
There will be events leading up to the expansion in the usual fashion. The will not, however, try to make everybody on a server show up at the same spot at the same time as happened with the Burning Crusade event.
There are seven new zones in Draenor.
They made sure to point out that these are newly created zones. They specifically said that they did not take the Burning Crusade zones and give them the “Cataclysm treatment,” meaning changes to an existing landscape. This is all Draenor 35 years earlier. The population is the various orc clans, who are involved in various ways with Garrosh Hellscream’s plan, ogres, and Draeni. A sense of scale.
That picture gives you a sense of how the two maps relate to each other.
You will be able to build your own base on Draenor. This was described as “The WoW version of housing” by Tom Chilton.
You can choose which zone you build them in. They talked a bit about them being “in” the world, but what they meant was not clear. Your friends will be able to come and visit. Their purpose is also a bit vague to me. It sounds a bit like building up a base in old RTS Warcraft. You will choose what buildings will be in your garrison, which will give you access to abilities, buffs, missions, and trade skills.
You will collect followers through various methods.
You will then be able to send them on missions in something of an offline progression mechanic.
You will customize your base through building choices. Buildings will level up and you will be able to choose from something like a talent tree for specialization.
All of that was not too exciting for me as I wasn’t quite getting the place of a garrison in the world, even after they showed some screen shots of garrisons.
And then they said you would have a hall for trophies and monuments you would earn in the game and I was good with it. Display of things I have earned in-game is all I ask of housing. It is one of the things EverQuest II excelled at, and I miss that aspect of the game.
There is a detailed blog up about Garrisons at the Blizzard site that will explain things in more detail than I can.
Character Model Updates
They are re-doing the character models for all of the original races. The polygon count is much higher, as is the overall quality. But they also wanted to make sure that your character still looked liked you remembered it after the update. So there was some balance in this. They showed three examples.
They said that they have wired up all the emotes to take advantage of the improve models, so there will be more detail when you smile, salute, or what not.
The panel talked about collections, such as mounts and pets, where you earn it once and then have access to it account wide being extended to heirlooms, toys, and possibly tabards.
There was no talk about bigger bags or more bank slots. But bags will get some management options. This will allow you to route, as an example, crafting materials to a specific bag. Item quality will be more obvious when looking at your bags as well.
Quest items will no longer be stored in your bags. They will only be in the quest log and tracker. And items that have shown up in your bags since you last looked will get a white flash to highlight them, akin to what other games have done.
You will also be able to craft directly from bank inventory. (Hey, Rift! They have copied you now. Consider yourself validated… or at least a member of the club!) And stack sizes of many materials be boosted to 100.
This is some sort of “I’m lost, tell me where to go” interface. It will let you know what your options are, make suggestions based on what you have been doing, and generally let you know what is going on in the world.
Dungeons & Raids
7 dungeons will be available at launch, 4 as you level up, 3 at level cap, including an updated Upper Blackrock Spire. all will be available in normal, heroic, and challenge versions.
There was also talk of raids available at launch and an revamping and expanding of flex raids. That was a bit over my head, since I have never raided in WoW, so this chart will likely make more sense to you.
There is going to be a world PvP zone in Draenor. (Trying this again.) It was described, perhaps optimistically as a PvP “sandbox” that persists. A “Timeless Isle” of PvP, and island off of Tanan Jungle, that does not reset. References were made to the original Alterac Valley and matches that would last for days. They will use cross-realm matching to get balance in numbers.
They will also be updating various UI bits in battlegrounds to help people see the status of the game and control points and the like more clearly.
They are introducing the concept of a battleground score, something that will sum up your contribution to a match.
And then there was the Trial of the Gladiator, which is the new arena ladder thing, with some changes to keep people from gaming the system.
It sounds good. It is hard for me not to feel the excitement that somebody like Chris Metzen exudes during his presentation. I feel much more excitement around this than I did for Mists of Pandaria.
I do wonder how it will fare with no new races or classes… or even a new race/class combo… to get people to re-roll and extend their stay in Azeroth. This will be the first expansion without it.
And then there is the question of “when?” My guess is that we are 9 months to a year away from Warlords of Draenor. Must not get too excited today.
What do you think. How does this compare to the expectations, hopes, and dreams that were discussed in my post earlier this week?