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The End Begins Now…

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been a year since Cataclysm was first released.  There’s been a lot that has happened – good things, bad things, and things in between that people really aren’t sure about.  The expansion on a whole seems to be controversial in the fact that some believe it’s been a big success, while others believe it’s been a failure.  I personally think that it’s an experiment that was partially successful, but that’s for another time.

As of November 29th, the beginning of the end of Cataclysm is upon is.

Blizzard has said that this will be the last full content patch for the expansion, and that this will basically be the end for updates before Mists of Pandaria comes out.  This could be taken two ways: the optimistic way, thinking that we’ll be seeing MoP sooner rather than later and won’t have to do this content forever; or the pessimistic way, thinking that we’ll be doing the exact same content for a year, as we did with Icecrown Citadel at the end of Wrath of the Lich King (Ruby Sanctum doesn’t count).

Unfortunately I don’t work for Blizzard, and I don’t know when they hope to release MoP.  Like everyone else, I’d rather see it sooner rather than later, but we know that it will be done when it’s done.  However, all that being said, I’d like to take the optimistic view.

The 4.3 content patch has a lot in it.  Not only do we get the new raid on Deathwing, but there are three new 5-man dungeons, a revamped Darkmoon Faire, Transmogrification, Void Storage, the Raid Finder, a bunch of new items from the raids and other content, and a whole bunch of balance changes.  It would take too long to go through each one, so I’ll suggest you check out WoW Insider’s guide to Patch 4.3 to get the details about many of the new features.

Briefly, I’m very happy with Transmogrification.  The interface is incredibly easy to use, and I finally am rewarded for being such a packrat for all these years.  I was able to have one of my favourite looks of the Tier 5 shoulders and Wildfury Greatstaff for my Druid, which really makes me happy and nostalgic.

Void Storage is nice, but unfortunately a bit too restrictive.  I have a lot of stuff in my bank from the many holidays that have come around, and I was hoping to empty a bunch out to free up some room.  The biggest thing is that items labelled “unique” or items not soulbound cannot be deposited to VS.  Many tabards, as well as other holiday things are all unique, and some of the holiday items like the Brewfest and Winter Veil gear are not soulbound, but I wanted to keep them nonetheless.  So I deposited what I could, and at least freed up some room.

The Raid Finder has been one of the things I’ve been looking forward to most.  As I’ve mentioned before, my schedule is very weird for when I can raid, so now I can raid whenever I want – as long as there’s enough other people queuing as well.  I was able to get into a group, and successfully get the four bosses currently available with little drama.  We only wiped twice, and there were people taking charge of the raid to get things done.

We also got Tyrael’s Charger.  It’s pretty.

All in all, there’s some great new content that everyone can enjoy no matter what you do.  Raider, casual player, leveling player, there’s something for everyone.  As I experience more of the new content, I’ll post my thoughts about some of them.  In the meantime, happy exploring!

Firelands Nerfs and Me

Recently Blizzard announced that there was going to be a nerf in the difficulty of Firelands bosses, for both regular and heroic modes. For a lot of people this came as a surprise, as the Tier 11 content wasn’t nerfed until Firelands was released, and heroic modes were kept on the same difficulty. The reaction has been mixed: some are very happy that this will let them see the content before the next raid patch comes out, and some are very upset that the content is a pushover now and their previous work is all for naught.

My thoughts are somewhat in the middle. Unfortunately, due to my real life scheduling situation and some very frustrating timing for being rotated out of a raid spot, I have yet to see an actual Firelands raid. I did a trash run during the first week as well as a few attempts on Rhyolith on another week. No kills or loot from the instance at all for me.

Because of my situation, I’m a bit excited about the nerfs. This means that when the time comes that I’m actually able to raid, there’s more of a chance that we’ll clear through the bosses and I’ll be able to get more Valour Points and good loot. Rather than taking the rare chances that I actually have to raid (so far I’ve been available for three nights of raids since Firelands released) and beating my head against a wall because of stalled progression, I will have a good chance at stuff that most of my guild has had for months.

However, I see where the regular raiders are coming from in their frustration. They’ve been working on this content for a while, learning the fights week after week and making steady progression. Perhaps there’s a guild who was on the verge of taking down a certain boss after many attempts, and all of a sudden the fight is easier by 15%. It’s a little bit of a downer, as the pride in taking things down at full strength is a great feeling.

In the end, this means that more people will be able to see more content. We don’t know any sort of estimated time of arrival for 4.3 and the new (hopefully) awesomeness that awaits there. In the meantime, people who have yet to see all of Firelands will be able to do so. More people will get better gear, meaning that when the next patch finally does arrive, they’ll be better geared for the new content.

I know that our guild has been 6/7 for normal Firelands, so I’m sure that many of my guildies are feeling the frustration. Hopefully the frustration will pass when they realize that they’re getting new goodies and will look forward to beating Deathwing to a bloody pulp.

4.3 Instances of Awesome (I hope)

Looking around the WoW news community this morning gave me quite a bit of happiness. 4.3 looks like it’s going to be incredibly awesome – and even though the word is used entirely too much these days, the word we’re looking for is epic.

On top of the other features of the patch (transmogrification, void storage, raid finder tool, Darkmoon Faire revamp, among other things) we get the best part: the Deathwing raid and 5-man dungeons. Interviews were given from Tom Chilton and Greg Street (aka Ghostcrawler) across a few websites, and a bunch of information was given.

From the WoW Community Site

Basically, there will be three 5-man dungeons giving the story leading up to the Deathwing raid, all involving the Caverns of Time:

  • The first one (“End Time”) will be a dystopian future where Deathwing won and the world has been destroyed and remade the way he likes – all in ruins. The idea behind this is convince Nozdormu that he needs to get involved and help, or else there won’t be much of anything to watch over.
  • The second one (“Well of Eternity”) will be during the War of the Ancients, where Deathwing first betrayed the aspects and created the Dragon/Demon Soul. It looks like we join Thrall to get the Demon Soul to use as a weapon against Deathwing in the present.  Basically using the power to overload the essence within him, causing the big black dragon to burst from within.
  • The third one (“Hour of Twilight”) will be a flight to Wyrmrest Temple to begin the fight against Deathwing, raid-style. Along the way there will be battles against many foes trying to steal back the Demon Soul and prevent you from attacking the big bad guy, likely lots of Twilight people.

The final battle against Deathwing (“Dragon Soul”) is in an instanced version of Wyrmrest Temple in Dragonblight (hopefully including the changes that happened in the Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects novel), with fights around and in the temple itself. At one point we get to be on Deathwing’s back, trying to pry off his armour plating to get to his fleshy bits underneath. Apparently there will be a “balance” mechanic, as Deathwing isn’t just going to be flying in a straight line – the raid will be a bunch of fleas on his back that he wants to shake off (do a barrel roll!).

Eventually, Deathwing ends up at the Maelstrom where he becomes a bit of a conglomeration between himself and an Old God minion. The phrase used in the interview with Ghostcrawler says that they call him “Cthulhu-Deathwing”, tentacles included. All in all, this raid looks like it will be living up to my expectations and more.

Also included with this will be a new legendary, a set of two daggers for rogues specifically. This quest line will involve the uncorrupted black dragon egg that was the subject of a really good questline in the Badlands. At the end of it, there’s nothing said about the future or fate of the new whelp, but it looks like we’ll find out shortly.

For more reading, check out interviews at Joystiq, MMO-Champion, and Tankspot.  The official World of Warcraft community site also has a bunch of information.

4.3 – Transmogrification and Void Storage

This is part of a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic. Check out some great posts by other members of the WoW blogging community!

A whole bunch of news came out lately about patch 4.3 and what Blizzard is saying is the last big content patch of Cataclysm. While that news is interesting in itself, today I’ll just talk about two features that were some of the first to be highlighted: transmogrification and void storage.

We don’t know any timeframe for when 4.3 will be coming, but by the looks of things it won’t be for a while. Blizzard has said that it’s the biggest content patch that they’ve ever released, and I don’t doubt that. Some other things included in the patch will be the Deathwing raid, three 5-man dungeons, a revamped Darkmoon Faire, a Raid Finder tool (similar to the LFD tool), and likely many more things.

Looking at Transmogrification and Void Storage, it was originally teased for us with a picture called “Glimpses”, posted on the Warcraft Facebook page. The caption simply read, “Interesting”.

 

Before transmogrification...

Transmogrification (try saying that ten times fast)

Basically, this feature will allow someone to change the physical appearance of an item to something else. Have a new tier set that looks horrendous? Still have your old tier set that looks amazing? For some gold you’ll be able to have it look the way it was before, but still having the new stats of the new gear.

My first reaction to transmogrification was mixed. I really like the idea, and people have been asking for it for years… but my main is a Druid. While there are some sets that look great, they all suffer from the problem most Druids have: we barely get to see them. When I’m in combat, I’m always shapeshifted unless healing.

... and after.

Lately I haven’t actually been doing too much instancing, so this might not be too bad of a thing to work towards. I really like some of the sets that have come out, and I wasn’t able to get some of them while the content was relevant.

My Death Knight weeps at possibilities not able to be used… until I can get the starter zone stuff back.

Void Storage

This feature will allow people to store many items in an expanded bank, for a price. There are some restrictions on it, including the fact that it will strip away all enchants or creators’ name tags (which has been said is a technological impairment, nothing to do with lore at all), and that it will cost gold to deposit items. It’s meant for items that are kept in a bank and left for a very long time.

A while back I was able to complete “What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been” to earn my Violet Proto-Drake. Because it requires completing all of the holiday events, that brings a lot of holiday items acquired over time. I am a packrat, so everything that I got along the way still sits in my bank.

It will be very weird to have my bank relatively empty, and use it as an extension of my bag space.

The Final Words

I’m looking forward to transmogrification and void storage. Both will have good features that I will use, but it’s not a make-or-break thing for me. Give me a way to have my cat, bear, or moonkin forms change with my armour and I’ll be extremely excited.

Screenshot of the Week – July 30

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A view from far above the Temple of Earth in Deepholm is what we have today. The path of blood pools from Deathwing’s wounds has scarred the ground forever. Plus, it looks pretty cool.

Screenshot of the Week – July 9

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Flying around doing archaeology one day, I was passing through Uldum and was wondering why it was on fire. There are times I’m not very observant, but the last time I checked I was at the south end of Kalimdor and not by Blackrock Mountain.  Deathwing had apparently just been through, and had unleashed his swath of destruction.  I would be upset, except for the fact that he roasted me a while back.

Memorable Quests

The Cataclysm wrought huge changes to the face of Azeroth, as well as what the inhabitants are doing. For the first time in six years, the story progressed forward and we see new things that are happening across the whole world. Mankrik isn’t just wallowing in Crossroads anymore, he’s plotting his revenge at the Grol’dom Farm (and other places later on). Along with him, there’s plenty of new things to experience.

Right now I’m leveling up a new hunter, and have just recently gone through part of Badlands and got to experience one of the best quests in the game so far. It made me think of some of the best quests and quest lines through the game so far, and why I’ve enjoyed them.

Welcome To The Machine

This is a quest at the border of Silverpine Forest and Hillsbrad Foothills, where you get to do something never thought of before: become a quest giver. Rather than just moving through the quest hubs, collecting the quests and moving on, you get to see the story from the other side.

Three characters come by, and you get to see the different stereotypes of questers that are out there. It also sets the stage for part of the zone, as you get to meet up with two of the characters later on, who play a major part of questing areas.

I enjoyed this quest as it’s almost breaking the fourth wall, and gives the character an idea of what it’s like to sit around all day and hand out quests. Very entertaining, and makes you think a bit.

The Day Deathwing Came

If you’ve ever seen the TV show “How I Met Your Mother”, this is similar to it. In the show the main character is telling his kids a long story about how he eventually met their mother, and at times he tries to censor himself or what they were doing, so the story is embellished or changed. For example, in college they loved “sandwiches”, and not something else which isn’t completely legal.

This quest line is made up of three quests from three NPCs sitting around in the Badlands and saying what “happened” the day that Deathwing came through and messed things up. You get to live out each of the stories, ranging from punching Deathwing in the face to having a flying motorcycle.

Once again, it’s just very entertaining and funny seeing Blizzard’s imagination at work. I can totally see three people hanging out saying how things happened, and that it was THEIR version that was the truth.

Waptor Twapping

Looney Tunes meets World of Warcraft. Elmer Fudd has been reincarnated in the NPC Kala’ma in Northern Barrens, just north of Ratchet. He is upset that the “waptors” have stolen all his stuff, and wants you to “twap” them. All of his dialogue is along this style of Elmer Fudd or the priest from The Princess Bride.

Blizzard puts thought into even these small quests, as the action that you take is “twapping waptor”. It’s things like this that show the amount work that goes into quest design, and I sure appreciate it.

These are but three quests out of many thousand that are in the game, and were just off the top of my head.  There are many memorable ones out there, but these were ones that I thought were fun and entertaining.  Feel free to add your favourite quests in the comments.

Screenshot of the Week – April 2

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Today’s screenshot of the week comes from the Maelstrom, in a way.  Actually, this is part of a quest chain in Twilight Highlands where you go inside the beast Iso’rath and try to destroy it.  At first, it makes you go a little insane and think that Deathwing is at the Maelstrom killing Thrall and his Earthen Ring buddies.  Thankfully, it was all a dream… or was it?

Twilight Highlands Roundup

By the time someone reaches Twilight Highlands, they’ve gone through quite a bit of stuff. At the minimum, that person would have completed or at least done part of the zones of Hyjal or Vashj’ir, Deepholm, and possibly Uldum. At this point there is a lot of expectations to live up to, since we’ve seen the new questing and zone design philosophies that Blizzard has implemented in full force. When you’re in Twilight Highlands, you expect to have the best of the best – and Blizzard delivers.

(As always, this is from a Horde point of view, and will contain spoilers)

The lead-up quests to going into Twilight Highlands were really the only part that I didn’t like. Going to the gate in Azshara to inspect the gear that will go with you into the attack and then collecting the gear in Bilgewater Harbour was a little bit boring. I understand that the intent was to show that it’s a big effort and that you have an effect on the big attack. It doesn’t just appear out of thin air. Once you step on the zeppelin and head out towards the zone is when it gets fun.

You are on a zeppelin with a fleet of others, along with small fighters to provide escort towards the landing site by Dragonmaw Port. Along the way the fleet gets attacked by Twilight dragons, and Garrosh (strangely enough by himself on his own zeppelin) and his zeppelin go down, and you follow shortly after. The only “friendly” people in the zone for you are the Dragonmaw, which are under the rule of someone who isn’t too fond of giving up his power over the clan. He styles himself Warchief of the Dragonmaw, so being the patriotic Horde member you are, you decide to help lead a revolt that brings the death of the impostor and the promotion of Zaela – the new leader of the Dragonmaw. She is quite a bit more reasonable and is more than willing to help the Horde combat the Twilight’s Hammer in the Highlands.

Throughout the zone, it’s a constant battle: Horde vs Alliance, Horde & red dragons vs Twilight people, Deathwing vs Alexstrasza, lots of fun stuff. Very quickly about each part:

  • Horde vs Alliance: I like the tensions in the zone. Everyone knows that the major enemy is Deathwing and Twilight’s Hammer, but the temptation to strike a major blow at the Alliance is just too much to pass up. The zeppelin gunship battle against the Alliance base was great, along with attacking the Dwarf camp. The dailies are a little annoying, but that’s to be expected with daily quests.
  • Horde & red dragons vs Twilight people: the major plotline of the entire zone. Starting with the Dragonmaw joining the Horde and ending with an assault on the Twilight base camp along the side of Garona Halforcen, it’s a lot of very fun quests. The Isorath questline where you battle inside the stomach of a big “thing” is really neat, especially seeing Deathwing attack people at the Maelstrom and not knowing it isn’t real until the end.
  • Deathwing vs Alextrasza: best cinematic of all quests that I’ve seen so far. Seeing the two of them battle, then following them to attack the smaller drakes was a great sense of accomplishment. I took a great many screenshots, a version of the one above is my current desktop background right now. I really can’t wait to see what the Deathwing raid encounter will look like.

All in all, the zone was incredibly well done. A very fitting end to the questing chain through the Cataclysm zones, and really making me want more storyline through the raids that will eventually be added through future patches. Now, all that stands between me and Loremaster of Cataclysm is Hyjal.

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