The Demon Hunter Starting Experience Is Wonderful

Demon Hunter is the newest Hero class in World of Warcraft and their starting experience offers a unique and compelling story experience. In fact I’d say this new starting area story is even better than the Death Knight starting experience. Obviously there will be story spoilers ahead, but I’ll try to keep them at a minimum. It’s pretty impossible to discuss this without any spoilers.

The Demon Hunter story-line picks-up, in the past, as the attack on The Black Temple begins. In fact I think what we see is the fight in the training grounds which leads to Supremus. Illidan sees all of this happening and sends a group of his Illidari off to retrieve a Sargerite Keystone. This keystone is apparently super important to defeating the Legion. I love the concept of this happening while we were raiding The Black Temple.

Desktop 8-10-2016 9-17-28 PM-232We earn our skills from completing various quests and killing specific demons and stealing their power… which is a fantastic mechanic as a Demon Hunter. Previously this system seemed fairly arbitrary and it never really related content of the quest with obtaining abilities before. It’s wonderful to see this concept folded into the story much more smoothly. It also played up how the entire reason Demon Hunters exist is to defeat the Legion.

One of my favorite aspects of the starting zone is the inclusion of a couple of spots where the player has a choice to make. The first one is during the “Enter the Illidari: Shivarra” quest. You need need to either sacrifice yourself or Sevis Brightflame (who you’ve been working with for a bit) to power a portal and bring in some much needed allies. I was quite surprised we could volunteer to die. If you do sacrifice yourself, Illidan will talk about how you are similar to him and have an immortal demon soul. Nice to have an explanation of why the player can’t truly die. Either way the choice isn’t a huge one but it was really nice to be able to make it.

Desktop 8-10-2016 9-22-11 PM-88The second choice will color the rest of the the Demon Hunter experience throughout the expansion. We have to pick either Kayn Sunfury or Altruis the Sufferer as your second in command of the Illidari. This is an interesting choice especially for people who played during Burning Crusade and met Altruis previously. They represent the choice between having faith in someone/something and trusting your own judgement above all else.

Kayn Sunfury, perhaps the more “boring” of the two options, is someone who always stayed loyal to Illidan. We first encounter Kayn right after entering Mardum and he’s the main questgiver. He cares about duty and honor and trusts Illidan implicitly… which is a bit disturbing. He’s an interesting character though and it’d be nice to interact with him more. Also worth noting if you pick Kayn as your second in command you’ll end up with the Shade of Akama, instead of Akama, as part of the Illidari.

Desktop 8-10-2016 9-22-50 PM-849For my money Altruis the Sufferer is much more interesting. Players from the Burning Crusade will remember him from a questline in Nagrand. His story is he felt Illidan had succumbed to the influence of the fel and didn’t trust Illidan’s judgement anymore. He didn’t stop there though. As a direct result of his interactions with us four Illidari are killed. So it’s a pretty extreme example of betrayal. Altruis stands by his choices as he didn’t agree with Illidan at all.

Altruis being the in the jail with me was really surprising. There seemed to be no good reason for him to be locked up. The Wardens just decided to jail him right along with all the other Illidari. I wish I could have a conversation with Maiev about how that happened. It’d probably just be something like “all beings with fel are a danger” which would be super disappointing. It just seems sort of messed up to jail him along with everyone else.

I also have to mention the Pool of Remembrance which starts a fantastic cutscene about what it means to be a Demon Hunter. It’s quite interesting but It also reminded me of why the whole “victory at any cost” mantra is incredibly troubling. Unfortunately, it really did nothing to help me make a choice between Kayn and Altruis. In the end I went with Altruis because the concept of having blind faith in anyone is just disturbing to me.

After losing Gul’Dan, Khadgar shows-up to take us to the appropriate capital city. I expected to arrive right before the Broken Isles Scenario. Instead we arrive right after the events of the Broken Isles and we are the one who informs the leaders about the infiltration of the Legion. I mean how weird would it be if a different Illidari showed-up to say the Horde/Alliance have been infiltrated? It’d be super weird and I’d feel dumb for not using my spectral site to check.

I also need to take a moment to recognize how awesome the voice acting in this entire section is. I was consistently impressed, especially by Gul’Dan’s VO. Everyone sounded authentic and compelling which is just about the best thing.

Overall it’s a fantastic experience with a new class and I honestly couldn’t stop playing once I started because I was enjoying it all so much. World of Warcraft has really up’ed their game with the Demon Hunter starting experience. If you have interest in the story at all you should play through this content at least once.

This Carrot Is Looking A Bit Moldy

It’s no secret many MMOs lock desirable things behind content, it’s a normal practice and not inherently a bad thing. However, after the recent 6.2 patch for World of Warcraft the carrot which is being dangled for me is looking less and less worth the effort. The whole concept of forcing players to do different types of content just to be able to be fully prepared for the content they want to do is a bit ridiculous.

First let me give some brief personal history so you can understand where I am coming from on this issue. I started playing wow back February of 2005, at first I was just focused on PvP but I switched to raiding after attaining the Commander rank. I kept actively raiding through every expansion except MoP. I was never in a World First guild or anything crazy like that, but I do enjoy raiding and theroycrafting a lot.

Highmaul and Blackrock Foundry were both raids I enjoyed a bunch, though I like Highmaul a bit more but that might be due to just getting back into raiding again. I didn’t mind doing garrison missions as they seemed to have mostly taken the place of doing dailies, which is something I appreciated. In general I don’t usually like doing dailies very much as there are normally other things I’d rather spend my time on, so being able to send followers out to do those things instead was awesome. Plus finding followers through questlines and dungeons was also a ton of fun. Gave each of them a backstory I could relate to and I felt a bit of attachment to them.

Given all of that you might be thinking I love the shipyard… well you’d be wrong about that. Shipyards have so many issues for me it’s hard to know where to start. I’m not a fan of how completely separated shipyards are from the rest of the garrison. It makes me feel like all my hardwork with my followers was completely pointless. Sure I still send them out for oil. gold, and garrison resources but that’s about it, most of my followers now stand around idle with not much to do. I don’t even feel like there was much point to getting them to 675 ilvl at this point.

Failed a 93% chance mission and lost a ship -_-

Failed a 93% chance mission and lost a ship -_-

The really sad thing is most of my ships also sit around idle with nothing to do. The problem is if a mission is failed there is a chance to lose a ship. The goal of this risk was probably to make succeeding feel much better and to add a bit of excitement. Unfortunately what it does is add a ton more stress and frustration. Losing any ships feels bad but losing an epic ship or a ship with a buff you don’t have on other ships is especially painful. Also losing ships on missions with a 90%+ chance to succeed feels exceedingly punitive.

To mitigate this I have started sending out my ships on missions only if the percent chance is at least 70%, though I know others who don’t send ships out on missions with less than 90% chance to succeed. The upshot is we are severely slowed in progressing through the Legendary Ring quest, which is the only reason I am doing any of the shipyard stuff in the first place. Sure I could be more cavalier about it and just send my ships out on all the missions… but holy crap that would be expensive in terms of resources and would mean having to do even more of the Taanan Dailies.

As I mentioned earlier I don’t generally like doing dailies very much. I’ve slogged through the rep grinds and dailies in all the expansions and at this point I can’t help but wonder why this is a thing. I’m not practicing skills useful for raiding by doing these dailies, I’m pretty much for the most part just out running around on my own which is completely different than raiding. I’m just doing random quests to get oil or rep for things I need for my shipyard just so I’ll have a chance of succeeding at the legendary ring quests.

It’s not like I haven’t enjoyed daily areas in the past. Molten Front dailies were interesting because the story involved with them was rather interesting. I was more personally invested in it and the payoff with the storyline was well worth it. The Argent Crusade was a ton of fun because it was completely different than anything in other parts of the game. I’ve reached the point in WoD where I just don’t care about the story anymore and the quests are just more of the same. Which is sad considering heading in I was really into it and the payoff in Nagrand was awesome. Sort of funny though Gul’dan is now a problem… Like it wasn’t obvious letting him go in the beginning was a bad idea.

I don’t mind having rewards being gated behind doing things, after all that’s the basis for most games. What I do mind is having a reward which is only useful in one sort of content gated behind doing completely different unrelated content. It’s almost like requiring PvE people to take part in PvP just so they can remain competitive (or vise versa). The Legendary Ring is only really useful for raiding, sure it can be used outside of raids but its effects are minimal in those settings. Of course I could get into a whole thing about how legendaries are being done now… but that’s a whole different post.

The only argument I’ve heard for having the legendary ring quest be tied to the shipyard and doing things in Taanan Jungle is if they weren’t tied together no one would do them. Well that’s the point isn’t it? If the only way certain content will be done is to tie highly desired things behind doing it, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the content. I mean yes, locking raiding gear behind non-raiding PvE stuff is one way to get all of your raiders participating in the content… it is the easiest answer. But come on Blizzard, you can do better than that.

Going back to the subject of Taanan Jungle for a minute, mob tapping and racing for resources is so ten years ago. There have been improvements, sharing rares and some of the harder mobs is a thing and it’s great. I know I can start attacking one of the gronn in the Iron Front and multiple people will automatically help. That’s great, why are we still fighting over the other things? It’s much nicer to see other people out in the world and want to help them as opposed to having to worry about people being jerks and taking an objective from you while you are killing a mob. Honestly this would be a huge QoL improvement which would personally make me much less annoyed about trying to get stuff done out in the world.

Anywho, that’s where I am on things with WoW right now. raiding things should deal with raiding things, out in the world things should be out in the world and don’t try to strong arm people into doing content they aren’t interested in.

Everything We Officially Know About Heart of Thorns (Updated 10/20/15)

As more information gets revealed about the upcoming expansion to Guild Wars 2 some of the information has started to get lost and forgotten, which has lead to some rather depressing debates on various forums. I have put together the following list (and sources) to help everyone keep track of the information better and help the general discourse be a bit better informed. All of the information I am including here is information Arenanet has either released themselves or has confirmed as being true. As a result some information we only know from datamining is not listed.

Aside from questions about what we do know for sure a big sticking point for many people has been “what content will everyone get and what content will only be available if you buy the expansion?” To help with this I have come up with the following color coding system:

Things you can only access if you personally have the expansion

Things you can experience if you play with someone who has the expansion or can have limited access to without buying the expansion

Things I think will be locked to the expansion but Arenanet hasn’t confirmed yet

I’ve done my best to gather all the official information I could find, if  I missed anything please let me know (and ideally give me some way to find the official source). I haven’t had time to go back through the PoIs and Ready Ups so anything revealed on those isn’t currently included.

Launch date October 23, 2015! (source)

The Heart of Maguuma Region (source)

  • Four new maps, all with increased virticality (source)
  • Jungle made up of 3 biomes (source)
    • Roots, Floor, Canopy
  • Find Glint’s Legacy (source)
  • New types of content and new challenging content (source)
  • The Verdant Brink is the map where the expansion will start (source)
  • The first map (source)
    • Handles what happened to the Pact Fleet
    • Build defenses during the day
    • Mordrem will come out at night and it will be a fight for survival
  • Each map will be focused on 3D play space and provide high replay value (source)
  • Outposts (source)
    • Events will be tied to what is happening at a specific site
    • Results of localized events will be shown through what happens at the outposts
    • The night phase challenge in the first area are wyverns
    • Make as much progress as possible during the day to have a chance during night time
    • Some out posts will have multiple upgrades which will make them stronger and offer new rewards
  • Adventures (source)
    • Repeatable on-demand bits of content
    • Will require practice, mastery, and skill to master (source)
    • Will unlock as progress is made at an outpost
    • Have their own UI and offer some amount of active challenge
    • Progress through an adventure will be tracked and scored; players will be able to see the scores of friends and guildmates
    • Will be displayed on the world map
    • If an adventure isn’t currently open, there will be an explanation of how to open it in game
    • Other players will have no impact on success or failure, ie won’t have to compete for resources or objectives (source)
    • Will be reliant on patterns and systems players can figure out to improve their play (source)
    • Players will be able to quickly quit and restart with minimal downtime (source)
    • Each adventure has its own distinct separate leaderboard (source)
      • Each leaderboard has daily participation rewards
      • Leaderboards will be divided into three tiers and the first time a player moves into one of those tiers they will receive a bonus reward
      • Higher tiers have higher rewards
  • Story instances will be replayable and players will be able to make different choices when they replay (source)
    • These will also have difficult to obtain achievements (similar to Living Story Season 2) and they will yield Mastery Points
  • Player character will be speaking in the open world as well as in story instances (source)
    • Lines will also vary depending on race of the player character
  • Two new armor sets to work on in the open world content, 5 new weapon sets, 60 additional unique skins, miniatures, and more (source)
  • New map rewards (source)
  • If you own the expansion you’ll be able to gain access to upcoming new living story (source)

Raids (source)

  • First raid will have three wings, the first of which will open up a few weeks after HoT launches
    • The delay gives time for balance passes to be done on professions and the new elite specs
    • Also players will have time to earn some of the mastery abilities they’ll need to beat the bosses
  • The remaining two wings will be opened in sequence after, depending on how quickly players are moving through the first wing
  • The first wing will have three bosses
  • First wing will require players to have unlocked gliding and a few different ways to interact with mushrooms (source)
  • 10 Player instanced content
  • Uses the event system which allows for greater variety of mechanics and tactics to be used
  • Players will need to be highly coordinated to beat these bosses
  • There won’t be a traditional raid frames set-up, players will have to communicate and pay attention each other to make sure they can down bosses
  • There will be new Mastery Tracks and Abilities which will be tightly tied to boss mechanics
  • Will be how players get Legendary Armor (source)
  • Old raids won’t become a wasteland of irrelevance
  • In addition to boss fights there will be event styled things for the group to accomplish IE holdouts, assaults, captures, defends, etc (source)
  • Encounters are designed to push players to use a variety of builds, weapons, and armor types (source)
  • Groups will use the squad system (source)
  • Can earn unique rewards once a week (source)
  • Some types of rewards exclusive to raids are special minis, weapon skin, titles, and a special trophy for your guild hall (source)

Mastery System General (source)

  • Account bound PvE progression system
  • Reinforces the idea the journey is the main goal (source)
  • Gain Mastery Points as you complete content (source)
    • Completing elements of the Story
    • Reaching hard to find & hard to reach locations
    • Defeating “incredible” challenges and “incredible” group challenges
    • Map completion
    • Challenging achievements “across the jungle and beyond”
    • Each point can be obtained once per account (source)
    • Players will be able to earn Mastery Points before lvl 80, but won’t be able to spend them until after (source)
    • Points gained in an area can only be used to unlock Masteries in the same area (source)
    • A good number of points earned before HoT will be awarded to players with the release of the expansion (source) (more info)
  • Experience bar will change to the Mastery Training bar at lvl 80 when in PvE zones (source)
    • To train a Mastery you will have to first unlock it by spending a Mastery Point
    • Each unlock will have multiple tiers with more powerful abilities in each subsequent tier
    • Select the Mastery to be slotted on the Mastery Bar and then any experience gained will be put towards increasing the mastery level
    • Players will set their active Mastery by region and the bar will automatically switch when the player changes regions
  • Exploration Mastery (source)
    • Hang gliding
      • Higher tiers allow for longer flights, ride wind currents, jump higher, and launch into the air with greater force (source)
    • Ability to use mushrooms to move around The Heart of Maguuma faster (source)
  • Lore Mastery (source)
    • Learn to understand the languages of civilizations deep in the jungle
    • Gain access to hidden locations only people who understand the language will be able to access
  • Combat Mastery (source)
    • Will allow players to learn new abilities which will help them overcome challenges
    • Master abilities to defeat champions (source)
    • Become more deadly to the new creatures in the jungle (source)
  • Legend Mastery (source)
    • Learn to craft current precursors (source)
    • Learn to craft new precursor for the new legendary weapons
    • Current precursors (source)
      • Three tiers
      • Visit Mastery vendor to pick which to start
      • First tier focuses on one theme of the Legendary
      • Completing the first collection will unlock the ability to craft a “distressed” version of the precursor and won’t be tradable
      • The second collection will focus on doing research about the legendary, which will unlock another exotic non-tradable version of the precursor
      • The third collection will focus on the secondary theme of the legendary weapon and will yield the recipe for the final version of the precursor
      • Will be tradeable
      • Skins will be updated to look like “lesser” versions of the legendary weapon they create
      • Having any version/step of a legendary will automatically unlock all previous skins attached to it
      • Will only be able to craft one of each precursor per account this way
      • All current methods of obtaining a precursor will remain intact
    • New Legendary Weapons and their precursors will not be tradable (source)
    • New precursers will not drop anywhere in game (source)
    • New Legendaries which will be available to make shortly after HoT launches along with raids (source)
    • The first three will be Astralaria (Axe), H.O.P.E. (Pistol),and Nevermore (Staff) (source)
    • Recipies to craft the new legendaries will be the specific precursor, a Gift of Maguuma Mastery, a Mystic Tribute, and a unique gift associated with each legendary (source)
  • Fractal Mastery (source)
    • New depths in the Fractals
    • Gain new abilities for use in the Fractals
    • Get better rewards
    • Unlock more powerful infusions

Specific Mastery Lines

  • Gliding (source)
    • Glider Basics
    • Updraft Use
    • Lean Techniques
    • Stealth Gliding
    • Advanced Gliding
    • Ley Line Gliding
  • Itzel Lore (source)
    • Bouncing Mushrooms
    • Itzel Language
    • Blazing Speed Mushrooms
    • Itzel Poison Lore
    • Itzel Leadership
    • Adrenal Mushrooms
  • Exalted Lore (source)
    • Exalted Markings
    • Exalted Acceptance
    • Exalted Assistance
    • Exalted Purification
    • Exalted Gathering
    • Exalted Honing
  • Nuhoch Lore (source)
    • Nuhoch Hunting
    • Nuhoch Language
    • Nuhoch Wallows
    • Nuhoch Stealth Detection
    • Nuhoch Proving
    • Nuhoch Alchemy
  • Legendary Precursor Crafting Mastery (source)
    • Revered Antiquarian
    • Magister of Legends
    • Historian of the Armaments
    • Scholar of Maguuma’s Secrets
  • Tiers in Fractal Mastery (source)
    • Follows Advice
    • Agony Channeler
    • Mistlock Singularities
    • Recursive Resourcing
    • Essential Singularities
    • Hyperactive Singularities
  • Pact Commander (source)
    • Pact Mentor
    • Productive Downtime
    • Supply Line Management
    • Noblesse Oblige
    • Advanced Logistics

Elite Specializations (source)

  • Every profession will get an Elite Specialization/Secondary Profession
  • General Elite Specialization info (source)
    • Will always introduce a single new weapon type for a character
    • To use the new weapon or skills, players will have to both unlock and equip the Elite Specialization
    • Almost every Elite Spec will get a new heal, utility skills, and elite skill
    • Will make core changes to how a profession is played
    • Has a full set of new traits
    • When HoT hits each profession will get one Elite Spec
    • Only one Elite Spec will be allowed to be equiped
    • Unlocking an Elite spec will also grant new runes and sigils, a fancy weapon skin for your new weapon type, and an armor skin for a single matching piece of armor (usually headgear or shoulders)
    • Elite Specs will automatically be unlocked in PvP
    • Will need to have core lines completly unlocked before being able to unlock any of the Elite Spec (source)
    • It will take 400 points to unlock an Elite Spec fully (source)
    • Hero Challenges in the Jungle award 10 points instead of one (source)
  • Ranger’s elite specialization will be Druid (source)
    • Allows use of Staff
    • A new heal skill
    • A new elite skill
    • A new set of utility skills
    • New resource called astral force which is used to enter the new Celestial Avatar form (source)
    • Celestial Avatar substantially boosts the healing abilities of the Druid (source)
  • Necromancer will get Reaper (source)
    • Allows use of Greatsword (source)
    • Grants a completely new set of abilities in death shroud and creates a shadowy scythe when entering death shroud
    • Death’s Charge replaces Dark Path and causes the Reaper to dash forward dealing damage as you go and releases a poison cloud at the end
    • Shivers of Dread inflicts chill whenever fear is used
    • Cold Shoulder increases the duration of chill and reduces the amount of damage chilled enemies do to you
    • Most attacks will be slower, but will also hit much harder than you might otherwise expect
    • Gravedigger is a slow skill which delivers a devastating blow to all enemies nearby
    • Reaper will also get a full set of shouts focused on harming foes
    • Rise is a shout which will hit all enemies in the radius for a small amount of damage and will summon a jagged horror for each foe struck
  • Mesmers will get Chronomancer (source)
    • Will gain use of Alacrity which will speed up skill recharge times
    • New weapon is off-hand Shield
    • Tides of Time – destroys projectiles, stuns enemies, and granting quickness to allies
    • Gain access to time themed wells
    • Well of Precognition – causes the attacks of allies to become unblockable and when it ends allies can evade all incoming attacks
    • Continuum Split/Continuum Shift is a new Shatter mechanic which allows the Mesmer to revert time and undo everything which happened to them during that time
  • Guardian will get Dragonhunter (source)
    • Focuses on ranged combat and back line support
    • Allows the use of Longbows
    • Spear of Justice – Virtue of Justice becomes a thrown spear which will tether enemies as long as they remain in range
    • Wings of Resolve – Virtue of Resolve will become wings of light which will allow the player to leap to an area and heal allies and can be traited to also deal damage
    • Shield of Courage – will allow attacks to be blocked for allies
    • Abilities will retain passive properties conferred by traits
    • Will have trap skills
    • Heal trap will heal allies while simultaneously heal allies when the Guardian triggers it
  • Elementalists get Tempest (source)
    • Allows use of Warhorn
    • Adds full set of 6 shouts
      • Wash the Pain Away – heals allies and cleanses conditions
      • Feel the Burn – Causes flames to erupt from a specific location
      • Eye of the storm – calls down a storm which breaks stuns and grants superspeed
      • Aftershock – creates a force around the Tempest which will cripple enemies and after a delay it will immobilize them
      • Freeze – freezes air around enemies damaging and chilling them
      • Rebound (elite) – causes all allies around the Tempest to have a 25% reduced recharge on their next ability used
    • Adds Overload mechanic to attunements
      • Overload Fire creates an infernal tornado which continuously damages and burns enemies while giving allies might
      • Overload Water creates a bubble which will grant regeneration and cleanse conditions from the Tempest and allies, when it end the bubble will burst and provide a large heal to allies in the area
      • Overload Air creates a nimbus cloud which strikes enemies repeatedly, at the end of the ability it will leave behind a lightening field
      • Overload Earth rends the earth and grants protection to allies and cripples enemies, at the end of the ability it’ll deliver a large blast of damage
    • Overloads will cause a longer than normal lockout of an attunement
  • Revenants get Herald (source)
    • Allows shield as an off-hand weapon
      • Envoy of Exuberance – Glint’s energy shoots out healing allies and grants protection on the way back
      • Crystal Hibernation – Channel a shield that renders the player immune to damage and gives a heal
    • Legendary Dragon Stance (Glint) – Support via boons, utility, and personal defense
    • Facets of Glint Utility Skills (all are upkeep skills)
      • Facet of Elements – Grants a pulsing swiftness buff
      • Elemental Blast – Ground targeted skill which consumes Facet of Elements and applies conditions to foes
      • Facet of Chaos – grants nearby allies protection every few seconds
      • Chaotic Release – consumes Facet of Chaos and grants super speed to allies while also damaging and knocking back foes
      • Facet of Nature – Pulses every few seconds and increases the outgoing boon duration for allies
      • One with Nature – Consumes Facet of Nature and applies boons all the other facets would apply to allies
  • Warrior gets Berzerker (source)
    • New weapon is torch
      • Blaze Breaker – send a cascade of rock and flame which travels to your target, crippling and burning any foe in the way.
      • Flames of war – Light yourself on fire burning off any conditions and creating a fire field that follows you. When the effect ends it explodes a applies more burning to foes around you.
    • At max adrenaline the bar will change to a single bar with only 10 adrenaline (instead of the normal three tiered bar with 30 adrenaline)
      • Give new weapon burst skills which can be used more often
      • Scorched Earth (longbow) – leaves a trail of fire on the ground in a straight line, is an aimed skill
      • Skull Grinder (mace) – short disrupt and applies multiple conditions to your target
    • Primal bursts are considering tier 3 bursts for traits
    • Feel the Rage – new type of utility skills called rage skills
  • Thief gets Daredevil (source)
    • Gains the use of Staff
    • Highly mobile fighter who is capable of taking on multiple enemies at once
    • Will have an extra endurance bar
    • Grandmaster trait line enhances dodge options
      • Lotus Training – each dodge throws daggers which cause bleed, torment, and cripple to foes and additionally functions as a whirl finisher
      • Bounding Dodger – gives the ability to leap in a specific direction and deal crushing damage where you land, additionally it functions as a leap finisher
      • Unhindered Combatant – Dodge becomes a dash which increases the distance you dodge and removes cripple and chill effects from you
    • Channeled Vigor – pulses heal and endurance regen, also heals for an additional amount if endurance is full

Revenant (source)

  • Ability to channel and control the Mists (source)
  • Heavy Armor
  • Uses energy as a resource (source)
  • Will use Hammer as a ranged weapon (source)
  • Can us Mace in the main hand (source)
  • Can use Axe as off-hand (source)
  • Can use Staff as a melee weapon (source)
  • Will be able to use Sword in main hand and off hand (source)
  • Will have weapon swapping (source)
  • On swap sigils activate when switching Legends (source)
  • Will use Spear underwater (source)
  • Use of Great Legends of Tyria
    • King Jalis – Tanky, Brawly Playstyle
    • Malyx – Conditions
    • Ventari – Support and Healing
    • Shiro – physical mobile dps

New WvW Borderlands Map (source)

  • Each Keep has a separate theme
    • Earth keep will raise up to defend itself against attackers
  • Fire Keep (source)
    • Located entirely underground
    • Has lava pools surrounding it
    • Fire imps and charred fleshreavers guard it
  • Air Keep (source)
    • Cut into the walls of the cavern
    • Has Tengu guarding its heights
  • Earth Keep (source)
    • Corrupted asuran complex
    • Has rock formations and boulders floating in the air
    • Golems are the guardians
  • Holding a keep will give buffs to the world which has it
  • There will also be changes to core WvW
    • Holding objectives should be a bigger component of victory
  • Will have 3 Keeps, 4 towers, and 6 supply camps (source)
  • The towers are an ogre outpost, a charr military depot, an academy of magic, and a necromantic spire (source)
    • Towers will actually create choke points and be of strategic importance
  • The gates of towers and keeps will be more lethal to attack head on (source)
  • Shrines (source)
    • Outside each keep
    • Three shrines of matching elements to the keep they are near
    • Can be capped by a single player
    • Capping the shrines will give buffs and bonuses which will make taking and keeping their keep easier
  • Oasis (source)
    • Located in the middle of the map
    • Multilayered and full of all kinds of hazards (including dinosaurs)
    • Players will collect cores to charge up the giant cannon
    • When the cannon fires it will start to fire blasts of energy at all enemy towers and keeps, gradually obliterating their gates
  • Dolyaks will gain significant buffs if a friendly player is near them (source)
  • Sentries will be guarding tiny outposts and will have a cripple skill to hamper enemy dolyaks (source)
  • Players will also be able to pick-up medkits at their outposts and use them to heal dolyaks, gain some health, or grant swiftness (source)

Changes to all WvW maps (source)

  • Upgrades will have no gold or supply cost
  • Less supply will be held and transported
  • There will be upgrade tiers instead of tiers
  • Upgrades happen automatically over time
  • Camps will have 2 tiers and all other objectives will have 3 tiers
  • Higher tiers take longer to upgrade than lower tiers.
  • Dolyak shipments will reduce the remaining upgrade time
  • Total time needed should be about the same as before the changes
  • Changes to WvW Abilities (source)
    • Guard Killer and Defense Against Guards will only have 5 ranks instead of 10
    • Applied Fortitude and Applied Strength will be removed
    • Ability lines which increased percentages from 1% to 5% will increase percentages from 2% to 10%
    • Siege weapon lines and the Supply Capacity line will have a reduced cost
    • All lines which have 5 ranks will cost 35 points per line
    • All lines which have 4 ranks will cost 15 points per line
    • The main player XP bar will change to track WXP when the player zones into WvW
  • Players will be able to buy Notarized Scrolls of Heroics and Notarized Scrolls of Maguuma Heroics which will allow players to unlock Hero Challenges through WvW play alone (source)
  • Changes are being made to prevent players from stocking up liquid world experience for launch day of HoT (source)

Strongholds (source)

  • Fight for Supply
  • Spend Supply to help your team
  • Players will be able to choose is they prefer Conquest, Stronghold, or Both and will be able to queue for the type they prefer (source)
  • Join with heroes to help in the fight
  • Kill the Guild Lord
  • More Mist Champions will be added through new reward tracks in the future (source)
  • Unlocking a Mist Champion reward champion track will also allow players to unlock a second track which will reward that champion’s mini (source)

New sPvP Ranks (source)

  • Everyone who owns the expansion will start at Jungle Rabbit rank
  • As a rank reward track is unlocked the next one will open up until you reach your current rank, all the way up to Dragon
  • Jungle Dragon rank has a new finisher which is Heart of Thorns themed

sPvP Leagues (source)

  • There will be six divisions – Lowest level is called the Amber Division and the Highest is the Legendary Division
  • Players will be matched up with other players in the same divisions
  • Players will earn pips from winning, and when enough are earned they will move up to the next division
  • If players are matched against a team outside their skill bracket they will have to reach a certain score threshold to get awarded their pip
  • Crossing into a new tier or new division will earn bigger and more prestigious rewards (the first time in a season this is done will give the biggest rewards)
  • The Amber Division will only award pips, it won’t take them away for losing
  • In divisions two and three players can lose pips but they won’t lose tiers
  • Starting in division four players can lose both pips and tiers
  • During a season players will never fall back to a previous division
  • The sixth division (Legendary) is a repeatable division which plays can fill out for repeatable rewards
  • Different divisions will have different badges for player nameplates
  • Badges are earned for each current season; as soon as a new season starts all badges are reset and must be earned again
  • Anyone who makes it into the Legendary Division will earn a permanent title
  • League Tokens are a reward for crossing into higher divisions and can be used to buy the first level of the “Wings of Glory” back item and can be used to upgrade it
  • New items will be added in the future and the newest items will always be at a discount
  • League play will also unlock the ability for players to craft a precursor and eventually craft that item into a legendary back item
  • Dishonor system will be returning
  • Guild Teams in sPvP (source)
    • A guild team is a named five player group who compete in sPvP together
    • Each team will have their own rating and place on the new guild leaderboard
    • A single guild can have multiple teams but each must have a unique name
    • Each team will have one captain
    • Must have 3 members of a team queuing together in order for a match to be counted as a team match
    • Matchmaking will use the team rating instead of personal rating when playing as a team
    • Guilds can unlock perks, for example the guild anthem can play at the end of a match the team wins
    • Will be active during all league seasons (source)
    • Ratings will decay with time (source)
    • Rewards will be given at the end of season based on where teams end and will also be used to determine who will be invited to higher-tier tournaments (source)

Guild Halls (source)

  • Home base to build & grow
  • Core hub for a guild
  • Guilds will choose between Lost Precipice and Gilded Hallow (source)
  • Claiming your Guild Hall (source)
    • Guilds will register themselves with the Guild Initiative
    • Guild Initiative Headquarters is an instance shared by guild members (sort of like a mini hall)
    • After clearing out the Modrem a Guild Leader will interact with a crystal to claim the Hall
  • Building the Hall (source)
    • To upgrade Halls guilds will use a combination of specific crafting materials, favor, and aetherium
    • Aetherium is generated automatically over time from the guild mine
    • Buildings form instantly when you pay for them
    • Six main buildings Tavern, Mine, Workshop, War Room, Market, Arena
  • Consumable upgrades which have been purchased should be used before Heart of Thorns goes live (source)
  • Once the Guild Initiative Headquarters opens Guilds will be able to trade a limited amount of Influence for Favor everyday (source)
  • Influence will also be used to purchase a small increase to aetherium production, once a day (source)
  • Guilds will also be able to convert as much influence to resonance as they like (source)
  • Merits will be retired (source)
  • Heart of Thorns will introduce the ability to view and talk in any guild chat of which you are a member even if you aren’t currently representing (source)
  • Guild Mission changes (source)
    • Will be how guilds earn favor
    • Missions will be free to run as often as wanted, but rewards will still be once a week
    • Guilds will start with a few missions available, and as the guild levels up more missions will open up
    • Guild Challenges and Guild Puzzles will be instanced
    • Only one mission of a given type can be active at a time
    • A guild portal in the guild hall can be built and will transport guild members to the start point for each guild mission available
  • Guild Crafting (source)
    • Guild Items will have a build time requirement
    • This time can be shortened by using resonance
    • Resonating shards will drop while playing grouped with guildies and is the main source of resonance
    • Scribes can create guild consumables, improvements and tactics for claiming in WvW, and guild hall decorations
  • War Room (source)
    • The ability to claim objectives is unlocked through the war room
    • The guild with the most members present when an objective is taken will have first priority in claiming
    • If three guilds pass then anyone can claim
    • Guilds can only have one objective per map claimed (source)
    • Objectives can be claimed by clicking on the objective in the map (source)
    • Claimed objectives will be marked by a shield on the map (source)
    • Upgrades are upgrades to an objective that give it better defenses and new functionality
      • These improvements last for as long as your guild has the objective claimed
      • Tier I unlocks after guild has objective for 10 minutes, Tier II at 30 minutes, and Tier III at 60 minutes (source)
      • Each tier offers options for the upgrades and it will take 3 minutes for the upgrade to be built (source)
    • Tactics are objective-based abilities that players can activate to temporarily boost or defend an objective

Changes to Fractals (source)

  • Each fractal run will consist of one fractal from a static list instead of three random fractals with a random boss at the end
  • The static list will be dependent on the scale of the fractal (source)
  • Lower scales will be adjusted to help new players learn the mechanics
  • Maximum fractal scale will be raised from 50 to 100
  • Past 50 the difficulty curve will not only adjust health and damage of creature but will also adjust other stats (ex toughness and precision)
  • Existing mistlock instabilities will either be updated or replaced
  • In the higher scales there will also be multiple mistlock instabilities active at the same time
  • Dessa will also have new consumables for fractals available which will stack with other existing consumables
  • Fractals will have their own achievement tab and will have special rewards for completing them
  • Daily fractal achievements will be divided into three level ranges 1–20, 21–50, and 51 and above
  • The final chest in every fractal will be a tradeable lockbox called a fractal encryption which has the chance to contain the following (in addition to other things):
    • Mini Professor Mew
    • new ascended aquatic-breather recipes
    • high-level crafting materials
  • Mini Professor Mew can be combined with a fractal ingredient to create the full set of cat golem mintures
  • Changes to fractal weapon skins
    • Addition of a collection for obtaining all the skins and a new reward
    • After completing fractal scale 50 golem BUY-2046 will sell a fractal weapon crate for pristine fractal relics and players will be able to pick which skin they want
    • New skins will be added but will only be obtainable at the 50+ scales
    • Will be able to take any of the new fractal skins and convert it, in the mystic forge, to a new fractal weapon skin of the player’s choice
  • BUY-2046 will also start selling Ascended Salvage kits
    • Salvaging any ascended item will have the chance to yield a ball of dark energy which is needed for crafting new legendary items
    • Salvaging rings will yield stabilizing matrices, useful for legendary crafting or can be traded in for fractal encryption keys

Legendary Backpacks (source)

  • Will be account bound
  • A guide in Mistlock Observatory will help point players in the direction of new types of challenges, timed boss encounters, and collections of items to obtain both inside and outside of the fractals
  • Those achievements along with armorsmith, leatherworker, or tailor profession will enable players to build their precursor back item
  • The last step to making it a legendary item is called Ad Infinitum

Other sources:

About Guild Hall availability: https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/game/hot/Guilds-and-Guild-Halls/first#post5195339

About needing HoT to make a Revenant: https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/game/hot/Have-to-buy-HoT-to-create-a-Revenant/first#post4867494

The ability to train Masteries is unlocked at level 80 for all players that own Heart of Thorns”: https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/reimagining-progression-the-mastery-system/

“While elite specializations will be available to everyone who purchases the expansion, the upcoming core specialization changes will affect the base game.” : https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/ready-up-core-specializations-summary/

About Leagues being tied to HoT, I talked to John Corpening about it at the GW2 Pax party, I’ll update with a link when his new post about Leagues gets posted.

Pax East Interview With Colin Johanson And Isaiah Cartwright

Originally posted on Gamebreaker March 10th, 2015.

During PAX East Guild Wars 2 game director Colin Johanson and lead game designer Isaiah Cartwright took some time to go through their Heart of Thorns demo with me and answered a ton of questions about the upcoming expansion. Unfortunately, there is still a lot information they aren’t ready to talk about yet, but what is available so far is pretty interesting.

Story and Feature Updates

The storyline for Heart of Thorns picks up the very next day after the last episode of Living Story Season 2 ends. This of course means between now and when Heart of Thorns launches there won’t be living story updates. For people who really enjoy the story and seeing the world progress this is a bit of a disappointment because we will have awhile to wait before the story continues.

This, however, does not mean GW2 will be stagnant until then. The recently announced camera changes will be live in the game in a couple of weeks, and they have more unannounced feature changes planned as well. In addition there will be other events similar to the Lunar New Year festival. So while we are all anxiously waiting to see where the story goes next, we won’t be left with nothing new in game in the meantime.

Surveying WreckageGuilds are a main focus in Heart of Thorns

One of the main things I was hoping to learn more about is what they have planned for guilds in the expansion. So far the only thing which has really been announced is the Guild Hall, which although interesting and exciting seems a little light for an expansion. Guild Halls on its own seems like the sort of thing which could be implemented as a major feature patch if there was nothing else to go with it.

Unfortunately they weren’t prepared to reveal anything new for guilds today. However, Johanson did emphasize guilds are a main pillar for HoT. They really want to make having a guild and being in a guild matter in a larger way in the game as a whole. For example making it easier for guilds to work together to accomplish tasks in a collaborative way is something they are interested in.

They couldn’t get into specifics of course, but something which seems likely is improvements to how guild missions work when multiple guilds are trying to do them. For example, rushes currently work really well with multiple guilds, but puzzles are often problematic. Expanding out guild missions as a whole seems a likely possibility as well as giving us new types of content to do as a guild. Also there was mention of more support for guilds doing “non-standard” types of events.

Revenant_1Revenant

The playable demo had a level 80 Revenant available to play with the Hammer skill set and the two Legends they have announced already Mallyx the Unyielding and Jalis Ironhammer.

As previously revealed which Legend the player currently has active will determine what skills are filled in the 6-0 slots. Currently, the functionality is there so the player can switch which ability is in which slot. So instead of having the chain skill in the 8 slot the player could change it to the 9 slot. There is the potential for there to be more skills available than can be slotted (similar to how skills in other professions work) but they haven’t really decided on it yet and they expect it’s one area where the beta will help fill in what is needed in terms of customization.

Hammer as a ranged weapon actually works fairly well mechanically. It is sort of similar to how a Mesmer uses a Greatsword where there are various effects which come out from the Hammer. It’ll be interesting to see how everything functions and works when everyone is playing a variety of professions and specializations instead of everyone playing a Revenant. Though the chaos which ensued might be a good indication of what the first few weeks after launch will be like.

There have been some people out there wondering if perhaps the Revenant will start off at some level higher than level 1 to give players an easier time catching up and to be able to play the new content quicker. However, Johanson did confirm they will start at level 1. So everyone planning to roll a Revenant right away should stock up on those tomes of experience.

Pale ReaversRelease Date and Beta

They’ve just opened up sign-ups for beta here at PAX East and on the GW2 website by signing up for the Guild Wars 2 Newsletter. There won’t be an NDA for the closed beta which makes life a bit easier for everyone. invites will be staggered to slowly ramp up and test their systems. Content testing will also likely be staggered.

One thing Colin was pretty emphatic about is they don’t really have a set release date for the expansion. Heart of Thorns is going to set the foundation for how Guild Wars 2 will grow and expand over the lifetime of the game, so they really want to make sure they have it set properly before release. He expects a lot of changes will happen during beta and they really want to make sure they have the flexibility to adapt to those changes.

Next Week at EGX Rezzed

A lot of the focus here at PAX East has been on getting players into the demo and experiencing the first taste of the new areas and mechanics. Next week at Rezzed the focus will shift a bit to be more on the new Boarderlands map and WvW as a whole. Johanson indicated they have a lot of changes planned for WvW, so next week should be interesting.

Blizzard Hitting All The Right Notes With Warlords Of Draenor

Originally posted on Gamebreaker on Nov. 18th 2014.

Warlords of Draenor has been live for a few days now, and it seemed like a good time to take stock of how everything is going. Having spent a fair amount of time in both the Alpha and Beta I expected the first hour or so of gameplay to be pretty boring. I have been pleasantly surprised in this regard.

I should warn you, that although I am going to stay away from any major spoilers I will be talking about things which occur in questlines and as such there will be minor spoilers. It should also be noted that since I played the Alliance side, any zones or persons mentioned will be related to that.

bannerTanaan Jungle

The questline for Tanaan Jungle is very straightforward and linear, which is why I originally planned to just push through it as fast as possible. I had gone through the questline in Alpha/Beta and already had a general understanding of what should happen. However, there are a several short cinematics sprinkled throughout the zone that really help to both lighten the mood and draw players into what is going on.

One fantastic moment occurs right at the beginning as we are about to go through the Dark Portal for the first time. Maraad and Thrall are fighting through the orcs and doing a great job of it. Then as an orc emerges from the portal Thrall kicks it in the stomach returning it back from whence it came. It was simultaneously a hilarious moment and a “yea way to be a badass, Thrall” moment. Especially nice to see after watching Thrall get his butt kicked by Garrosh for months.

Additionally, every time we meet one of the warlords we get a close up of the warlord and, hilariously their name written in big golden letters so you know exactly who you are meeting. It is a bit campy, but it also is nice to see them get those moments right upfront. In addition, it assists people who don’t know the lore so well put names to the orcs, and each clip is only a few seconds long.

Garrisons

I knew going into WoD that Garrisons we’re going to be something I really enjoyed, but apparently the fact the game is officially live now made it even more enjoyable. I had planned out my entire Garrison before launch right down to when I was going to build the things and when I’d switch out buildings for other buildings. Even so I was a quite excited to build my Barracks and get my first follower. I’m trying really hard not to think of Followers as Pokemon.

One thing I’d really like to see added to Garrisons is an expansion to the Armory mobile app that will allow us to manage our garrisons even when we can’t login. Being able to send followers on missions, or build buildings remotely would be a huge bonus. The basic in-game interface is very similar to a webpage already, so ideally they could build it into the website.

banner2Profession Improvements

I really really dislike leveling professions, it’s the one aspect of MMOs which tends to annoy me often. Going into Warlords of Draenor I was really happy with the change to gathering professions which gives players the ability to collect from any node regardless of profession level. That was a huge Quality of Life (QoL) change. This only left me really having to slog through leveling Jewelcrafting.

Due to time and money restrictions I had only managed to get my Jewelcrafting up to 379. So I had prepared myself for the fact I was likely going to either spend a ton of gold to buy materials, or I was going to have to go back to old zones and do a lot of farming.

However, pretty quickly after arriving in Shadowmoon Valley I looted a scroll which said it would teach me to make Draenor Jewelcrafting items. It didn’t have a profession level requirement, so I went ahead and used it figuring at least I’d have the ability when I got my Jewelcrafting to a higher level. I was pleasantly surprised to see I could use the new Draenor mats immediately to level up my profession.

No going back to old zones. No buying tons of things on the auction house to make tons of things I’d never use and couldn’t sell because no one else wanted them either. I could just start increasing my Jewelcrafting now with the new ore I was getting. This also made me decide I am definitely going to swap out mining for Enchanting after my mine is built. Oh happy day.

Queues, Crashes, DCs, and All The Lag!

Warlords of Draenor definitely had a bit of a bumpy launch. Queues were extreme, in many cases the seeing a queue of over 1k was not unusual. While it isn’t unusual to see queues during an expansion launch these seemed much longer than they normally have been.  I can’t help but wonder if maybe all the realm linking Blizzard has been doing over the last year sort of exacerbated the problem. With the return of many previous accounts I could see how it could possibly overload things, of course we don’t know how many people waited until just before launch to reactivate their account. Either way Blizzard acted swiftly to make improvements and get people in game much more quickly.

Once players did get in game there were a lot of problems with lag in the world and getting to various parts of it. Players often ended up either unable to get to their Garrisons or unable to leave. No matter which side you were on it was frustrating. Blizzard did some maintenance on Friday and Saturday to help with these issues and for the most part they seemed to have gotten most things under control. Of course everything isn’t perfect, as I write this I am unable to hearth into my Garrison.

Some of the problems on launch day weren’t really Blizzard’s fault, someone decided to be “cool” and DDoS them, which was a real drag for everyone. On the upside Blizzard is giving everyone 5 days of free sub time which does take the sting out of the problems for many, though it doesn’t really help people who were planning to go for server firsts in leveling.

flyingOverall Warlords Is Amazing

Like I mentioned previously, connection issues are consistently getting better and servers are pretty stable at this point. There’s no reason to believe Blizzard won’t continue making improvements and making the overall experience better. At this point I’m ready to just kick back and enjoy the expansion. I am also wholeheartedly enjoying not having to rush to get raid ready in time for the first week of raiding. Here’s to hoping we have 3-4 weeks after every expansion launch before we need to get to raiding!

Revisting SWTOR Part 2

Getting back to talking about SWTOR has been really difficult for me. My feelings about everything is extremely jumbled and teasing these things out is not straight foreword.

Let’s Start With The Good Things

Nothing has really changed with the level 1-50 storylines, and they are definitely still worth seeing. The best way to see all of the storylines is to level with three other friends, each playing a different class. This way you won’t have to go back through leveling again (which can get pretty tiresome) and you’ll still see all of the storylines which interweave with each other in interesting ways.

When it comes to the Rise of the Hutt Cartel there is only one story per faction, and both are worth going through once. My recommendation would be to do the Republic story first, but it doesn’t matter very much. Making the content from this expansion available to F2P people is one of the better changes BioWare has made as it encourages less stratification of the player base.

The best change which has been made recently is the addition of Galactic Starfighter. For anyone unfamiliar with this addition, it’s free-form space battlegrounds. I had more fun in these battlegrounds than I have had in a long time playing and characters can take part in battles at any level because it’s the quality of your ship and your skill which matters not the lvl of your character. Here’s a short video I made soon after this feature launch where I was playing with one of my friends.

 And Onto The Bad Things

My biggest issue with SWTOR for a long time has been how they chose to run their F2P system. This aspect has gotten a bit better over time but I still often feel like I am being strong armed into giving them money. Most things can be bought with credits, but it takes a lot to get enough, especially as a first time player. I had a bit of a leg up because I had Preferred status.

The biggest annoyance I have with the F2P model they went with is it stratifies their players. Remember how I said the best way to experience the class stories is playing with friends? Well you’ll want to make sure everyone is either subbed or is F2P together. When I first started playing again I accidentally aggro’ed  too many mobs and sadly I died. I was quite happy to see I had the option to rez right at my body. Naturally I thought to myself “oh cool, I guess they let you have a certain number of rezs at your body now.”

The next day I was working on clearing a four person Heroic with a friend. We unfortunately pulled a pack we were trying to avoid and died. Much to my chagrin I had no option to rez at my body. There was only the one time. Just once. Now for my friend and I, this wasn’t a huge deal because he was willing to run back with me. If I had been running with a group of strangers  it would have been a bigger deal. Especially since the area to rez was outside the instance and there were a few mobs which needed to be killed before zoning in which makes running back take even more time.

Another issue with playing with friends who are subbed when you aren’t is they will level twice as fast. To even this gap out the F2P player will have to spend a fair amount of time playing on their own to just stay even with their friends. Some of this discrepancy can be mitigated by buying the experience boosts in the Character Perks Menu. There are six lines and each line only affects one area. To fill out all the lines all the way would cost 150,000 to 275,000 credits depending on which lines you buy. Alternatively there is the “Ultimate Leveling Bundle” which contains all the XP unlocks for 5,125 cartel coins (4,100 sale right now) which would run $$39.99 with a few coins left over.

Another thing which really rubbed me wrong is some of the restrictions on what rewards can be selected after completing quests. I don’t in general have a big issue with not having some of the rewards available. Quests have two level of rewards, automatic and optional. Restricting optional rewards seems fine, not awesome but definitely livable. However there were a few quests where both of the automatic rewards weren’t available to me, which just really rubbed me the wrong way. I mean an automatic reward should be automatic.

So is playing F2P really worth it?

SWTOR is still a lot of fun and like I said even if nothing else interests you seeing the class stories is fun and interesting. Though my recommendation would be to sub for a month or two and see all the class stories you want and then unsub. Playing F2P isn’t really worthwhile and more than likely will just be a frustrating experience for most people. Which is just all around sad because overall I really enjoy playing SWTOR. Their current business model just makes me resent giving them money.

Let’s Talk About Wildstar’s Elder Game

Originally posted on Gamebreaker April 15th, 2014.

When it comes to max level content the Carbine team has been relatively quiet except to say there will be things for everyone to do. Some of these things are raids, events, PvP, dailies & events; and yes it’s called Elder Game not endgame. However, many of the specifics with these systems have been left undisclosed aside from superficial information (like the size of raids). Thankfully the Wildstar panel at PAX East was all about Elder Game content and I was able to talk with Stephan Frost, design producer, for a bit on Saturday and gleaned even more details from him.

Raids Are Hard

No really Carbine’s design philosophy when it comes to raiding is, raiding should be some of the most challenging content in the game. I have seen a number of people claim telegraphs make avoiding damage too easy. Unfortunately this perspective seems based on low level content which is easier because leveling is designed to teach players to deal with these mechanics throughout the process. When it comes to raiding Carbine is taking full advantage of the telegraphs to really challenge players.

Not only are there some pretty wickedly shaped telegraphs used, but when combined with other mechanics (like the floor dropping away) there is little room for error. With a limited amount of dodging allowed reacting at the wrong moment or in the wrong direction can seriously ruin a boss attempt.

One of the examples shown during the panel is a rotating weirdly shaped telegraph. Which doesn’t sound horrible, but with the rate the telegraph is rotating dodges have to be used. If a player happens to misjudge which direction they should go… well it’ll hurt a whole bunch. Or in Frost’s words “these telegraphs will melt your face.”

One of my favorite mechanics shown during the panel was a raid group fighting a boss on a bunch of interlocking platforms. There’s a mechanic where a player gets targeted with a “bomb” type effect. The way it seemed to be meant to work, is the player should jump off the platform… which in general is the last thing most people would think of doing. If done wrong however, well the guys in the stream wiped half their raid in one hit. Though it looked like there is potential if it’s done really wrong, a player could take out their entire raid team at once.

In addition the Carbine team is redefining trash mobs as “base population” and it’s not just a name change. Trash mobs will actually drop real loot and will have real mechanics to defeating them. As someone who generally hates trash mobs I am actually happy about this change. Most of the reason I hate trash, is because trash always seems pointless and just there to slow the group down. If the trash actually has some real mechanics and real loot it’ll be a huge improvement on the current state of things!

wildstar mmorpg features 2 featured     Lets Talk About Wildstars Elder GameImbuements

One thing I hadn’t heard the Carbine team talk about much before is some items will have an imbuement which is basically a quest or task the player will have to accomplish to unlock more power on a item. Examples of tasks are killing a particular boss, collecting a certain number of items, max reputation with some faction, and other things along these lines. The items will be pretty good without unlocking these imbuements, but for players who really want to get the full power out of their gear tackling any and all imbuement quests will be something they’ll want to do.

Now personally I love the concept of imbuements. For me it reminds me (and yes I realize it’s not a direct correlation) of  forging Quel’Serrar back in Vanilla WoW. For anyone who was a warrior back then obtaining that sword was an accomplishment, and one where players not only had to kill a specific boss but had to do specific things during the boss fight… clearly it’s a memory I have held on to. As soon as Joe Piepiora mentioned imbuements and started explaining the reasoning behind them, I knew we were getting the type of content which will spawn stories and memories for years to come.

Piepiora also mentioned artifact weapons, which is the top most tier weapons only obtainable from doing the hardest content in Wildstar. Pretty cool. The Artifact Sword he showed off had SIX imbuements on it. As an example of how crazy it does get, at the end of the line on the artifact weapons to unlock the the last power players will have to summon two special bosses (which the group will never have fought before because they only exist for this imbuement) and defeat them at the same time (this is the 80 man raid some people have been mentioning). Talk about having a story to share afterwards.

Additionally… say I get this nice shiny artifact sword, great and stuff but then a new raid tier comes out. Well time to toss the old sword in the bank right (or relegate it to only being a costume skin)? Nope. Because of how imbuements work there is the potential to keep adding new imbuements on so I could keep powering that sword up and use it for a long long time. Not only is this prospect exciting, it’s also a great motivation to do some of these super hard requirements.

wildstar mmorpg features 2 featured     Lets Talk About Wildstars Elder GameStory Instances

Story Instances are instances designed for a solo player to really delve into the deeper lore behind Wildstar. The player is guided through these encounters by A NPC everyone meets during the standard leveling quests named Drusera. Starting at level 35 the story instances will guide players to a deeper understanding of the history of the planet Nexus and what is currently going on.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve seen this content because you’ve met Drusera. Story Instances have not made it into beta, and might not be there at all until launch. Which makes me sad, though I understand testing group content in beta is a higher priority for a multitude of reasons. Also, if these were already in beta some jerk probably would have written about it and spoiled all the mysteries for everyone else. /whistles innocently

Another aspect I really like about Story Instances is they can be leveraged to propel the story forward in the future. While there undoubtedly will be some story in the raids, most of the story will be told in these instances instead. As someone who is always unhappy to have to skip cut scenes because I don’t want to get left behind, I really appreciate this separation.

One part of Story Instances I am curious about, and unfortunately forgot to ask Stephan Frost about, is if Story Instances can be done in a group at all. I have friends who enjoy the story and lore in games as much as I do and it is nice to be able to go through the story parts with them when we can. Sure we can, and will, talk about what happened after but it’s not the same as experiencing it for the first time together.

wildstar mmorpg features 2 featured     Lets Talk About Wildstars Elder GameThe Takeaway

One thing Frost emphasized when I was talking with him is the Carbine team is focused like a laser on making sure there is plenty of Elder Game available not only at launch but also in the months following launch. As someone who watched SWTOR implode firsthand, knowing Wildstar isn’t just planning for the launch itself but what will happen immediately afterwards is reassuring. It’s also good to know they are planning for more than just raid content updates.

Now if I could just find out how exactly a group captures a raid boss to use on their Warplot…