As if to give a big “F-you” to E3, over the weekend Blizzard held a press event at which they detailed many upcoming World of Warcracf: Cataclysm changes that had been previously unknown. You know you’ve made it to the big time when you can skip E3 altogether and hold your own, arguably larger, event and charge $150 per ticket for entrance. That is just the way Blizzard rolls, folks.
Some of these announced changes disappoint me, but for the most part, they seem to be for the better. Let’s take a look and see what we have in store when Azeroth gets turned on its head.
The alternate advancement system dubbed Path of the Titans has been scrapped. This change disappoints me, because it held a lot of promise for an alternate way to advance your character once you reach the level cap. And, as an added bonus, it tied nicely in with the new secondary profession, Archaeology. This system would see our characters allying themselves with various titan groups in order to gain bonuses of all sorts, which would allow customization and advancement beyond just simply the vertical progression of leveling up. This idea has been completely scrapped and, instead, they have decided to overhaul the glyph system to provide some of these bonuses in a slightly different manner.
There will now be three tiers of glyphs instead of two. Here’s how things break down:
- Major glyphs: These will act similar to what they do now, however they may include class-defining abilities that could be considered as mandatory for end-game activities.
- Medium glyphs: This is a new tier of glyphs added to the other two, which will typically provide cosmetic, or fun, alterations to abilities or your character’s visual appearance.
- Lesser glyphs: Again, these function similar to what they do now, and will provided lesser needed and non-mandatory alterations to abilities and stats, to allow some flexibility in character customization.
Here are a few other things to note about the updated glyph system:
- You will have three of each glyph type at level 85.
- You will no longer have to re-buy glyphs when you respect or rearrange them. Glyphs will work much like skills do, and once you learn one, you always have it available for use.
- This list will show all the glyphs available for your class (which may be handy to see which ones you might want to purchase), but only the ones you’ve learned will be highlighted and available for use.
Since the Path of the Titans system was so closely linked with Archaeology previously, it begs the question of what happens to that interesting secondary profession since it no longer carries its original purpose. I’m glad they kept the profession around, for sure. Now, however, it will be more of a lore-expanding exercise than anything useful to the progression of your character. Archaeology will, of course, be completely optional, but it generates benefits in a few areas:
- It will function as a lore tool and expand the already rich story of Azeroth. You will uncover runes and various other items that will help you understand the history of Azeroth to a greater extent.
- You will gain various vanity items from it – including pets, mounts, tabards and clothing items.
- There will be a slight chance to find rare weapons, but this will be the only means to really add to your character’s stats/strength using this profession.
Another large and previously unannounced change has to do with raiding lock-outs and the size of raid groups. No worries, they are still sticking with 10- and 25-man raids. However, in an exciting change of events, you will be able to break up a larger raid into smaller raid sizes if you lose numbers on a particular night. To put that into perspective, if you start the night raiding in a 25-man raid, clear two bosses, then lose five people, you can then break the raid up into two 10-man raids and each group can pick up where you left off, with those two bosses down.
Raid lock-outs will also be more lenient in how they allow you to join raids already in progress. As long as you have killed the same bosses as the raid in question, you’ll be able to join them, even if you’ve already been with a different group in that same raid dungeon during the lock-out period. Again, to put it in layman’s terms, you won’t be able to kill the same boss more than once during any given lock-out period, however you won’t be totally cut off from raiding with other groups simply because you were in a different raid and killed some bosses.
While I’m not a raider, these changes seem to add more flexibility in a raider’s life, making things a lot less painful and stressful. It also helps raid leaders within guilds to organize things better and to progress when their raid size drops to under 25, allowing you to break up the raid into smaller groups to continue on right from where you left off.
Speaking of raiding, there has been info revealed on two new raids that will come our way in Cataclysm:
- Grim Batol – The Bastion of Twilight
We’ve previously heard of these raids, but didn’t have any solid, detailed information to go on. Now we do. The Bastion of Twilight will be an entry-level raid with five boss encounter initially. Eventually a sixth will be available that ups the difficulty a bit. Lead World Designer Alex Afrasiabi said that defeating the final boss in here, Cho’gall himself, on hard mode will cause the floor to collapse under the players, causing them to tumble down below and reveal a “horrifying secret” that has strong connections with the expansion’s lore.
Call me “casual” all you want, but why is this secret only revealed to players who complete the raid on hard mode? As much as they’ve molded WoW into a more lenient game over the last couple expansions, you would think any players defeating Cho’gall on any mode will be able to witness these events. To be honest, I eventually see this being the case anyway.
Skywal will include both 5-man instances and larger raids. One of the new 5-mans was revealed as Vortex Pinnacle. In this dungeon you can use your flying mounts to travel around, and you’ll go up against Al’Akir the Windlord at some point.
This, of course, is all on top of the already-announced aspect of raiding where both 10- and 25-man raids will drop the same gear, the only difference being the quantity. I’m really digging that idea. At least, I would be happy about it if I was a raider.
One last major aspect of Cataclysm that was discussed at this press event was guild leveling. They’ve changed the way they are going to implement this somewhat. Before they had guild talents and currency, which could be allocated the way the guild master (or those given permission by him/her) sees fit. They’ve scrapped that idea and simplified the way things work.
Two things that remain from the previous system are:
- Guild-based achievements
- Guild rewards
Here is a list of things that guild members can participate in to gain experience for their guild. That experience, of course, translates into the aforementioned achievements and rewards.
- Rated battleground wins.
- Dungeon or raid boss kills.
- Completing quests (including daily quests).
- Unlocking guild achievements.
The maximum guild level will be 25, with each level in the progression rewarding perks to the members of that guild. There is no longer need for talents to unlock these perks, as the previous system had.
Guild rewards will be obtained by earning achievements. (Perks and rewards are apparently two different things.) Once these rewards are unlocked, guild members can purchase them with their own gold, as long as their guild reputation is at a certain point. Oh yeah, didn’t I mention that? A player gains reputation with a guild by performing the previously-mentioned tasks, and this reputation is rewarded on a per-character basis, not shared with every character on your account. The rewards will include all manner of things, from vanity items to heirloom gear.
One of the most interesting guild rewards is adding a flag to your mount with the guild tabard design displayed on it, so you can show your guild pride without the arguably unattractive tabard getting in the way.
Finally, the guild window part of the UI is being overhauled. It will include things like scheduled guild events, a guild experience bar, your current reputation with the guild, latest guild news and major accomplishments. The news and accomplishments will unfortunately not be player-created, but will instead be generated by the game.
In a pretty awesome bit of info, the guild roster will not list a player’s professions next to their name, so no more putting that in the comments for each player individually. When you click on their professions, you’ll get a list of recipes that player can perform, which helps the entire guild know who can do what.
So, to summarize, this press event basically talked about three upcoming changes that we didn’t know about before the weekend:
- Path of the Titans has been scrapped, archaeology has been redone and inscription has been fleshed out more.
- New raid lock-out information and raid dungeon info.
- New guild progression information.
In addition to all of the above, some UI changes and lore facts were revealed, as well, which we’ll save for another day. Stay tuned here for more Cataclysm information as it comes down from Blizzard, although I expect the rest of this week to be pretty quiet on that front, with E3 going on and all.