Blizzcon 2013 has come and gone, and now the Internet is sifting through the plethora of information dropped at our collective feet, trying to decide whether to be upset, apathetic, ecstatic, or some combination of all of them.
Diablo III, Starcraft II, Heroes of the Storm
While I want to dig into the World of Warcraft announcements, my original predictions on Diablo III, Starcraft II, and Heroes of the Storm were pretty much bang on. Granted, they were ultra-conservative, but at the same time with the WoW expansion unannounced but looming it was pretty much a no-brainer.
Hearthstone has a bunch of small changes, and the open beta starts quite soon, but no release date and nothing earth shattering. They’re keeping a close eye on balance, which I fully expected, and Arena was left largely alone. Ranked play for constructed decks got a lot of updates, though, which is actually pretty nice, but I was wrong on the UI updates. Oh well.
On the bright side, Mind Control is getting nerfed. I only pick on that card because I got completely trounced in Arena the other day when this Priest MC’d a minion of mine who had 7 health, and the next turn added 3 health to it via the Temple Enforcer, doubled its health via Divine Spirit, then changed the attack of the card to match its health using Inner Fire for 9 mana total. Then proceeded to bludgeon me with a 20/20 minion that used to be mine. Rude. And clever. But mostly rude.
But I’m most excited to see Hearthstone coming to iOS and Android. Being able to play this game on the bus commute to work would be absolutely brilliant.
World of Warcraft
Let’s jump into my predictions and see how they fared:
“MMO-Champion thinks it’ll be called Warlords of Draenor.”
Boubouille did indeed get this correct.
“For some reason everyone keeps saying Time Travel. Not sure where they got that idea. Blizzard’s modus operandi so far has been new discovered landmass ... so I figure it’ll be a previously undiscovered landmass of Draenor in Outland. The other option I could think of was doing the Cata-style revamp on Hellfire Peninsula and Zangarmarsh, then re-purpose the rest of Outland to be 90+ content. Lots of folks hate going through Outland, and it’s not nearly the scope of redoing all of Azeroth.”
Well, I’m wrong on this one, mostly. According to Blizzard, It’s sorta-not-really Time Travel. Alternate universe, but alternate universe in the past. Outland stays where it is, and the Dark Portal will lead us to alternate-Draenor. See the Dev Q&A for the best explanation of it so far. However, the end result is a new continent, so at least I got that part right. More details can be found here: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/11512864/Warlords_of_Draenor_Journey_into_Draenor-11_8_2013
“As far as lore is concerned, perhaps we’ll run into a set of orcs who are still corrupted by the Burning Legion (making a good segue into a Burning Legion expansion or raids). Draenor/Outland would also mean more Draenei and Blood Elf storylines, as well. And of course Turalyon and Alleria. Illidan, too, since Metzen has stated he’d love to give the Demon Hunter a chance at redemption.”
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wro... oh, what? We actually get some Space Goat lore? Well, 2 words correct out of that paragraph isn’t too bad, maybe.
“I expect we’ll see the level cap be 100 rather than 95. It makes for a nice round number for the tenth anniversary, plus the heirlooms go to 100. I’m not ultra-confident on this one; it’s really a stupid wild-ass guess. But I’m fairly confident we’ll finally see the number squish. Given the feature exists in nascent form already, we’ll likely see level/item scaling for older dungeons, too.”
“Blizzard seems pleased with how classes and talents are working these days, so I figure those will stay mostly untouched. Rogues are overdue for an overhaul, and such an overhaul worked okay for Warlocks. However, the glyph system was effectively a prototype of the new talent system, and doesn’t have a good niche anymore, so I’ll bet there’ll be an update to that feature.”
Bang on with the talents and classes. Wrong on the Rogue thing, but no mention of glyphs.
“Things I think we won’t see are a new class, spec, or race. They've already got a tonne on their plates for balance and diversity with the classes and races they have today.”
Boom. No new races or classes. Crushed it.
“We may get a preview of one or two new character models, but I doubt they’re anywhere near complete, and nor do I believe they will be complete for the expansion drop.”
They’ve got a few models done, and it's official for the expansion, but they don’t have a release timeline and they’re not sure they’ll all be done for the expansion drop. So pretty much correct here.
“I also don’t believe we’ll see a release date or target for the next expansion (though if I had to guess, I’m thinking August with a 5.5 patch in between).”
No release date, but no 5.5 drop either, as it would delay WoD.
“There’s been a lot of talk about fixing up professions as well, but given the number of times they’ve talked about fixing them, I’m going to guess they’ll talk about it yet again, but not actually implement any such fixes.”
The new Garrison feature might give you access to more professions, and Blizzard again talked about wanting to spruce up professions with more catch-up mechanics, and fixing the UI, but surprise, surprise, nothing to be implemented.
So I’d say I was about 50/50 for being accurate on my predictions, but what about all the stuff I didn’t predict? Because there’s some juicy tidbits and features that I didn’t even think about.
So some may remember the conversation on Gamer by Design about the gear treadmill. One of my anonymous commenters made the great point that every new piece of gear requires an immense amount of work to be useful: reforging, enchanting, gemming, upgrading, dancing around the hit/expertise cap, and so on. Apparently Blizzard agreed, because not only did they do away with hit and expertise, but they abolished reforging, reduced the number of slots that can be enchanted (but said they’ll increase the enchants available for those slots), reduce the amount of gem slots, and they’re on the fence whether they’ll keep upgrades. To make loot a little more exciting they’ll be adding tertiary stats, that don’t count against itemization budget, like cleave, AoE damage reduction, and move speed.
Raid formats are changing. Normal is the new Flex, Heroic is the new Normal, and along with LFR all 3 will be flexible from 10 to 25 players. And the new Mythic raid format with a set 20 players, which replaces the old Heroic mode. Personally I’m psyched that “normal” will be flexible, but Balkoth, a current Heroic raider, has an interesting take on the new Mythic format.
|New Dorf model! Shiny! Screenshot from MMO-Champ.|
|New Tauren model! Also shiny! Screenshot from MMO-Champ.|