WoW Wednesday: The Rewards of Korrak’s Revenge!

World of Warcraft’s 15th anniversary is now in full swing, with events aplenty for players to dig into. On top of the LFR-styled ‘Memory’ Raids, which cover famous bosses from Warcraft’s first three expansions, Alterac Valley has returned! Based on the original build of the famous Epic 40-Man Battleground, Korrak’s Revenge is a seasonal brawl available through January 7th 2019. With no reinforcements, evolving NPC assaults and a ton of rewards scattered throughout, this is a densely packed holiday event. This week we’ll be peeling apart the particulars and set out a path to maximize your rewards!

The Alterac Valley of olde is infamous amongst Vanilla Purists and regular community goers for how long its matches were. Some took several days due to the deadlocks players would face on the battleground. Due to the variety of scaling in Korrak’s Revenge, however, most matches take roughly as much time as a regular Alterac Valley; up towards several hours long. Accessible from level 60, Korrak’s Revenge is a fantastic way to power level your characters with the anniversary experience buff.

The main draw, however, is the two limited time mounts. Featuring updated versions of the classic Alterac Valley faction mounts, the Frostwolf Snarler and the Stormpike Battle are completely remastered mounts. Featuring higher resolution textures and updated rigging based on newer model skeletons, these are two VERY excellent mounts. Rewarded from the achievement ‘Alterac Valley of Olde’ you’ll need to earn 200 Timewarped Badges while playing in Korrak’s Revenge. This currency can be used elsewhere in conjunction with Timewalking events, and this provides the best opportunity to grind quite a bit for rep tokens, mounts or toys.

“Raised in the Alterac Mountains and trained to bite dwarves.”

At first glance, Alterac Valley of Olde may seem easy to complete. Most players will pick up the breadcrumb quest, “Soldier of Time,” which rewards 400 Timewarped Badges for gaining 500 honor inside the Battleground. While this is an easy, and recommended, quest to complete none of these badges will contribute to your total. Instead, you’ll need to rely on the quests in Korrak’s Revenge.

The biggest thing to regularly perform will be COMPLETING the battleground itself. Currently, in the EU, zerging towers and the Alterac Generals has fallen back into the popular meta-strategy. Thankfully, this results in quicker games more often, and simply falls to whichever team can complete strategies quicker. In order to kill Drek’thar or Vandarr Stormpike, you’ll need to burn down every bunker and tower on your way to the enemy team’s base. Each has a nearly 3 minute cap timer, in which you’ll need to defend your claim until it is destroyed. Capturing graveyards along the way is essential to your team’s reinforcement and rewspawning. Winning a match in Korrak’s Revenge will net you 20 Timewarped Badges, while a loss will net you 10.

While most matches may go quickly there are still an incredible host of quests to perform, most of which are daily. A number are not, however, and work as breadcrumb or introductory quests. Korrak the Bloodrager and The Legend of Korrak will see players facing off against the chieftain of the Winterax Trolls. In an effort to control the Field of Strife, the Alliance and Horde will send players to slay this Champion and claim his territory for the respective faction.

Other one-time quests will see you assisting third parties in the Valley. Master Ryson’s All Seeing Eye is given to players by members of the Syndacite, the criminal survivors of the fallen Human Kingdom. Stolen by the Winterax trolls, the object of the same name has been taken deep into their territory. It will require players to group up to fight the elite creatures and push through to the Orb itself. The first faction to push into the caves and save Master Engineer Zinfizzlex will unlock his quest. Zinfizzlex’s Portable Shredder Unit will reward a portable killing vehicle for use in the Valley during the event, and all he requires are some (legally) acquired materials. Each quest will reward 10 Timewarped badges.

There are also a multitude of repeatable daily quests. Each will give 10 Timewarped Badges for your first turn-in every day, while some which include resource deposits will give an additional 2 badges every turn in. Most of the daily quests will involve capturing objectives, such as personally claiming a graveyard, capturing a tower or claiming a mine for a faction. Resources, such as armor scraps or crystals, can be collected off of the bodies of slain enemies and turned into NPCs at your home base. Once daily you can also collect resources from each mine and turn them in for 10 Timewarped Badges.

Not popularly mentioned is a quest that is given at your faction’s stable master. Awarding 2 Badges for each turn in, you must capture an Alterac Ram or Frost Wolf for your respective faction. This is a repeatable quest up until the stables are full, which takes some 20-30 turn-ins. If you join a match late, and your team is already zerging to the enemy base, this can be a great way to quickly collect a few extra badges. Just beware of preying Druids and Rogues!

“I seem to be a little out of sorts today…”

Once you are done waging war inside the Valley, there are still more rewards OUTSIDE. At the world queuing locatins for Alterac Valley, some of the older vendors have crossed into an odd aspect of time. At each entrance in the Alterac Mountains, Jorek Ironside and Thanthaldis Snowgleam have both become displaced in the time ways and are offering unique and old items. Costing both Marks of Honor and Timewarped badges, these two vendors will not only be offering some of the regular fare, but also several removed appearances that have not been seen in-game since before Cataclysm. Some are unique to specific armor types, such as mail and cloth, and must be purchased on characters of that armor class to unlock and save the appearance. Others will require you to kill Korrak before they can be unlocked for purchase. These removed items will only be available while Korrak’s Revenge is ongoing, and on January 7th they’ll be once more gone forever!

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WoW Wednesday: Pilgrim’s Bounty 2019!

The fall turns again in the World of Warcraft, and Pilgrim’s Bounty has arrived for the adventurers and claimers of the continents of Azeroth. Breaking bread with friends of all kinds, holiday goers can enjoy the wonderful food in every major city and brush up their own skills to provide the greatest feast for revelers throughout the land. From November 25th through December 2nd players can partake in Pilgrim’s Bounty and garner the rewards found therein. This week I’ll be your guiding hand to getting the most out of the holiday and how to fill out your achievements for the Pilgrim title and Plump Turkey Pet.

Most of the holiday festivities take place at the Bountiful Tables across Azeroth. These are located in each of the faction’s major cities and every minor town with an innkeeper, as well as Light’s Hope Chapel and the Ruins of Thaurissan. At any of these locations you’ll find that the tables have been stacked high with food which you can sit and eat at, even the enemy factions! Major city tables also have vendors selling seasonal goods such as toys, transmog, and recipes for the season. Eating five helpings of each available food will give players The Spirit of Sharing buff, which increases reputation gains by 10% for an hour, a vital addition for anyone grinding reputations through Timewalking or world content! This year, with the event overlapping with the 15th Anniversary now is a GREAT time to stack both reputation buffs from the holiday (along with Darkmoon Faire on Sunday) to DESTROY any remaining reputations you might be grinding!

Best known for its aid in leveling the profession, Pilgrim’s Bounty has a host of recipes that can quickly level players’ cooking skills. Gathering these is the easiest and fastest method of leveling the Classic tier of the profession, as the vendors selling the recipes also sell most of the ingredients as well. Mixed into these are also static seasonal quests and the ongoing daily quests, rewarding the Pilgrim’s Bounty satchel which contains the Turkey Shooter as well as potentially the Silver-Plated Turkey Shooter, Fine Pilgrim’s Hat or the Frightened Bush Chicken.

Two of the Pilgrim’s Bounty vendors, still celebrating amidst the war effort.

Of course, Pilgrim’s Bounty’s main draw is the nine unique achievements that can be earned towards the Pilgrim meta-achievement. It is worth noting that Pilgrim is not required for What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been, the World Event meta-achievement that requires a solid year of meeting every other holiday achievement (aside from the Day of the Dead, Pirate’s Day and other micro-holidays). All in all, you’ll need the following achievements to complete Pilgrim and claim your Plump Turkey:

“FOOD FIGHT!”
For this achievement, you’ll need to find a free seat at one of the Bountiful Tables in the world, and share food with a fellow reveler until you, “miss,” and bounce the food off of a player’s head! This will happen when the player the food is getting passed to already has the maximum amount of food, so just simply sit at a chair and pass the dishes until you’ve earned this achievement.

Sharing is Caring
In line with the premise of “FOOD FIGHT!” this achievement simply requires you to sit in each of the chairs at a Bountiful Table and pass the food to another seated player. Sit at each of the five chairs and pass a dish to earn the achievement, something you’ll more than likely do on your way to claiming the previous (and for more mischievous) entry.

One of the many Bountiful Tables located outside the major cities of the world.


Now We’re Cookin’

For this achievement, you must cook one of your faction’s specific Pilgrim’s Bounty Dishes. These recipes can be learned from Miles Standish for the Horde, or Gregory Tabor for the Alliance. Nearby holiday vendors will sell all the reagents you’ll need to cook these recipes and you’ll need at least 280 in your Classic Cooking to learn all of them.

Pilgrim’s Paunch
For this achievement, you must have a complete meal and earn The Spirit of Sharing at each Bountiful Table in your faction’s major cities. Simply travel to each major city and get five healthy helpings of each of the foods to complete this achievement!

Pilgrim’s Peril
This particular achievement requires you to put a little bit of risk and reward in. First, you’ll need to obtain an article of Pilgrim’s clothing, either the Pilgrim’s Dress, Pilgrim’s Robe or Pilgrim’s Attire which are awarded from one of the daily cooking quests. After you’re garbed in the universal attire of peace, you must then seat yourself at the Bountiful Tables in the enemy factions’ major cities. With the introduction of War Mode with the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch, this achievement has become far easier to complete by simply toggling it off.

Pilgrim’s Progress
This achievement is one of the easier on the list, merely requiring you to complete each of the Pilgrim’s Bounty daily quests. You can get each quest from the quest givers outside of your faction’s classic major cities, and all five are available every day. Keep in mind that you don’t need to cook for these dailies, all you have to do is turn in the food!

One of the Wild Turkeys currently plaguing both Elwynn Forest and the Tirisifal Glades.

Terokkar Turkey Time
For this achievement, you will need to first collect a Pilgrim’s Hat and one of the seasonal chest pieces from the Pilgrim’s Bounty dailies. Afterwards, you must then travel to Terokkar Forest and the Sethekk Halls wing of Auchindoun. While there, simply defeat Talon King Ikiss while wearing your seasonal attire on either Normal or Heroic! This is an easy one to incorporate into your daily mount-runs, but can only be completed by players who are of level to zone into Sethekk Halls (level 63).

The Turkinator
This achievement can be one of the trickier ones on the list, simply for the level of players often trying to complete it. The Turkinator requires you to be back, and kill 40 Wild Turkey critters, with no more than 30 seconds apart per kill until you have obtained the Turkey Triumph! buff. Wild Turkey can be found in both Tirisfal Glades and Elwynn Forest, and you can choose to kill them in either zone. Using items such as Tracker Snacks or class abilities like Track Beasts can help track the turkeys and chain your combo killing spree together.

Turkey Lurkey
This achievement is no doubt the hardest on this list, requiring you to use your trusty Turkey Shooter on a Rogue player of each race (aside from Pandaren and the Allied Races), transforming the poor stealthies into a turkey! A Turkey Shooter can be obtained from the Daily Quests, but it’s consumed after a single use, meaning you’ll need to do at least 2 days worth of dailies to earn enough and complete the achievement. Be careful, if you shoot a player who has the buff and is in a vehicle (such as the Bountiful Tables) you will get an error message and be unable to earn credit towards the achievement.

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WoW Classic Realm Capacity Increased in Order to Tackle Queues

Blizzard has announced that it will be easier to get in the WoW Classic realms after a few hotfixes that will substantially increase the number of players that can be simultaneously logged in and playing. This should, according to the forum post, result in smaller queues for realms with large queues and some realms shouldn’t have any queues anymore at all.

Queues for WoW Classic realms have at some points peaked at 30,000 plus waiting to get in. Streamer Asmongold had to end a live stream early when he got disconnected and put into a queue 20,000 long that took 6 hours to get through. He didn’t actually turn the stream off though, he kept it going while he slept 80,000 people tuned in to watch.

But the login queue isn’t the only one you’ll find in WoW Classic. Reddit user artemsaetg posted a screenshot to r/gaming showing a line of people waiting to kill a quest mob in WoW Classic. This is something I remember seeing in the early days of Everquest.

Of course, all of these queues will go away before long. The tourists who were just there to see what all the hype was about will leave and the masses of people lining up to kill mobs will spread out. The challenge right now is getting through this time when the game is seeing incredible popularity. For now, expect the queues to be especially bad on the weekends. We may even see them make a return in the realms that are expected to lose them with this hotfix.

 

Source: WoW Official Forums

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Another World of Warcraft Expansion Possibly Leaked

It looks like yet another future World of Warcraft expansion has possibly been leaked. We say possibly of course because right now nothing is confirmed. And we say again because this is the second rumored WoW expansion leak to happen in less than a week! Before we go any further please be aware that by reading beyond this point you might be exposed to future spoilers for World of Warcraft, continue at your own risk.

World Of Warcraft: Battle For Azeroth Expansion Giveaway

The first expansion, which was leaked last week was Age of Darkness. This expansion will allegedly see the old god N’zoth unleash a darkness that covers Azeroth. The expansion is rumored to have the Tinker class, a level squish with a new cap at 60, a new max-level progression system called Conquest, and a few improvements and reworks on systems already in the game. The supposed release window for this expansion is the end of 2020. There is however a lot of debate over whether this rumored leak can be believed. For one, the original leak as posted on 4chan has been deleted. Others have called it a laughably bad attempt at trolling the community. Right now there doesn’t seem to be much or any evidence to support the claims this rumor alleges. So for now, take this with a heaping pile of salt.

The second expansion, supposedly leaked is Shadowlands and, unlike the first, it is actually a little bit more believable. Once again, the leak came from 4chan, for anyone familiar with leaks and rumors this won’t be surprising at all. It is rumored to have two continents, Dragon Isles and Shadowlands. In fact, this is what makes the whole rumor so believable, there’s also a zone map that looks quite official. After a Youtuber made a video about the rumored Shadowlands leak he was supposedly contacted by people who had worked at Blizzard who supposedly confirmed the leak was real, including the image which supposedly came from an internal dev show and tell session. What do people think of this one? Well, it seems somewhat mixed. Plenty of people who think it’s the real deal, others who say they’ll wait and see. There are even some people who believe it is real and that Blizzard “leaked” it themselves to test the water. Whatever the case may be, we’re going to have to wait until Blizzcon to find out if there was any truth to be had.

 

Source: Reddit, ENUK

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WoW Wednesday: Nazjatar and Mechagon’s Dichotomic Design

World of Warcraft’s patches have often seen a deep variety and swath of content introduced into the game. From impressive experimental concepts such as the Isle of Thunder’s region-based progression to injections of new reward-based content such as The Argent Tournament. With the release of Rise of Azshara Blizzard has tried to inject two major and incredibly drastic zones into Battle for Azeroth. Both possess their own independent purposes, but cross over in several different conceptual ideas. This week, with the beginning of the Mythic Raid race and the completion of Rise’s content introduction, it’s a good idea to look at what works and what doesn’t work in World of Warcraft’s newest patch.

The major focus of Rise of Azshara is, of course, her new native homeland. Nazjatar is a land deep beneath the oceans of Azeroth, and the last remaining prison of the Old God N’zoth. Here the Queen of the Naga has gathered a most interesting cavalcade of characters for her final plans. Parting the deep waters of the world using the Tidestone of Golganneth she has opened the land up to the landwalkers. Now, with a race against time, they must secure the Tidestone and breach Azshara’s Eternal Palace before they are overwhelmed.

Nazjatar is more of a traditional patch zone in its design. Featuring an updated Bodyguard system from Warlords of Draenor, zone progression is based around leveling various faction-based characters and low-level exploration. Unlocking further quests, which are necessary for entrance to the current raid tier, require daily adherence over the long-term. Pushing your reputation with your faction’s local resistance forces unlocks further quests and variability.


Nazjatar, for those wanting to experience the endgame, is the mandatory zone for Rise of Azshara. The Essence system cannot be unlocked without participating in several quests. The Eternal Palace raid cannot be unlocked without completing a tedious series of reputation-gated quests. Unlocking new raid-level crafting recipes for armor and weapons is gated behind the reputation. The currency which upgrades new Benthic gear tokens and is used to purchase items cannot be obtained without a steady dependence on recurring daily quests. Things are, on the surface, very plain as day and call back many times over to previous zones such as the Broken Shore.

Mechagon, on the other hand, is a far cry from its sister-zone. Based around the civil war of the Mechagnomes and their ideals on the Curse of the Flesh, the island is built on a system akin to the Timeless Isle. Cosmetic and traversal effects unlock as you explore and complete basic non-linear objectives. While there is one cosmetic mount reward from a series of daily quests the rest of the island’s rewards are based on merit and time; the more you participate, the more you can unlock. While the Rustbolt Resistance faction has unique rewards pertaining to it, there is nothing gated about Mechagon, save a few introductory quests to open up the island. While there are daily quests, they are not mandatory for your progression in the zone’s rewards. Instead the rewards are focused more on grinding zone-specific crafting materials.

Clearly these two zones are as different as night and day to each other. From progression to rewards Nazjatar and Mechagon are drastically unlike the other. The distinct division between the two goes down to their basic design concepts. One, however, is clearly superior to the other. Both have their fair share of problems in execution, such as Mechagon’s heavy reliance on grinding powerful mobs to deliver its rewards. Nazjatar, however, is clearly not designed for long-term gameplay aside from its daily repeatable content.


Every aspect of Nazjatar’s gameplay design feels like a roadblock in some form or another. No matter how you engage content when you first begin the zone’s design feels directly designed to slow your experience. Creatures in Nazjatar are incredibly more powerful than even those introduced in the Battle for Dazar’alor’s Invasion World Content. Coupled with an incredibly high density of creatures and the almost violent levels of verticality present in the zone’s level design, simply traversing the landscape without Mount Equipment is a task in and of itself.

Nazjatar’s storylines are also incredibly lacking. Whether for the fact they substitute characters that simply don’t fit adequately (such as Tyrande Whisperwind for Thalyssra) or simply the fact there are only three major questlines, nothing feels impactful. Even the smattering of side quests feel less than genuine, introducing and swapping out newer characters that will more than likely never see the light of day again. Quests feel more akin to past World Quests in merely killing so many enemies or interacting with a number of predetermined objects.

Daily and World Quests feel much the same. There is simply no life or creativity in most of what the zone offers. While there’s several unlockables and additional pieces of content, the only one that truly stands out is the Mrrl exchanging game between Murlocs. Everything else feels recycled from earlier zones in Battle for Azeroth and Legion.


Mechagon, on the other hand, feels far freer. Despite having little depth to its importance or need-to-grind mentality, the breadth of rewards it offers makes it immediately more enticing. Even if you’re partaking in the daily quests for reputation or your mount, you can simultaneously pursue other cosmetic rewards. Several blueprints that can be made via the island’s unique crafting system aid in traversal, such as the Anti-Grav Jetpack. Others, like the Mechanocat Laser Pointer can be utilized for cosmetic rewards outside of Mechagon. Even if you’re looking just to farm enough resources to create zone-wide construction projects, they are paths to other objectives you’re looking to complete.

Mechagon is a zone that, no matter where you go, everything realistically feeds into itself. Playing through and exploring its rolling landscape feels incredibly inviting. It isn’t a chore to merely get safely from Point A to Point B. Even its minimal story beats and quests feel uniquely refreshing in their tone. Objectives and goals, while featuring similar concepts to, “Kill this and go here,” often have enough flavor pushed into their objectives to make them exciting. Nazjatar simply feels lifeless in comparison.

Battle for Azeroth has featured conflicting design concepts since its release. Rise of Azshara’s new zones, however, seem to be dichotimic to a point of fault. While Mechagon is fun to get absorbed into, there’s little to the island once your grind is complete. Conversely Nazjatar has plenty to explore once you’ve completed the whole zone, but completing it is so utterly painful and dreadful its almost better to avoid it. That is, if you could; completing Nazjatar is mandatory to unlock not only a massive traversal perk for your account, but the current raid tier and thus the end-game. It creates an odd situation for Rise of Azshara. Why play the content you hate, when you can complete that which you enjoy until you run out of it?

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WoW Wednesday: Blizzard’s Proposed ‘Level Squish’

The World of Warcraft is a very old game. Celebrating its 15th anniversary later this year the wide world of Azeroth has seen quite a bit of change over the years. Despite adding more and more to its end-game content, however, there has been a clear and deprecating problem to the overall experience. This experience, alongside Battle for Azeroth’s many other issues, continues to degrade the overall quality of the game and can be the biggest turn off for new players. I speak of course about Warcraft’s leveling experience.

We’ve talked about this before on WoW Wednesday in an article several months ago. There we discussed the controversial Draught of Ten Lands ban and why players seek to exploit their way to the end-game. Venturing through Azeroth’s old, and sometimes primitive content, can be utterly painful. While long strides were taken to revamp older content in Cataclysm, both Outland and Northrend still feature obsolete systems that stall the leveling process. Changes during 7.3 to experience gains also drastically elongated the process. Simply speaking, to level a character isn’t fun.

As such, Blizzard is now looking to reduce levels in World of Warcraft by squishing them to what they call a ‘dramatically lower’ number. An internal survey sent to multiple Blizzard departments (featured below) as well as players doing Customer Service surveys shows that the idea is a near certainty. While teased and suggested before in the past, such a thing has never been considered before. In the past it has seen several stat squishes with both Warlords of Draenor and Battle for Azeroth. These reduced overall numbers which by their previous expansion’s end had fallen into the several million range. We’ve also seen a sizable reduction in abilities for classes during the great ‘pruning’ at the start of Warlords.

A level squish, in my opinion, is neither a desirable solution nor the correct one.


Frankly its hard to know what exactly Blizzard is planning to do with this as press inquires from multiple outlets have simple received a, ‘no comment,’ response. Hypothetically, what would a level squish look like?

Frankly we could see a squish drop down to as much as level 60 reasonably. The first twenty levels could take place in the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. The next ten could feature Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King content. 40 and onward could take place over Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria. 50-60 could culminate in the latest three expansions, with the last few levels covering all of Battle for Azeroth.

The problem isn’t that level numbers have gotten too ridiculous. It’s simply that leveling has gotten ridiculous and there has been no attempt to fix it. While true, there have been adjustments to  gains and experience over the last few years, these have done two things. The first, as we’ve already surmised, is lengthening overall leveling time after level 60. The second has been more of a patchwork fix to try and allow people to choose what content they can undergo, giving certain brackets a choice where they’d like to tackle their grind.


Here’s the greater issue. No matter where you go, leveling simply isn’t fun. Whether its your first time or your twenty-first time, leveling is not an enjoyable experience. Gameplay is not engaging; there are no rewards to questing over the easy grinding that dungeons can garner (unless you enjoy titles). Unlike later expansions, which have made an attempt to be narratively engaging, there are no attempts in any of the first four that do not otherwise tie directly into end-game content. These storylines then become obsolete when players cross the level threshold and are forced (by breadcrumb quests designed to do so) into the next legacy expansion’s content. That cycle then repeats itself and gets incredibly boring INCREDIBLY quickly.

Meanwhile, especially for newer players, leveling time is impossibly long. As a player at max level, pushing through an alt, you can realistically level a character to 120 in a week if you played for five hours a day. That’s with full heirloom gear, all three different experience buff potions, with a monk, doing nothing but dungeons.

A newer player could spend at least three times that long, and only if they knew exactly where to go.

Let’s be honest, who wants to spend 160 hours on a game that frankly sucks to play?

world of warcraft raiding

There are two methods to go about fixing this. One is, of course, completely overhauling leveling. This would be an incredible amount of work to go about and re-do the entire game up until Battle for Azeroth, retooling quests and making the whole world more engaging. This is frankly straight up impossible and unfeasible not just from a game development standpoint but a business standpoint. As we’ve seen in Battle when content is dreadful, like Patch 8.1, it is in Blizzard’s best interest to redouble efforts on the next end-game patch and push forward to better content. Most of its player base is full of end-game content players.

However, in doing that they ignore newer players unwilling to make that grind and thus lose more of a potential player base.

The other solution is to introduce new systems into leveling to make it more enjoyable.

This can be done in many ways, but the easiest to perform would be introducing new intrinsic reward systems. In game development there are two methods of doing so. The first, an extrinsic reward system, would be introducing new elements outside of normal gameplay process. Comparable extrinsic systems we’ve seen are akin to the Artifact Skin system in Legion; it wasn’t something that was used in the natural flow of the game. These were simply additional bits to bolt on to existing gameplay.

The other, intrinsic, are systems that tie directly into the gameplay and can be seen as inseparable. It’s easy to introduce extrinsic systems, such as the Heart of Azeroth’s new Essences in Patch 8.2, to bolster old ones. Intrinsic systems must be carefully crafted, however, in order to be successful.


Take the old talent systems. Players from Warcraft’s Classic era may remember the three branching talent trees. Unlike the current 6 tier, 18 selection system, the older talent system featured roughly 49 talent points which could be spent on an expanding tree. This system was later introduced most effectively in the Borderlands franchise, where it remains as a great example of Classic’s old design philosophy. Whereas the current system focuses on large-scale changes immediately, the older system focused on progressive change over time.

There are perks to both systems. Now, talents are very versatile and can be changed for a variety of situations. In Classic this was not the case, where there were often singular optimized builds to collect specific necessary stats and abilities due to severe class underdevelopment and imbalance. However, you got a talent point for every level after 10 in Classic, meaning that every level you had something to look forward to. Now, you get one point every fifteen levels. Perhaps you get one ability every four or five. Instead of small development you have a wide array of control over, you now have BIG developments that quickly feel like extrinsic additions that your class doesn’t require.

Even crunching the required levels in half for leveling, that won’t change the time required to go to the NEXT major development. It will still realistically take the same time, just now you’ll have less of the pretty colors and nice sounds to enjoy.


So what is a realistic fix for this? Simply make leveling more rewarding.

Despite my opinions on most of Classic being poor gameplay, it knew how to reward players. While the talent system is primitive (and perhaps incompatible for current Warcraft), it intrinsically rewarded players consistently. It was exciting to plan out your progression and try new things. Even in terms of individual class identity every single class had a new quest to unlock abilities or unique weapons every ten to twenty levels. Most famously are the Warlock and Paladin Mount questlines, but Shaman also had several involved adventures to procure their next elemental totems. Warriors got incredible weapons and their new stances through questing as well.

This is partly why Legion was so celebrated. It felt GOOD to not only perform duties as the paragon of you Class, but to do MORE as a member of your class. While Warcraft is an MMORPG, the RPG part of that experience has been missing for an incredibly long time. Introducing more class-based elements as players progress, even as simple as new story-based quests, is a good way to start.

YouTuber Bellular has one of the better suggestions in an additional ‘latent power’ talent system. This system would introduce a new branching tree that would unlock as you progress. Unlike talents, which are variable, these would become passive abilities to engage in throughout world content. As they would be turned off during instanced content, there would be no need to balance them, allowing players to grow in power more and more over time.


Additionally, introducing new milestone rewards over time may be another concept. We have such a system now in both the new Heritage Armor transmogs. Every ten levels simply unlock a new transmogrification outfit for your class based on the zone you’ve been leveling in. Not only would this encourage players to level to that next major milestone (often offset from talents), it would also encourage playing on every continent. This would elongate playtime, something that Blizzard currently seems to want.

All of these are extrinsic systems. These are additions that are not going to fix the main problem of Warcraft. They don’t make leveling fun; they simply make it more REWARDING to perform. The fun comes from getting more flashy bits to enjoy, less so from the experience of leveling. The intrinsic problem Blizzard has will require an intrinsic solution. For now the best we can hope for is an addition to the problem that makes the suffering a little more enjoyable.

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WoW Wednesday: The Gatekeeping of the End Game

World of Warcraft is a deceptively easy game to pick up and play. Despite all of its issues in pacing and progression throughout the leveling experience just about every single class is intuitive enough in Battle for Azeroth to quickly grasp. I myself can personally attest to that fact; despite maining a Priest for most of BFA, I’ve recently made the transition to a Hunter alt that I’m enjoying and slowly polishing my skills with. While I’m certainly nowhere near ready to begin pushing the arena rating I want with it, I’m more than prepared to start hitting for the lower aspects of the ladders. However, even with more skilled characters players can often find themselves facing down particular situations in Warcraft that can slow if not bar their progress in the end-game entirely. Gatekeeping is a problem in WoW.

Now what is gatekeeping? Gatekeeping is a method identified as barring or controlling people from participating in or using certain things. In Warcraft this occurs primarily in two major streams of the endgame both in Mythic and Heroic raiding, but also predominantly in Rated Player vs. Player content.

Why does gatekeeping occur? For one simple reason: content is hard.


In the Raiding scene Mythic (or Cutting Edge) raiding is the most mechanically difficult content in
World of Warcraft. A perfect example of the intensity raiders have to mitigate can be witnessed in the Gul’dan encounter in Mythic Nighthold from Legion. The encounter begins with Gul’dan’s fully powered-up state from previous difficulties at the beginning of the fight, further increasing already high damage numbers due to difficulty. Gul’dan then empowers himself to a further state over the course of the battle including a move that can instantly kill players during a phase transition at 66% health. After his defeat, the fight then continues with a unique encounter against a new boss enemy, with new abilities and difficult mechanics. All of this falls on top of increased boss health, enemy mobs spawning in, increased damage percentiles and people managing 20-man groups to pull off the encounter flawlessly.

It’s not hard to see why players involved in raiding want to settle for their best teams possible. This form of self-curation has existed since Vanilla Warcraft, where players could become both famous and infamous within their server community. Later during Wrath Gearscore became the mark that players measured each other’s skill level, as most classes were incredibly gear dependent to a certain extent. Up until Battle for Azeroth with the release of Raider.IO, item level became the big determining factor for player recruitment.

Rated Player Vs. Player content features similar issues across the board due to its reward systems and tiers. In Battle for Azeroth rewards are now gameplay oriented, however, throughout RPvP’s history impressive cosmetic rewards have been synonymous with elite status. Those rewards are tied directly to your Rating, a publicly viewable score that actively adjusts based on your performance. Your personal rating will go up and down as you win matches, increasing and decreasing at a higher rate depending on who you participate with. If you win games with players with a higher rating, yours will skyrocket. If you lose matches while playing with those who have a lower rating than yours, it will plummet.


As such, players naturally only want to compete and play with those of a similar rating and perceived skill level. Some will only want to play with particular, guaranteed proven compositions of classes. With RPvP rewards being restricted to the highest echelons of players, of course others only want to compete with the best of the best. At any moment you could find yourself on a losing streak and your rating could drop between fifty points or five-hundred points depending on your partners’ placement.


Thus comes an incumbent problem with these aspirations of the end-game. Whether you want to be the Gladiator or the killer of Mythic Jaina, players naturally only want to work with those on their skill level to minimize their wasted time. As such, the bar is set high to disqualify those without either the experience in completing lesser difficulties or the equipment and higher gear on their character. Some face fewer issues depending on their server population, some higher. Being based on an RP server, we have one super-sized PvP guild and as such I need to form pick-up-groups if I wish to progress in Rated Battlegrounds. A personal friend based on a PvP oriented realm faces a similar issue with only a handful of raiding guilds and none forming any additional teams.

As such, here’s where we find the problem with gatekeeping magnified. Is gatekeeping inherently wrong? Absolutely not. As a current player in the RPvP circuit, forced exclusivity has forced me to play better in compositions and learn as much as I can. Certainly, I just lost 20 rating with a bad team but now I can recognize the differences between a very good Rogue and a very bad one. Of course, my friend lost a night raiding a Mythic PuG and wiping on the first boss, but now they recognize what really doesn’t make a good raid leader. Failing is as good a teaching tool as playing beside higher-level competitors. Is it frustrating to want progression and effectively take three huge steps backwards? Absolutely.


So what is the solution to this issue, at least in the World of Warcraft? Surely its to get a team of your own together, and on the surface this is a good solution. However, for higher player content, such as Rated Battlegrounds and Mythic Raiding, this becomes innately more difficult. It’s a simple task to rally a few friends for Arenas, despite the fact that high-level rewards are now only afforded to top-tier 3v3 players. However, the often more expansive and broader gameplay is instead even more difficult to breach into due to sheer numbers. Cultivating a cohesive team in the long term is a task that most players simply do not have the time to engage with, nor the skillset to maintain.

 

So here’s my question to you: Gatekeeping seems to be a necessary part of culling the chaff from the wheat. But when that chaff is really some of the most eager and healthiest bushels of the plant, where do we as players have to go against our gut and give people a better chance?

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World of Warcraft Recruit-a-Friend Program Ending

After many years of service, the World of Warcraft Recruit-a-Friend program is coming to an end. For years players have been rewarded for recruiting their friends to the game and for a little while at least that’s ending. Yes, Recruit-a-Friend will be coming back in the future after it gets a bit of a revamp.

The program in its current form will continue to be available for just one more month, ending on June 11th. At that point, players won’t be able to send out any new Recruit-a-Friend invitations. But, players who are invited before the program ends will have 90 days to purchase game time to get the rewards.

Right now there is no word on when the Recruit-a-Friend program will be returning. This is leaving many to wonder if it will return at all. The argument is that if they do intend for it to return, why not leave the current one in place until the new one is ready? On the other hand, a lot of comments about the program ending seem to be somewhat popular though. The current program has some issues that players have found upsetting so there’s the potential that these will be fixed.

If we had to predict when it would come back we would say it will be after the hype of WoW Classic dies down a bit. WoW Classic comes out sometime this summer. So, the beginning of 2020 seems like the very earliest we will see it return.

We’ll be keeping an eye out for more information on the new Recruit-a-Friend program. For now though, if you’re interested in reading more about the current events in World of Warcraft check out our weekly column WoW Wednesday where we dive into what everyone is talking about in the game.

 

Source: Official Site

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WoW Wednesday: For the Children

The World of Warcraft certainly has a plethora of wild and rather out there holidays packed in to the yearly calendar. One of the more appropriate and tender-hearted events throughout the long game-year is one that tackles a topic we don’t discuss much in a world of constant warfare. Orphans. Children’s Week, or Week of the Wardens, is an in-game event to try and tackle the sensitive subject.

The loss of parents in a world of war is certainly inevitable, but that doesn’t by any means tarnish the wonder of Azeroth’s youth. Instead, most spend their time growing up in the city hoping to experience the wider world of adventure they could only dream of. Organized by Orphan Matrons Nightingale and Battlewail, heroes of Azeroth can temporarily adopt several of Azeroth’s innocent youth and show them the wider world about them.

The main draw of Children’s Week is indeed adopting your own Orphan. Starting at level 10 you can adopt your first young-one from Orgrimmar or Stormwind depending on your faction, with further being available to adopt the higher your character level is. At Level 60 you can adopt either a Blood Elf or Draenei orphan, depending on your faction, from Orphan Matron Mercy in Shattrath City. At level 72 you can adopt either a Wolvar Pup or an Oracle Hatchling from Orphan Matron Aria in Northrend’s Dalaran. With the introduction of Battle for Azeroth this year, you can now also adopt either a Casteless Zandalari or a Kul Tiran Orphan at Level 110, depending on your faction.


Each of the above orphan’s has their own particular quest chains, all of which are unique. Most simply want you to take them out to see the wonders of the world. Some just want you to take them down the street for a cone of ice-cream. Each year you can adopt all four orphans from their homes to complete their chains, each resulting in unique Battle Pet Rewards. Almost every orphan has up to four unique pets available, meaning that you could feasibly collect them all if you had four level 110 alts.

For those that have completed their collection there are pet supplies and cash rewards sprinkled through the questing (or just cash if you want to be that kind of scrooge). However, one of the achievements for the event, Veteran Nanny, requires you to obtain three of the Shattrath Orphan Battle Pets all on one character. Buying them from the Auction House will not give credit, meaning that it will take you three years of questing to complete it. Thankfully this achievement is not part of the holiday’s over-arching meta.

Like most of the Wrath of the Lich King era holidays, Children’s Week also has its series of achievements. It’s meta-achievement, For the Children, ties into the holiday meta What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been, and also awards the title of either Matron or Patron depending on your character’s gender. While most of the following achievements can be completed within a day or two however there are several that will take incredibly focused dedication to complete within the short week the event runs through.

Aw, Isn’t It Cute? is the first and most easily finished achievement on the list. Simply collect any of your available orphans and take them into the world. Complete their quest chain and get any one of their pet rewards to fulfill the requirement. While several pets can be purchased on the Auction House, this achievement can only be completed by receiving the pet directly from the questline.

Bad Example requires you to, very cruelly, eat a series of delicious and wonder deserts in front of your poor Orphan. Monster. Most can be purchased from various vendors and innkeepers throughout the world, however several require Northrend cooking to make. Most items can be purchased either from the Auction House or from Aimee in Dalaran.

Children’s Week
Daily Chores requires you to complete any five daily quests while your orphan is out. For newer players that came into Warcraft during Legion or Battle for Azeroth, Daily Chores cannot be completed through the World Quest system. Instead it can only be completed by the old Daily Quest system that persisted up through the end of Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor. If you have a particular reputation you wanted to start grinding, such as the Netherwing Flight or the Argent Tournament, now is the best time to get them started.

Hail to the King, Baby thankfully doesn’t require you to complete Duke Nukem Forever, but instead finish one dungeon. Head out to Utgarde Pinnacle in the Howling Fjord, Northrend and defeat King Ymiron with your orphan out. This can be completed with any orphan on either normal or heroic difficulty, meaning it can be a fine addition to your Blue Proto-Drake runs.

Home Alone requires you to use your Hearthstone while your orphan is out. If you, like me, prefer your fancy hearthstone alternatives such as The Inkeeper’s Daughter or the Lunar Elder’s Hearthstone these will also complete your achievement. Astral Recall does not work for Shaman, nor do the Ruby Slippers.

School of Hard Knocks is the most difficult achievement to complete on this list, simply due to current queue times on both US and EU servers and the sheer competition you’ll face. This achievement required you to perform the several following objectives in PvP Battlegrounds with your orphan out. These can be done in either rated or unrated battlegrounds.


Capturing the Flag in Eye of the Storm is perhaps one of the more difficult, simply because the others can be relatively completed without engaging in PvP. While in Eye of the Storm you’ll need to race to the center of the battleground and collect the flag from its spawn point, afterwards returning it to a base your team holds. This will be easier to perform after the first collection, as most teams will flood the center at the start of the battleground.

Assaulting a tower in Alterac Valley is slightly easier, as all you need to do is click one flag in one of the enemy team’s tower-bases. Keep in mind you’ll also be competing against forty other players on your team, so be aggressive and play wisely.

Assaulting a flag in Arathi Basin is perhaps one of the easier ones and can be completed almost immediately as the battleground begins. Simply race to the closest base from your faction’s home base and get to capping! Make sure you set your orphan out right away once you zone in, as they’ll be able to keep up with you on their own mount.

Returning a flag in Warsong Gulch is the most difficult achievement to perform, simply due to the high-speed nature most flag carriers act with in Warsong Gulch. Some good Samaritan players will often appear to drop the flag repeatedly for enemy players to collect, but this is not always the case. After an enemy flag carrier snatches your emblem, you will need to kill them and then be the first to click the flag and return it. You’ll be competing against everyone in the nearby area as there are multiple PvP achievements for returning flags in Warsong and the enemy team will want to collect their potential point.Q

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WoW Wednesday: The Heart of Azeroth’s Problem

The World of Wacraft has seen a lot of controversial change over the years. From the mishandling of the Arena power-game in The Burning Crusade to the train wreck that was Warlords of Draenor, Azeroth controversy has not gone unnoticed. Battle for Azeroth, however, has been the expansion that has scraped the bottom of the bucket in more regards than one. Despite strong appreciation and enjoyment of the questing systems and experience both Kul Tiras and Zandalar offered at launch, these days positive reception of the game has slowed to an outright crawl if not turned outwardly hostile. Part of this poor perspective relies on the expansion’s pointedly flawed system, the Heart of Azeroth.

The first signs were on the wall as of Legion with the retiring of our powerful artifact weapons. Despite heavy criticism towards the endless concordance of the Legionfall grind and a lack of player choice in its linear system, players enjoyed their artifacts and all the perks that came with it. Some, like the Shadow Priest, had utterly unique personalities hidden in their weapons. Others, such as the Subtlety Rogue, had smaller but no less important affects. Without question, however, Artifact Weapons were difficult if not impossible to appropriately balance; tweaking one golden trait might fix how much bleeding damage Warriors are doing in Rated-PvP but it might also make them that much less utilized in Mythic Raiding Content due to total damage output.

Thus, the Heart of Azeroth was born: a necklace that leveled with a similar Artifact Power system. However, instead of the linear player progression most complained about, this system would instead unlock traits on your equipment. These traits were randomly generated on some pieces but set in stone on others.


This was where the train started to rumble off of the tracks.

RNG, or Random-Number-Generation, gameplay has always been an issue with MMOs of any type. Games need a reason to hook you into daily, if not monthly play. Developers want you to keep coming back and spending your money. Its why, to this day, Invincible and the Time-Lost Proto Drake are two of the most prestigious and difficult mounts to achieve for burgeoning collectors. Player gear has often been subjected to RNG as well, from “Will my tier piece drop” to the newer Warforged and Titanforging systems.

Now players would have to deal with that on individual pieces of very limited gear. This Azerite Gear falls lower in drop priorities than other pieces of loot. It cannot War or Titanforge, and it often has a lower item level than your current difficulty tier (Rated-PvP and Mythic+ gear is often 5-10 iLvls lower). Its unlockable abilities can range from a moderate buff for healers to a vital aspect of your class that changes how you play.

Take a Priest for example. For Discipline Enduring Luminescence is a vital trait as it increases our only Area of Effect Heal’s output, as well as Atonement which is our primary healing buff. For Shadow Priests our most important trait, arguably, is Chorus of Insanity. On high-end Azerite pieces this trait turns our Voidform buff, which stacks every second in Voidform, into a very large critical strike buff which affects the entire damage set. These numbers also increase with higher iLvl Azerite Gear, making it vital to progress in quality if you want your character’s power to increase. Both traits above, without their inclusion, can severely break your performance in every aspect of gameplay. Sub-optimal traits, even ones suited for your favorite content, will harshly affect your performance. Some traits can be stacked, others cannot and there is no manner in which to tell until you use it in practice.

Now on first glace this seems like a far better solution to issues that occurred in Legion’s artifact system. From here traits can be fine-tuned exceptionally without disrupting every possible part of the artifact system for one class (aside from role related traits). Despite this several of the system’s more interesting, and frankly more powerful traits, can and have been nerfed into the ground before. Both Arcane and Fire mages have felt their most powerful and game-changing traits destroyed in Equipoise and Blaster Master respectively. Consequently, classes have been designed weaker to compensate for Azerite Traits, meaning that when something is hit with a nerf you cannot escape feeling it.

A typical Azerite Armour piece.

For those who only want one set of gear or have the unfortunate luck to have one piece be best for multiple specs, you’ll be reforging your traits often. Performed at the Ethreal Traders in Zuldazar and Boralus, reforging costs a small amount of gold to reset your Azerite Traits. Similar to old talent resetting systems, this cost increases the more you perform it and does not reset in totality week by week. Thus if you find yourself fulfilling multiple raid roles in a week without multiple Azerite pieces you can quickly rack up gold costs in the tens of thousands.

Despite the RNG and targeted nerfing there are aspects of the Heart of Azeroth that players do like. It puts the power of choice back into player’s hands and allows them to hunt particular pieces of gear for the traits they want. There is still the artifact power grind for players seeking for something to always do. Players can set goals for what they want in the Azerite System and there is a semblance of controlled balance across classes. Understandably there are many people who do not like the system. Despite complaints over two patches about how weak classes fee

As such Blizzard are endeavoring to fix it. In Patch 8.2, Rise of Azshara, Blizzard will be introducing the Heart Forge; a system of collectible essences for your Heart of Azeroth that can be reequipped at any time. Certain gameplay actions can collect essences, with greater power coming in higher quality traits (up to Legendary). These can be exchanged any time you are in a rested area and include a variety of role-based abilities.

There are, of course, a host of problems with that last sentiment. The same traits that a Rogue can take may also be the most optimal for a Balance Druid. What a Protection Warrior might need can also be the most favorable trait for a Blood Death Knight. As such when one trait is nerfed for a role it affects a multitude of classes which can put a weaker performing class in a further unfavorable position. And for these new traits nerfs ARE coming. Some, like that below, are so ludicrous that several classes can regularly stay in a high-power position for minutes while having virtually no down-time. The numbers for these new traits are so obscene that the official class discords refuse to talk about them because they believe they will not make it to live in its current form.

One of the Heart’s newer controversial essences.

The PTR for 8.2 is out, however, and so far the only number changes we have seen belong to the price of reputation mounts. The Heart of Azeroth is the heart of Battle for Azeroth’s several incumbent problems. Right now, from where I’m sitting, it seems those problems are only going to get worse.

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