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Star Wars: The Old Republic Reveals Playable Species and Advanced Classes

13 May 2010 | No Comments » | Juggynaut

EA recently held a press event in the UK where multiple outlets were given some hands-on time with the Bounty Hunter class in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Some great gameplay information is coming from the demo, and it also revealed the first alien race that players will be able to use, the Rattataki. The Rattataki are difficult to distinguish from pale, bald humans, but the inclusion is a nice nod to fans of the Clone Wars series, in which Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress belonged to the species.

Also coming out of this press event is an exclusive from Eurogamer revealing that each of the character classes will have two separate Advanced Classes. For example, Sith Warriors will be able to choose between the Juggernaut and the Marauder Advanced Classes. The Juggernaut is more of a tank while the Marauder is a DPS-type specialization. This gives players a degree of class customization that does not affect the storyline.

Once players chooses an Advanced Class, they will be able to specialize even further by investing in skill trees similar to WoW’s talent system. It’s still unclear as to how much of an investment these skills will be, as a respec system is currently up in the air.

With the recent news that SWTOR is likely slated for Q2 of 2011, this hands-on should mark the beginning of information coming at a much better pace. Here’s to hoping a beta is announced sometime in the near future.

Getting Started With Starcraft II Custom Maps

11 May 2010 | 1 Comment » | Juggynaut

A few weeks ago, Blizzard released the Starcraft II map editor, allowing beta testers to create custom maps for the company’s upcoming RTS. The map editor is extremely versatile considering the platform, and already there are hundreds, if not thousands, of custom maps available online. These include not only standard RTS multiplayer maps, but also a range of games from overhead shooters and platformers to tower defense and puzzle games.

If you’re lucky enough to have installed the Starcraft II beta, you can play these maps with just a couple of easy steps.

First, you need to get your hands on a map, which will be a .sc2map file. There are a few good resources where you can download maps from the internet, such as SC2Mapster.com and Curse.com.

Once you’ve got the map you want to play, the easiest way to start it up is to drag the .sc2map file onto your Starcraft II Beta shortcut. You also can double click the .sc2map file and choose to specify a program to open it with. Click browse, find your Starcraft II Beta install location, and choose Starcraft II.exe. Whichever method you choose, the game should launch and you’ll be on your way.

Now you can get out there and check out some of the great maps the SC2 community has already come up with. If you aren’t lucky enough to be in the beta, we have videos and map recommendations coming soon on Lore Hound!

Blizzard Previews Battle.net’s Real ID and Facebook Integration

5 May 2010 | 1 Comment » | Juggynaut

Blizzard’s revamp of Battle.net is creeping closer by the day, and today the company previewed a few of the new features that WoW and Starcraft II players will be able to take advantage of once the  service goes live.

Real ID is the means by which players will be able to communicate cross-faction, cross-realm, and cross-game via Battle.net. By using your Real ID to friend other players, you will be allowing those players to see and communicate with you no matter what game or character you may be playing on any game with the new Battle.net integration.  You will also be giving them your real first and last names, as displayed on the account information page.

Another function of Real ID is broadcasts, which will send out a message for all of your Real ID friends to see. Sounds a lot like Twitter or Facebook status messages.

And speaking of Facebook, Battle.net will be integrating with the social networking giant in order to allow players to import friends from Facebook to their Battle.net accounts, give status updates, and presumably more. The official press release states that more details will be announced as we get closer to Starcraft II’s launch.

It seems like Blizzard is just the latest to jump on Facebook integration, and it’s not something I’m particularly drawn to, but I know that soon I’ll be seeing loads of Starcraft II updates on my facebook feed. Other than that, I’m looking forward to the new Battle.net, mostly because I have some friends on other factions and realms that I’d like to chat with while we play. What are your thoughts?

Cataclysm Raid Progression Refinements

26 April 2010 | 9 Comments » | Juggynaut

Nethaera dropped a bombshell on the raiding community of WoW today, announcing some major changes to the way that raid lockouts and progression will work in Cataclysm. No longer will 10- and 25-man raids have separate lockouts, and no longer will they have different loot tables. The end goal is to make the content equally difficult in both modes to balance this out.

In order to reward players for successfully coordinating 25 players, bosses on 25 man mode will drop more loot per person than in 10-man mode, including gear, badges, and gold. Heroic modes will work similarly to the current Icecrown Citadel mechanic of toggling on a per-boss basis.

The developers would also like to shorten individual raids while keeping the overall amount of raid content the same. To that end, the first tiers of raiding in Cataclysm will feature multiple shorter raids instead of one long raid. They are also planning on tuning the first tiers of raids to players in quest and dungeon rewards, but hope not to trivialize heroic dungeons.

We are bound to hear some arguments both for and against these broad changes from now until well after Cataclysm is released, especially with many questions left unanswered. My main concern? What about the achievements?!

See the full announcement after the break.

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Cataclysm Class Changes: Paladin

14 April 2010 | 2 Comments » | Juggynaut

As Blizzard promised, the Cataclysm Class Preview for Paladins has arrived a little earlier than anticipated, but a little later than all of the other classes. The new high level spells have a little bit for all Paladins, be they Holy, Protection, or Retribution.

At level 81, Paladins will get Blinding Shield, which acts as both an AoE damage dealer and an AoE crowd control spell. As it requires a shield and will be talentable to instant cast in the Protection tree, the spell should be useful to Holy and Prot Paladins, but Ret can always slap on a shield to get one off in a pinch.

Healing Hands is a new AoE healing spell for Paladins to utilize, which will radiate heals from the Paladin when activated. Lasting 6 seconds on a 15 second cooldown, it should provide a very welcomed gift to Holy Paladins who are currently lacking any significant AoE healing. A Ret or Prot Pally might even be able to throw on Healing Hands to help with particularly heavy AoE damage.

The final new spell Paladins will train up is Guardian of Ancient Kings (can’t wait to hear people scream “Popping GAK!”), a temporary guardian type pet for Paladins that will be another cooldown that depends on the spec of the character. Holy will get a guardian that heals, Prot’s will absorb damage, and Ret’s guardian will deal damage. Another nice bit of flavor for those blessed by the Light.

Paladins have a lot of other changes to look forward to in the next expansion including the combining of Blessing of Might and Blessing of Wisdom and the addition of both Crusader Strike and Holy Shock as trainable spells.

Check out all of the changes after the break!

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Cataclysm Class Updates: Shaman

7 April 2010 | 3 Comments » | Juggynaut
The Future of Alliance Shamans

The Future of Alliance Shamans

Edit: Even more info added after the break!

The first round of changes for Shaman in Cataclysm has been revealed! There is a lot of information in this post, so let’s first take a look at the changes that affect all three specs of Shamans, primarily the new spells.

Two new spells will be available to low level Shamans, the first of which will make leveling a little easier, and the second is likely more aimed at end-game healing. Primal Strike will be a melee ability that all shamans have access to, and as stated by Blizzard, the goal of the ability is to make Enhancement a more viable leveling spec.

Healing Wave, a new spell with an old name, is being added so that Shamans have  Blizzard’s desired “one fast, one efficient, and one big heal” toolkit. The current Healing Wave is being renamed to Greater Healing Wave  and the new one will fit between the Lesser and Greater versions. The addition of just this one spell should make healing as a totem-dropper more compelling, as it allows for more options in spell selection.

Leveling through the five new levels in Cataclysm, Shamans will run into three new spells from their trainers. The first new spell, Unleash Weapon, could be a very interesting ability for all shamans. It’s essentially an extra ability that will help every spec do its job. Giving Elemental and Restoration a new instant spell for their respective roles should help with their currently low mobility. Another instant attack for Enhancement, not so much.

At level 83, all Shamans will be getting Healing Rain, a spell that some people may recognize from Severed Essences on their way through Icecrown Citadel. This spell will give every Shaman a way to help out with raid heals for a two second cast. Dropping HoTs on all of the melee during a particularly intense fight should make me the apple of my healers’ eyes. Otherwise, another great addition for Restoration Shamans to expand their toolkit.

The final new spell for Cataclysm, Spiritwalker’s Grace, sounds extremely interesting. It will give shamans the ability to cast non instant spells while moving, allowing for some amazing healing or dpsing on the run. I’m still skeptical of its utility for Enhancement, since casting a spell could interrupt other abilities that are already available while moving, but these things are still up in the air. These new spells are a nice glimpse of what’s in store for Cataclysm. These new spells are just the beginning, and I’ll take a look at each spec’s specifics in future posts.

Check out the full Blizzard Announcement after the jump.

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Incoming Hotfix to Buff Enhancement Shamans

6 April 2010 | 3 Comments » | Juggynaut

Ghostcrawler announced via WoW’s official forums that the developers think Enhancement Shamans don’t do enough DPS. I, for one, could not agree more. The buff comes in the form of a tweak to Flurry, a talent that was nerfed earlier in the expansion because Enhancement was supposedly doing too much DPS. I disagreed vehemently with that decision. The entirety of GC’s post follows:

We agree with some of the recent discussion about Enhancement dps. We are going to hotfix a change to the Flurry talent to increase it from 25% to 30% attack speed with 5 ranks.

We also agree that Enhancement may have survivability problems and understand that players don’t necessarily feel they can afford the bonus Stamina from the Toughness talent, at least in PvE. We don’t have an immediate change to deploy here, but it’s something we’d like to fix and a candidate for future patches.

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New Armory Features (for April Fool’s Day)

1 April 2010 | 2 Comments » | Juggynaut

If you haven’t already figured it out, today is not a great day to be gullible. While not all news is made up, most things you hear that are too weird, good, or out of this world to be true probably are. Blizzard’s Armory team has joined in on the fun and added some features for this day of pranks.

Most noticeably, everyone is a Tuskarr. And apparerntly, male and female Tuskarr look alike. Every character you look up and every embedded Armory profile shows a Tuskarr. If nothing else, It’s worth watching the awesome Special attack animation on someone’s profile.  To go with the new race, every profession on the armory is shown as Fishing. Lastly on the Tuskarr front, everybody has a nice new profile icon with their character eating a fish. Click on the image to see it more clearly.

A slightly subtler change is the new background. You might notice the main scourge guy in the background has a chat bubble before the Armory loads, but it can take some work (or a slow connection) to see exactly what he’s saying. Again, click the little image for a much larger one.

Another less prominent tweak was done to the activity feed. Instead of Looted, the feed now says Ninjaed (it’s good to finally know the correct spelling of the word).  Instead of (equipped), it now says (vendored). And every achievement has now been Cheesed. Thanks Blizzard. Now I can’t trust anybody.

These funny new features are a great addition to Blizzard’s other April Fool’s shenanigans. If only I could be a Tuskarr in someplace other than Dalaran. That special attack animation is worth not having to raise fishing three times. Here’s to hoping that Tuskarr will be an unlockable race once your EPEEN gets high enough.