Cataclysm Zones: New Vashj’ir Details

Posted by on April 15, 2010 - 1 Comment »

The hits just keep on coming! Blizzard released a preliminary preview of their second high-level Cataclysm zone today: the sunken city of Vashj’ir (and the rest, I presume, can’t be very far behind). Once counted amongst the most beautiful Night Elf cities, it was long ago dragged underneath the waves by the violent churning of the Maelstrom. Now its illustrious ruins hide dark secrets and serve as the breeding ground of a fearful new Naga plot.

So what else makes this new zone unique? Well, first of all, it’s the game’s very first completely underwater zone (though there will be areas of pocketed air to romp around in). And considering how much we all hate the snail’s pace of existing underwater quests, Blizzard is giving us a few new means of transportation. Exact details are light, but we can expect faction naval vessels and submarines — of the Gnomish and Goblin variety, no doubt — to help us get around.

Vashj’ir will provide questing opportunities for Level 78-82 characters, as well as two 5-man dungeons: Throne of the Tides and the Abyssal Maw, the latter of which has already had a small preview.

Once a great Highborne city housing some of the most revered night elves of Kalimdor, Vashj’ir was swallowed by the Great Sea in the Sundering and thought to be lost forever. Queen Azshara, formerly a beloved leader of the Highborne, escaped death in the depths of the sea when the Well of Eternity imploded. Such salvation came at a great cost, as the queen and many of her fellow Highborne were forever transformed into the monstrous naga, doomed to wander the seas for thousands of years. Their existence mostly remains a mystery to the peoples of modern Azeroth, though the Earthen Ring has learned of Azshara’s naga seizing Vashj’ir for an unknown purpose as the cries of the elements echo across Azeroth from the Abyss.

The rest of the preview, including a short piece of lore detailing the account of a captured Alliance soldier and several new screenshots follows the break. Read more…

Blizzard & The Evolution of WoW’s Microtranactions

Posted by on April 15, 2010 - 7 Comments »

Believe it or not, Blizzard Entertainment has run a “hybrid” business model – subscriptions and microtransactions – for World of Warcraft for years.  The company hasn’t been incredibly forthcoming about discussing it, let alone promoting the fact, but it’s made a non-negligible amount of extra money from this side business.  I am speaking of the services it provides to players that are not happy with their current situation.  Services include name changes, server transfers and now faction alterations and can range from a $10 to $25 charge.  Blizzard charges players for these services to essentially penalize those that attempt to name change or move servers very often.  A reasonable, if self-serving excuse.

Shortly before the new year, Blizzard altered its hybrid model policy by including the sale of in-game content.  Yes, the in-game pets are frivilous items, offering no gameplay advantage, but it was the company’s first step towards paid content.  Blizzard claimed that so much development time went into Lil’ KT and the Pandaren Monk that it had no choice but to charge for their creation.  In truth, the companion pets are some of the most complex non-combat pets in the game, with multiple animations and, in the case of the Pandaren Monk, a unique skin and animations (and possibly model).  To smooth over the transition from paid services to paid in-game items, Blizzard promised to donate half of the Pandaren Monk’s proceeds to Make-A-Wish.  The sum ended up being a donation of a cool $1.1 million a few months later.  That means 220,000 monks were sold at $10 a pop.

Read the rest of the editorial after the break. Read more…

Tales of Fantasy: Closed Beta Begins

Posted by on April 15, 2010 - No Comments »

IGG have announced that the Tales of Fantasy Closed Beta has officially kicked off. The closed beta will feature a number of additions to the game, including maps, instances, the most notable of which being “The Lone Knight,” a five stage level 40 instance, with each stage guarded by a particular boss. The level cap has also been removed, meaning players are free to grind as much as they want. The closed beta will also feature an event known as “Horse Racing event” where players can earn themselves a free level 25 mount.

BioShock MMO Rumors

Posted by on April 15, 2010 - 6 Comments »

A few days ago 2K games announced a X-Com reboot, resulting in players worldwide dropping a tear or two. But that’s not all, according to Destructiod‘s mysterious sources, there is a BioShock MMO in the works. I’ll give you a minute to think about it.

Done? That was fast. Now, 2K have always shown interest in an MMO based on the universe created by Irrational Games(seriously, why did they have to give it up, BioShock 2 is just a slighty upgraded BioShock) and this may come as no surprise for hardcore fans. What’s your take on this? Would you play a BioShock MMO?

City of Heroes: Issue 17 Now in Open Beta

Posted by on April 15, 2010 - No Comments »

Even though it is nearly six years old, City of Heroes is still going strong and getting updates. The latest one, Issue 17, is now in open beta! This brand new update is adding animated tails, ultra mode to make the game prettier for players with higher end graphic cards, and a change to epic archetypes. You can now create one at level 20, instead of level 50. Boy, this sounds great.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” – City of Heroes Issue 17: Dark Mirror

Rumor Barn: 2K Planning Bioshock MMO

Posted by on April 14, 2010 - No Comments »

I can't wait to play a tank in Bioshock Online!

As far as secret sources go, this is about as mysterious as you can get, so break out your shaker of Morton’s. But upon consulting one of their very own “Deep Throats,” Destructoid learned of a rather interesting rumor: 2K Games may be developing an MMO set in the Bioshock universe.

Now, normally I wouldn’t report on something like this, because to anyone who has actually played Bioshock, the idea seems absolutely preposterous. In fact, though I align myself with those who enjoyed it, there are still plenty of fans out there who feel the sequel was unnecessary, let alone some crazy-sounding bollocks like this.  But it got me thinking, wondering how could something of this sort actually work? Is there enough meat left on the bones of Rapture to create something of this scope and magnitude?

Let’s rap for a second. What’s in the game already? You’ve got your classes (varieties of Splicers, Big Daddies, possibly “normal” humans from the surface), you’ve got your selection of special abilities (Plasmids), talent trees (Gene Bank), professions (hacking), resurrection points (Vita Chambers), and so on. Of course, many of these elements are simply part and parcel of the action-adventure genre these days. What game doesn’t feature some latent RPG or character-building aspect to keep players hooked? And even if the parts are there, that doesn’t mean that they would necessarily fit into the same framework as a game like World of Warcraft.

I mean, Rapture’s a big city, and you could easily make the different districts into neatly-crafted zones, but it just reaches a point where that’s not enough. Most of the city is in complete disrepair and its been almost completely destroyed several times. To grow over time, an MMO needs space to breathe, and I don’t think there’s any left in this air-tight metropolis.

Of course, MMO doesn’t have to mean MMORPG. Read more…

Blizzard Developer Twitter Chat This Friday

Posted by on April 14, 2010 - No Comments »

It’s that time again! Blizzard’s holding yet another chat on Twitter that really isn’t on Twitter at all (you submit questions there, they answer on the official forums)! A bit of an odd setup, to be sure, but it sure would be interesting to see members of the team try and provide answers to complex design questions in the space of 140 characters. It’s like a game in and of itself!

This time, they’ll be focusing on what else, but the grand list of class changes announced over the past week? Even with the previews and clarifications, there are undoubtedly a lot of issues to be resolved with the community. Hey, maybe this’ll help stem the tide of whining and bitching that’ll no doubt continue from this moment until Deathwing’s roaring at you from the log-in screen (and then for months after). Bornakk’s got the low-down and Lore Hound’s got ya covered. We’ll be updating the site with all the questions and answers on Friday (Saturday for the Euros).

We will be holding our next developer chat on Twitter this Friday, April 16, at 5:00 p.m. PDT with two members of World of Warcraft’s class design team. This chat session will focus on the recently released Cataclysm class previews that you can see here: http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=24038460683&sid=1

Questions will be taken live through Twitter, so be sure to sign up for a Twitter account and follow @Warcraft (http://www.twitter.com/warcraft) in order to participate!

To submit a question for the developer chat, please tweet using the #BlizzChat hashtag between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. PST on April 16. Due to the character limitation on responses within Twitter, all answers will be posted on the World of Warcraft forums in a dedicated thread.

Link to the last developer chat: http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=23425524394&sid=1

Cataclysm Class Changes: Paladin

Posted by on April 14, 2010 - 2 Comments »

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!

Read more…