It's going to take two brains to process all this information.
Last week, a select number of fan sites earned the chance to visit Blizzard HQ and see — but not photograph — how Cataclysm has been progressing behind closed doors. No, Lore Hound didn’t go because Blizzard doesn’t love us. But they will. Oh, yes, they will (pretend like I just made a really evil cackle.). The NDA was lifted tonight and now they’re ready to share that information with the rest of the world. Now, for the more, shall we say, “curious players” out there, some of this is already known. However, there are some details in the development of the game that haven’t been leaked yet. For all the good little boys and girls out there not sneaking through the back alleys of the internet, it’ll be completely fresh!
I’ll bore you with my idiotic ramblings no longer, but I admit I have strong thoughts on some of these changes, so expect a side of commentary with the dish. The details are too numerous to fit them all on the main page, so why don’t we just start off with some of the biggest?
Path of the Titans — GONE!
Path of the Titans was meant to be a method for players to continue improving their characters after hitting the new level cap. Now, it’s been completely and utterly axed. Wowhead confirms my suspicions as to why: “Tom Chilton explained that Blizzard had spent a long time working on the Path of the Titans system, trying to balance making it complicated enough to be interesting, but simple enough to be understandable. At the end of the day, they realized that they had ripped it all down until it resembled an upgrade to the glyph system.” Considering that it may have allowed people to start specializing in areas outside of their normal capabilities, I can imagine it made things more of a nightmare than a dream.
I loved the original concept, which reminded me much of Final Fantasy XI’s Merit Point system, but looking back on it now, I agree that the Path’s implementation was kind of clunky. Not only was balance an obvious issue, but they were gating progress through it via patches so that players with more time on their hands wouldn’t get too far ahead of those who work day jobs or are constantly interrupted by their crying children. Of course, if they take one thing out of the game, they have to replace it with something else, right? That brings us to…
Medium Glyphs — Its Replacement!
With Path of the Titans scrapped, Blizz decided to go with something simpler and more in line with something players are already familiar with — glyphs. As their name implies, they’re more powerful than Minor Glyphs, and less powerful than Major Glyphs, allowing for one extra degree of flexibility. No word on precisely what “epic skillz” they’ll afford players (perhaps similar to those that the Path would have offered), but at least once Cataclysm comes around, it’ll be easier to figure out which ones you actually want. Improvements to the system will include a full list of available glyphs right there in your UI so you won’t have to go to the Auction House to figure it out every time, and the possibility of making glyph use permanent. That’s to say, you will only have to buy them once, and then they can be switched out depending on which ones you want to use. While Medium Glyphs will expand the market for Inscriptors, this implementation may actually decrease their economic viability in the long run.
Archaeology — Now Less Cool Than Before
Players were supposed to use archaeological finds to progress through the Path of the Titans. Now wannabe Harrison Jones will have to settle for something that looks to be more like Fishing, but hopefully less boring. Now firmly a secondary progression, Archaeology will dole out rewards in two forms: Rare Artifacts (which will be cosmetic and/or usable) and Common Artifacts (which will, as we Lore Hounds will appreciate, reveal the history of the Azeroth and its many different races). Finding certain sets of the latter might be used in special collection quests which can no doubt be turned in for further rewards.
Guild Advancement — Changed Significantly, But Still There
One of the other big promises of Cataclysm was the way in which guild progression would evolve. Performing actions as a collective would afford your guild special privileges, such as free repairs, one-time mass resurrection, and so on. Well, instead of using some mystical currency and putting all the power squarely in the hands of your GM, Blizzard has decided to treat your guild more like an actual player. Now you’ll be using gold to buy cosmetic rewards like special tabards and guild mounts, but the rewards you have access to will be determined by Guild Reputation. This can be earned by doing quests, killing raid bosses, participating in rated Battlegrounds, and earning Guild Achievements.
Guild Achievements should be similar to those that an individual can earn, but grander in scale. For instance, instead of getting one for reaching Level 85, how about having a Level 85 of every class in your guild? Raid meta-achievements may be folded into this system so that they can facilitate true group activity.
The other thing that’s changing is the way in which your guild earns all those cool special abilities. Instead of having a Guild Talent Tree, you’ll now just deal with Guild Leveling. This is a very linear system in which you will get one extra special perk for each level the guild achieves, up to the current cap of Level 25. Experience is likely to be earned in the same way that rep is.
Whew. That’s a lot to get through, but if you’d believe it, there’s more, including further previews of new zones, upcoming raids, and a handful of new high resolution screenshots. Hit the jump for the critical details! Continue Reading