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Blizzard never seizes to surprise. They just keep supplying us with new exciting content the this wonderful game of WoW. Here’s some more news about the upcoming expansion Cataclysm as well as some patch 3.3 stuff:
* Next WoW Expansion Officially Announced – As we all know by now, Blizzard announced that the next expansion pack for WoW, to be named Cataclysm and it’s scheduled to be released sometime in 2010! Not only did they officially confirm it’s arrival but they also confirmed much of the speculation and rumors that were floating around in cyberspace a week or so ago. We will see the Goblins align with the Horde and the Worgen with the Alliance, we will see new race/class combos, the level cap will increase to 85 and will be reached in large part by following the Path of the Titans, Classic Azeroth will see a near complete re-vamp breathing new life into the leveling process (even from 1-60) and allowing flight in these areas will also streamline things quite a bit, they will be re-vamping some of the classic dungeons (Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep are on the list) and adding new ones with heroic modes and awesome loot, we will also see the addition of a new guild leveling and achievement system, rated battlegrounds and a new profession (Archeology) with some pretty awesome character benefits. I know it’s so much to take in! If you still haven’t seen the trailer I suggest you take a look at our earlier cataclysm news post.
* The BlizzCon ’09 Goody Bag - The lucky attendees at the annual Blizzard Convention always receive a cool swag bag packed with some pretty fabulous goodies. Although this year’s bag seemed a little lighter than last year’s there were still some great things included: A special edition Blizzard authenticator, a two for one admission pass to the WoW Emergent Media Phenomenon at the Laguna Art Museum, a coupon to pick up an official BlizzCon ’09 program at the convention, a coupon for up to 40% off the WoW Stein Collection, an exclusive Raynor collectible from the all new nOObz collection Blizzard has started, hand sanitizer (because gamers are dirty people), and of course everyone’s favorite little Murloc…Grunty the Murloc Marine was hiding out in the bag too. Well actually it was just the card with the code on it…I think if a Murloc actually crawled out of the bag there would have been a bit more than the usual BlizzCon mayhem!
* Cataclysm’s New Starter Zones – With new races must come new starting zones. While there was not a ton of information available on these zones we do have some for you. The Goblins will start on the island of Kezan and will phase in and out a lot while the Cataclysm is ripping the island apart, they will then board ships and face some hostile fire between Horde and Alliance before landing off the coast of the Lost Isles. The Worgen will start in Gilneas and will initially be chained up until they drink a potion to turn them “human” again, then they will embark on a quest chain which like the goblin starting questline will take them through about level 15 before it is time to move on.
* Racials for New Playable Races - All races have them, the things that set your race apart from others, racial passive skills. For the Worgen there will be a bonus of +15 to skinning with the ability to skin kills faster than other races, Dark Flight which will increase run speed by up to 70% for 10 seconds, Viciousness which increases damage done by 1% and Worgen will also see a reduction in the duration of curses and diseases of 15%. As for the Goblins, well they will be getting great prices all around Azeroth, they will have a personal servant that they can summon for 1 minute of bank access, greater aptitude in Alchemy with a +15 racial bonus, belt rockets which can be launched at enemies to cause damage or can also be used to disengage, and my favorite the “Time is Money” racial buff which gives Goblins a 1% increased attack or cast speed.
* New Dungeons and Raids - With the release of Cataclysm we will see the re-vamping of some classic WoW dungeons and also the addition of some all new content. The Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep will return with all new level 85 heroic versions, There will also be new dungeons added to the elemental plains of fire and air with at least one of them being a “level up” dungeon, the Lost City of Tol’vir and the Halls of Origination (a Titan city) will be offerings in the Uldum area, Blackrock Caverns will be an all new level-up dungeon located within Blackrock Spire.
* Guild Leveling System – This system will be added with the release of Cataclysm in an effort to encourage guild participation and increase the benefits of being in a guild and playing well together and separately. Guild experience can be earned through players leveling, killing bosses, leveling professions, PvP victories and reputation grinds. Each guild level rewards you with one talent point, these talents affect the whole guild and some of them will allow you to remove reagent costs from spells, summon your entire raid, rez your entire raid after a wipe or automatically transfer a certain percentage of the raid’s gold drops to the guild bank. Guild talents can be reset at any time. Once a guild reaches level 20 (the max) then the guild experience will become currency which will allow for the purchase of mounts, professions plans, rare reagents and guild talent respecs. Anyone in the guild can learn a guild profession recipe, but if you leave the guild after learning it you will lose the recipe and it will appear back in the guild bank. There will also be guild heirlooms which are bound to the guild and will work in the same way as the recipes.
* Classic WoW Re-Vamp - With the release of Cataclysm old world Azeroth will be getting a complete overhaul. Some areas will see more change than others, but will change just the same. Areas such as Desolace that were formerly completely sand covered barren deserts will be covered in lush green plants, wildlife and new villagescapes. Other areas like the Barrens will not fare so well. It will be torn in pieces with rivers of lava flowing through it like something out of a medieval themed horror movie complete with dragons and epic questlines. Not only will the landscapes change, but many of the cities will also have to adapt to the new lay of the land. Undercity will be completely rebuilt to accommodate the ability of players to fly, it will be much more visually substantial from the outside and more lush and beautiful on the inside which seems a bit strange to me but I’m sure Blizz will make it work. Stormwind will also be getting an epic overhaul with beautiful new castles and new commons areas. Orgrimmar will also see some changes as the Cataclysm will largely destroy this wonderful Horde city. The outer walls will require rebuilding and reinforcing which means steel plates which will make it look much like the Garrosh Strongholds.
* Path of the Titans – All the details for this new form of leveling progression are not yet available, but what we do know is that there will be multiple paths which you can take your character down and the path you choose will determine much about your character’s strengths and weaknesses. By traveling down a given path you will be able to learn passive bonuses and new abilities not otherwise available to your character. You will also earn new glyph slots for your character to place the non-inscription based glyphs into. These new glyphs will be earned as a result of your progress down your chosen path by engaging in things like PvP, raiding, questing or learning tradeskills. Players can also respec and choose a different path at any time. This will allow for players of the same race and class to differentiate themselves to a higher degree.
* All New Underwater Zone - The Sunken City of Vashj’ir will be an underwater zone. This was the home city of Lady Vashj before the original sundering and will act as a gateway to the Abyssal Maw. Going through the Abyssal Maw will take you to the Elemental Plane of Water. Although the zone will be completely underwater you will be walking on the sea floor here, new underwater mounts will be available and should have the same speed as normal flying mounts.
* Icecrown Citadel - Blizzard developers have earlier said that Icecrown will be “huge”…well they weren’t kidding! Icecrown Citadel will consist of four floors and will be a 10/25 man raid containing 12 bosses including Arthas himself. Due to the dungeon’s massive size the use of waypoints and teleporters will be implemented here as they were in Ulduar. A new experience is coming our way as well, once the second floor is complete your raid group will have to board an airship with your faction leader and race against the opposing faction to reach the third floor. Players will be able to board their ship with rocket packs and catapults to fight them (cool!). The ultimate victory will be making it to the fourth floor and defeating Arthas!
* All New PvP Content – The announcement was made at BlizzCon that not only will we be getting an all new PvP Battleground and a new PvP Zone with the arrival of the next expansion, but we will also see the return of old PvP titles and the arrival of the Battleground Rating System! This will allow players to earn rating and arena points by participating in the “Battleground of the Week” and winning. This is great news for many PvPers who dislike arenas as now they will have another option to get points, titles and gear. Players will also have the opportunity to earn guild levels by participating in the rated battlegrounds with their guildmates. In addition to these changes there will be additional, highly profitable daily quests for the faction in control of Tol’barad (the new PvP zone), new battleground objectives and arena maps!
* Cross-Server LFG - Another announcement that came this week that I found to be quite interesting was that soon players will be able to PUG 5-man instances by searching for players on multiple servers. Players will be able to look for group members across all servers in their battlegroup and the group leader will be rewarded for doing so after a successful run. This is being done to eliminate the annoying ” no more instances can be launched at this time” message we are all too familiar with. The best part…we won’t have to wait for the expansion for this feature! It “should” be ready to go with patch 3.3.
* Paid Race Changes - That’s right, folks pretty soon there won’t be anything you can’t change about your character. Blizzard announced that shortly after they implement the paid faction changes they will also be making it possible to change your character’s race through a paid service as well. So once this goes into effect it will certainly take some of the guesswork out of carefully choosing little things like race, faction, hair color, gender, etc. when creating a new character.
* No More Mana For Hunters! – This strange change to come were announced at BlizzCon! Hunters will soon no longer rely on mana for their spells and abilities, they will instead need focus. With this change there will no longer be a need for Intellect or Mana Regen. on a Hunter’s gear and Aspect of the Viper in it’s current form becomes useless, so maybe we will see a re-working of this ability or maybe a whole new one in it’s place or maybe Hunters will no longer have aspects of any kind..at all!? Hunters will be able to have a maximum of 100 focus and the idea is to have it regenerate much like a Rogues energy, only a bit slower when using auto shot, but faster when steady shot is used. I think this change it pretty exciting but not as exciting as the mentioned possibility of Hunters being able to tame their own mounts!
* Profession Changes and Additions – Ok, let’s talk about the new profession first. In Cataclysm we will see the arrival of Archaeology as a secondary available profession. As an archaeologist you would hunt through the ruins left behind by the cataclysmic events and find and collect artifacts which will open different paths in the Path of the Titans, vanity pets, titles, etc. The new profession’s UI will be in a very journal-esque format with a checklist of things you’ve done and a showing of things still to do. The professions panel at BlizzCon also talked about reforging as being part of the expansion. This would be where a trained professional (blacksmith, leatherworker, tailor, jewelcrafter or engineer) could reforge an item made by their profession and trade one set of stats for another, the new stat must be one which is not already on the item. Players will also see “multi-gains” when the expansion goes live. This means that if you’re a leatherworker you can create 5 pairs of green bracers or one blue chestplate giving one skill-up from each of the greens or an instant 5 skill-up points from the one blue. They also indicated that there will be some “big changes” to fishing to make it more fun…ugh, good luck with that!
* Pet Changes – These changes will be arriving pre-expansion with patch 3.3 (yay!). As of that time pets will scale off of their master’s stats and raid buffs will apply to them across the board. Pets will also not be effected by AOE damage from bosses in raids and instances, however AOE damage will still apply as normal during PvP combat. Pet classes will also likely see the arrival of some kind of “move to this location” spell which will have a very long cooldown but would allow the pet to teleport to the player to get out of trouble. This would be nice since it is pretty impossible for devs. to make the pet AI as smart as (most) players.