Posts Tagged ‘BlizzCon’

Deathmantle Set Rogue Cosplay at Blizzcon 2014

(Photo credit: Wowhead)

(As always, this is being cross-posted on Ravenholdt, which thinks you should be calling your mother more often.)

It was a very stealthy BlizzCon.

In the live raid competition between Method and Midwinter, we watched as a Midwinter rogue cast Shroud of Concealment to help the raid sneak past trash mobs — only to see the strategy turn against them. We spotted nary a rogue in the WoW Arena Championship match between Bleached Bones and Skill-Capped EU, and Firebat swept the Hearthstone World Championship grand finals without using his rogue deck — BUT WE KNOW HE HAD ONE, so that counts in our corner, even though it’s not directly related to WoW at all.

Plus we saw at least one cool example of rogue cosplay, with these two not only sporting what I think might be the Tier 5 (Deathmantle) raid set, but also my personal favorite rogue weapon, the Twinblade of the Hakkari.

But what most of you probably want to know is: Did designers answer any rogue questions during the Warcraft panel discussions?

Why, yes. Yes they did.

Although there were just two World of Warcraft panels at this year’s BlizzCon (and basically no new game info was presented), four rogue questions were addressed. Considering two of those questions were answered during a panel that expressly forbade class-specific questions, rogues represented particularly well, with many of our key class concerns briefly taking the spotlight. Our own Haileaus (!) even managed to refashion a question about rogue positional requirements into a general class-design query.

Rogue Q&A: Quick Recap

You can read full transcripts of each rogue Q&A exchange in the Ravenholdt version of this post, but here’s the gist:

  1. Suicidal Killing Spree. Some boss fights severely punish the use of KS and other abilities that teleport us to/behind the target. Ion Hazzikostas said they do alter specific fights to alleviate that when the boss doesn’t move, but for *mobile* bosses, they consider that risk of death to be a “tactical element” of the fight that is “taken into account” when balancing the class.
  2. Combo point UI. They stack on the rogue now, but the default WoW UI hasn’t changed. Kris Zierhut admitted that the designers tried different ideas, but simply couldn’t come up with a new UI approach that wasn’t “jarring” for people used to seeing CPs under the target frame. So instead, they’ll look at what add-on authors come up with and consider adapting that.
  3. Positional requirements. After a Day 1 panel session in which Zierhut explained that positional requirements had been removed from all druid spells because they were unreliable and not fun, Haileaus asked why that didn’t apply to abilities like Backstab and Gouge. Tom Chilton replied that they balance “how important the mechanic is” against “the overall feel and fantasy of the class,” and sometimes they feel the fantasy should win out.
  4. Balancing talent tiers. Another rogue player, while avoiding mentioning any specific rogue talents, asked about the balance of DPS talents vs. non-DPS talents in various tiers. Tom Chilton replied that it’s a very organic process — they gauge how many people actually use talents in each tier, improve or replace the ones nobody takes, and generally try not to tone down extremely powerful talents unless it’s absolutely necessary for game balance.

Again, hop over to Ravenholdt to see the transcripts of these Q&A excerpts.

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There were very few “big reveals” in terms of class changes at this BlizzCon — not just for rogues, but for our lesser brethren as well. My suspicion is that they simply haven’t worked through/finalized the mechanic adjustments they want to make for all classes, and didn’t want to generate extra angst by revealing only part of the story for some classes. (This would also at least partly explain why there was no class design panel, and why class-specific questions were forbidden at the “almost everything” Q&A yesterday.)

Nonetheless, we got a few new nuggets in Day the Second, including some clarifications on yesterday’s revelations.

I mentioned earlier that a chunk of the official FAQ for the expansion announcement referred to the elimination of hit and expertise, and the addition of some new interesting stats. Yesterday’s discussion panel on game systems painted in more (but not all) of the picture. Here’s the short version of the rogue-relevant stuff:

  • Hit, expertise, dodge and parry will all disappear from our gear (what used to be caps will become baseline). Ghostcrawler also acknowledged in a tweet that some racials will need work, since several races, for instance, had a racial bonus directly tied to expertise.
  • Reforging will be eliminated, gemming and enchanting will be available on fewer pieces of gear (but will be more powerful), and both socket bonuses and meta gems go bye-bye. In other words, most of the things that I suspect people use ShadowCraft (and Ask Mr. Robot) for at the moment will go away, and it’s possible that rogues will start saving multiple gear sets again (as they did before reforging existed), depending on how different stat weights end up being between specs.
  • Rare gear drops (akin to Thunderforged gear drops in raids) will include new “tertiary” stats on them, many of which look an awful lot like the funky mechanics we saw in our Patch 5.4 trinkets — multistrike, cooldown reduction, etc. (Also on their list of possible stats: movement speed and removal of durability loss.) The designers are clearly still debating how (and whether) this will all work, so it’s possible it will end up a lot different than the preview at BlizzCon suggested.
  • Positional requirements appear to be gone. This is a much bigger deal than its place in this list suggests, but it wasn’t actually mentioned in any of the discussion panels, so my cynical side refuses to allow me to believe they really plan to make it happen. But according to Xyronic at MMO-Champion — and as attested by players who got to try out Warlords on the demo floor at BlizzCon — Backstab, and similar abilities that once required you to be behind the target, can now be used directly in the faces of your enemies.
  • This happened:
    heart

I’ll have a little more on all of this later in the week on WoW Insider, including any new info that becomes available and the beginnings of some poorly thought-out analysis regarding what it all means.

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I’ll examine this stuff in a little more detail over on WoW Insider next week, but we’ve got two items of note from Day the First in the Year of the Seventh Convention of Blizzard:

Stat Changes: Farewell to Caps

Nestled within the official Blizzard FAQ for the Warlords of Draenor launch announcement is this little nugget, which if you’ve been following any of the fansites you’ve already seen a half-dozen times:

One of our goals for Warlords of Draenor is to make the act of finding and collecting loot even more exciting for players. With that in mind, we’re adding some fun new stats to gear, such as Movement Speed and Cleave, which gives you a chance to do extra damage or healing to additional nearby targets. In addition, we’ll be retiring a few stats that players don’t find very enjoyable to manage, such as Hit and Expertise. We’re also making improvements to armor itemization that will make it easier to share armor pieces across classes. We’ll have more details to share as development continues.

My instinctive reaction is a positive one on the hit/expertise removal front (I generally cheer changes that remove aspects of the game that are mindless and rote) and… intrigued on the idea of us getting more stats that have an obvious, direct impact on gameplay in a way that so many of our current stats simply aren’t designed to have. (At least, not within the span of a single set of gear reforges. Reforging between mastery and haste has basically no noticeable affect, but if we were switching between movement speed and cleave strength? Now that’s a spicy meatball.)

I’ve got tons of questions in my brain — not least among them how quickly/easily we’ll be able to alter stats on our gear from moment to moment, when they have the potential to wildly swing in importance depending on the specifics of the in-game encounter — but I expect we’ll hear a lot more about all of this in the “Raids, Gameplay, Questing and More” panel on Sunday at 2:30pm ET, so I’ll shut it for now.

Talent Changes: A New Tier Beckons

We’ll be getting a new talent tier at level 100 in WoD, and from the looks of it (by which I mean “from the looks of the photos that people surreptitiously took while playing an early demo of WoD at BlizzCon”), they’ll be worth talking about at length over the upcoming weeks ‘n’ months. With endless thanks to a historically great rogue who will remain nameless here only because I don’t want to risk getting him in more trouble than he already would be simply for leaking the photos, I can tell you that the options appear to be:

  • Master the Basics: “When you critically strike with an autoattack, you gain an additional combo point on your target.” (Apparently a passive ability.)
  • Shadow Reflection: “Summon a shadow of yourself on the target that will watch you and memorize your ability usage for the next 8 sec. After this time, it will mimic the memorized abilities on its target over the next 8 sec.” (Has a 20-yard cast range and a 2-minute cooldown.)
  • Death From Above: “Finishing move that consumes combo points on the target to empower your weapons with shadow energy and perform a devastating two-part attack. You whirl around, dealing Shadow damage to all enemies within 8 yds, then leap into the air and slice into your target on the way back down, dealing additional Shadow damage. (Costs 50 energy and has a 20-second cooldown. More importantly, probably looks REALLY FREAKING COOL. The tooltip includes damage numbers that scale with the number of CPs you have, but they’re obviously just placeholders and not even worth noting here.)

Again, a crazy-huge number of questions here, which I’ll explore in a little more depth next week. Unlike with the stats stuff above, I’m not so sure we’ll hear a ton of detail about any of these at BlizzCon on Sunday, given that there are no class-design panels; I suspect we’ll need to wait a few days at least (if not weeks) before we get the opportunity to learn more.

Ability Improvement While Leveling?

I expect we’ll learn more about this on Sunday as well, but here’s another curious bit from the official WoD FAQ:

Warlords of Draenor introduces a new bonus system that rewards players with powerful perks as they level up to the new cap. At every level from 91 to 100, characters will earn a major permanent boost to one of their their key spells and abilities (e.g. a Fire Mage might earn a +50% damage boost to Pyroblast or +30% boost to Scorch).

If there’s as much flexibility in this as it sounds like there may be, this could provide an interesting new level of customization for us — that is, assuming it isn’t simply a matter of crunching a few numbers and easily theorycrafting out which ability buff provides the greatest DPS benefit. (And I suspect they’ll make sure it’s not that simple, else they wouldn’t be trying to implement something like this in the first place while eliminating stuff like the hit/expertise cap.)

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