Apprehension of Artifacts

 

Demon Hunter header

Now that the BlizzCon hype is well and truly over, as well as getting time to breathe from work, I’ll admit I’ve strayed too far into the realms of MMO-Champion forums thanks to their datamining of the Legion beta. As such, doubts and salt are starting to creep in, and while I’m still totally hyped and can’t wait for Legion to come out I can’t shake some feelings I’m beginning to get as we get more and more information.

One of these doubts is with the artifact system that’s hot on everyone’s lips right now, especially with the recent datamining of the talent trees that are associated with them. I know that everything is subject to change between now and release, but I want to touch on the underlying problems with the concept of artifacts in general.

Doomhammer

Firstly, we’re getting what’s supposedly the most powerful weapons our specs can wield this expansion (heck, there’s even an artifact fishing rod), and as such there are no weapon drops in Legion. That’s all very well and good, but what about the following expansions? Do we just toss aside weapons such as Doomhammer, the Ashbringer or Felo’melorn at level 113 for a “Choppy Waraxe of the Peerless”? I know we’ve had to retire legendaries such as Sulfuras or Dragonwrath in the past, but in my eyes those weapons are a shadow in comparison to wielding weapons such as the staff wielded by the first Guardian, or the greatsword wielded by the first Human King of Arathor.

If we kept hold of them up to 8.0 and beyond, what happens to those latecomers that decided to skip Legion, or those that switch mains on an expansion basis? We spent an entire expansion building up these weapons and gathering artifact power for them, it would be unfair to have that expansion reset to not quite be a reset for the weapons if we ended up just sticking on a few more traits in 8.0. Not to mention the fact I’m sure people will complain that there’s no new weapons to wield (even if we end up getting a bunch more skins for them, people will still complain).

The touchy subject with the artifacts is that we’re given these immensely powerful items in order to fight against the biggest threat Azeroth has ever seen, but once that’s been sorted and we move onto the next biggest threat Azeroth has ever seen, we have this new class of items that I don’t particularly want to retire, but can see the problem in having them continue to following expansions.

Artifact Power

One concept that could be taken forward could be that the weapons act as a secondary leveling system anyway, similar to how we are leveling to 110, 120 and so on, the artifacts can level up to 1000, 2000, etc. With regards to latecomers and rerollers and so on, Blizzard could have their end-of-expansion catch-up mechanics that they always implement to get our alts up to scratch implemented for getting all of the traits unlocked for our artifacts.

Then when 8.0 comes around, we get another set of traits to improve our weapons even further with tricks we learn in whatever expansion follows, in addition to even more relics. To avoid having to do previous expansion content to gain artifact power, there could be a quest series only available to those below a certain threshold of artifact power, and disable any power gains from Legion content once that following expansion releases.

The final mention for this first point is what happens to any new classes that get introduced after Legion? Do they get artifact weapons too to level up in Legion content or do they have to either survive with either a boost through WoD raids/an heirloom weapon capped at level 100/a questing weapon from 90-100? Or will all new classes just be hero classes that start at the previous expansion’s level cap?


 

Kanrethad Ebonlocke

The second main thing I’m apprehensive about with regards to the artifacts system is the amount of work going into them. People have asked for class-specific content for years, yes, but according to Blizzard the resources that were required could lose us a questing zone. Think about it, for even just 3 quests each that’s 108 quests in total for each of our 36 specs we’re getting in Legion. Is that why we lost Farahlon? Illuminati and Half Life 3 confirmed.

Not only are we getting more than just 3 quests per spec it seems, we’re also getting our own scenario to complete. Some are set in the same area, such as Arms Warriors, Holy Paladins and Shadow Priests all going to Tyr’s final resting place in Tirisfal Glades, but I can’t imagine those three specs having to do the exact same thing as each other. There’s been no leaked scenarios that all share the same location yet, so we could still see mirrored scenarios where the only difference is the X weapon in “pick up X weapon from the floor and use its powers permanently kill the C’Thraxxi general.”

In addition, every profession is also getting unique quests and storylines – they sound very similar to the profession quests we received in WoD on getting a scroll to learn our 700 skill cap, but if they’re more involved that’s more quests that have resources allocated outside of the main storyline.

Class Order Halls

Blizzard stated back in MoP that their design team was bigger than ever, and all we got as a result was the king of cut content in WoD. Fingers crossed that the rumour of the WoW teams working on every other expansion is valid here, and that this big design team is working on Legion to help bring this massive questing experience to a decent standard. It will certainly help replayability for alts to get a new experience every time you level – the lore nerd in me is tempted to actually level every single class to 110 at this rate (or more likely just enough to see all the specs’ artifact scenarios) as well as level every profession to see how that questing experience pans out. Not to mention if the class halls’ objectives end up being class-specific too!

Following on from my final point in the previous section, what about any new classes added after Legion? Will Blizzard have to go back and create a questing experience and scenario for them to complete at 100 or will any new classes just be hero classes and start at a post 110 level?

Time will tell, but for now I’m a little apprehensive at Blizzard hyping us up only to let us down – both in terms of a lackluster questing experience from 100-110 to make way for these scenarios and experiences that we’ll only see 10% of if we’re a hardcore single-character player, as well as future-proofing the artifact concept.

BlizzCon 2015 LIVE: Heroes of the Storm: Battlegrounds

Heroes of the Storm

00:48: Question time!

Are we going to get a WoW map as a battleground? Absolutely, it’s just a matter of time. Intention to hit all of their franchises.

Oldschool Alterac Valley as a BG? Take that suggestion and discuss it!

Towers of Doom: There is a teleporter that arrives late into the game, what was thought process behind it? Gives a vehicle to use to contest altars in mid-late game.

Any additional maps that tie into the franchises, Starcraft to tie into LotV? Intend to… (How many questions are we going to have on the same topic?)

Lost Vikings, Abathur, Cho’gall in arena? Cho’gall is so far disabled.

Any major Warcraft characters soon? Khadgar? The hero team has a lot of ideas, doesn’t know when he’ll be coming.

More character interaction than “going to the healing well” or “I’ll fight you after this battle”? Nexus Lords are taunting each other during the battle itself, but they’d love to do it for heroes themselves as well.

Will you be able to do a Latin American theme on the Arenas? Love the suggestion, taking it back to the office!

Completely destructible maps? Really awesome idea where everything can blow up – art and development time would be phenomenal. But if the desire for it is high enough, they will do it.

More supports? (wrong panel buddy) More a question for the heroes team, but he will pass on the message.

00:46: The second map set is the Sky Temple set, with the desert bazaar with similar feelings in art of Sky Temple – there should be a lot of feeling of life within this map. The second map is a lot more jungle-like with a feeling of oases around the place. The final map is a more barren desolate sands where the only life is the spectators in the stands.

00:43: Night time Garden Arena map has a reduced amount of spectators in the stands, and NPCs will be sitting round campfires rounding down the night. It’s overall a lot more alive at night. The third map is an “underground” map that has a cavelike garden with crystals and incandescence littering the map. Stalactites and bats are in the ceiling to give players a claustrophobic feel.

00:38: Arena is best 2 out of 3. Artwise in the day Garden we have a renaissance theme with spectators, fighting pits and jousting competitions. The feel should be tournament grounds at a faire. Spectators in the stands will clap and cheer if you get a kill, multiple kills will bring bigger cheers from the crowd. If you get team wipes, everyone in the stands are jumping up and cheering you on. They even do a Mexican wave, linked to an Easter egg.

00:36: Hero respawn time is only 15 seconds, so deaths are less impactful – feels like an FPS in a MOBA. New Arena Battlegrounds are coming, new mechanics such as capture the flag or payload could come to it!

00:34: Arena mode will condense the main objectives of battlegrounds into a single objective in the middle of the map – Garden of Terror will have a single terror in the middle, for example. In Arena, talents are removed and people only have to pick their heroic. Players are also locked at level 10, so power levels will always be the same. Good for new players!

00:31: Teams are not guaranteed to have a Warrior or Support, but the MM will try to mirror match the archetypes against each other. Sometimes they’ll have a game mode to have 10 of the same hero – how do you build 5 Sgt. Hammers against another 5? 10 Johanna’s didn’t work very well as there wasn’t enough damage going out for over half an hour of Arena. Some heroes are removed from 10x mode. In the standard Arena mode, you can’t have more than 2 warriors or more than 2 supports.

00:28: They first tried with all random mode, where the game picks a hero for them. Players don’t know what they’ll play, but this was a problem. They found out that players need some control, and need room to make choices. Now players will be able to pick an archetype (assassin, warrior, etc) and the game will choose 3 random heroes for you to choose between. You can have multiples of the same hero if the random pickings is lucky enough for you.

00:27: This new game mode is something fun to exist out of QM and ranked. It focuses on fast-paced action around a single objective. It’s something quick and easy to jump into. They aim for more action, short games and creative strategies.

00:24: A short video of the Arena was just shown, and that looks absolutely awesome! Lots of different maps to go on, lots of craziness for different comps (all dem Murky’s!).

00:23: The town structures are all varied among the 6 different towns to give people a sense of which town to go to for objectives. There are two distinct themes going on: the raven and the reaper. A return of the Raven Lord from Cursed Hollow?

00:22: Necromancer towers explode and become part of your team, they had a bit of trouble to define how to show that a destroyed tower was blue or red, so they had a ghost tower form in its place.

00:20: Feedback early on in design was that is was a depressing map to play on. They ended up adding a bit more of a whimsical design into the map itself, so trees and buildings are wonky and whimsical to give it a bit of charm. Trees and Jack-o-lanterns have exaggerated faces on them.

00:17: They wanted the emotion of a dark city, one of the main ways they do this is with the colour – purples, blues, damp colours in general, but the buildings themselves are lit by warm tones. With design, they wanted dark iron, spikes, a real gothic and evil feel. Finally textures are used heavily to try and make a sense of history to an area. They tried to make the iron rusted to make it feel old and full of story.

00:15: I will admit, I’m still a little confused about this concept, I’ll have to see how it plays first! Next they talked about the art in ToD. What makes the art different, the process of creating the world, and concept art and 3D sculptures.

00:13: There is a strong sense of progression when the core goes down to see how you or the other team are doing. Shrines were placed in neutral positions that could be captured to stop the towns from shooting your structures.

00:12: The grave golem boss had to be changed into the Headless Horseman so that he could do different stuff. Upon defeating him he will now unleash a volley of projectiles at the enemy team… And then they added the core back after all of this.

00:09: There was an unfair advantage to the winners of the towns. There are now 3 lanes again with a reintroduction of forts. There were mercs on the BG, but with no core the mercs just went round in circles. Sapper camps replaced siege and knight camps – charge at buildings and explode.

00:07: Merc camps, 2 or 3 lanes, forts and keeps are all parts of maps generally. One question asked was “Do maps need a core?” In ToD there are 5 forts in the BG and NO CORE. The aim of the BG is to destroy the town, and they’d join your side. This was a failed attempt however.

00:05: In Towers of Doom, two Nexus lords are fighting it out. There are towns dotted around that are the main mechanic, with shrines that need to be captured to shoot weapons. With Towers, they wanted to create something different. They ask themselves who the best heroes and comps are for the BG.

00:03: Sky Temple creates a lot of opportunities for skirmishes as it’s a large battleground with isolated and multiple points to contend. Tomb of the Spider Queen on the other hand is small with the objectives between the lanes, so teamfights are more prevalent.

00:01: Their Battleground philosophy is to have a clean design. They want to make sure there’s lots of opportunities for conflict – small skirmishes and big teamfights. There also needs to be finality. There needs to be objectives and rewards from these objectives, such as a pirate to shoot cannonballs.

00:00: For the final panel that I’ll be covering tonight, it’s back over to the Heroes of the Storm for a deeper look at the new battleground we got spoiled with yesterday: Towers of Doom! Maybe some more about the Arena – with the lack of depth going into it for the previous panel on State of the Game, I’m hoping so!

This final panel competes only with eSports for SC2 and WoW (or Heroes, depending on the timing here), so it’ll be my final panel of the evening!

BlizzCon 2015 LIVE: World of Warcraft Q&A

LegionLogo_lessglow

23:18: How will we find groups for the new Keystone dungeons? The plan is the group finder, guild and general social circles. Unused Keystones will be rare enough so that people will have things to do at the end of the week once all raid lockouts are spent.

Loot funneling for the world first race? No best way to stop it. Personal loot is an option, but overall wouldn’t be good for the rest of the game. They want us to roll an alt to have an alt, not to feed mains.

Will Nefarian in BWL have a new class call for Demon Hunters? Yes. Possibly linked to double jump.

What is the one thing you think people won’t notice but you think they should? Hunting down the new legendary items. UI improvements such as nameplates, cast bars etc – less requirement of addons. Animations for melee classes improved. Scaling levels of world mobs. Class accessories could be worked on better for WoD, but are now part of artifacts – in future we might see them when we leave artifacts behind? Talking head tech – lots more voiceovers in Legion than ever before! Overall goal of bringing 5man content back into the game as an important feature!

If you can mention it, your favourite artifact weapon? Developers give their opinions on their favourite weapons – Blood DK weapon, Ashbringer, Felo’melorn, Holy Priest weapon, Ashbringer again, Frost DK swords, and again, and the Eagle Spear for Survival Hunters.

Final question: Is Jaina a Dreadlord? No.

23:08: Are people locked into the weapons they get from artifacts? Yes, sort of. Dual wield is definitely going to be the theme for Frost DKs. You can transmog your artifacts to look like something else, but you can’t make other weapons look like artifacts.

Alliance character development without them dying or being lost? No… But any time something dies, they try to find ways to bring them back!

Language barrier still exists in Class Halls? Yes, but one exception will be that DHs can speak demonic cross faction.

In Legion, will we see alternate universe heroes? Just Gul’dan will be here, but TBD.

Will we see any more Gilneas? Genn plays a big part, and meet Gilneans that don’t get affected by the curse.

Will we see the final boss in the levelling experience or in the early dungeons/raids? Yes.

Do you plan to make raid finder and mythic flex size? It already is. Only change would be to invite friends to make it more difficult. For mythic raiding, flex would have way too many problems attached to it. 20 man will still be the standard with 12 classes to have enough moving cogs in raid design. Recruiting for guilds of any raid size can be a challenge, it was just more of a challenge to upgrade from 10 to 20, but keeping a healthy roster will be a challenge regardless.

Warlock tanks? No. Doesn’t fit the fantasy at the moment.

23:00: Is there any way to make old world material relevant for professions? Hard to implement because that will lead to having to hoard many items.

Will we get more lore on Worgen, Gnome, Forsaken, Tauren? Tauren-esque things in Highmountain, Forsaken lore coming up, Genn is a prominant player in Legion. Nothing for Gnomes. Tauren x Moose happy times!

Will there be more than one raid per tier in Legion? There’s two at launch, but they want to have varying environments for raids if it fits into the story well.

What if I don’t have time for the larger raids? There are tools in place to unlock shortcuts and have non-linear progression

Reforging? Not coming back. Maybe ONLY to versatility? Haha.

Events after Legion? Garrison will stay in Draenor, and artifacts may be the same for Legion – including the core gameplay mechanics that are the traits

Bad luck protection for rare items? Part of the coolness is how rare and how hard the items are to get. They don’t really want to touch them.

Where is the Dance Studio? In the new garrison under Tirisfal Glades. Something they want to do, but low priority.

22:49: Pre-orders for physical/digital copies? Same rules as before

Multirole classes and artifacts? People who play multiple specs will have a boost to their secondary weapons later on. In addition, catchup mechanics will be in place if you do quit and return halfway through the expansion. Relics won’t have this treatment however.

Three specs? Sure! Even if you’re a Druid, you can now quad-spec!

Why remove multistrike but not versatility? Multistrike for Blizz is just a different form of crit. Some classes have extra interaction to make it a viable stat (such as all tanks). PvP/tanks like versatility. Crit = burstier, Haste = faster, Mastery = do something more special, Versa = just pure extra damage/less damage taken.

Catchup for alts: repgrinds? In place for certain things such as legendary questline and artifacts. Part of the desire to have an alt is to start anew without having to create a new account altogether.

Any event like the AQ gates? No. Invasions will happen across Azeroth, but no plans for it so far.

Will Karazhan be relevant in Legion? Yes. A lot of secrets about the Burning Legion will be found in Karazhan… Teasing leak of a 5man in 7.1 from Chilton?

Where is Wrathion? He’s there. He has interest in Highmountain, where Neltharion’s Lair is. He might not look the same as he has done in previous expansions.

Will there be any more interesting mechanisms? Chequers event instead of Chess event! Haha

Battle for Undercity? No. (aww) It essentially was a scenario, just before scenario tech was there!

22:40: Are there any plans to improve guilds – housing/quests? Killing raid bosses = guild quests? I guess guild objectives already work toward this. They want to get people to be able to join multiple guilds and have multiple circles of friends!

Will there be a new PvP Battleground? No. Focus is on the new honor system for now.

Updates to old zones – Exodar etc? No planned changes.

What is protecting Dalaran on the Lost Isles? Dalaran has been upgraded dramatically – you’ll see in Legion what those are!

Do you have any plans to resolve open ends from Cataclysm? Yes. No time/date, but they’ll get around to it.

Won’t people running CMs only bring people with the best keystones to make it easier? All keystones are standardised, everyone will have the same combination of keystones.

When will the inventory system be updated – more bags for bank? Transmog will be overhauled to help in this.

Warriors – TG for Fury dead? No, the artifact is just too small, but they will be sized up. (does this mean death of SMF?)

Can we get a clear answer for the Legion transcending all realities? Find out in Legion! The Archimonde deal has a few kinks, but we’ll get a clear answer one or multiple Legions

More character slots? (sigh) One more slot per server!

Will Legion have new scenarios? Scenarios in Mists: no. But introducing scenarios that will be integrated into the world instead of pressing a UI button to join one while in town.

22:31: Jesse Cox is moderating the questions this year for the Q&A! This year things have been done differently: questions could be submitted in the Darkmoon Faire and online too!

Red Shirt Guy! Alleria and Turalyon – told they were returning, but weren’t told that orcs aren’t as bad so will they hate the Horde? No, but when we finally discover A+T, the way you view WoW will change (spooky?), so there’s amazing things in store.

Any hope of sub races, such as taunka? Sell the fantasy behind the races, then adding the extra customisable options. They want to, but don’t know how to implement it just yet – I guess Taunka can’t start in Mulgore?

Community – cross guild chat and calendar events? Something that they can’t do for launch, but want to do later on to provide cross-server chat etc.

Will the flying in Lost Isles achievement be able to be done at launch? Not completable, but you can start progress for it from launch

Bolvar Fordragon? Small cameo for Bolvar (I guess for the DK artifact experience?)

Will there be more cosmetic class quests, such as green fire? Yes/no/maybe. There are already class quests with artifacts and class halls. More of a focus this expansion but nothing like green fire.

Shared tap system on TI, introduced for older content for rares/bosses? Taking a step further, revolutionising how tapping works – for quest mobs in general you can have up to 5 people tap a mob, quest bosses will still have fully open taps.

Expansions every year or two? Still a goal, not sure when it will happen to have annual expansions. Quality over speed is priority.

22:30: Judging by how the Q&A’s went last night with just 10 minutes or so of questions and answers, I’m hoping the questions here have been pre-vetted to make sure that the questions are worth the time as well being easy to understand. Here I’ll be doing ~5-10min updates for groups of questions and answers, so relax your F5 key for this next hour!

Over on the panel stage, they’re looking more into the other mainstay of fanmade content – machinimas! Though I believe it’s more Blizzard’s own artists rather than the community’s, they’ll discuss how they create animated stories using in-game character models, environments and other art.