You Are Browsing ' Cataclysm ' Tag

By Charles On 15 Dec, 2010 At 04:41 AM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarMechanics were the first major changes introduced into World of Warcraft in the new system, but they weren’t the only ones. While many players were forcing themselves to reexamine how their classes played, others were trying to wrap their heads around what exactly had happened to their stats, spec, gear and even raiding itself.
Several popular stats made an exit in 4.0.1, which forced many players to either re-gem or re-enchant their characters, or rework their gear entirely. Suddenly, certain gear options were no longer so lucrative. Others became much more effective. One great example is the popular melee drop Deathspeaker Zealot’s Helm. It’s favored because of it’s 68 haste stat over the purchasable set item. the purchasable item uses a different stat, armor penetration. With the reworking, the drop helm now lags behind its alternative because the Armor Penetration bonus of 80 was switched to haste. Both items have identical stat bonuses, but one offers both haste and a set bonus.

Customization never felt so good.

In addition, certain other stats were changed from core stats to secondary stats, and thus were now eligible for a brand new process known as reforging. Reforging is where specific bonus stats could be lowered in favor of adding an entirely new value to the gear. Reforging is supposed to allow a new, unprecedented level of customization to the game. Complementing such classic tools as enchantment and gemming, which itself was added in the Burning Crusade expansion for much the same reason.
The eliminated stats in 4.0.1 include defense, MP5 (a system of mana-regeneration focused on mana regained per 5 seconds), spirit (which has been changed to a secondary stat), and armor penetration (which was folded into either Critical strike or haste, depending on the gear).
In addition, a new stat known as mastery has appeared in the new patch. Mastery is related to the idea of talent mastery, which becomes available after the character has attained the maximum talent on their dedicated tree. Mastery rating adds to the effectiveness of the talent specific skill for example : holy paladins casting a defensive shield around targets they heal, frost death knights increase their frost damage, and retribution paladins see their mastery proc. Mastery proc allows for a free strike at maximum holy power without expending current charges, and light up more frequently. As of now, few classes have a definite need for this skill, which appears on no current gear and must be reforged into it. When Cataclysm is released, it’s necessity will become more and more apparent.
Talent Changes

In case you were unsure what a "Holy" paladin was supposed to do…

The other big change Blizzard implemented was eliminating the old talent system in favor of a new, more streamlined process. Under the old game, talent points were gained each level after 10, and could be spent on any number of talents in the player’s three trees. This lead to a lot of experimenting with hybrid trees on the one side, and a whole glut of unnecessary talents on the other.  Many of said talents added passive bonuses to stats, or were taken simply to have enough points to unlock the next level of the tree. Many players complained that much of these talents needed to be reworked or thrown out altogether.

Goodbye hybrids, hello streamlining

Under the new system, players must choose at level 10 a specific tree to specialize in, and must remain on that tree until they have mastered it (through the purchasing of the 31 point talent) before they are allowed to move on. Talents are not gained every other level, instead of gaining every level. The days of hybrid trees have officially been closed. In their place is the mastery ability (mentioned above) that adds a bonus or power to their skills from that tree. It can be raised and lowered like any other secondary stat. Many familiar talents remain on the trees, but they have been reworked in most cases. Some of the generic talents are outright gone. Many a ret paladin discovered this the hard way when they logged in and saw their critical strike chance drop around 10%, due to the elimination of two talents that gave it a serious buff.
Dual specialization remains unchanged in 4.0.1. Glyphs are still there, but this time around they are learned permanently instead of being a one-time use. The glyph tree has been expanded to include 9 slots at max level, and glyphs can be replaced through the application of an erase reagent.

Everything is bigger in Cataclysm!

Gear Changes
In the old patch, gear grinding was made easier than ever before through the implementation of the badge system. Rather than running through raid after raid looking for gear, now Heroic Instance Dungeon bosses dropped badges. They could be stockpiled and spent on tier 9 gear in preparation for Icecrown Citadel raids. Frost badges, a more powerful version of the badges, could also be acquired through raid content. This could then be spent on even more powerful gear before the final raid was even undertaken. For example, I had 2 pieces of tier 10 before I ever saw the Citadel. This system, which I believe was introduced in the Burning Crusade, made gearing up for raids a far less painful process. It was still repetitive in nature, but this time the rewards were much more obtainable than random drops from bosses.
In 4.0.1, the badge system has been done away with entirely, and was replaced with a point-based system that uses justice points to purchase gear. This essentially folded the tier 9 and 10 badges into base currency. Now players can run endless heroics in order to grind enough points to purchase the upper level tier 10 gear. To give an example of the new ease of gearing : an 80, the average random heroic has 4 bosses. Each worth around 16 justice points apiece. For completing the random itself, the player is rewarded an additional 24 justice points. Which means the average heroic random will net the player around 88 justice points. Adjust this total accordingly. Raid bosses provide 24 points apiece, and weekly raids around 150. Now compare to cost: tier 10 gear sells for 695-1100 points for core pieces, 300-500 for accessories. Much of the tier 1o gear can now be purchased right off the bat. This gives fresh 80s a chance to gear up and raid within a few days dedicated grinding, as opposed to the older 2 frost-a-day grind.
This impact of unified currency is already showing in dungeons and raids. The Vault of Archavon, previously only run for Frost badges, is now being fully cleared again. And heroic instances with optional bosses are now being done the same. In the weeks since patch day, I myself have managed to grind out 4 pieces of level 264 tier 10 gear. The gear is equivalent to an Icecrown Citadel 25 raid drop, all within about 3 days. Not 3 days per piece, just 3 days total.
This gear race is definitely in anticipation of the Cataclysm launch, and it will all be obsolete by level 83. There is still good appeal at seeing nice, shiny tier 10 gear on your toon.

On an unrelated note, Blood Elves can also be Warriors now. Viva Deathwing!

Raiding Changes
The biggest change to the raiding system in 4.0.1 is the new flexible raid lockout. This saves a character to a specific boss, rather than to a raid. Many raiders complained that if end game raids fell apart after the first 3-4 bosses, then they would be locked out for the week. This is especially a concern for people who use PUGs (Pick-Up-Groups, people not in the same guild who are brought in to fill a role as needed), and would have that one chance to run the raid. Under the new system, the player’s raid lock is linked to the bosses they defeat. If one player drops the first 4 bosses and the raid dies, he may easily join another raid later in the week. Now he would be picking up from the 5th boss onwards instead. Later in the game, this will apply to all raids as well. As gear in 10 and 25 man raids were be uniformed, and characters may then run raids with many different group sizes at different times.
A lot to digest, isn’t it? It took me the better part of two weeks to get it all down as I relearned my character’s abilities, and adjusted for new play styles. As a casual player, I was hit hard by a few of the patch changes. Especially the ones to my main character, a paladin.
But how did these changes impact the style of specific classes? Well, as I said I have just two toons, but I already have had to make adjustments to them. What follows will be my impressions on those two classes, and how the new system has impacted them.

By Charles On 21 Nov, 2010 At 06:10 AM | Categorized As PC Games, Reviews | With 0 Comments

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With weeks to go before Blizzard unleashes its third expansion for its wildly popular MMORPG World of Warcraft, they sought to introduce to current players of their massive online community to some of the new mechanics they are adding to the game.

Here it comes, like a dragon in flight.

Some called it upgrading, others called it nerfing, but in the end, the game currently enjoyed by over 12,000,000 subscribers underwent some massive changes, forever altering the course of their online experience. This is just one player’s tale of the changes, and how they changed the course of his game playing experience from the moment the Open Beta was announced.

I would like to preface this review by stating that I embody three different, yet very similar, player types within the WoW community: first off, I am a casual raider. This means that my play experience is less influenced by such popular, and commonplace, tactics like min/maxing (for extreme damage output) and more focused on having a good time. I have coaches and friends who help me from being a total loss, but I know I’m underperforming by the standards of the serious raider. Fortunately, I am quite happy with my current 7-9K DPS (damage per second output) and being one of the top PUGs on my server.

Second, I do not have a bevy of toons, all at max level with full tier-10 gear. I have 2  geared 80 characters- a Paladin and a Death Knight. As such, much of my musings on the patch will be centered around those classes. But since both are very popular choices (and a lot of the “grief” over 4.0.1 was shunted on the former), I hope to give an accurate representation of what has happened to them.

Third, I do RP. It falls in line with my first point, and also explains a lot of WHY I am a casual player. Grinding for gear and achieves gets very old very fast for me, and I prefer the chance to stretch my legs and interact with my fellow players. Fortunately, my guild raids alongside RP, and we are currently 11/12 in ICC 10, which is something of a rarity among RP guilds on an RP server.

So hopefully this explains a good deal of the tone and “flavor” of this review in the end. I apologize for not being able to give a “hard-core” gamers review on the changes in 4.0.1, but I am an casual player enjoying time in a fantastic world to escape the drudgery of daily life. WoW is not my entire world, just a part of it, and one I am very content with. I know I share this opinion with many other players. So, without further ado, I present the “Everyman’s Guide to 4.0.1.”

Mechanics Changes

Players who logged in on patch day were greeted with a number of sweeping changes to the gameplay experience. In Blizzard’s words, they wanted to streamline the game, and add a challenge that many felt was missing within the 3.3.5 edition of the game, in place through the final year of Wrath of the Lich King. In particular, they wanted to improve the idea of “rotation” mechanics for DPS classes, increase the challenges involved with threat generation for tanks and add spice to the sometimes dull aspect of healing. In other words, they wanted to make players play their classes again. This was a common complaint from many of the players of “Vanilla” WoW and “The Burning Crusade” years- they felt the class mechanics were overly simplified and were diluting the game. In particular, there were many chances for certain classes to become “OP” (over-powered) or “Faceroll” (where the player needed only two or three skills to function- essentially you could hotlink your attacks to random keys, slam your face on the keyboard, and roll it side to side and still do maximum damage output).

Patch 4.0.1 changed all that, for better or worse. In the months leading up to patch day, many players in the open beta for Cataclysm reported significant changes to popular classes that tweaked mechanics and made them far more difficult to properly play. One of the biggest changes came to the Paladin class, long considered “OP” or “FotM” (flavor of the month) by many players. In particular, it centered around Blizzards desire to make their rotation “more punishing” by eliminating the “FCFS” (first come first served- hit whatever attack lights up first) mentality and forcing the players to keep track of new resources (in this case, Holy Power) in order to maximize damage, or take a massive hit to DPS if the chance is missed/hit too early. Of course, with Paladins being one of the most popular classes in the game at the time, the forums lit up with criticism, angry remarks and a few examples of “rage quitting” (where players simply left the game because their class had been “nerfed”).

Plate Specialization- As if my DPS weren’t high enough, now I get a 5% boost to Strength just for wearing all plate. Goodbye itemization on lower tier armor…

On the flip side of this, certain other classes experienced substantial boosts to their damage output. Mages, shaman, warlocks and shadow priests all received either boosts to their passive damage or tweaked skills that were easy to “spam” (hit rapidly) for massive bursts of damage. This made these classes more potent in raids and instance runs, but also upset some of the balance within Player Vs Player content, where it was entirely possible for one of the class specs, (for example, the Elemental Shaman,) to “one shot” (instantly kill) most other classes of similar gear and player experience levels. Cries of being OP shifted from melee to casters, and the game went on.

Tanking also received significant changes: first off the skill of Defense (translating to dodging, blocking and parry increases) was eliminated in favor of tweaks to it’s component skills. Another major elimination: passive threat (which aided them in getting enemies to focus on just the tank), which many tanks enjoyed immensely to that point. Put simply, they no longer generated huge amounts of threat right off the bat, and it was entirely possible (and very easy) for a tank to lose threat to a DPS or Healer player. This heralded the end to the common practice of “wait a few seconds for the tank to grab aggro then blitz your target” and was a bit of a return to the older days of WoW, as it requires for DPS classes to now perform “crowd control” and keep single targets off Healers and more focused on either the tank or themselves (or in other cases, to restrict their own damage output for the sake of the party) . However annoying stealing threat is from a tank, fortunately thanks to higher damage outputs it is very easy for a skilled DPS to drop a single heroic target now in a few hits and thus take some strain off the tank.

Healers were not exempt from these changes either. Much like with DPS, Paladin healers now found themselves facing a strange, new territory with multiple heals and a more “triage” like setting where they are now forced to choose heals based on need, timing and raid awareness, something other healer classes have been dealing with for the past few years. However, don’t think that other classes have it easy now, or have an advantage on the poor, beleaguered plate-casters. Whereas before, the job of healing mostly focused on spamming a few spells over and over and maybe tossing an AoE (area effect) or HoT (heal over time) spell around as needed, now healers must be acutely aware of their own stats, casting times and heal outputs. One poorly selected spell can kill a tank and wipe a raid, and simply spamming the most powerful heals will result in the healer going OOM (out of mana) very quickly. To be a skilled healer, it is now crucial for players to think on their feet and be able to adapt to quickly changing scenarios, and to, again, be very aware of their stats and resources. Mana drops very fast, the sheer number of healing options can be daunting, and in many cases, add-ons are becoming more necessary in this new world (I downloaded Healium just to make my job a bit easier, and I’m still overwhelmed in certain boss encounters).

This said, the amount of actual skill now needed to properly perform in dungeons and raids makes grinding them fun again, which is something many veteran players now will need to do up until Cataclysm finally is released. But more on that later on.

Up next: Stat and Talent revisions