It is the Future You See.

I’ve given it a few days to chew over, but now it’s time to talk about all that stuff that was released at Blizzcon. This obviously contains spoilers for Cataclysm so if you hate spoilers or, like Anna, you just don’t care, ignore this post!

I should preface this by saying that it would be pretty hard to get me to quit WoW at this point. Blizzard would have to do something truly insane (Paladin class? Deleted!) to get me to hop off now. Not for any amazing romance with the game itself, though I do enjoy it, rather that I’m not really playing the game for the game anymore, but as way to interact with the friends I’ve made in it. Given the unlikelihood that we all simultaneously mass-migrate to something else, WoW is it. Phew, okay. On to actual stuff.

First, and most obvious, this is WoW 2.0. Completely new stat system, permanent restructuring of the old zones, overhaul of the talent trees and even classes. Accept it, for I laugh in the face of your denial. As far as if this is good/bad/ugly, I’m really going to reserve judgment until at least the beta; this is such a massive shift we simply have no basis for determining what it will be like at present.

The change to the talent trees I generally like, though I await clarification on how Mastery works. I’ve been waiting since the announcement of Wrath for Blizzard to figure out that adding new depth to the talent trees each expansion is going to spiral out of control, and it happily looks like they’ve done so. This is also probably playing a large role in limiting the new cap to 85, which I am really quite fine with. Which combinations break the game and induce a stampede to the forums remains to be seen.

The changes to stats is probably the most significant, at least in my mind. I honestly have no idea how they expect to properly handle a conversion of current gear into the new gear, and a change this vast is going to completely upset the status quo. This, along with Mastery, I think are going to put the entire player base back to Square One: basically, we’ll be forced to relearn how to play our classes (especially Hunters!) I don’t think this is bad per se (though I was a bit offended that being something a second grader couldn’t understand was the main reason for removing Armor Pen), but it’s going to be the biggest upset to the proverbial apple cart.

The Path of the Titans is probably the sillies think I’ve seen, giving us a required secondary profession that I suspect for all their claims to the contrary will turn into yet another grind for an minor boost to your character. I suppose it plays in to the idea of further customizing your character which I like, but it seems unwieldy at this point.

Reforging seemed silly at first as well, especially once my suspicions about limiting stat redistribution were confirmed. Upon further consideration though, I think it may be a useful tool at least for new/leveling characters. My initial reaction was: no matter how much you juggle it, something like tank gear is not going to be able to compete with a well itemized DPS piece even of significantly lower iLevel. However, with the changes to stats on items, most importantly throwing most of them out, this takes on a new sort of value. A new quest green made for a tank might have Str, Con, and Dodge on it. Well, as a DPS warrior, I already like Str. Con is not good, but neither is it bad so the only really wasted stat is Dodge. If I were able to shift some of these points over to, say, Crit, suddenly it becomes a whole lot more attractive. I don’t see this holding up as we move in to raid content, as stats just become too heavily weighted in favor of the role they were intended for even with a shuffle, but for gearing up a fresh 85 or leveling that alt through Outlands I see potential.

The changes to Old World I could not agree more. Well, except the part where they bring back a guy who’s head we chopped off and mounted on a pike. Generally though, all for it. I know, sad times, lowbie zones will never be the same and it’s canon that the Horde are better at PvP and no one will be able to appreciate oldschool Rags and blah blah blah blah blah. Vanilla sucked. The only reason we played it was because we didn’t know how much it sucked at the time. It’s long overdue for an overhaul, and I’m glad to finally see it. Additionally, it’s nice to see the fact that the world has been more or less raped by massive war for the better part of a century is starting to show. I’m hope to enjoy a better experience leveling through them on one of the new classes.

Of which I am of two minds on. Goblins are really overdue for a playable race, though making them canonically Lost hurts me a little bit. Worgen have pretty much the most awesome starting zone ever, which hopefully will make up for all the Underworld kiddies running around with their new FotM race.  I’m not convinced yet that WoW needs more races, but I’ve got no serious beef with adding these. Mostly I’m curious to see what happens to all of the other races as they move racials in to line with the Goblin/Worgen ones. If the new ones really are the template, it looks like the stats will be: +1% to something combat related, a movement ability, +15 to some profession, and a random flavor ability. The new class/race combos for all that I am sure you screamed at your monitor when you read at least one of them have at least flimsy justification. At the end of the day it was a game play move, and we’re just going to have to do some rationalizing to fit it in to the lore.

The guild advancement system I was initially very concerned about seeing as TRI is a composite guild raid. Further releases make it seem less of an issue however, leading me to believe that while we may not be able to take full advantage of all it has to offer, we will not be harmed by it either.

As far as changes to classes, new dungeons, items, and whatnot I’m going to pass on these because, again, there’s simply too massive of a change and too many unknowns to make even educated guesses about how things might turn out. Overall, I’m optimistic about this expansion. It’s still a long way off and there’s plenty of time to bugger it up, but even with the sweeping changes being made I think Blizzard is at least trending in the right direction.


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