Blizzard Releases New Trailer, “Journey”, For Wrath of the Lich King Classic

Blizzard has released a new trailer for Wrath of the Lich King Classic, and this one is not like the others! Check the trailer below, followed by a deep dive into what makes it special and one-of-a-kind:


A New Trailer Type is Born

After watching that trailer, you may have noticed one of several things:

  • It is not a full-CGI trailer, like the ones used to announce expansions.
  • It’s also not an in-game cutscene, or a pre-rendered in-game cutscene (like the ones you see at the end of a zone or a raid).
  • It is much cooler than any other WoW trailer because it shows so much of Northrend in a visually pleasing way.

This trailer, while official, was commissioned by Blizzard from none other than Hurricane, an extremely talented YouTuber who has been creating high-quality trailers such as this for years. You can check his channel here (I highly recommend the re-imagined trailers for Naxxramas, the Black Temple and Ahn’Qiraj). It is also noteworthy to mention he’s made juicy trailers for private servers as well! He’s basically as professional as you can get when it comes to fan-made WoW cinematics.

What makes this trailer special, aside from the absolutely gorgeous visuals, is the care that went into making every shot as high-quality as possible with what are, in their essence, in-game assets. Now, calling them ‘just in-game assets with extra coats of paint’ is a great disservice, of course – check out the VFX breakdown for the Black Temple trailer to see just how much work goes into a single scene. The stats at the end are mind-blowing, especially for a one-man team. Now, count the amount of unique scenes in the Journey trailer. They’re a lot.


Raising the Bar

The biggest takeaway from this amazing trailer, in my opinion, is how much can still be done with epic pre-rendered cutscenes in World of Warcraft. Journey has raised the bar for basically every time of cutscene and cinematic at Blizzard, bar their full-CGI cinematics (like the Battle for Azeroth Saurfang ones) and animated shorts (such as Shadowlands’ Afterlives).

What this trailer achieved, for me at least, is bringing life back into the game. It’s no secret the actual world of Warcraft is essentially static once you’re done levelling, aside from the occasional [insert enemy faction] invasion dropping over a post-WOD zone. This trailer paints a picture of how WoW should feel playing, not just the image it inspires in the player’s head.

Back in the day, before the game turned into a long list of things to do, there were lots of little things that made the world feel closer to how it was depicted in the Journey trailer. One small example were raid boss heads. Kill a raid boss, it drops its head. Take it to your capital city, hand it in, and not only would that trigger a zone-wide yell congratulating you by name, it would also put the head on a spike for all players to see.

The last major event I remember making me feel the world was alive came in the Legion invasion. First, with opening the sky up to Argus in 7.2, changing the sky for the remainder of the expansion (and, given that bright red spot that remains, for the rest of the game). Second, Sargeras stabbing his sword into Azeroth, a ridiculously huge sword that is still there to this day, waiting to cause some expansion-starting event.

The game doesn’t need even bigger swords to emulate a living world, though. It needs a robust system of player interaction that leads to temporary environmental changes across the whole server. Imagine if players defeating Jaina in Mythic Battle for Dazar’alor would leave a frozen spot of sea near Zuldazar for a day. Defeating the Jailer could make the Maw less gross and dusty (why can’t we fly there yet?). It shouldn’t all be relegated to raid efforts, of course. Take weather, for example. Weather is barely even a concept in modern WoW. Last time I saw rain in the game was a few months ago in Zuldazar. Why not have players automatically summon snow if, say, enough Mages cast Blizzard in the Storm Peaks?

This trailer has re-ignited my desire for a world that feels alive in this game. If the sense of community is gone and never coming back, courtesy of servers being combined into a cross-realm mess and LFR existing, then at least the environment should still work to provide a sense of movement.


What did you think of the trailer? Did it evoke the same feelings in you? Let us know in the comments below!

Free Epic Games Store Titles For Week 38: Gloomhaven and ARK: Survival Evolved

Another week, another bundle of freebies courtesy of Epic Games! This week we’ve got extreme dinosaur survival classic ARK: Survival Evolved and Gloomhaven, a turn-based tactical RPG adapted from the table-top game of the same name. Without further ado, let’s get into it.


ARK: Survival Evolved

ARK is a survival game where you wake up mostly naked on an island full of dinosaurs, giant ants, huge dragonflies, fancy primal tigers and ravenous pigeons. I’ve put somewhere around 40 hours into the game and here’s what I’ve learned:

  • You really want to tame a giant herd of dinosaurs.
  • Almost everything you can craft has a purpose and upgrades feel impactful.
  • Being unable to skip the night by sleeping makes for a good rhythm of hunting & gathering during the day and crafting / chilling at night.
  • You might go to the nearby river just to get some water and get attacked by seven dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes. Yes, this has happened to me, several times!
  • While I really enjoy crafting, get ready to spend a lot of time hauling rare resources back to your base as things get expensive really quickly.

ARK has given me nothing but challenges; it’s been a brutal journey so far, oftentimes downright unfair (do not attempt to build a base on the shore) but it’s the fact that ARK never holds your hand that makes this game a must-play for those of you who are looking for a proper survival experience.

P.S. This game can become a lot easier with friends!


Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven is a turn-based tactical RPG that simulates the table top game it is based on, released in 2017. The game is co-operative, supporting up to four players. Here’s a list of the juice contained within this game:

  • 17 playable classes.
  • 95 unique playable scenarios (branched together depending on player actions).
  • One session takes on average 90-115 minutes.
  • Characters and monsters move on hex tiles that represent dungeons and cellars.
  • Randomization is not created through die rolls, but rather through a deck of cards.

Next week we’ve got Runbow, a 2D platformer racing video game that supports up to 9 players, locally and online, as well as The Drone Racing League Simulator, which is, well, pretty self-explanatory!

Have you already played ARK or Gloomhaven? Let us know your thoughts on them in the comments below!

Loot Tables Shifting as Heroic Dungeons Gain an Additional Difficulty in Wrath of the Lich King Classic

In a Twitch interview with MrGM and Scottejay, Kris Zierhut, Technical Game Designer for Wrath of the Lich King Classic, shared some changes taking place in the upcoming re-release of Wrath of the Lich King with regards to loot and loot tables.

In order to avoid old loot becoming irrelevant as new content is unlocked, there will be a sort of ‘shifting’ that will take place between loot tables. When patch 3.1, Ulduar, launches, the following will take place:

  • Loot from 25-man Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum and Eye of Eternity will drop in the 10-man versions of the raids.
  • Loot from 10-man Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum and Eye of Eternity will drop from Heroic+ (name pending!) dungeons.
heigan the unclean
At least you won’t have to dance to get Demise past the first patch.

Heroic+ Dungeons?

In order to keep dungeon loot and dungeons, as a whole, relevant throughout the expansion (aside from grinding emblems), a new – at least, to WOTLK – type of dungeon is being implemented: Heroic+. Here’s the exact quote:

“The second goal is about making sure Heroic dungeons stay attractive throughout the entire expansion. The Emblems and items they drop should always be valuable, even late in the expansion. They should also remain an interesting challenge throughout the entire expansion, rather than becoming excessively easy as your gear improves. We are exploring plans to add challenges to Heroic dungeons as the expansion proceeds, which would also provide more valuable rewards.

Now, if you notice the wording – “add challenges to Heroic dungeons” – this could mean something closer to retail’s Mythic+ system, with a rotating set of modifiers that affect the entire dungeon’s denizens. There’s no indication of the keystone mechanic (endlessly increasing difficulty and item levels) being a part of this Heroic+ concept, so it might be safe to expect the system to play out more like the Challenge Mode Heroic Dungeons from Mists of Pandaria. Here’s a breakdown of it:

  • The dungeons are timed.
  • Any gear past a certain item level is scaled down.
  • No gear drops in the actual instance.

All of these aspects of Challenge Mode require creating entire systems around them which didn’t exist in the old WOTLK, so expect Heroic+ dungeons to be somewhere between Challenge Mode and Mythic+.

halls of stone tribunal of ages
The last thing players want is actually putting effort into this encounter.

Optimizing To a Fault

There is, of course, one concern. As any WoW player is aware, playing the game today does not have the same vibe as it did back in the day. The player base as a whole has taken optimization to a level unseen in 2004-2010. Back in Wrath of the Lich King, the biggest ‘optimizer’ was the Gearscore addon, which didn’t account for skill and simply made creating a group faster.

With Heroic+ dungeons adding an additional layer of challenge, I fear the cycle of optimization, with all its negatives (flaming the tank for pulling a skippable pack of monsters, berating the Shaman who cast Bloodlust three seconds later than the ‘perfect time’) will plague WOTLK dungeons – a much more casual endeavor than today’s dungeon experience – and chip away even more at what made this old expansion so great: The fact that the game wasn’t pushing you to be perfect, but just good enough to go through the content.


We can probably expect the same thing to happen once 3.2 and Trial of the Crusader rolls out: Ulduar 25-man loot moving to 10-man, while the 10-man loot is siphoned into dungeons. We can probably safely assume the Vault of Archavon will remain unchanged throughout the expansion, as its four bosses drop loot from every tier.

Additionally, the interview revealed the following information about bonus rewards being given out to Tanks and Healers when they’re in demand:

  • Bonus rewards will include pets and mounts.
  • Examples of mounts that have a small chance of dropping: Deathcharger’s Reins (from Stratholme), Ashes of Al’ar (from Tempest Keep – The Eye) and the Raven Lord (from Sethekk Halls).

What do you think of Blizzard’s decision to add an additional layer of challenge, as well as increased rewards, to WOTLK dungeons? Let us know in the comments below!

Blizzard Releases Blog Post Detailing Upcoming Closed End Game Beta For Diablo IV

Blizzard has published a blog post detailing their upcoming closed beta for Diablo IV, which will focus on the end game (thus avoiding any possible story spoilers!) and will be invite-only. While they haven’t given any specific date for the start of this beta phase, we believe it will start the latest sometime in late November, followed by a public beta test early next year.


Beta Eligibility

Since this is a closed beta, this means access to the game is invite-only; you cannot apply for it or just casually download the beta client! Beta participation will also be possible only under an NDA, meaning you cannot share any details of the game you will learn of during the test phase.

The beta invites will all be sent before November 18th, to players who have actively played either Diablo III or Diablo II: Resurrected and spent a significant amount of time in the end game. While we don’t know when the invites will start rolling out, you might want to begin no-lifing either of these two games if you want to maximize your chances of getting into the closed beta!

diablo iv beta
Make sure to have ‘News and Special Offers from Battle.net’ in your account panel ticked so you can make sure your invitation gets through!

So, What’s In The Beta?

The beta will set out to test five end game major features, alongside the usual systems like itemization and power balance.

Helltide

Helltides are region-wide events that occur when a player has reached the end game. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Servants of Lilith (assuming this is a fancy name for ‘regular monsters’) become empowered, increasing their difficulty and the quality of their drops.
  • Her mightiest minions are also out in greater force, which sounds like increased Rare and Unique monsters spawning.
  • The very ground of Sanctuary morphs as a result of the Helltide, which sort of just sounds like Path of Exile’s Scourge or Elder/Shaper-influenced maps.
  • Monsters drop Cinders, a new currency that is spent to open Helltide Chests scattered throughout the affected region.
  • Helltide Chests ‘boast bountiful boons’ exclusive to a singular item slot such as Torso, Legs or Two-Handed Weapon. Unsure if these boons are temporary boosts to an item’s power or something akin to World of Warcraft’s item upgrade system, where you can slowly increase the stats on a piece of gear at a cost.
  • Cinders drop upon death, much like Stygia in the Maw in, yes, again, World of Warcraft and must be reclaimed, which sounds like the ol’ corpse run is back.

I’m not too sold on the Cinders + Helltide Chests part of this event. Cinders dropping on death is either going to be irrelevant (if Helltide Chests don’t provide significant loot to bother opening them) or at best frustrating, in a franchise that’s long abandoned the corpse run concept since Diablo III launched in 2012.

It’s also a bit weird seeing Diablo borrow concepts (at least, this is what it looks like to me) from World of Warcraft. WoW took Diablo III’s bounties and turned them into the World Quest system back in Legion, to great success (it is still the best implementation of that system, with BFA and Shadowlands doing it worse). Mythic+ dungeons, also introduced in Legion, share many similarities with the endless Greater Rifts offered in Diablo III.

I am however unsure if Diablo taking things from World of Warcraft works. Diablo III’s itemization was designed by developers who had worked on WoW’s itemization, and was abysmal at launch. Systems being taken from ARPGs and made to fit MMO’s can work, but I cannot say the same for the opposite. We’ll see!

Nightmare Dungeons

Well what do you know, Nightmare Dungeons are more similar to WoW’s Mythic+ dungeons than they are to Diablo III’s greater rifts! If you’ve played both games, the way you access Nightmare Dungeons might sound very familiar:

  • Nightmare-difficulty dungeons unlock upon locating your first Nightmare Sigil.
  • These sigils only work for a specific dungeon.
  • Using these sigils will add special modifiers to the dungeons, increasing its difficulty and providing higher-rarity loot.
  • Completing Nightmare dungeons award more powerful sigils, which keeps the Nightmare Dungeon farm wheel spinning.

I can see this system working for Diablo IV as well, though I do worry about the special modifiers they mentioned. Path of Exile’s end-game maps can roll dozens of modifiers, many of which can make the map completely un-runnable for a variety of builds (always avoid damage reflection!), but Path of Exile is tailored towards a more hardcore audience than Diablo IV. These modifiers will have to achieve several things at once, which may be complicated to balance:

  • Increase the dungeon’s difficulty through interesting ways. Think monsters that spawn more monsters upon death rather than giving every monster a chance to stun you for one second.
  • Somehow be interesting and hard but keep the dungeon doable for any well-thought-out build.
  • Ensure these modifiers are engaging in a way that forces you to change the way you play without leading to frustration.

Whispers of the Dead

Whispers of the Dead is basically Diablo III’s bounty system (or WoW’s world quests if we’re still comparing the two):

  • There’s several rotating tasks on your map for you to complete.
  • Each task awards experience, gold and Grim Favors.
  • Some tasks award more Grim Favors than others (most likely based on the difficulty of the task).
  • Once you’ve collected 10 Grim Favors, exchange them at the Tree of Whispers for a nice chunk of loot and experience.

Fields of Hatred

Fields of Hatred are the PvP counterpart of Helltides. Here’s what happens during a Field of Hatred event:

  • Demons in the area drop Seeds of Hatred.
  • Bring the seeds of Hatred to the Altar of Extraction where you can smash them into Red Dust.
  • If a player kills you before you grind those seeds, you drop them! If you’re a PvP god, you might as well just camp those Altars and farm other players!
  • Red Dust is not lost upon death and can be spent at the PvP Cosmetic and Mount Vendors for ornamental rewards.

Paragon Boards

Paragon Boards are unlocked upon reaching level 50. This system is a big expansion over Diablo III’s paragon system, adding some much needed complexity to your end game progression akin to Path of Exile’s gigantic passive trees. Once you hit level 50, any experience you earn will count towards earning Paragon points. Paragon points can be spent to unlock new tiles, Sockets and more boards.

diablo paragon board
This is obviously placeholder art, so just imagine you’re looking at a shiny passive tree.

I would suggest you read more about Paragon Boards in this previous blog update, but here’s a quick rundown:

  • There’s four types of tiles (passive nodes) you can invest your points into: Normal, Magic, Rare, Legendary.
  • Normal tiles provide a small stat boost and are generally there just to bridge the gap between the tiles you’re really interested in.
  • Magic tiles are still quite simple and abundant, but provide more specialized stats such as elemental resistance.
  • Rare tiles are more specialized and provide effects that you actually want.
  • Legendary tiles are the rarest passives. After your first board, each subsequent board contains only one Legendary tile, located in the center. These are the passives you really want. Which boards you pursue and how you place them around your first board will likely be heavily influenced by whichever Legendary tiles you’re looking for.
diablo passives
  • There’s also Socket tiles, which can contain Glyphs. Glyphs drop all around the world and their effect is either directly dependent on surrounding allocated tiles, or directly affects them. Glyphs can be leveled up through doing dangerous dungeons (we can probably now assume that means Nightmare Dungeons).
diablo glyphs

Closing Thoughts

While I do see some potentially problematic design decisions from the way these systems were presented, I do think their general direction for the end game experience is promising. We’ll have to wait until the open beta early next year to find out what sort of iteration and polish these systems will go through during the closed beta.

If you’re a Path of Exile player, a lot of this might sound very familiar. There is definitely some cross-pollination going on, with the complex Paragon Board system and a focus on an ever-changing endgame – which, to be fair, is sort of the main thing a live service game has to do. With the disappointing launch of Lake of Kalandra, we can only assume Grinding Gear Games are watching closely to see how Diablo IV’s systems turn out!

The beta will be playable on PC, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. Do you think you will make it in? What do you think of Diablo IV’s end game offering? Let us know in the comments below!

PlayStation State of Play Reveals New Trailer for God of War Ragnarok

With the looming release of the game on November 9, PlayStation gave us another look at the much-anticipated sequel as part of its State of Play event yesterday.


Between all the awesome brutality that, at this point, is synonymous with the franchise, I noticed the classic evolution of the Boy into a typical teenager – keeping secrets from his father, the attitude – and you can be sure that’ll play a big role into both their relationship as well as Boy transitioning into maturity and finding both his voice as well as himself.

Additionally, PlayStation has revealed a limited edition joystick that’ll go on sale the day God of War Ragnarok launches (Nov. 9). Here’s a short teaser showcasing it:


You can read more about God of War Ragnarok, including its initial announcement and the contents of the two available Collector’s editions here. Did the story trailer hype you up? Will you play God of War Ragnarok on release day? Let us know in the comments below!

PlayStation Reveals TEKKEN 8 During September’s State of Play

PlayStation has revealed the next installment in the TEKKEN fighter game franchise, launching on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and Steam in the future – which is generally code for late 2023 or sometime in 2024. The game is being developed in Unreal Engine.

This is the first Tekken game since 2015’s Tekken 7, which released on the older generation of consoles and Windows, marking the longest time between two installments in the franchise. The game is being developed by Bandai Namco Studios.


We hope you enjoyed that testosterone-fueled, biceps-filled trailer! What are you thoughts on Tekken 8? Let us know in the comments below!

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe Coming to Nintendo Switch

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is being remade and ported to Nintendo Switch! The game supports local play with up to four players on the same system.

The game will be available on the 24th of February next year. Pre-orders begin today!


What did you think of the trailer? Will you pick it up on your Switch? Let us know in the comments below!

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key Revealed During Nintendo Direct

Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key (and the longest name ever!) has been revealed during today’s Nintendo Direct! Check out the trailer below:


Atelier Ryza launches early next year, on the 24th of February on Nintendo Switch.

How do you feel about the new sequel? Let us know in the comments below!

Nintendo Direct Reveals Fire Emblem Engage, Launching January 20

We’ve got a Nintendo Direct filled with upcoming games releasing this winter, and here’s the reveal trailer for Fire Emblem: Engage!


The game launches early next year on January 20. Here’s what you can expect in terms of editions:

fire emblem divine edition

The Divine Edition contains:

  • The game itself (in what seems like a huge box!)
  • Art cards
  • Concept art book
  • Poster
  • A SteelBook to wrap that game in!

Did you enjoy the trailer for Fire Emblem: Engage? Let us know in the comments below!