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!

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!

Warcraft 3’s First Patch in a Long Time Is Now Live

Warcraft 3’s first patch in a long time is now live, with 1.33.0 adding – well – mostly things that already existed in the game prior to the Great Reforging, as well as a neat new feature that’s been a long, long time coming.

You can read the official patch notes here, and we’ve summed up its contents below:

  • Ranked Play is in. You can now queue for Ranked or Unranked games.
  • Seasons are now defined. When a season ends, the ladder is reset. Your seasonal history is preserved in your profile and public leaderboards.
  • Ranked placement is as follows: Play 5 matches per race to get placed, or 3 in Random mode.
  • Ladder ranks (last to first): Unranked, Combatant, Challenger, Rival, Duelist, Elite, Gladiator, Champion.
  • Added the “!Stats” functionality. The command displays the win/loss record and MMR for each player in the current match. “!Stats + Username” will display a specific player’s stats.
  • Leaderboards can be accessed from the Versus screen. You can sort between race, friends and mode.
  • Player profiles can be accessed by right-clicking on the player icon on the bottom right corner of the screen. For other players, right-clicking on their name produces the same result.
  • Classic portraits are back. These are awarded for total lifetime wins in each mode.
  • Custom Games are now global (not tied to region).
  • The campaign has received a tuning and balance pass.
  • A new proxy server has been added in Chicago.
  • Menu buttons have hotkeys again.
  • A bunch of bug fixes.
  • Zooming is now much better (more in the next section)

Behold, Zooming For Modern Screens!

One aspect of Warcraft 3 that hadn’t aged well was how you couldn’t zoom out as much as you’d like. Most custom maps had some sort of command system implemented that would let you zoom out farther than the game would normally let you (“-zoom 2000”).

There’s new sliders that let you toy around with camera zooming, which can be found in the Gameplay section of the Options menu. You can also use the Page Up and Page Down keys to adjust it, alongside the usual mouse wheel. Pressing F5 snaps your camera back to the default zoom the game’s had for 21 years.

To showcase how lovely this new functionality is, here’s a picture of the default zoom:

default zoom
Yeah, there’s certainly an explanation as to why I’m colonizing a super empty map.

Here’s a picture with the new, awesome, enhanced zoom at it maximum ‘zoom out’ value:

enhanced zoom
I can see so much! Even the end of the terrain in the top-left corner!

This is, for me at least, the best thing to come out of Reforged yet. Now, the game still has a long way to go before it gets back all the features it used to have (custom campaigns, where you at?), but perhaps this patch shows there is still at least one person working on the game.


Do you have any hope for Reforged getting continued support? Have you checked out the cool new zoom feature? Let us know in the comments below!

Making the Most of World of Warcraft’s Bonus XP Event

The Winds of Wisdom buff is active for the next two weeks, giving a 50% bonus XP to all players’ characters in the level 10-59 bracket! As of this morning, the bonus is active in all regions.

While there’s certainly optimized paths you can take to avoid spending a single extra second leveling, there’s several opportunities to farm for expensive world drops, get transmog that’s only available for low-level characters and so much more.

Before we get into the specifics, some general tips:

  • If you’re a brand-new player, you’ll be shoe-horned into Battle for Azeroth content until level 50.
  • At level 50, everyone’s leveling path takes them to the Shadowlands, the most recent expansion.
  • If you already have a level 60 character, you can access Chromie Time, which turns level scaling on for an old expansion of your choice.
  • You can find Chromie in Orgrimmar and Stormwind (go to the hourglass on the map).
  • Remember to equip heirlooms if you have any!
  • If you’re a Monk, remember to do your daily quest in Kun-Lai Summit (accessed through the Zen Pilgrimage teleport ability) to get a rested XP bonus.

The rest of this article addresses things you can do while in Chromie Time, which means you can’t do most of these activities as a new player until you have a level 60 character.

winds of wisdom buff

Island Expeditions

One of Battle for Azeroth’s [mostly] abandoned systems, Island Expeditions are mindless grinds where a group of three players sail to an island and then kill the things they find there until a meter fills up.

Why would you bother doing something to mind-numbingly boring? Because of the rewards, of course. Each successful completion of Island Expeditions awards some Seafarer’s Doubloons which can be exchanged for pets, toys, mounts, transmog and reputation tokens. Some are quite pricy (an Albatross mount is 1000x Doubloons), so this is definitely one of those long-term grinds you’re better off spreading across your characters.

Additionally, you can get random drops from the island. They’re pets, toys, mounts, transmog and quest items that are different from what you can directly buy with doubloons.

You can, however, buy Salvage Crates (for a hefty Doubloon price), which contain a random piece of loot that drops from Islands.

island expeditions

The Burning Crusade World Drops

When it comes to world drops, none are more valuable on average than those from The Burning Crusade, WoW’s first expansion. Transmog-wise, there’s a big amount of items in the world drop pool that don’t share appearances with anything else (compared to, say, Wrath of the Lich King where most appearances can be found on 5-20 different items).

Aside from transmog, TBC is littered with various profession recipes whose drop chance is so low they’re certain to make a profit on the auction house. It’s probably a good time to mention that transmog and recipes aren’t fast sellers, but they do eventually sell.

In order to maximize your chances of getting these rare drops, you should queue into the random dungeon finder. Dungeons have a much higher chance of netting rare world drops than just doing the (extremely boring and tedious) quests in Outland.

Additionally, you can get leveling-exclusive transmog from the Otherwordly Satchel of Helpful Goods you get for completing a random dungeon. If you’re a completionist, you’ll want to take advantage of this.

burning crusade random dungeon finder

Battlegrounds

While Battlegrounds are certainly inferior to random dungeons in terms of XP gain per hour, you do get a Crate of Battlefield Goods for winning, which (just like random dungeons) nets you exclusive transmog that you can’t acquire once you’re max level.

You also get Honor, which can be exchanged for PvP gear at level 60, or 5 Marks of Honor at 2000x Honor a pop. Marks of Honor are used to buy PvP gear from previous seasons (for transmog purposes) or, in BFA, Rank 2 & 3 recipes for PvP gear (if your profession is able to make said gear).

random battleground reward

Draenor

While it’s hard to decide which is more infamous – Shadowlands of Warlords of Draenor – we can all agree WoD’s leveling experience was great. If you’re looking for a simple questing adventure where you don’t need to kill 30 Boulderfist Ogres for just one quest, going to Draenor might be your best option.

Additionally, you can start work on your Garrison. While most of the Garrison’s features (especially gold-making) were nerfed, there’s still lots of achievements, pets, mounts and toys to get from investing in your Garrison.

Oh god.

Legion

Regarded as the best modern expansion WoW’s had, Legion is still a great place to spend your time. Class Order Halls are still the best implementation of the mobile game Mission Table mechanic, the expansion is filled to the brim with content and it also gives you access to Artifact Weapons.

Artifact Weapons – while severely nerfed at the end of Legion, in 2018 – are still a great investment. They act as a heirloom, their power scaling with your level, so you can forget having to upgrade your weapon every few levels. They’re also great transmog pieces.

legion artifact appearances
Yep, four pages of weapon appearances. Per class.

There’s certainly lots more you can do to optimize your leveling. If you’re on your fifth, sixth or thirteenth character, you probably already have an idea of what you want to target.

If you want to see everything you still have to do in old content zones, I’d suggest downloading the All The Things addon. Remember to tinker with its settings so it only tracks things you’re interesting in, after which simply using the /att command will open a menu where you can find all the things you’re looking for.

The Winds of Wisdom buff lasts for roughly two weeks, until Shadowlands Season 4 begins on the 2nd of August. Are you going to take advantage of this boost? How are you planning to do that? Let us know in the comments below!

News moves fast, and so should you! Quick, read some of our other articles:

WoW Dragonflight Alpha Starts Today!

World of Warcraft’s first closed testing phase starts today. The Alpha phase generally includes select streamers as well as friends & family of Blizzard Entertainment’s employees, so if you’re hoping to get your hands on the expansion before release, you’ll have to hope you get into the Beta!

We’ve provided a few streamers as well as a quick tutorial for signing up for the Beta below.


Alpha Streams

You can browse through all the available WoW streams from this page. Additionally, we’ve compiled a list of a few streamers that might provide an informative viewing experience:


Signing Up For The Beta

If you recall an “opt-in” page in your Blizzard account that let you sign up for Betas across all of Blizzard’s games, you can forget about it because that page is gone.

blizzard beta
This new, convoluted way of entering the Beta is actually pretty in-line with Blizzard’s game design.

What you’ll need to do is go to the Dragonflight website, scroll down for about 5 seconds, and click the beta opt-in button while you’re signed into your account. Then, just check your mail whenever the Beta is about to start!

dragonflight beta
Of course, clicking this button also enables receiving other e-mails from Blizzard.

Are you coming back for Dragonflight? Is it too late for Warcraft to rope you back in? Let us know in the comments below!

The world of gaming is constantly shifting. Keep up with it by reading some of our other articles:

Blizzard Buys Proletariat To Boost WoW Manpower

It seems World of Warcraft is still quite a ways from ‘dying’ and the doomsayers might have to hold onto their… doom for a little while longer. Blizzard bought Proletariat, a studio known for Spellbreak, and is merging the studio into their WoW development team.

  • The two have been collaborating on WoW since May.
  • The deal was closed in July.
  • Blizzard plans on hiring hundreds more developers over the next to years to work on WoW.
  • Proletariat is Boston-based, meaning this is the first major addition of remote workers to WoW.
spellbreak
Spellbreak was pretty cool.

Why Now?

While it’s – for the most part – a good thing that Activision-Blizzard doesn’t seem to be giving up on WoW yet, Shadowlands made it clear that development was not going well. The pandemic certainly had a visible effect on the expansion’s development, the cadence of content drops being so slow it basically forced them to pull another “Warlords of Draenor” and cut Shadowlands short by one major patch.

Let’s set up some context here. Warlords of Draenor was the first big bust that WoW suffered. While the levelling experience is praised to this day, the endgame was devoid of content, the biggest update in the first major patch was Twitter integration, and Garrisons were designed in a way that made players never have to leave them. The lack of a major city hub for players to hang in didn’t help.

The expansion was plagued by several re-writes and re-designs well into its testing phases. A massive amount of content (including the aforementioned major cities) was cut. Reception was so bad Blizzard was forced to pivot yet again, rushing the story’s conclusion with patch 6.2, Fury of Hellfire, cancelling the traditional 6.3 patch to pour their resources into Legion.

I remember them announcing Grom Hellscream would be the final boss of the expansion during Blizzcon. That changed too. Was the awkward rewrite worth it, though? Yes. The next expansion, Legion, had its fair share of issues (all of them do), but it is still widely regarded as the best ‘modern’ WoW expansion to date.

the dark portal
Onwards, to an empty world!

Diminishing Returns

The one after Legion, Battle for Azeroth, began on a nonsense premise involving a burning tree, and the story only got worse from there. Gameplay-wise, systems that were very well designed in Legion were iterated on and became visibly worse – world quests, borrowed power, they were all lesser versions of their original implementation.

Shadowlands doubled down on the ‘backwards iteration’. Aside from the whole new world being a pain to navigate, you now had to pick up world quest dailies, everything was a grind and the story was arguably at an all-time low (tied with WoD, of course). WoW hadn’t really experienced two bad expansions in a row until now and players left in droves.

While most expansions, the first major patch drops somewhere between 3-5 months after launch, it took over 8 months for Shadowlands’ 9.1 to come out, with 9.2 taking just as long. The content drought was palpable: There’s only so much daily grinding (killing the same rare mobs for a 5% chance to get a cosmetic) a player can do before burnout seeps in, but the modern daily farming system’s problems is a story for another day.

shadowlands map
So you’re saying I’ll never be able to just fly from one zone to another without taking a flight path? Lovely.

Learning From Mistakes

Shadowlands ended much like its story – on a whimper and a laugh. If its final big patch was cancelled in favor of pooling resources on a ‘juiced-up’ sequel in Dragonflight (launching at the end of the year), then there might be hope the game can bounce back as it did so many times before.

Despite all the artificial time-gating that has been exacerbated in recent years, the game tends to struggle with providing varied yet fulfilling experiences. Systems filled with potential get abandoned from one expansion to another (Mage Tower, Island Expeditions, Warfronts, probably Torghast), but with a sizable increase in workforce, Warcraft could be able to start pushing more content more often.

The main concern here is the age old debate of quality vs. quantity. WoW suffers not only from large periods of content drought but also from poor design decisions. We’ve yet to see if Dragonflight learns from its predecessors’ mistakes and delivers a polished experience. It doesn’t need to be ‘fresh’, it just needs to be fun. When you start to see the game design, that’s not a good sign.

bald thanos
Now that I have the last Infinity Stone, I can disappear for another eight months!

What’re your hopes for Dragonflight? Do you reckon it’s got a shot to revitalize the game, now that the team’s expanded? Let us know in the comments below!

Hey, you. Yeah, you! Keep the rabbit hole digging by checking out some of our other posts:

Loot Boxes Are Gone in Overwatch 2 – Full Reveal Event Recap & Beta Details

Overwatch is coming back, better than ever!

Blizzard Entertainment has concluded their Overwatch Reveal Event today which focused on debuting two new heroes, skins, maps, and a ton more. Let’s jump into things and go over everything that Blizzard announced during the presentation.

When Does the Overwatch 2 Beta Start? Early Access?

The big question on everyone’s mind is about Beta. Good news, we aren’t going to be waiting very long!

  • Overwatch 2’s Beta begins on June 28, 2022. We had a smaller, shorter Beta test last month.
  • Overwatch 2 will be going into Early Access on October 4, 2022 and is when Season 1 begins.
  • Season 2 begins on December 6, 2022. Seasons are expected to last around 9 weeks.

You can sign-up for the Beta on the official website. Note that the original PVP Beta does not grant you access to the new Beta, so sign up again.

Blizzard is going to be trying to get all players that sign-up for the Beta in by July 14, 2022.

You can also purchase an “Overwatch 2: Watchpoint Pack” to get immediate access on June 28. The full Beta FAQ can be found here.

How Much is Overwatch 2 Going to Cost?

Overwatch 2 is going to be Free to Play! Blizzard will be monetizing the game through cosmetics in the in-game store and season passes.

This is great news for players that were original skeptical about paying for the game again.

How Do I Get Skins in Overwatch 2?

Everything players obtained during the original Overwatch comes with them to Overwatch 2. We’re no longer going to have loot boxes though!

Loot boxes have been removed in favor of placing cosmetics directly in the shop, those familiar with Fortnite will know this model well, with a rotating set of cosmetics each day. You will also be able to obtain skins through their Battle Pass.

Overwatch 2 Founder’s Pack?

It gets even better! If you bought the original Overwatch, Blizzard is giving you access to a Founder’s Pack. This is going to come with an exclusive icon, two Epic-tier skins (General Doomfist & Jester Sombra), and a “surprise gift”.

To be eligible for the Founder’s Pack, you must purchase the original Overwatch game prior to June 23, 2022.

Everything Else in the Overwatch 2 Reveal Event Presentation

With the Beta, Free to Play, and Skin bits out of the way, let’s get a recap on that presentation.

  • Overwatch 2 is a live service game that will feature a new Season every 9 weeks, with new content coming out in each cycle.
  • Heroes have received reworks.
  • New maps and modes will be available.
  • There is full cross-progression between different platforms.
  • The PvE part of Overwatch 2 is going to be coming out in 2023.
  • The competitive experience is going to be new, and will let players feel a sense of progression.
  • Moving to a 5v5 format, down from 6v6 in Overwatch, will let players make a larger impact in their games.

Season 1

  • Three new Heroes – Sojourn, Junker Queen, & Unannounced Support Hero.
  • Six new Maps.
  • One new Game Mode.
  • 30+ New Skins.
Overwatch 2’s Junker Queen

Season 2

  • One new Tank Hero.
  • One new Map.
  • Unique Mythic Skin.
  • 30+ New Skins.

Future Seasons

  • We can expect to see more Heroes, Maps, and Modes.
  • Blizzard is expecting to a release a new hero every other season.
    • With a 9 week cycle, we should see 2 or 3 new Heroes each year.
  • Seasons that don’t have a new Hero will feature new Maps and Game Modes instead.

Mythic Skins in Overwatch 2

Overwatch 2 is going to feature new skins that have the colors affect decals and weapons.

Weapon Charms in Overwatch 2

We’re also getting weapon charms, a cosmetic that has become quite common place over the past few years with titles like Apex Legends, Valorant, and PUBG making heavy-use of them.

Watch the Overwatch 2 Reveal Event

You can watch the full event on YouTube down below.

New Cinematic: Wastelander

Junker Queen Origin Story

This originally debuted during Summer Games Fest’s Xbox Event.