Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm opening cinematic unveiled:
After the disappointment that was the Mists of Pandaria intro, the Heart of the Swarm cinematic has renewed my faith in Blizzard’s cinematic department.
This is everything the intro to a new game should be. It’s epic, it’s badass, the graphics are spectacular, and it provides a great story hook leading into the game.
Well done, Blizzard. Well done.
Ghostcrawler gets all mysterious:
In a historic first, something interesting came out of Twitter the other day. A fan talked about how each of the last two Warcraft expansions has introduced an utterly game-changing feature — the Dungeon Finder in Wrath and the Raid Finder in Cataclysm — and asked Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street what he thought would be remembered as Mists of Pandaria’s most influential feature.
The Great Crab responded: “We haven’t announced it yet.”
Initiate baseless speculation.
First, it should be noted that unannounced means we know nothing about it, so this doesn’t mean the new character models or the dance studio or anything else that Blizzard has suggested before.
Several people have suggested they might relax faction barriers similar to what was done in Rift, allowing Horde and Alliance players to group and interact on at least a limited basis.
I would love this — just about the only thing Blizzard could do to make me happier would be announcing Warcraft IV — and it’s not a terribly unreasonable guess given current circumstances.
All signs point to the next expansion focusing on the Burning Legion, and the last Legion invasion saw the Alliance and Horde become allies. There are also those hints about the Army of the Light, and even Wrathion’s been talking about trying to being the factions together.
But I’m fairly confident this is not something we’re ever going to see. For one thing, Metzen has said quite recently that the Horde/Alliance conflict is integral to the Warcraft universe and will probably never go away.
For another, consider how toxic the rivalry between factions is. In World of Warcraft’s beta, both factions could chat with each other, but the feature was removed because of how much harassment it caused. And that was before people had eight years to build up hatred of the opposite faction.
I’ve already heard some people say they will do everything in their power to sabotage any groups that involve members of the opposite faction.
And then there’s this little thing called player versus player to consider.
So it’s not likely to be cross-faction grouping. What else could it be?
Personally, I lean towards some sort of “fluff” feature that won’t directly affect progression or core game mechanics. Perhaps armor dyes or some other radical new form of customization.
I’ll probably regret this, but I think my bet is a player housing system. It’s something that people have been asking for since… forever, it’s one of the few major MMO features that WoW is completely lacking, and Sunsong Ranch is a strong indication they’ve been testing the waters for it.
My other guess would be something to improve the leveling content somehow. A mentor/sidekick type system has been suggested, and I could also see Blizzard possibly adding some kind of Guild Wars 2-like universal level scaling. In other words, if you go back to Westfall, you effectively become a level fifteen character again.
Raid Finder for outdated raids is also something that has been suggested. I consider it less likely, but Blizzard has expressed an interest in it before, and it would certainly be a good way to get more mileage out of old content.
They could even potentially rebalance old raids to spread them out over a larger level range. Imagine if you could queue for a Molten Core run at level twenty.
Or perhaps we’re finally going to get that pony he promised us.
All right, this isn’t really news per se, but this is as good a place as any to post it.
I recently finished the 5.1 storyline from the Dominance/Shieldwall dailies. Thanks to a grand commendation and the human reputation bonus, I was able to finish both versions at almost exactly the same time. Being this was a major dump of new story developments, you just knew I was going to talk about it.
Obligatory spoiler warning.
I’m pretty impressed by this storyline, I have to say. I’m not a fan of how slowly new revelations were trickled out pre-commendation, and some of the quests were clearly just filler, but mostly, this was an excellent piece of story-telling the likes of which I’ve rarely seen since the Warcraft III days.
I like how there’s no clear right or wrong side here. Both factions did crappy things, but taken in context, it’s hard to fault either of them.
The Blood Elves did betray Jaina and the Kirin Tor rather grievously, but at the same time, Garrosh would have just had them all killed if they didn’t.
Jaina was quite brutal to the Sunreavers, but considering all that she’s been through in her life lately, I’d say she showed remarkable restraint.
This is what things were like back in Reign of Chaos. No clear good or bad sides. Just a lot of flawed characters trying to do the right thing, and not always succeeding.
I didn’t think it was possible, but Blizzard has succeeded in making me like Lor’themar Theron. The “Lor’themar who?” meme may finally be on its last legs. And in general, this chain did a great job of rekindling my love for the Blood Elves.
I can’t escape the feeling, though, that I’m destined to be disappointed by the culmination of this storyline. The 5.1 story hints at great things to come, but again, nothing interesting can ever really come of the Horde/Alliance war.
Peace is impossible for the reasons I discussed above, and game mechanics prevent either faction from ever winning or losing anything significant in the war. I have to wonder, then, what conclusion the Mists of Pandaria story could have that would not be ultimately underwhelming?
I’m not thrilled with the daily quests required to unlock this story, either. For one thing, linking the storyline to the dailies at all feels a little weird when there’s almost nothing connecting the two beyond the fact they both involve the Alliance/Horde war.
Also, while they were much less painful than the Klaxxi and Golden Lotus grinds, they still weren’t the best examples of daily design I’ve seen. It amazes me that Blizzard still thinks there’s something enjoyable about killing crabs for meat at a 20% drop rate, and I welcome never having to see the Ruins of Ogudei again.
(Off-topic: How did rogues get to be so freaking terrible? My warlock can solo four elites at once without breaking a sweat, but my rogue can’t kill a single spirit trap without blowing all cooldowns and praying she doesn’t pull adds.)
Still, all in all, I find myself quite pleasantly surprised by the quality of the 5.1 story.