BlizzCon: Warlords, Heroes, and the Warcraft Movie

BlizzCon is behind us. Considering they skipped a year, there wasn’t nearly as much news as I was expecting, but there are still a few interesting things to discuss.

Warlords of Draenor: Garrisons, loot revamp, new models, and Rube raids

A player garrison in World of Warcraft: Warlords of DraenorThere’s really only one new feature to speak of in Warlords of Draenor, and that’s garrisons. Not much compared to MoP’s scenarios, pet battles, challenge modes, new class, and first neutral race.

But with that being said, garrisons do sound pretty cool. I’m not much of a player housing fan myself, but a player fortress with your own private army? An entire town under my command drawing inspiration from the bases in the old strategy games? This I can get behind.

It solves the old problem of player housing not having a gameplay component, because your garrison will be full of NPC followers who can craft, gather materials, and even earn loot for you. Managing your garrison will be an entire mini-game unto itself.

This seems a near total copy of the crafting system in Neverwinter, with a twist of crew missions from SW:TOR. But I liked the crafting in Neverwinter, so I’m not going to complain.

My main concern about garrisons is having to leave them behind when the expansion ends. Blizzard mentioned they wanted to move away from features having relevancy past the expansion that added them (an utterly baffling policy in my mind). It’s going to suck to spend an entire expansion building your perfect fortress and recruiting all your followers, only to abandon it all when 7.0 rolls around.

The new model for Gnome females in World of Warcraft: Warlords of DraenorThe other main “feature” of WoD, if you can call it that, is new player models. I’ve said before that I don’t see the point of these, and I stand by that. It’ll be interesting for two days, and then you’ll forget about it. Besides, our characters are under armor all the time anyway.

The models they’ve revealed do seem to be coming along pretty well, at least. They’re still very recognizable as the avatars we know. Orcs still look like Orcs, and Gnomes still look like Gnomes.

They’ve said that there won’t be a free recustomization when the new models go live. I’m not really surprised, but it’s still frustrating to hear. Don’t like the way Blizzard redesigned your character? Too bad, so sad.

It’s a shameless cash grab, and nothing more.

On a brighter note, gear is getting an overhaul, and all the changes seem to be for the better.

A screenshot of Telador in World of Warcraft: Warlords of DraenorFirst of all, hit, expertise, dodge, and parry are all going the way of the dodo. I’ve been lobbying for the removal of hit and expertise for a long time, so this pleases me greatly. I’ve never understood why my expert assassin needs to stack a lot of hit rating to be able to hit a dragon the size of a barn standing two feet in front of her.

I actually thought dodge and parry were fairly interesting, but I won’t miss them much. I suppose this means tanks will now be stacking damage stats, which is interesting.

Along with these changes, reforging is being removed. Thank you, Grilled Cheesus! Reforging was one of those things that sounded cool in theory, but was never anything but a chore.

They’re also adding fun new “tertiary” stats. These won’t be on every piece of gear; they’re intended to be fun bonuses, and they won’t count towards item budget. They include things like movement speed, life steal, and reduced damage from AoE attacks.

Armor has been redesigned to change its core stats based on the spec of the wearer. There’s no more intellect plate or strength plate. There’s just plate.

And of course, the item squish is a go.

Concept art of Shadowmoon Valley for World of Warcraft: Warlords of DraenorYou know the saying that one death is a tragedy, but a million deaths is a statistic? Well, critting for eight thousand damage is awesome, but critting for half a million is a statistic.

These all seem like very positive changes to me. For the first time since Wrath, I might actually be excited to get new pieces of gear.

The one other change worth noting is that raid difficulties are being overhauled.

Yes, again.

LFR stays the same, but flex raids are now called normal, normal are now called heroic and use the flex system, and heroic are now called mythic and are limited to twenty-man groups.

I’m not a raider, so I’m fairly indifferent to this. I’ll just say that it all seems a bit Rube Goldberg to me.

I’m still not feeling the love for Warlords. I won’t deny there are parts of it that sound interesting. Part of me loves the idea of meeting Durotan, fighting Blackhand, and perhaps crossing paths with Ner’zhul.* But the features list is incredibly anemic, and the lore still seems confusing at best.

A screenshot of Shadowmoon Valley in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor*(Pleeeaaase don’t turn Ner’zhul into a one-dimensional stock villain. He’s one of the coolest characters in Warcraft lore.)

I’m sure I’ll still play it, but I’m thinking I might wait until it goes on sale or something. It really doesn’t feel worth $40 and a monthly subscription to me.

The Warcraft movie:

The one thing at BlizzCon that got me really excited was the news about the Warcraft movie. We’ve finally gotten an idea of the plot, and I could not be happier.

We’re going back to the beginning. Warcraft I. Orcs and Humans. The main characters are Anduin Lothar and Durotan.

Hells to the yes.

Apparently, the original script was very Alliance-centric, but Duncan Jones pushed to make it a more balanced story with a larger role given to the Horde. The fact that Durotan’s involved shows me that it won’t just be evil Orcs versus heroic humans. We’ll get to see the good side of Orcs as well as the dark side.

Concept art of Stormwind for the Warcraft movieAgain, Hells to the yes.

It was also mentioned that Duncan Jones was a Blizzard fan as far back as the days of Lost Vikings and has played every single game in the Warcraft series.

I really think they got the right director for this.

Finally, can I just say that the concept art for Stormwind looks absolutely amazing?

Heroes of the Storm: NOVA VERSUS ARTHAS

Despite myself, I find I’m pretty excited about Heroes of the Storm.

The logical part of my brain says, “Tyler, you don’t like competitive gaming, least of all MOBAs. You’ve never taken failure well, and once you realize you lose at least half your matches, you always give up.”

The rest of my brain says, “NOVA VERSUS ARTHAS NOVA VERSUS ARTHAS NOVA VERSUS ARTHAS aAGHMeeneW<FF!AAMQddnhel;nfowjm!!1!”

I’ve been a Blizzard fan all of my life. The idea of gathering all of the greatest heroes from all of their games, cramming them together, and forcing them to fight to the death Stadium Love style is the stuff of my wildest, nerdiest dreams.

Promotional art for Heroes of the StormAnd on a more serious note, I do think they’ve got some pretty good ideas to improve on the mechanics of the MOBA genre.

For one thing, the variety of maps. It baffles me that DOTA 2 only has one map, without even cosmetic differences. It gets very boring, very fast. Not only are the maps in HotS visually distinct, they all have unique mechanics that can change the game. I’m particularly fond of the idea of racing against the enemy team to see who can build the bigger undead golem out of zombie parts.

Furthermore, leveling will be done on a team basis, not a player basis. This has many obvious benefits. Support heroes aren’t left behind. It encourages teamwork, not showboating. And it avoids situations where one player on the other team has been fed up to level twenty-two and is one-shotting everyone, while one poor noob on your team is still level five and spends more time dead than alive.

Logically, I know HotS isn’t a game I’m likely to stick with long, but I’m still chomping at the bit to play it. I even went so far as to opt in to the beta.

The only question is, should I play as Nova or the Lich King? Or Zeratul? Or Illidan? Or Abathur?

2 thoughts on “BlizzCon: Warlords, Heroes, and the Warcraft Movie

  1. I feel the same as you when it comes to competitive games, and have never even tried a MOBA, but I, too, ran right to and opted in for the beta after seeing the Heroes coverage at Blizzcon.

    My first thought was being Arthas or Uther but after seeing some of the gameplay, I’m thinking it would be fun to be Stitches and go around hooking people. ^.^

    • I tried DoTA 2 for a bit. I sort of see the appeal on some level, but the matches were far too long and far too repetitive. 40 minute matches aren’t fun when the winning team is usually decided in the first ten.

      And yeah, I’m just not that into competition.

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