Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Stores fear Hot Pocket shortage as Blizzard reinvents Warcraft

Warn your boss and make peace with your girlfriend; World of Warcraft has an expansion coming and it looks really good.

Dangerously good. Take a week off work good. Stay up until 3 a.m. and wonder where your life went good.

Blizzard released its 3.02 patch on Oct. 14, giving us a preview of what we can expect from Wrath of the Lich King. Warcraft maintains its popularity by reinventing itself every so often, and 3.02 looks like the biggest change yet.

Blizzard has altered game mechanics and revamped talent trees to an unprecedented degree. Most of the changes are good. Characters have become cooler, sleeker, and more powerful, while many raid bosses have been nerfed.

These changes have generated a wave of euphoria in the community, and relatively few complaints. The changes have a rough, unfinished feel to them right now as we wait for the full expansion, but people are already flocking back to play with the new toys.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Graphical tweaks – Blizzard has added graphical flourishes to many common spells, breathing new life into dozens of mundane powers. Alliance players can wander around scenic Stormwind Harbor, a massive chunk of landscape added to Warcraft’s biggest city. The harbor is elaborate and gorgeous — too big for its stated purpose, in fact. Makes me wonder if this will be the site of a permanent battle similar to the Stair of Destiny.

Game balance changes – Major enhancements to every character class, increasing the versatility of popular builds and supercharging some lame ones. Discipline priests are now a viable healing option for battlegrounds and some raids, Warlock pets got a huge shot in the arm, and retribution pallys are so powerful they are frankly unbalanced. I’ve heard rumors of a single retribution pally taking on two opponents in the arena and winning.

Achievements – If class changes are the meat and potatoes of this patch, achievements are the dessert. Achievements are a fun, dynamic way to track your progress in the game and show off your accomplishments to others. Achievements include mundane things like reaching a milestone level and frivolous fun things like hugging random critters and falling from a great height without dying.

My favorite so far is the Leeeeroy achievement that adds “Jenkins” to your name if you aggro and defeat 50 whelps within the time limit.

I’m only really qualified to discuss changes to the Priest and Warlock classes, but I’ve been quite happy with those. With the enhancements to the Holy tree and the reduction in boss damage, fights that used to be a major ordeal are now as easy as chewing gum. I ran Gruul’s Lair last week and managed to live through things that would have turned me into Blood Elf puree last month.

Fel Synergy actually heals pets as the Warlock takes damage and Metamorphosis lets the Warlock turn himself into a demon for 30 seconds, dramatically increasing armor and crit resistance.

The 3.02 patch notes are vast and beautiful, detailing dozens of changes and improvements. Blizzard is facing stiff competition this year and is determined to keep its place on top of the MMORPG hill.

Wrath of the Lich King arrives in stores on Nov. 13. This expansion introduces the Death Knight class, raises the level cap to 80 and allows access to the continent of Northrend.

I’m particularly excited about this expansion because it fixes a lot of things I didn’t like about Burning Crusade. I was put off by the high fantasy tone of the first expansion. The landscapes were so bizarre, they actually started to feel overwhelming. I’ve had my fill of floating cities and garish neon — the headache-inducing majesty of Netherstorm and Zangermarsh.

I appreciate what Blizzard was trying to do here, but I’ve had my fill of Outland and am ready to see some earth tones.

So, if you’ve drifted away from the game this year, get ready to be sucked back in. Hammer out homework schedules and have a talk with your spouse. Or, better yet, ask your spouse and children to join the game with you. Avoid the resentment and strife that comes with game obsession and turn your Warcraft time into family fun time.

Blizzard just unveiled a new “refer a friend” program that allows friends to summon each other once an hour, earn triple experience when playing together and grants the referrer a special in-game mount.

This is a great way to bring the family on board or reunite with distant friends. This expansion is going to bring out obsessive-compulsive tendencies in gamers worldwide.

Why not invite the family and turn Warcraft into something healthy?

Written by Michael B. Duff

October 22, 2008 at 12:13

Posted in Games, Warcraft

4 Responses

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  1. Bah. Ret pallies.


    October 22, 2008 at 15:39

  2. God help us! What i want to know, is when the heck is Diablo 3 coming out! Hotpocket shortage for sure!!!


    October 22, 2008 at 15:46

  3. Indeed–my wife got me into it, and we now each have a 70 in a reasonably-uber raiding guild, two 60s on the way up, and WotLK preordered. 🙂

    Scott K

    October 22, 2008 at 18:02

  4. Actually, I take a Jim Gaffigan-esque view on Hot Pockets, so…no.

    At any rate, I am very happy with 3.0.2, even though they’re still working out the Shadow Priest rebalancing.

    They need me at work, though. Nevertheless, I’m feverishly trying to get my Hunter-alt to 70.


    October 24, 2008 at 09:51

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