Blizzcast episode 3: Dungeons and raids edition

Eliah Hecht
E. Hecht|06.05.08

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Blizzcast episode 3: Dungeons and raids edition

The long-awaited third episode of Blizzcast, Blizzard's official podcast, has just gone live. Blizzard's US web sites are still down, but you can listen to it and read the transcript on the European site. As usual, since this is a Blizzard podcast and not a WoW-specific one, they spend some time covering the Starcraft universe as well, including an interview with Dustin Browder, SC2 lead designer, which I won't cover (good material on Zergs though). But later they brought in Jeff "Tigole" Kaplan, WoW lead designer for dungeons and raids, and here's what I found interesting in his segment:
  • The original WoW raids were too hardcore early on; in BC they eased up on that and they hope to continue this in Wrath.
  • Lessons learned in BC:
    • Heroic loot needs to be definitely better than normal-mode loot
    • Introductory raids need to be more friendly – he says "I don't want to say to casual players, but a little bit more accessible to people in general." Cites Maulgar and Mags as examples of less-than-friendly intro raids.
    • How to itemize raid content vs. other content
  • He reiterates that 10-man/25-man is not easy-mode/hard-mode; it's a separate line of progression.
  • Differences in appearance between sets from 10- and 25-mans might be along the lines of recolors or more particle effects
  • PvP armor will be entirely different from PvE armor "in looks and colors." This is a big departure from BC, where the Arena sets were purposely matched to the PvE tier sets. I approve.
  • The 25-mans will be "a full tier in item progression" above the 10-mans.
  • They really like legendaries, and are considering bringing Atiesh back "at some point in time." I would like this, if only because it would give me a (remote) chance at it. It is, after all, the only caster legendary they've ever made.
  • Naxx bosses that will have to change significantly from the 40-man version to the 10- and 25-man versions include the Four Horsemen, Gothik, Kel'Thuzad, and Gluth. But they do want to keep the same spirit of the fights. I for one am excited to see some content I haven't got a glimpse at before, and I know I'm not alone in this.
  • They're thinking around a dozen dungeons to be available, each with normal and heroic
  • They want to find some way to expand on the Badge of Justice system to have stratified token loot, with different tiers, and also to have the vendors for it spread out throughout the world. They do think it's a big success, and are definitely planning on have a similar system in Wrath.
  • Dungeon dailies will be available from the start of Wrath, and in general they want to explore dailies more and find ways (like randomization) to help keep them from getting repetitive.
  • The Culling of Stratholme (new Caverns of Time instance) is not going to play out exactly like the Warcraft III mission, simply because what's good for an RTS is not necessarily good for an MMO.
  • They want to continue to do timed events, but not to take away from the fun of the dungeon.

The next segment of the Blizzcast is US CM Nethaera talking with Joeyray Hall, Blizz's manager of video production (trailers and so forth). Not directly relevant to us, but like the SC2 stuff, worth checking out if you're a Blizzard fan.

Then they go into Q&A. I love Q&A.

  • Kaplan is confident that this time around they have a "strong grasp" on how to balance itemization between dungeons, heroics, 10-mans, 25-mans, Arena, and Honor. A lot of those sources of gear were new to BC, and maybe weren't the best balanced, but now they've got it under control. We hope.
  • He's excited about the revamped Mid-Summer Fire Festival, coming up before Wrath, in terms of it providing cool toys for role-players. In particular, a brazier is mentioned that summons a dancing figure "all on fire," and if you dance with her you catch on fire too. "Fun toys" like this are planned for Wrath as well.
  • They're not quite decided on how Heroics will be unlocked in Wrath – whether it will be reputation-based like most of the BC heroics, or quest-based like Magister's Terrace, or some other option. One idea they had would be a quest that requires you to go through all the level 80 dungeons, which would then unlock all the heroics. They want there to be some unlocking method, but at the same time for it not to be too hard.

Well, that's it for episode three. Some real interesting stuff in there, and there is also some lore and flavor type content that I didn't talk about here (not to mention the SC2 stuff), so I encourage you to go to the official site and read the transcript and/or listen to the podcast when you get the time. Interestingly, there was no talk at all about Death Knights or other classes, but I suppose that's more Kalgan's area of expertise.

Update: things I missed the first time around (thanks, Eternalpayn)

  • They want most raids to be on a 7-day timer, and the timers for the 10- and 25-man versions will always match.
  • Patchwerk is still going to be "really mean" and "a check," especially given that Naxx is non-linear so guilds can choose to take on some other bosses first.
  • Ulduar will be the second tier of raiding in Wrath (with Naxxramas of course being the first).
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