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Ask a Beta Tester: Of textures, turtles, and Tuskarr


If you're on a coastline in the World of Warcraft, encountering hostile pirates is always a possibility -- and Northrend seems to be no exception. I'm not sure what this intrepid crew intends to plunder, but if you meet up with them on the open seas, watch out -- I was nearly swallowed by an Orca trying to swim to shore. But enough about me: let's get to your questions!

Warlia asked...

Does the game really look more crisp and detailed like people are saying?

Remember walking into The Exodar or Silvermoon City for the first time? I bet you immediately compared them to the other major cities in the game and suddenly all of those other cities looked a bit less impressive. Walking into Northrend is going to be just like that. Everything in Northrend looks so good that it makes previous parts of the world look a trifle dusty. Blizzard seems to be using textures in Wrath that have a lot more detail than anything they've done previously. And though I haven't gone and counted polygons, the architecture in Dalarn (especially the curvy tunnels of the sewers, which are much more pleasent than you'd imagine) looks like it might use more of 'em. And beyond the architecture of the place, the environment is tremendously detailed. For example, if you visit Dalaran's toy shop you'll find shelves packed with all manner of toy -- nearly all of which are constantly buzzing, whirring, or moving. There are reflections and real-time shadows. Everything looks fantastic. (Though I've seen some reports -- as recently as in the comments thread of the previous edition of Ask a Beta Tester -- of content outside of Northrend looking better, I can't say I'm seeing a difference, though it could be a hardware issue.)

For more on the game's video quality -- and other questions! -- keep reading! But if you're the sort who wants to avoid spoilers, turn back now. We're aiming to avoid major story spoilers, but this feature is all about beta content and we can't talk about the beta without giving things away here and there.

I polled the team for their opinion on Wrath's graphics. "They've done something, that's for sure," Daniel says. "Pretty much everything looks prettier, cooler, or more elaborate without being gaudy, blocky, or pixelated." Alex pointed out, "They're really pushing their engine in Wrath." No one, however, is quite certain what they've done and Blizzard hasn't gone out of their way to explain it to us. The official Wrath of the Lich King FAQ informs us, "We're currently working on some technical enhancements to the game's graphics, and we'll be discussing these further in the months ahead." But regardless of when Blizzard decides to let us in on what's going on with the game's graphics in Wrath, we can currently report that the game is looking great.

(To everyone who's asked about the game's system requirements: we just don't know. Blizzard's FAQ only states that they haven't made the "final determination" on system specs yet. All I can say for sure is that it's running fine on everyone's computers here at WoW Insider HQ.)

Radiophonic wants to know....

Mages get there at 71 but others have to wait three more levels? How is that fair?

There are also Mage class trainers in Dalaran -- but no other class trainers anywhere in Northrend, at least not that I've found so far. Is it perfectly fair? Maybe not. But it fits entirely with the game's lore, in which Dalaran is a city populated by Mages and ruled by a magocracy of the Kirin Tor. Giving Mages a special place in the city makes Dalaran's story more real, and provides Mages with a minor convenience. (Because, really, it's not a huge deal to find someone willing to port or summon you to Dalaran if you really want to be there. And there are certainly no quests or gameplay reasons that require you to be there sooner than you can get there. And if you need a class trainer, this is no worse than Outland was, as Blizzard still seems to want a reason to send players back home to Azeroth from time to time.)

Chris came to us with two technical questions, which I'll tackle one at a time....

Currently, spell haste rating lowers the global cooldown by a small amount, but melee haste rating does not. Since both stats are being consolidated into 'haste rating' in Wrath, how is haste rating working on the GCD in the beta right now?

The melee GCD is currently unaffected by haste rating.

Currently, item-based mounts can be used independently of the GCD, while spell-based mounts (warlock, paladin, and druid flight forms) cannot. Are the new mounts-as-spells castable while the GCD is running? (If you're curious why I ask, ignoring the GCD means you can make a useful, simple, one-button macro to cast any instant-cast spell and mount up. Water Shield, MotW, Inner Fire, even Crusader Aura, if you forgo the use of your Charger for an item-based mount.)

I just logged on to test this... and then I tested it again to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me. In the present beta build, spell-based mounts do not activate the global cooldown and thus can be summoned while you're under the GCD. However, mounts that aren't spell-based do activate the GDC and thus cannot be summoned while under the GCD. I can't begin to guess why Blizzard would have made that change, but that's the way it is right now.

Jesity asked....

I was wondering if mining has been implemented yet and if so, what new ores are available?

Right now there are a few new types of ore: Cobalt, Saronite, and Titanium. There's also Titansteel, created from Titanium. However, in the present beta build, only Cobalt is smeltable.

On a different note, has First Aid been upgraded to include Frostweave?

Yes! There are currently Frostweve Bandages (learnable from your trainer), Heavy Frostweave Bandages (learned from a random drop manual), and Dense Frostweave Bandages (learned from a random drop manual).

hoeding asked...

Is there an Auction house in Dalaran?

At present, no. Blizzard seems to be continuing with the Outland philosophy that drives all players back to Azeroth for certain key functions -- like buying and selling.

Frosty asked....

Are there any special modes of travel between the areas, like zeppelins?

The most interesting thing I've encountered so far is the Tuskarr's boats, which will take you from one encampment of Tuskarr to another. They're actually giant turtles with a deck lashed to their shells! (If you dive into the water, you can see their fins propelling them along.) How do the Tuskarr compel these massive beasts to carry them around? With a bundle of carrots dangling forever in front of the poor turtle's nose, always looking tasty, but forever out of reach.

The Wrath of the Lich King beta is in full swing, and the WoW Insider crew is here to sate your curiosity with Ask a Beta Tester! Leave your beta questions in the comments and we'll do our best to answer 'em! And if you can't get enough Wrath, don't forget to check WoW Insider's Wrath Roundup page for anything we haven't answered here!

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