BlizzCon 2009: World of Warcraft Preview Panel liveblog

Alex Ziebart
A. Ziebart|08.21.09

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BlizzCon 2009: World of Warcraft Preview Panel liveblog

The World of Warcraft preview panel starts in about five minutes at 12:30 PST. Liveblogging will begin right after the jump.

Expect to hear more about the newly announced Cataclysm expansion, as well as all of the new features we just heard about at the BlizzCon 2009 opening ceremony. Should be exciting!

1:37PM Thanks for reading, everyone! We're headed up to the press room to try and get all of you some pictures of the show, so make sure you check back here a little bit later.

Our coverage will continue all day as well, along with many other liveblogs. Thanks for reading,!

1:35PM The panel is wrapping up. No Q&A for this panel, they're asking you to attend the dedicated Q&A panel.
1:34PM Rated battleground system is incoming. Systems panel will have more information, but rated battlegrounds will let you get the same rewards the arena system does.

1:34PM New arena maps, no number given.

1:34PM Battle for Gilneas battleground. You fight in the streets of Gilneas, taking control of the various districts. Sounds Arathi Basin-esque.

1:33PM Winners get bonus daily quests. "Extra profitable." Those are phased out for the losers.

1:33PM Both the Horde and Alliance want this 'stronghold' and it's a melding of Wintergrasp and Quel'Danas. Off-battle times, it's a daily quest hub. Main daily quest hub for the expansion. When the battle starts, it's time to fight for control of the region.

1:32PM Tol Barad PvP zone. Island prison off the coast of Eastern Kingdoms.

1:32PM PvP Preview is up now. Tom Chilton heading this bit.

1:32PM More concept art being shown off, hopefully we can get pictures of this stuff uploaded after the panel.
1:31PM Dungeon and raid panel will have info on all of these.

1:31PM Heroic Deadmines and Heroic Shadowfang Keep. Existing art, but new fights, creatures and abilities. Heroic level 85 dungeon. "VanCleefier than ever before."

1:31PM Grim Batol will have a level up dungeon and a raid. Skywall is both a dungeon and a raid as well.

1:30PM Blackrock Caverns will be a new dungeon in Blackrock Spire. Going back to familiar territory, but a new dungeon. Full of Twilight's Hammer and their experiments.

1:30PM The Firelands = Ragnaros. Uldum, two dungeons. Lost City of Tol'vir and Halls of Origination, a Titan city.
1:29PM Dungeons and Raids section, woo. "More content here than ever before." Will still have just as many dungeons as before, but much more endgame.

1:28PM Red Dragonflight still has a presence, but they've been pushed way back. We'll be working for them. Twilight Dragonflight story continues in this zone.

1:28PM Grim Batol is the Twilight's Hammer homebase, and Deathwing has taken up residence there as well. Will include two new port towns with boats, one for the Horde and Alliance.

1:27PM Twilight Highlands now. Again, includes Grim Batol. When Deathwing wises up, he left a literal path of terror. Created a scar in Azeroth. So powerful, that as he flew over the world, molten magma was left in his wake. Grim Batol has been broken open from it.
1:27PM Hyjal will be heavily phased, including the new terrain phasing. We'll be fighting fires (literally) and putting them out, or being engulfed.

1:26PM Darkwhisper Gorge will be a whole new deal. "Not just for mining anymore." Overtaken by Twilight's Hammer.

1:26PM Malfurion is back, awoken from the Emerald Dream. The Druids in the barrow dens beneath Hyjal are fighting Ragnaros. "Ragnaros is pissed, but Malfurion is pissed, too!" -Metzen

1:25PM Our defeat of Ragnaros drove his spirit back into the Plane of Fire. The Cataclysm created an opening. Ragnaros has come through it, and with his army they want to burn down the world tree.

1:25PM Mount Hyjal now. "We wanted to give everyone this one for sure." Hyjal is under siege, and players need to figure out what's going on. Ragnaros is back, and he is pissed.

1:24PM Showing off Uldum concept art, lots of desert and oases. Oasises? Oasi.

1:24PM Home of Titan Creation, the Tol'vir. The events of Ulduar has triggered a ripple effect. We'll see the aftereffects later. Uldum will be crazier.

1:23PM Chilton made a horrible joke that I can't bring myself to repeat. Puns for the lose.

1:23PM Uldum has been rumored to hold a "super weapon" and everyone wants it. Your job to figure out what "super weapon" means.

1:22PM Egypt was inspiration for Uldum. River running down the center, dotted with temples. Shoreline change explained by Titan machine projecting an illusion of shoreline to keep people out. Cataclysm broke the machine. For serious.
1:21PM Uldum now. Something they've looked forward to for a long time. Will include at least two dungeons.

1:20PM Concept art of Deepholm shows Troggs. Gross.

1:20PM Deepholm has a subterranean environment. Cave-like, but the largest zone of Cataclysm. Centerpiece of the expansion, leads into all the new zones. You will learn a lot about Deathwing's plot here. It'll also be quick form of travel, instantly move between the new zones via Deepholm.
1:19PM Temple of the Earth is the centerpiece of Deepholm. Twilight's Hammer nursed Deathwing back to health. Metzen spoke up to make it clear that the Twilight's Hammer serves Deathwing now. They'll be big players.
1:19PM Moving on to Deepholm. Not actually connected to Azeroth, its an Elemental Plane. Deathwing tore a hole in Deepholm into the realm of Azeroth, causing the Cataclysm. That rift is the entry to Deepholm.

1:17PM Introducing underwater mounts. They'll be normal flying speed, but for underwater. Not all slow like the turtle.

1:17PM New tech for underwater play. Fight on the seafloor, then seamlessly switch to swimming to move around.

1:16PM Abyssal Maw entrance is in this zone, the Elemental Plane of Water. Two planned dungeons there.

1:16PM Sunken City of Vashj'ir is on the ocean floor, right between Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Lady Vashj's hometown before the Sundering, and has been on the ocean floor ever since.
1:15PM Vashj'ir and Mount Hyjal are the level up zones for 80s, both dump into Deepholme and branches again from there. Quests will send you where you gotta go.

1:14PM Undercity has been reconstructed for flyers. The new city is beautiful. Stormwind has also been revamped. No more illusions, actual castles.
1:14PM Azshara will be the new Goblin zone. The Goblins have carved out Azshara's mountains to build their town. It's really ugly.
1:13PM Stonetalon has been completely cleaned out by the Goblins.

1:13PM Garrosh has moved in on the south, and has constructed massive steel walls for an encampment. Wants to expand the Horde.

1:12PM Auberdine before. Pretty! Auberdine after? Destroyed. The Night Elves have traveled north and set up their new camp.

1:12PM Darkshore now. "We always wanted to get back to it. Long, skinny zone with 20 minute runs to to turn in quests."

1:11PM Shots of Desolace. The Cataclysm cracked open the shoreline, allowing water to flow in. Lots of plant growth there as well.

1:11PM Naralex from Wailing Caverns, his goal was to regrow the Barrens. He was successful. Picture of a lush Barrens. Not so bare!
1:11PM Details on the Barrens. Before and After shot. The Cataclysm literally rips it in two.
1:10PM They really want leveling up from 1-60 to be a new experience.

1:10PM Southshore has been lost to the Horde. "Nobody was defending it."
1:09PM Want zones to be a smaller range of zones. "Stranglethorn covers 10, 15 levels." Tighten that down, and use the space better.

1:09PM It will change the flow of leveling. Something you know now as a level 20 zone will be a level 40 zone. "The mobs are leveling up as we speak."

1:08PM Examples: Elwynn won't be changing very much. Some new quests. But the Barrens will change a lot. It's been sundered in two.

1:08PM You will be able to fly anywhere you want in Azeroth.

1:08PM Worgen and Goblin starter zones 1-15.

1:07PM All zones will be revamped to some degree. Some just a little bit. Some a lot.

1:07PM Details on the new zones incoming.

1:07PM Example, Mastery would be the straight damage increases. But talents would offer the variety instead of the "+10% damage" or whatever.

1:06PM "Mastery system" to prune some complexity of the talent trees. "Too much stuff" in some of the talents. Taking character power out of talents to give more interesting choices, but mastery is based on which tree you choose.

1:05PM Path of the Titans has multiple paths, not limited by class. Every class can take every path. Passive bonuses, some new abilities depending on your Path. New dimension to character customization.

1:05PM Path of the Titans is a new way to customize your character. The 51 point talents now will be the 51 point talents in the expansion, so this is the new progression for Cataclysm. 5 new talent points, no new talents.

1:04PM Lots of ruins, especially now. Checking out the ruins gets you archaeology notes, lets you research to make discoveries. This will lead into the new character progression: Path of the Titans.

1:03PM Archaeology information coming up. It is a secondary profession.

1:03PM Examples of phased terrain. Three shots shown, the sea gradually swallowing up a broke coastline.

1:03PM Phased terrain to do a lot of new things with quests. Take phasing up a notch, the world itself will change while you do questlines. Make the world more interesting and dynamic.

1:02PM Shot of a Dwarf Shaman. Looks crazy awesome.
1:02PM "Gnomes are finally self sufficient." "Kill the Gnome Healer first!"

1:02PM New race/class combos, as we'd heard before. A reason for people to go back and check out the new content. I am pretty sure Chilton almost just said "Breasts of fresh air."

1:01PM Cheaper repairs, less durability loss when wiping in raids, etc. "Mass ressurection" Rezzing an entire guild after a raid wipe.

1:00PM High level guilds will get access to new perks. Guild talent trees!

1:00PM Planned to have 20 guild levels. Everyone can contribute to advancing it. Raids, dailies, BGs, etc will all contribute to advancing the guild.

1:00PM Guild advancement system. Leveling up your guild to get access to perks. Game systems panel will cover this more. Personally, this will get me to buy the expansion.

12:59PM Classic world revamp of every zone with updated quests, art and items. Going through the old world with a new character will be a new experience. No more Agility/Spirit boot quest rewards.

12:59PM Caveat that the map isn't to scale at the moment, just blocked out.

12:58PM Deepholm: Elemental Plane of Earth. "Dragonblight of the expansion." Early-mid leveling zone. Deathwing's realm that rose up in Eastern Kingdoms. Deathwing's entry into the world.

12:58PM Twilight Highlands will feature Grim Batol.

12:58PM Sunken City of Vashj'ir will be an underwater zone. "We'll make sure it isn't annoying to play underwater."

12:57PM "Turns out the maps in Azeroth were wrong, there isn't a coast down under Tanaris. There's a zone! If only someone had looked..."

12:57PM Picture of the updated map, we'll try to get it up when we can. Mount Hyjal, Uldum, Sunken City of Vashj'ir, The Lost Isles, Gilneas, Twilight Highlands, Deepholm.

12:56PM Seven new zones, in addition to all of the zones they're redoing for level up content.

12:56PM Shot of a Goblin Rogue. Hint that Ghostcrawler will have more info on these race's racials at the class panel.

12:56PM Rocket belt has multiple functionalities. Launch forward. Reverse disengage. "Engage, if you will."

12:55PM Goblin racial: Rocket belt.

12:55PM "Only thing they can't do right now is be Priests or Paladins." Damn!

12:55PM Worgen get "Darkflight" as a racial. A sprint ability. Shot of Worgen Warrior, we'll have pictures later. Totally badass.
12:54PM Level cap going to 85, not 90. "Why?" Key decision made for Cataclysm, wanting to focus energy in the right places. Redoing 1-60, wanting to bring more endgame content than ever before.

12:53PM Shot of Orgrimmar reinforced with steel. "That steel had to have come from somewhere..."

12:52PM Buildup to Wrath events have been happening since Burning Crusade. Garrosh in Nagrand, Varian coming back in the comic. Working hard to put the "war" back in Warcraft. "We've been doing pretty good, but Cataclysm..."

12:52PM World is going to be darker, making the heroism and brotherhood more meaningful, like Warcraft should be.

12:51PM Arthas has driven us to the brink, and we'll win, but we have probably all left a bit of ourselves in the snow. And when we come back from Northrend... we "discover the world is not as it was."

12:50PM "There's a state of natural upheaval, but in the midst of that there's a lot of new stress between the Alliance and the Horde."

12:49PM Picture of Thrall and Cairne rescuing Horde babies. Metzen says that's his favorite Warcraft picture. "It's so badass."

12:48PM Things will be getting grim for the Horde soon, and the Goblins will provide necessary comic relief.

12:48PM Goblins get roadster mounts. Amazing.

12:48PM Start out as a Cartel (Bilgewater), and are neutral. Starting experience shows their entry into the Horde. Oddly erotic female goblin concept art up on the bigscreen. Dear god, what's wrong with me.

12:47PM Wrath Gate-like cinematics for both Worgen and Goblins. "Going way over the top on these two races."

12:47PM The Cataclysm hit Kezan very hard, these Goblins were driven out and shipwrecked off to the Lost Isles. South of Azshara, north of Durotar, off the coast.

12:46PM Goblins are a technological race based in Kezan. Society is broken up into trade cartels. So far we've seen a generally neutral group in WoW, but the Horde group is a specific group from the Isle of Kezan.

12:45PM Goblins are up now.

12:45PM Worgen/Goblin do start at level 1. Today at BlizzCon, we'll start at level 6 to see the climax.

12:44PM "Tops Death Knight starting area"

12:44PM Worgen and Goblin starting area playable on the floor today. "It's bad ass."

12:44PM Wolverine temperament.

12:44PM Scythe of Elune. "Are the Worgen from somewhere else? ...or someWHEN else?"

12:43PM A "lycanthropic event" occurred in Gilneas. Starting experience will be the curse weaving its way through Gilnean society. What they're about, trying to "contain the beast within" and figure out where the curse came from.

12:43PM Arugal was a Gilneas patriot. He called down the Worgen to battle for Gilneas, but was surprised by what he actually called down. Turned out to be potentially as dangerous as the Scourge itself.

12:42PM Genn closed off the Greymane Wall to block off the plague. As the Scourge marched southward, Gilneas got nervous.

12:42PM They discussed other races for the Alliance, but they felt the Alliance really needed a monstrous race. Likewise, Horde needed something tiny. Hence Goblins.

12:41PM "Many of us have loved the worgen for many years. It's a cool looking race." -Metzen

12:41PM Worgen are up.

12:41PM Showing off concept art. Underwater cities, things rising out of the ocean.

12:40PM Metzen giving a rundown of the Elemental Planes. Titan-made to contain the elementals. Pre-Titan Azeroth was overrun with the elementals, Tirans locked them away. Elements are pissed. Example: Ragnaros.

12:39PM The heroes are busy in Northrend, and this has been a plot for the last decade. Heroes caught unaware. Something so massive, that he brings up (or down) the Elemental Planes.

12:38PM No part of the world will be untouched... except maybe Westfall

12:38PM Metal plates are branded onto his hide, just to hold him together due to his chaotic malice.

12:38PM When the Burning Legion showed up, Deathwing heard the whispers of the Old Gods, also chained beneath the world. So he's powerful and crazy. Sounds about par for the course in Azeroth.

12:37PM So Deathwing, then. This "new generation" of WoW players may not have seen him before -- he's from Warcraft II's expansion. He's one of five dragonflights, telling the story and lore of Deathwing. He's the Earth Warder, charged to protect the realm of earth with the Black Dragonflight.

12:37PM One of the lessons from Burning Crusade and Wrath was to put the baddie right in your face right away -- by the time you face him, you should know who he is and have a personal reason to kick his ass.

12:36PM "Cataclysm" is the first slide. Story and lore is first. Metzen: "You guys may have heard the new expansion set is Cataclysm." We did, just minutes ago! Well and on about a week ago.
12:35PM Alex Afrasiabi and Corey Stockton are the two other folks.

12:34PM Chris Metzen, Tom Chilton and two other developers are here to talk World of Warcraft.

12:31PM We're live on the floor of BlizzCon. This panel was called the "preview panel" before the show, to keep Blizzard from having to reveal World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. But now that the expansion has been revealed, we're guessing it's almost all they're talk about.
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