BlizzCon World of Warcraft - Items, Class Changes, and More liveblog

The halls are abuzz with Overwatch, but what's in store for World of Warcraft? The World of Warcraft panel, covering items, class changes, garrisons and more is starting up at 4:45pm Pacific time, and we'll be liveblogging it right here. An assortment of WoW devs will be on hand to discuss all the changes in Warlords of Draenor, as well as new features of the expansion that's set to launch next week.

Updates will be in reverse-chronological order, with newest updates at the top of the page. If you only want the latest update, you can stay near the top. If you missed the beginning of the panel, scroll to the bottom.

5:50PM There will be a freeform Q&A tomorrow as well, for anyone that didn't get to ask a question. That's it for this panel!

5:49PM No plans right now -- if it gets too bursty in PvP, they might look at it, but otherwise, it's staying put!

5:49PM Last question -- Warrior wants to know when Mortal Strike is going to be nerfed? They think it has to be nerfed.

5:48PM The changes to smart healing should make for more of a challenge. They're trying to slow the pace of healing to keep the healer more engaged. The number of instant cast heals have been reduced, which should make more of a challenge as well, particularly in arenas.

5:47PM PvP healing, it's very boring sometimes when you get up to the higher ratings. Are we going to see any difference, healing wise, with the smart heal changes in regards to PvP?

5:46PM They don't want to jar players by moving the points from where they've always been and where people are used to looking at them. They may spend this expansion looking at that and see what to do about it.

5:46PM Thanks for changing the combo points for rogues -- any plans to update the combo point UI?

5:45PM The more you try to whittle down matchmaking for those types of purposes, the longer queues get. But the group finder system allows you to make a group for specific purposes, should allow you to do that.

5:44PM Could there be a possibility in the future for dungeon queuing to match with people that do or don't have items already?

5:43PM They didn't like that you were making items nobody would use. They changed it so you are making items that people will actually use. So how do you get Draenic Dust? Garrisions and greens that drop around the world should provide plenty, but they'll keep their eye on it.

5:42PM No profession crafted greens on Warlords beta, will they be added?

5:42PM Boss abilities have been looked at to prevent that. Thornier problem is when you look at mobile bosses -- that becomes part of the encounter challenge and the class challenge within that encounter.

5:41PM Rogue abilities require you to be behind the boss, end up dying a lot. Will that be fixed?

5:40PM From the internal testing they are doing, they seem to be fine. Balance at level 100 is going to feel different than balance at 90. Warlocks are very much DPS class, not utility.

5:39PM Leveling destro locks topped charts. They feel more utility now -- why?

5:39PM Ret pallies bring paladin utility in a DPS slot. Big cooldowns have been reduced in magnitude, so classes and cooldowns are more balanced. They're going to keep an eye on class balance and how people are filling out their rosters. They want to encourage variety and diversity.

5:37PM Raid cooldowns have been reduced -- why would anyone want to bring a ret pally into a raid now?

5:37PM Mana gems just added to button bloat -- they weren't interesting.

5:37PM Chilton ate it.

5:36PM Nasty the mage wants to know where her mana gem is at.

5:36PM They are actually trying to pull back on the visuals because there is too much -- they're looking long-term at getting everyone more unique. Near-ish future they want to address it.

5:36PM A lot of new spell effects have been added for lot of classes. Shadow priests don't really have anything other than shadowform -- any chance for more visuals?

5:35PM Glyph of the Stag allows you to switch things out. Might by more glyphs to fix and address later.

5:34PM Combined flight form question -- people want the ability to swap between them.

5:34PM It's a challenge to balance classes around just soloing content. Everything will be soloable eventually, it might take some classes more time, but they'll be able to do it eventually.

5:33PM Mages can't solo as well as other classes -- it feels bad to watch other people solo stuff. Any plans to address that?

5:32PM Mythic raiding, definitely -- but there are plenty of specs where stupid mistakes will cost you. It's more about the fun decision making moment, less about random pushing buttons. Ion says they want to make everything accessible, so players don't need to spend hours on third party sites just to learn to play. Talent choices can also make it more difficult, if you're looking for difficulty as well.

5:31PM What options are there for players that like more complex and more punishing gameplay, for players that want that experience?

5:30PM They would like feedback on that -- there are times where they have to look at who they are favoring -- the high-end min-max guilds as a whole, or the entertainment of the individual. Right now, they're looking at the individual, but they understand where the concern is coming from. Hazzikostas says this tiny set of decisions as far as bonuses go is going to be tiny for a raid, but high impact for the individual that gets it.

5:29PM Warforged and new tertiary stat system. How do guilds hand out items fairly, when they don't know whether that token is going to be awesome before they hand it to their raiders? Is there going to be a way to see what that loot is going to be before it's handed out?

5:28PM Disc was overpowered for a year. Wasn't that Holy was weak, was that Disc was too good. There were discussions about nerfing it, but by the time they realized how problematic it was, so many guilds were relying on Disc priests for their core rosters, and it would have made those guilds feel like they could no longer complete content. They would have had to re-tune everything -- they know there was damage done by not doing that.

5:26PM Holy priest seemed to go through mana really quickly. Disc didn't need a lot of spirit. Why was the healing in Siege more favored toward Disc than Holy?

5:26PM In Warlords, the legendary is a ring. There's a certain model that legendary represents. The cloak represents your whole journey in Mists -- represents being part of Pandaria. The ring in Warlords serves a similar purpose. This doesn't mean no legendary weapons, it's just having a legendary where it would fit in the game.

5:24PM Are legendary weapons coming back?

5:24PM With the talent, they can make a few number of changes to get that effect. If they needed to make a lot of changes, it probably would have become a new spec.

5:24PM Gladiator's resolve is cool, why did they decide to make it a talent instead of a fourth spec?

5:23PM Frank is very happy about all of these changes. His raid is probably going to be happier too. Tom Chilton and Ion Hazzikostas are on stage too, and they're about to take questions for a Q&A here.

5:23PM He's walking us through a beta character -- there's a few random upgrades from quest items, but he's also got gear from rare creatures, and from garrison missions too. That's the variety aspect he's talking about.

5:21PM They also wanted to look at the variety of loot, loot isn't really a surprise anymore. There are more sources for loot in Warlords of Draenor, you can get it a variety of different ways. Quest items also can randomly upgrade to rare or epic. There's also a chance for bonus effects from dungeon and raid items, you could get a Warforged item, or Prismatic Sockets can also pop up on a piece of gear.

5:19PM All main armor slots now have dual stats. They'll use whatever stats are better for your class. Dodge and Parry are now Bonus Armor that works for all tanks -- and set bonuses now swap based on your spec. If Frank's got the 4-set for his healing, he's got it for his other specs, too.

5:17PM They were also looking for a way to fix that issue of having loot drop, but nobody in the raid or group could actually use it.

5:16PM They also removed a lot of caps and breakpoints for stats, so you don't need that precision -- you can just do what you feel is the most fun. Existing systems like Cooking, Jewelcrafting and Enchanting now give you all those bonuses to stats you like.

5:15PM Removing all of this, people might think that Blizzard thinks customization is less important, but really they just wanted to make it less work to swap stats.

5:15PM Enchants and gems are focused on fewer slots. Gems in Warlords are actually bonuses. Enchants are ring, neck, cloak only.

5:14PM They also got rid of reforging for the same reasons -- they don't want people to worry about min/maxing every single piece of gear. No more upgrades, either.

5:14PM Raid set tokens now directly convert into items, just like the Timeless Isle items. Hit and expertise are gone -- the stats required a lot of precision and they weren't necessary.

5:13PM Blizzard looked at all of this and said it would be way more fun if you could just use an item when you get it. Kill. Loot. Equip. Done and done.

5:12PM Frank is having a terrible day.

5:12PM Oops, everything's all wrong. He has to re-do all of it.

5:12PM Oh my, it's frog murdering time. Frank's raid probably isn't happy right now.

5:12PM Frank goes off to get his tier piece, oops, has to find the vendor, uhoh, he has to look through all these items to see which one is his and the raid is waiting on him. Oh, he needs two gem sockets but he's not sure what to get, now Frank is pulling up a spreadsheet and also doing his reforging and upgrading, oops he doesn't have any Lesser Charms...

5:10PM Talking about Frank, the level 90 monk. He's a Mistweaver, but unlucky in the raid. Today, Frank finally got his 4-set tier bonus. Grats Frank!

5:10PM Now we've got itemization changes for Warlords with Matt Goss, Lead Items Designer for WoW.

5:09PM What does this mean for healers? Play should be more tactical and less reactive -- you'll be thinking more about what you cast on who, you get the chance to make decisions, rather than just flat spamming heals. Since the pace is slower, this shouldn't be frenetic at all, and you can make more thoughtful decisions, who needs what as a solution to their problem, not just casting spells. Mana is powerful enough to feel good, but not overpowered to the point where it doesn't matter.

5:08PM Monsters and health have been adjusted - player health has been doubled so the whiplash is gone. Smart heals aren't as smart as they used to be, so players have to think a little more. Base regen has been increased for all healers. You can't spam your most expensive heal all the time, but you have enough that you don't feel like you're constantly pressured. The availability of spirit has been reduced, so you can't trivialize regen anymore.

5:06PM Healing gameplay -- in 5.4, people were saying healing wasn't very fun, it was too fast paced. "Health-bar whiplash" -- nearly dead, back to full, nearly dead, back to full -- no time to think about what you're doing, just spam the buttons. Smart heals are too smart, do the healing for you. Healing rotation has just become spamming buttons, no thought being it. Mana was scaling in a problematic way.

5:04PM The game has gotten too hard to figure out how to play, and they are addressing that in Warlords of Draenor. Druids are back down to 41 buttons in Warlords -- the same as in the original iteration of the game, but the buttons are way cooler now.

5:03PM Cataclysm had 57 abilities, just the same as Wrath -- less talents, but just as many buttons. Way too many! In Mists, they kicked out the talent system and revamped it, but still had 57 buttons. Some useless buttons were removed, but others were added to replace them.

5:02PM They started getting feedback from returning players saying they no longer understood how to play their characters, had to go to third-party web sites to figure it out. Blizzard wants people to understand how to play immediately. Talent trees were a big concern, so they were culled for Cataclysm.

5:01PM History of the resto druid time! Started out with 21 core abilities way back in 2004, and 39 additional abilities. And then the patches started. By 1.12, there were 46 buttons to choose from. By Burning Crusade, it was 51 -- some were cool, like Flight Form, some weren't. Wrath of the Lich King brought the total to 57 buttons -- where do you put them all?

4:59PM Abilities that are too complicated. Symbiosis sounded really cool, but it ended up being far too complex, spend all your time looking at spreadsheets of the ability rather than using the ability.

4:59PM What makes abilities not fun? Redundant abilities that do pretty much the same thing. Abilities with an inconsistent fantasy that doesn't fit the feel of a class. Abilities that are too situational. Abilities that have been balanced all the way into mediocrity -- mortal strike used to be something to fear, it was balanced to a "wet noodle button." Abilities with a lack of feedback -- no animation/visual/affect on a player. Abilities that are unreliable -- you can't do that/you're facing the wrong way/you have to be behind your target, all gone!

4:56PM Addressing why the abilities are being taken away -- they think taking some of these abilities away will make the game more fun. What makes an ability fun? Strong fantasy element, awesome visuals and sounds, cool gameplay effects with neat spell effects, powerful abilities that make you feel awesome, abilities that are interactive and allow you to work with people, and abilities with a clearly defined purpose.

4:55PM The pace of healing has been slowed down as well.

4:54PM Class and ability pruning -- they looked at every ability for every class and whether or not those abilities were actually fun, or just there. Signature CC abilities were allowed to stay, but the new stuff was pruned.

4:54PM Item squish addressed the out of control numbers. They made a big effort to make sure characters still feel just as powerful, and that you could still solo old content.

4:53PM And of course, the numbers -- the giant numbers and the size of the numbers flying all over your screen.

4:53PM They wanted to re-work CC because it got entirely out of control in Mists of Pandaria, and the frantic pace of healing in Mists. It was very fast, very punishing, discouraged new players from playing a healer.

4:52PM They are re-evaluating what makes the classes fun, and the balance between the difficulty of raids and dungeons, and the difficulty of playing a class.

4:51PM Panel is starting, looks like we have four devs on stage, Kriz Zierhut is talking about goals with the class changes.

The liveblog will begin shortly.