Aug 212009

So, to kick off the Cataclysm discussion (I’ve been holding off until Blizz officially confirmed it, but MMO-Champion nailed it like usual), here’s a list of the discussion-worthy new features from the preview panel. Obviously, this isn’t a whole list, but I don’t think I need to explain that xpac = new monsters and raids. :) All this is from’s liveblog…can’t exactly stream the panel from work.

Guild Levels

Guilds will now have a “guild level,” which is advanced by guild members performing different stuff. High-level guilds get access to perks, such as cheaper repairs/less durability loss and mass rezz. 

WIN. Sorry. I don’t usually devolve into Internet speak, but this has now become, IMHO, the biggest thing I’m looking forward to. While it won’t make much difference for high-end raid guilds (who will minmax it as another raiding buff, as always), this will really breathe life into more-casual guilds, and create more ties to prevent guildhopping. Looking forward to the details, but three questions spring to mind immediately.

1. How do you level the guild? If it’s a point/badge type system, which I expect, then any guild can eventually reach max level, it’ll just take time and persistence. If it’s an unlockable/achievement type system, then only skilled guilds will be able to max it. Either way, there will be conflict between  skilled guilds (who want guild achievements to demonstrate/differentiate their progress) and casual guilds (who don’t want to be shut out of perks).

2. What are the bonuses, and will they be required to raid? Hopefully, from what I’ve seen, Blizz is going down the convenience bonus path. I think this is vastly better then a character stat boost, which has to be then taken into account when balancing raids.

3. So, we have new phasing tech, and we have guild levels…WTB guild housing? I know, the topic’s been discussed to death, and I’m pretty sure we’ll never see player housing, but we’re so close to guild housing now. Tell you what Blizz; If customized guild housing isn’t possible, just make a single instanced “guild hall,”  (or non-instanced, if the phasing tech is usable) and let the guild levels be used to unlock a mailbox, repair NPC, bank access, etc. Stick one in SW and Org (or 1 in each main city if you get ambitious) and call it a day. I know you don’t want to put too much into a guild hall (don’t want to depopulate the main cities further…low levels like seeing high levels run around), but we really need some tangible rewards from this guild level thing.

Character Customization

Top level 85. No new talent tier, so just 5 more pts to invest in current trees. Talents depowered, new “mastery system” installed to do the +10% dmg bonuses and such. New progression path, Path of the Titans, leveled via new secondary skill, Archeology.

Well, we knew they’d have to get the spiraling gear levels under control at some point. I’d imagine that the gear reset will not be nearly as severe for the new expansion. The talent changes were unexpected, but this should (hopefully) make the trees much easier to balance, which frees up dev time. Can’t really say more until we see what the bonuses are. So far, I like the idea of the new progression path…reminds me quite a bit of EQ2’s AA system.

Azeroth Revamp

Flying available in Azeroth. Most zones reshaped/reworked to improve leveling experience.

This is a GREAT idea by Blizz, and it has all kinds of upside. Players like it–let’s face it, most players try to level as fast as possible to get out of Azeroth and into OL/Northrend, which is a shame. From Blizz’s perspective, though, they don’t have to use dev resources on a whole new continent, which makes things much easier. (Yes, they’ll probably have more TOTAL work to do, but much less initial design/prep.) This trick only works once, though…they won’t be able to get away with an “Outlands remodel.” :)

New Races: Worgen/Goblins

Not much to say that others haven’t already said. Worgen druids seem odd, but I’ll get used to it (druids are supposed to be friends to nature…does anyone see a werewolf as nature-friendly?).  Other than that, good all around.

Looking forward to what else drops from Blizzcon.