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Blizzard has Big Plans for World of Warcraft Patch 8.1

Posted on October 23, 2018 by Sponsored Content

The latest expansion in the world’s longest running MMORPG— World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth—has been nothing short of controversial. Fan reactions have been divided with the new changes brought on by the BfA xpac. Bugs and technical issues plagued the expansion in the beginning and contributed to much of the negative reaction it received.

Blizzard would soon release the first patch to the expansion: the Tides of Vengeance. No release date has been set but the company has publicized some details regarding gameplay and lore.
Players expect the upcoming patch to fix some of the issues that keep garnering complaints. Some fans were not happy with certain changes Blizzard made to core gameplay following the previous expansion, Legion. Quite infamously, the legendaries of Legion were replaced with a new gearing system based on Azerite, a fantasy element mined from the “blood” of Azeroth, the world the game is set in. With the new patch, Blizzard might make up for those mistakes.

Without further ado, here is a list of features most likely to be available in patch 8.1:

Game Gamer Gaming Pc Player Computer Hands

Multithreading Optimization

Perhaps the most intriguing improvement rumored to come to 8.1 are the new optimizations for the game. Unlike most recent previous expansions, Blizzard will introduce multithreading optimizations to make the game run smoother on newer gaming computers.
The optimization would only affect people with gaming computers that run DirectX 12. Your computer would also require a Windows 10 operating system. This would further require a top-notch processor. World of Warcraft is a CPU-bound game, which means that its performance is highly dependent on how speedy the CPU is. You can technically run the game on even an older processor like a dual-core Intel Pentium, but for the optimal experience, upgrade to a new gaming computer with the latest processors and GPUs.


Fans of the game have not been particularly pleased with the direction the story has been taking, to put it mildly. In BfA, Blizzard controversially set the torch to Teldrassil, the starting zone for the night elf players and one of the most important landmarks for the race. The Legion expansion ended with the faction war between the Horde and the Alliance once more coming into focus. With Tides of Vengeance, Blizzard is determined to continue making the faction war central to the premise of the expansion.
Patch 8.1 will pick up on a number of unresolved story threads. And there are quite a number of these. Harking back to the cinematics and cutscenes from the previous expansions, players will go on a quest to discover why the Horde’s former warchief, Vol’jin, appointed Sylvanas Windrunner as his successor. In a previous cutscene, players learn that spirits whispered her name to Vol’jin as he lay dying. Given that Sylvanas goes on to ignite the faction war and burn down Teldrassil with thousands of innocent night elves inside, players may learn what kind of spirit was behind this incident.

Rigorously data mined texts from 8.1 also shows a questline with another important Horde character, Varok Saurfang, and the brand new character Zekhan, whom fans have lovingly nicknamed “zappy boi.” Saurfang was captured by the Alliance at the end of BfA. In the new patch, players learn that he has escaped, albeit under suspicious circumstances. Warchief Sylvanas wants players to join one of her dark rangers to bring Saurfang back into the fold, or so she claims.

Along with the faction war is the looming threat of N’zoth, an old god, and his “queen,” Azshara, the fallen elf queen of Azeroth’s not-so-distant past. The two have lurked in the shadows for several previous expansions and will most likely make a comeback in 8.1.

New Raids, Warfronts, and Incursions

Patch 8.1 will introduce brand new boss raids and other gameplay elements that form the essential backbone of BfA. Tides of Vengeance will feature the Alliance going on the offensive against the Horde’s destruction of night elf lands. The high priestess of the night elves, Tyrande Whisperwind, undergoes a dangerous ritual that transforms her from a priestess into the Night Warrior, ready to wreak vengeance against the Horde, hence the title of the new patch.

The Alliance offensive would include the highly anticipated raid on Zuldazar, an ancient empire of the Zandalari trolls. There are cool new looks and skins players can use for this segment. The Kul Tiran Admiral Jaina Proudmoore will lead a naval assault that will be met by the navies of the Zandalari trolls lead by Princess Talanji.
Horde and Alliance players would have different experiences when it comes to the raids presented in this patch. For example, the Siege of Zuldazar, a major 9-boss raid, would have the players of the two factions fighting on different sides of the same city.

There’s a plan for a smaller 2-boss raid called Crucible of Storms. Though small, this has an important lore connection to another raid in Stormsong Valley. This raid would supposedly connect N’zoth and Azshara to the larger storyline.

Patch 8.1 would add new war fronts, as well So far, data mined texts show a new battle for Darkshore, where the night elves push back against the Horde, particularly Sylvanas and her Forsaken. Ion Hazzikostas, the game director for World of Warcraft, has said that Alliance would be the aggressors in this scenario.
There’s another confirmed war front in the Arathi Highlands, said to feature “unique” bosses and drops for cool new armor for night elves and the Forsaken.
The upcoming patch would also introduce Incursions, heavily based on the invasions featured in legion that fans particularly loved. Not much is known yet about Incursions in BfA, but developers have promised to deliver new gear and experiences with these.

There will be shiny new World Quests to complete, not to mention World Quests in Zandalar and Kul Tiras. It’s not known yet whether Blizzard would introduce more quests in other zones as well.
Blizzard is still mum on what exactly will come to patch 8.1. The above details are what we gathered from announcements and data mined information. So far though, everything looks very promising.

The above post has been a sponsored post from Computer-Realm.net. Broken Joysticks does not receive any commission from sales made through embedded links on our site but we were paid a small fee for hosting this article.


Blizzard launches book-publishing label

Posted on December 8, 2016 by Jason Nason

Blizzard Entertainment today announced the creation of a book-publishing label, Blizzard Publishing, dedicated to developing and releasing new Blizzard publications and reissuing out-of-print titles in the company’s Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo settings. These releases will either come directly and through ongoing global partnerships.

Blizzard has plans to make several of their publishing arm’s upcoming releases available in multiple formats, including print, audiobook, and e-book.

The first books published under the Blizzard Publishing label include two sets of previously released novels and manga. The books include titles under the Blizzard Legends banner, including Warcraft: The Last Guardian by Jeff Grubb, Warcraft: Lord of the Clans by Christie Golden, and World of Warcraft: Rise of the Horde by Christie Golden.

Titles included in the Blizzard Manga banner include Warcraft Legends: Volume One, with stories by Richard A. Knaak, Dan Jolley, and Jae-Hwan Kim as well as Warcraft Legends: Volume Two, with stories by Richard A. Knaak, Dan Jolley, and Aaron Sparrow.

Future releases in the Blizzard Legends and Blizzard Manga series will include titles across multiple Blizzard franchises.

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The Road to the Emerald Nightmare

Posted on September 24, 2016 by Kaylan Heineman

The Road to the Emerald Nightmare: Questing, Leveling, and Gearing Before Legion’s First Raid

A great deal has happened since Blizzard Entertainment launched the 6th expansion to their perennial hit MMO, World of Warcraft titled Legion, on August 30, 2016. As someone who began her journey through Azeroth back in the ancient days of 2004, this has been a reawakening and revitalization of the online game’s content and gameplay and frankly I have not had this much fun in this game since Wrath of the Lich King sat on my desk in 2010. EVERYTHING has changed in this game in some manner or another, breathing new life into virtually every facet of the experience with the introduction of artifact weapons, a refined leveling experience, overhauls of basic game mechanics, a fantastic difficulty curve within its instances, the debut of their second hero class, the Demon Hunter, and many more appealing features (not to mention the best soundtrack since Lich King). Better yet, very little of it is a step backward as often happens with veteran MMO’s like WoW.

The first raid instance of the expansion is now live and I’m actively participating in the raid with my guild on Stormrage-US (Shout out to my “The Force” family!) as we try to be the first raid group on the server to conquer it, and it has been a heck of a journey thus far. I noticed a fair bit about what it is like to get my gear to the point where I won’t be a blue smear at the feet of Xavius and most of it is excellent, with a couple notable exceptions.

Image result for Emerald Nightmare raid

Screenshot courtesy of WoWHead.com

First off, leveling is a wonderfully engaging and enjoyable experience and not once did it feel like a burden, unlike previous expansions. Playing on a tradition started back in 2010, you are able to effectively choose where you start but unlike previous expansions, the entirety of the Broken Isles (with the exception of Suramar) is actually scaled to your level and item level as to avoid time-honored traditions like accidentally strolling through a zone 20 levels ahead of you and making many unfortunate treks back to your corpse as a direct result. Because of the tuning (which syncs with the lowest level member of your party), you have a greater degree of freedom in choosing your journey to level 110. What this means is that the narrative takes a surprisingly different turn as pieces of the greater plot weave together in a different pattern. This alone made it worth it for me to level my two alternative characters (“adults”) without groaning at the repetition—this is absolutely revolutionary for WoW as it encourages creating all the different classes and playing something you are not entirely familiar with.

In this vein, Blizzard managed to introduce a clever and effective means of bringing new players (or veterans trying a new class) up to speed without expecting 100 levels of suffering—you now get an option to make a “Class Trial” to which you are put in possession of a character at level 100 (the starting level for new content) and are thrust into a simple yet effective tutorial which teaches the basic dynamics of the class and specialization without sounding like a generic tutorial with no point—to sweeten the deal, you are given the opportunity to actually try out some of the new content with your freshly leveled character before committing to a class for the actual 100 levels. Sorry, folks, the grind is a pain, but with the new designs of everything from the landscape to the character models, it is a bit less tedious. I learned a thing or two about tanking from the tutorial when I gave it a try such as new approaches to my skill rotation, which skill works best for which situation and refreshed me on the basics—something that deeply surprised me and transferred to my existing tank character with better performance. That said, it would be nice to reward testers of new classes some kind of boost that does not cost 50 USD to purchase.

Image result for class trial pic world of warcraft

Screenshot courtesy of WoWHead.com


Once you hit 110, however, prepare to die a LOT. Suramar as it stands right now is extremely hostile to fresh 110’s who did not have the privilege of gearing up a bit prior to entering it. There is a quirk in the mobs in that area that live up to their nickname—you may aggro one enemy but rest assured all of his or her friends and relatives will back them up in the blink of an eye. It certainly informs you that you may have leveled, but you need to level up your skills in playing your class to survive.  The game progression in Suramar is unique in that it is full of gatekeeping via reputation requirements and the general difficulty of the enemies—all of which serve to slow down the game to ensure that people like me are spared the burnout that comes with maxing things out and playing the waiting game for new content.  Sometimes it feels as if there is too much to do, in fact, which is wildly different for me—I was honestly expecting to be twiddling my thumbs and gearing out of boredom. I was VERY pleasantly surprised to realize I was enjoying the endgame content thoroughly and enthusiastically.

This happens entirely too often in Suramar...

This happens entirely too often in Suramar…

One of the reasons the leveling and endgame content so engaging is the story is the finest Blizzard has written and performed to date. I often jokingly say this expansion was co-written by George R.R. Martin (of Game of Thrones fame) because of the incredible amount of tragedy that befalls the main characters (and the player) and the heart-wrenching performances augmented by the hands-down BEST score of World of Warcraft. The two elements merge into the emotional equivalent of an episode of Supernatural merged with a season finale of Game of Thrones—in fact, any time the game switches into a cut scene, do yourselves a favor and keep a box of tissues handy. The emotional investment I made in the game is on par with a Final Fantasy title to the point where I frequently cheered, laughed, cried and screamed in rage—something that never happened before in any of the thousands of games I have played over my career. Bravo, Blizzard, you made a grown woman cry like a teenager.

The soundtrack is something I often remark on but its role in the game’s atmosphere is undeniable and powerful. Whether it is a race to save an ally, mourning over an NPC’s death, or simply riding through the countryside on your mount of choice, the soundtrack will set the mood perfectly. Without these songs, WoW wouldn’t be, well, WoW—Legion is no different. Many songs have fallen flat over the years or have just gotten stale (I’m looking at you, Ironforge…) but I have a feeling the Legion soundtrack will be among the timeless classics in-game.  My current favorite song in the score has to be “Anduin”—it is a medley of thrilling rallying cries and funerary dirges with this distinct attitude of facing impossible odds, much as “Arthas, My Son” has become a fan favorite owing to its dirge-like, haunting melody that bursts into a relentless symphonic onslaught much as the Scourge was relentless and struck without warning.



The Demon Hunter is one of the most fun classes to play and fully deserves an article of its own—I plan to do a detailed analysis of the Demon Hunter in a separate article however I must speak on a few points. Currently, both specs (Havoc and Vengeance) are predictably overpowered—the tank spec virtually eliminates the need for a healer as the self-heals are ridiculous. PVPers now dread the presence of warglaives on the opposing side as the damage output is heads and shoulders above most others. That said, the feeling of invincibility is quite thrilling—being able to solo elite mobs with little more than paying attention to your rotation is fun but the luster fades after a bit. I would like to see Havoc Demon Hunters, in particular, to get nerfed as their damage output and tactical skills like stuns and interrupts makes for a less than pleasant PVP experience and unfortunately attracts a lot of people in it for the power trip, rendering dungeon instances of any measurable difficulty a crap shoot. Sometimes the DH knows what the -bleep- they’re doing, and sometimes they do the infamous noob faux-pas of standing in the fire without realizing they’re doing it at all. Mind you, this applies to many classes that are not quite so “idiot proof” but it is most glaringly obvious when someone who is in the highest gear category doesn’t know adds from aggro on a fight and proceeds to blame everyone else.


On that note, one thing has made life better for all of us thanks to Blizzard. They instituted a new silencing policy wherein if someone gets above a certain number of complaints on the grounds of harassment, language, inappropriate content or spam, they silence that character for a day. As an advocate in the LGBT+ community, this reminds me of the practice of “zucking” or falsely reporting with the intent to trigger an automatic ban. I foresee much of this occurring on the more politically charged servers, but it is at the moment doing its job and the 4chan-level trolls have been muzzled. Now if we could do the same with the Thunderfury and Harambe jokes, I’ll be a happy girl.

The endgame content is split up into several categories, most of the content being in major questlines such as your class hall (I’ll get to that in a moment) and the general campaign but a new spin on daily quests called “world quests” where you have the means to do certain tasks ranging from picking more of a herb to downing a world boss which are surprisingly fun and addictive. The added bonus is that on a daily structure (provided you unlock world quests by attaining friendly status with the primary factions within the Broken Isles) you can get an emissary chest and an artifact boosting consumable. Now, this may not seem like much, but I have had several guild members obtain legendary items from these chests. The rep boost is also very, very enjoyable and useful as the rep rewards ARE WORTH SOMETHING FOR ONCE!wowscrnshot_092316_153046

Blizzard clearly put a great deal of thought and work into the latest addition to player characters—Artifact weapons. These weapons are often grounded considerably in the existing lore, such as Tirion Fordring’s legendary sword, Ashbringer or my favorite, Thrall’s own Doomhammer. What sets these weapons apart aside from looking INCREDIBLE is that they grow with you, using artifact power as a new leveling currency of sorts, with increasing minimum levels as you upgrade your weapon. As of right now, I do not have any of my artifact weapons fully upgraded but I have seen the devastation wrought by these fabled arms. In order to acquire an artifact weapon, you must first complete the Broken Shore scenario at level 100, then proceed on a breadcrumb quest chain opening up a sanctuary specifically for your class in some fantastical place, ranging from Valhalla (or as they call it, Halls of Valor) to the very heart of Northrend courtesy of the new Lich King, Bolvar Fordragon. The chain will surprise you as it puts YOU in the driver seat of the quest.


For the first time, I felt like a protagonist in-game with a lot of the tailored random lines spoken at me in major cities like Dalaran or Stormwind (or Orgrimmar/Undercity for you Horde folks) and something that made me extremely excited. Blizzard has been hounded for over a decade about revisiting old zones and instances to make them fresh. As a shaman, I am associated with the legendary Earthen Ring (the shamanic faction that has been around as long as the game has) and get the profound pleasure of not only revisiting Vashj’ir (which I originally detested but on the second pass began to grow on me), but Firelands, Deepholm and even the oft-neglected Throne of the Four Winds raid with the mission to bring about a union of the Elemental Lords in order to defend Azeroth to the best of their abilities. I will not go into detail in this article, but I could go on and on about how lovingly crafted the quests turn out to be. You are no longer a nameless hero or champion—you ARE the last hope of Azeroth and your actions dictate so much. It is refreshing to authentically feel a narrative in a game like this and Blizzard hits the mark.


Many asked me to sum up my opinion of Legion thus far. I am ecstatic to announce that Blizzard has finally gotten it right. After 3 successive “failures” as far as striking a chord with the 12 million subscribers, World of Warcraft has made a triumphant return to top form. With so much available to enjoy in just the first few weeks, Blizzard has finally hit that sweet spot in reviving their storied franchise. What a farewell gift from Chris Metzen—his finest performances and work.


World of Warcraft: Legion Pre-Launch Patch Impressions Part II

Posted on August 26, 2016 by Tamsin Heineman

So a couple weeks ago I published a story outlining all to be had at the time for the Legion Pre-Launch content. Since then I’ve found a few things I’ve missed, a few things I’ve learned, and what to do with it.

Previously I talked about the scenarios involved. Well, after doing some research I’ve found there are quite a few easter eggs in game items you can pick up before doing the fist quest. So if you have an alt that hasn’t done the scenario for broken shore yet, hold off until you find a hidden vendor sitting in Stormwind Harbor. All you have to do is have the quest for the broken shore, but don’t actually do it yet. Before boarding the boat for the quest outside the dock there is an NPC named Lenny “Fingers” McCoy(Horde side is Fo’Rum the Postmaker by the Draonsh’ar Blockade and Ravika by Bladefury’s docks). This NPC is a vendor that sells a few items including a Lucky Shirt which is the only in game way to obtain the “Fine Cloth Shirt” transmog appearance. (The Horde vendor has hard to get items from patch 5.3 that were since removed from the game, so if you play Horde be sure to grab them).

Taken from screenshots @wowhead.com

Taken from screenshots @wowhead.com

The final hidden item to be found is during the 6th stage of the Broken Shore quest line for the alliance(but can also be picked up during stage 7). There is a coffin looking thing where you can find a “Charred Locket” during the scenario. If you don’t grab it now, it’s gone forever on that toon. When you’re done take the locket to Eastvale Logging Camp in Elwynn forest. There will be an NPC named Alaina Heartsong that will want the locket(at 85,67). Leave and return to the house immediately and you can find the reward item upstairs named “Alaina’s Bonnet”. The Horde cannot loot this, but if you unlock it on alliance side you can transmog it as a Hordie.

Taken from screenshots @wowhead.com

Taken from screenshots @wowhead.com

Another cool item that you can obtain is dropped from the Doomsayers around your main cities that once outed with either a Demon Hunter’s Spectral Sight or an item called “Cursed Vision of Sargeras” that drops in Black Temple, turn into a “Dread Infiltrator”.


Taken from screenshots @wowhead.com

There are usually LFG groups looking for it that are active right now, so get playing to find it. The item it drops is a neat “Toy” for your collection called a “Pocket Fel Spreader”, but it actually doesn’t do any damage. It applies a fel texture to the ground and objects in its radius and just plain looks really cool instead.

The other half of this is players that end up hearing “Dark Whispers” will eventually gain an action bar which can transform them into a dreadlord to cause all kinds of trouble for other surrounding players by turning them hostile ala mind control. If the players don’t want to do it at the time can just click off the buff. As a Dreadlord you have the abilities to CC a group with a “Hysteria” debuff, vanish to avoid combat, and disguise yourself as a normal player as you’re spreading chaos.

One last note on items which relates to the previous article, is on the Fel Bat Pup. Once bought with Nethershards and learned you can re-crate for later sale, so I suggest buying a few and saving them to sell later for a profit. Just learn the pet, open your log and right click and select “Put in Cage”. Note that you only need to do this if you’ve already right clicked and “learned” that pet and you want to get rid of the extras.

Screenshot taken by Kaylan Heineman, Broken Joysticks

Screenshot taken by Kaylan Heineman, Broken Joysticks

The final thing I want to revisit and discuss is invasions. With a little clever use of  the LFG interface, you can level a character from 1 to 100 in well under a day of constant playing. Once you are in Stage 1 of the invasion at Dun Morogh specifically in Kharanos(though it works elsewhere if people join), make or join an LFG group under custom with Dun in the title (either your own, or a hosted one) including killing the commander. Once it rolls over to stage 3, leave the group and join another by just typing “Dun” in the search bar (or if you’re reset back to stage 1, host your own with Dun in the title for others to find). These stages offer the maximum XP with minimal deaths, as the third stage bosses can be kind of brutal and can easily ruin your nice streak of XP gain. Just keep redoing stages 1 and 2 of the invasion until you are at the desired level. You can do this on toons of any level to boot so if you want to switch mains and level a toon quickly before the expansion this is the time to do it.

Screenshot taken by Kaylan Heineman, Broken Joysticks

Screenshot taken by Kaylan Heineman, Broken Joysticks

I won’t go into the last quests and scenarios until my third part as there’s been little content thus far (but good content nonetheless), which is coming up hopefully right before or right at the date of the launch of Legion. Don’t quote me on that.

I hope you can take what I shared and maximise your fun before the expansion officially launches on August 30th.


First Content Patch for Legion Revealed at Gamescom

Posted on August 17, 2016 by Tamsin Heineman

During Gamescom earlier today Blizzard launched their Legion Cafe which is styled after the Demon Hunter class hall, the Fel Hammer. You can check out tons of photos on the Official World of Warcraft Facebook page. During the events they announced their first content patch for Legion as captured by user Slootbag on Twitch during his live stream. Just click the link for the replay.

Patch 7.1 is titled “Return to Karazhan”. It will feature a 5 man epic dungeon and a mini-raid that will be central to the story of Legion and will contain at LEAST 9 different instances. Additionally there will be new Suramar content in the mix as well as some world content, and there is a new small raid between Nightmare and Nighthold which finishes the Stormheim quest chain. It will be in the PTR by the time Legion hits the public. You can check out the trailer from Wowhead below!



Demon Hunters—Going Back to the Future

Posted on August 16, 2016 by Kaylan Heineman

Alright, before we get to my analysis let me make something super clear—I went into playing the new World of Warcraft Hero class, the Demon Hunter, with the expectations and excitement of a girl who grew up playing the game since Vanilla (The years of the game between its debut in 2004 to the advent of its first expansion, The Burning Crusade, for those not necessarily super WoW-savvy) and its prior games, Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos/Frozen Throne, rendering me something of a Lore Queen, if you will.

In simpler terms, I had VERY high expectations from Blizzard Entertainment’s development team to treat the perspective and lore of the Illidari, Illidan Stormrage’s clan of Demon Hunters who have harnessed the fel energies of the Twisting Nether with delicate, respectful care. These are heroes who sacrificed everything they hold dear to harness the power of the Fallen Titan Sargeras’ army – the Burning Legion – with the express intent to destroy their forces. As such, Demon Hunters deserve to be treated with the grace, fire, determination, and noble sense of sacrifice for the greater good that they have demonstrated countless times.WoWScrnShot_081616_012247


Exposition aside, I have decided to outline the tone I got from WoW’s upcoming expansion, Legion, seen from the eyes (well, not really—look up Demon Hunters. You’ll see what I mean) with the noble attempt of preventing as many spoilers as conceivably possible. That said, I am going to put a mild spoiler warning for this article. If you want to preserve the many surprises and shocks this content contains, thank you for your time, but this article is not for you.

For those of you big on the nitty gritty of its functionality, you are in for a treat. The Demon Hunter is a fantastic class—it is a robust tank/melee-DPS hybrid class with oodles of health but a fast-paced, frenetic style of gameplay. It is very much a class that demands quick reaction and prioritization skills as the rotation itself can be demanding and with little “wiggle room”.

Those of you used to playing Rogues and Warriors will feel right at home with the Demon Hunter with the up-front-and-personal style of attacks and some devastating AoE damage as the grand finale.  The class is a surprisingly good introduction to melee DPS and tanking, for those of us who prefer the “squishier” classes, namely the spellcasters who are often referred to as “glass cannons” that require a more composed, distant strategy of combat.  Personally, I have always played a Warlock as my main, so it was definitely a culture shock, so to speak. At first, I felt it was fresh and new but it seemed eerily familiar. After a little raid into my memory banks, if you would pardon the awful in-joke, I realized that the Demon Hunter, with a few tweaks, is just like the Fury spec Warrior from times long past with a certain Rogue-ish flair that leads to a relentless kind of agility (fitting as it is the DH’s primary stat) which will bring a smile to the faces of gamers who want a more League of Legends-styled pace in their rotation.


Perhaps the hallmark of the Demon Hunter is the mobility—the DH is officially THE most mobile class in the game, outstripping the vaunted Warriors by a fair margin on all fronts. It introduces an age-old game mechanic those of us raised in the 90’s fondly remember: the double jump. Because of the demon wings, this class is able to make an easily-controlled second jump and even glide without any external assistance for quite some time. This alone fundamentally alters how you play a character in World of Warcraft; where you once had to frustratedly attack your space bar to inch your way up Azeroth’s many slopes, you are now easily able to scale virtually any surface. It felt to me much like the first time using a flying mount during The Burning Crusade in that the world truly opens up. Side-note—take care where you decide to glide, lest you float lazily and inexorably toward a World Boss or an instant-kill off the map. Many embarrassing treks to my corpse came from comprehensively exploring the new mobility.WoWScrnShot_081616_010355

Furthermore, part of your rotation involves rushing in and dashing away in a hit-and-run style, never sticking to one enemy for very long. This makes Demon Hunters invaluable to add-heavy situations within the dungeons and raids for crowd-control and damage mitigation to the tank and the casters. I often referred to Demon Hunters as the guardian angels of the squishy classes because of the wealth of interrupts and counters you wield and the ability to save them at the last second. Many healers have praised me quite vocally for saving their hides with a quick intervention. Veterans, take note—The Shrine of the Fallen Warrior is now easy as pie to get to should you wish to make a pilgrimage to this hidden gem in the Barrens.

Owing to my limited experience with melee DPS classes, I had a tiny learning curve which was soon resolved by the excellent pacing of the starter zone; a miserable, shattered world called Mardum, which holds a certain artifact essential to Illidan’s greater plans. You are one of his most trusted lieutenants charged with the recovery of this artifact while Illidan himself dealt with the “pests” storming his stronghold, the Black Temple. Without revealing too much, you will rethink the noble stand against Illidan heroes made back in 2007 and question its repercussions. The mood alone of the area is bleak, desperate and full of adrenaline, mixed with slack-jawed wonder at the gorgeous vistas of this broken world. Once again, it is definitely a throwback to The Burning Crusade in giving players expansive, alien worlds to just observe and get lost in. With the exception of the first hour of breaking in the character, there will be very few unnecessary trips to the Spirit Healer as the difficulty scaling is spot-on in the entire starting zone. You will feel pulled along with the plot and will feel like you just blinked and you were already thrust into the Broken Isles while simultaneously feeling confident in your abilities for the more difficult content ahead. Bravo, Blizzard—you finally made a “just right” intro zone for a class and race.

Screenshot by Tamsin Skye Heineman on Legion Beta Server 1

Screenshot by Tamsin Skye Heineman on Legion Beta Server 1

In this vein, I feel that the Demon Hunter is a symbol for the overall theme of the expansion—relentlessness in the face of an infinite enemy and impossible odds—with an additional, far subtler message to its legion (pardon the pun) of roughly 11 million subscribers worldwide. That message is this—Blizzard has heard the cries from its veteran, hardcore players for a return to the more complex, nuanced gameplay that had a much stiffer difficulty curve. At the same time, however, they also acknowledge the many newcomers to the world of Azeroth in the wake of Lionsgate Entertainment’s feature film, Warcraft, based on the events of the First War in Azeroth’s past (telling the events of Blizzard’s first installment, Warcraft: Orcs and Humans).

They heavily streamlined the once-clunky and cluttered interface and simplified the skills, talents, and general gameplay to improve its accessibility. Hardcore players seeking a challenge, fret not. In the vein of the classic board game, Stratego, it is easy to learn, but difficult to master. You will find surprisingly nuanced rotations and stat work that will keep you experimenting to maximize your effectiveness against Azeroth’s many challenging enemies. In that same topic, the many dungeons and raids in this expansion WILL test your mettle. Veterans will find the return of crowd control, interrupts, area denial, and many more classic elements that we all missed a welcome addition. Newcomers, worry not—it is a very accessible, easy to pick up the game now. You will be sucked in and challenged at every turn, but believe me, you’ll be too busy having a blast to care.WoWScrnShot_081616_011348

Returning to the Demon Hunters, you will find many nods to the rich history in game and out of the gold standard for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs or MMO’s for short) rewarding and a distinct sense of nostalgia and they will still be surprised at the many twists that will revisit some old assumptions that may not necessarily be all correct. The Demon Hunters, much like the previous Hero Class, the Death Knight, are treated at arm’s length at first, but their perspective and skills quickly prove the Illidari’s worth in surplus as hidden threats are revealed and dealt with. Looking to the past for lessons becomes the Illidari’s first mission as they seek to gain the good will of the rest of Azeroth during the Burning Legion’s massive assault on the Broken Isles. From there, unlike with the Death Knights, these fel-infused warriors are granted a surprisingly warm reception by the general Azerothian populace. This means fewer nasty stares and emotes over the course of the expansion and an altogether better integration into the overarching plot. This was something that was only made just right in the last patch of Wrath of the Lich King as far as making the DK’s key players in the plot.

Keeping with the continued theme of revisiting the past to secure the future, the entire path of the core plots (Yes, multiple major plots go down simultaneously in this expansion.) is a constant revisit to areas of the past with keys to saving Azeroth. The Broken Isles—the last remnants of the vast Highborne civilization after the Sundering, which broke Azeroth from a Pangaea-like continent named Kalimdor into the familiar continents of today—offer keys to the true destruction of the infinite Legion and a lasting security of the peoples of Azeroth. As a Demon Hunter, you become intimately immersed in the rich lore of the starkly different regions of the Isles and serve as the lynchpin and the silent protectors of the other forces seeking Azeroth’s deliverance. While helping all the different people suffering under the thumb of the Legion, your true aim never wavers—the destruction of the Legion and the rescue of the Illidari’s leader and namesake, Illidan Stormrage. I will not spoil any of the details but I will leave it at this: the Illidari’s quest against the Legion will expand your view of Blizzard’s Warcraft universe beyond anything you imagined.WoWScrnShot_081616_005859

Many of the characters long left behind will get new life (and death) as they return with their unique talents and experiences. Iconic characters such as Thrall, Malfurion Stormrage, the Demigod Cenarius, and indeed the remnants of the legendary Highborne will demonstrate just how insidious their enemy is and how their experience is our only real hope.  As they clung to life after the Sundering, the Highborne now serve the Legion under the new name the Nightborne. Whether or not their service to the Legion is authentic or not remains to be seen, but their society bears the last of the mysterious Titan artifacts the Shards of Creation which we are told bear the key to victory against the Legion. We will delve into the bloody history of Azeroth and face the lessons learned as we stand valiantly before an unending, sickly green inferno.

Perhaps my single favorite part of my investigation into the beta of Legion is the music. For the longest time, players have agreed that the gold standard for the expansion score has been its most successful expansion, The Wrath of the Lich King, for its soulful, dark, emotional score that near-perfectly captured the diverse continent of Northrend. That said, Lich King just got outdone—Legion has far and away the best soundtrack Blizzard Entertainment has EVER made. Better than Starcraft and Diablo and virtually all of the prior scores. I will admit, tears flowed at some of the pieces (in particular “Anduin” part 1 and 2) and I could not find a piece I didn’t adore and put on replay at least a few times. Back in Lich King, I would often fly up to the top of a peak in Dragonblight and sit there listening to the score because I loved it so much and the same thing has happened in several of the areas, particularly Suramar (once again, resisting the temptation to spoil things) and it reinforces the overall theme of the expansion. Going back to my original argument, it recycles some general themes from the previous several expansions (not to mention a healthy dose of Vanilla) and makes them brand new and engaging. To paraphrase one Jeff Lebowski, it ties the whole expansion together.

Legion is demonstrating just how rich, diverse and organic the lore of the Warcraft universe really is and telling the 11-million strong citizens of Azeroth that only by going back to the future can we secure a future for our world and indeed many more. My final judgment on the expansion from my experiences in the beta? Whether you are a newcomer or a hardcore veteran, you NEED to buy Legion and immediately roll a Demon Hunter. Trust me, you won’t regret it for a moment.


World of Warcraft: Legion Pre-Launch Patch Impressions

Posted on August 15, 2016 by Tamsin Heineman

Earlier this week Blizzard Entertainment released a Pre-Launch patch to prepare its players for the imminent launch of their newest expansion World of Warcraft: Legion. Since then I’ve had a bit of time to check out the content they’ve rolled out.

The first bit I’d love to talk about are invasions. Since the theme of the expansion is The Burning Legion invading Azeroth, they’ve gone full force and brought some of the Legion’s toughest demons to familiar zones back in the main lands; Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. The Kirin Tor have even brought Dalaran from the icy peaks of Northrend to float above Kharazan as they prepare for the coming invasion (though there’s nothing but inconsequential NPCs to be found there).  The only zones that are being invaded at this time (and are the ones included in the Defender of Azeroth: Legion Invasions Achievement) are Westfall, The Northern Barrens, Hillsbrad Foothills, Tanaris, Azshara and Dun Morogh.


While the invasions themselves boil down to “gather up and ‘Zerg Rush’ their bases in those zones”, it does offer a bit of a challenge in that the mechanics are unforgiving and if you’re not paying a good amount of attention you’ll wind up crispy and dead. If any of you have played games like Rift or Elder Scrolls Online in the past the invasions are almost identical to Rifts and Dark Anchors respectively.

The biggest difference between this and others games is that tons of them spawn all at once. It’s up to the players of the Alliance and the Horde to help defend each other side by side to take them down and repel the invaders. Siege engines are also available for whichever faction the zone belongs. Completing the first two stages rewards you with a uncommon chest of items and Nethershards.  The fourth and final stage of these invasions is a Burning Legion commander in the largest settlement of the zone which awards a rare quality chest of items and Nethershards.

WoWScrnShot_081416_085047The benefit to hitting these invasions would the current event currency, Nethershards, as well as the iLevel 700 gear that drops from completing stages of the invasions. The weapons are upgradable with Coalesced Fel which you can buy for 150 Nethershards. It is of note that there are a few rings, cloaks and other items available from the same vendor. For those that love pets be sure to grab the Felbat Pup available for another 150 Nethershards. One last thing to mention before moving on is that lower level toons may struggle to attend these so bringing your level 100 is highly recommended.


Moving onto the Demon Hunters about which I won’t go into a ton of detail. The starting zone that I got to experience for the Demon Hunters was a lot of fun and steadily paced. The storyline was engaging and even hooked to some of the previous content back in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade expansion that some of us remember fondly. I won’t spoil it for you here but it was super satisfying to see history from another angle.

You first start in Mardum as one of your factions’ elves and later progress to the inside of the Vault of the Wardens in one of the expansion zone Azsuna. The new mobility options introduced with the Demon Hunters, namely the double jump and glide were a much welcomed addition which brought a fresh and fun way to traverse the zones.

LegionMardunThe last thing worth mentioning is the scenario of your first trip to the Broken Shore. For spoiler reasons I won’t go into detail but before it’s over you’ll be hitting a heavy dose of feels. What follows sets the tone for the expansion and gives you a good idea just why you should be very afraid of the Burning Legion. Once again as it seems to be the theme this expansion, you will team up with the opposite faction to take down a common enemy and no one ends up coming out on top.

The Pre-Launch patch has me at the edge of my seat and absolutely excited about the upcoming playable content from Legion. Seeing the kind of care and quality that has gone into keeping and bringing this game up to date with modern standards, in both terms of gameplay and visuals has me extremely optimistic for the future of this game. At this point only time will tell of its success or failure as the fans sink their teeth into the meat of the game.



All Loot, No Group – Group Finding Tools Hurt World of Warcraft

Posted on May 13, 2016 by Renee Gittins

I still actively play World of Warcraft. No, I don’t mean that I just log into my garrison a few times a week to collect gold and send out followers.

I love pets, but that’s not why I log on. There are many more I have to farm, but don’t have the energy to put into hunting them down.

I love exploring the beautiful worlds, but that’s not why I log on. I’ve seen almost every inch of every map.

I love interesting quest lines, but that’s now why I log on. I just don’t have the motivation needed to finish Lore Master.

I love being an insanely geared druid, slaughtering enemies and fighting for top dps, but that’s not why I log on. I’ve stopped caring as much about that.

My main character in World of Warcraft, a feral druid named Riku.

My main character in World of Warcraft, a feral druid named Riku.

So why do I log on?

My guild.

I log on every Wednesday to raid Heroic Hellfire Citadel, even though my druid has, for the most part, best in slot gear. Even my legendary ring is maxed out at 795. This is the state that most of my guildmates are in: all with great gear, all know every fight, and we slaughter every boss without much thought.

Yet, every Wednesday a group of people come together, yes, to raid, but also to laugh and talk and banter.


I’ve been in the guild for nine years, yet I still feel like a newer member. Scalebane has held strong since before the release of World of Warcraft and is the oldest active guild on our server. They are my second family and I enjoy every single game I play with them, but World of Warcraft is the one that we all play together.

All of them know my name is “Renee”, but I am still called “Riku”, because that’s my name in this family of mine. Durkk, Tullen, Estara, Rel, Riin, Kinan, Raun, Frakir, Cyria, Perse, Sumerr, Nite, and more. These are names of the people in my family, even when Frakir is fondly called “Fucker”. Sure, I know they are Joe, Dan, Katrina, etc, but that’s not their name to me.


People are often startled when they hear I am still raiding and even more surprised when they see the strength of the bonds in the guild. This wasn’t always the reaction, though, because guilds meant more to everyone in the past. I remember when I could tell a lot about a person just by their guild, because it said a lot about the people they hang out with and what they enjoy doing. Nowadays, even the great raiding guilds are falling to the side, even Paragon has disbanded.

World of Warcraft is an amazing MMORPG. The content is expansive and high quality, but people consume it so fast that only the end game and random grinding/farming prizes are left to entertain. Thus, with all MMOs, a main draw is that you are playing with other people; people you can befriend; people you can grief.


Blizzard has done a great job of creating content, events and areas that help form connections between people, but that has been reduced greatly by group finding tools. They make the content easier to play, but greatly lessen the connections to the people you are playing with.

You no longer battle outside of raids, running from the graveyard back into the instance. Or recruit people in town to adventure out to the closest dungeon. Or banter outside of the battleground while waiting for the next one to begin.


Looking for Raid, Looking for Group, Dungeon Finder, battleground queues — all of these tools make the content faster and easier to access, but greatly reduce the need to interact with other people, especially in ways that encourage camaraderie. They make World of Warcraft easier to consume, they make it less intimidating for people who are shy, but they also prevent people from forming the connections that keep drawing them back to the game long after they’ve had their fill of content.

People who play through these tools do not have to be nice to the people they are playing with, they do not have to learn the fights or even their own class, and no one is motivated to teach them, because no one they play with is likely to group with them again. Due to this, people are much more likely to be toxic or simply give up on a group or someone that is not doing well. You have more players getting angry, more people being yelled at, and new players being so confused about boss fights that Blizzard implemented their own guides to fights in game. Though I’m still not sure anyone reads them.


Blizzard’s subscriber numbers dropped to their lowest numbers and Blizzard has stopped reporting them all together. While people have blamed slow releases of content for scaring people off, I think that Garrisons removing town interactions and looking for group tools reducing the need to work closely with other players are what is causing subscribers to drop like flies.

Is there a good solution? It’s hard to say. Hopefully Class Halls will not be as lonesome as Garrisons, there will be more content that requires working together, and Dalaran will once again regain it’s glory, druids humping pigs and all.




Twitch Streamer Rudeism reaches lvl100 using DDR pads

Posted on April 5, 2016 by Fionna Schweit

Some may remember that a couple of months about Twitch Streamer Rudeism started playing World of Warcraft with two DDR pads.  Now after months of tapping away with his feet in an effort to level up, he has reached level 100 (the max level in current WoW). He was able to finish the task yesterday , reaching the end of a long road of hard work which he had dubbed #DanceCraft and had been working on almost non-stop for months.

As he neared level 100, the New Zealander seemed to lose his voice and admitted he was getting a little teary as the milestone approached. What an achievement, monumental in its scope. I cant even manage to get to level 50 in the Dark Zone in The Division and Rudesim made it all the way to 100 on his own, using DDR pads! Sure makes what I did this morning look a bit silly.

Some of our readers may be familiar with Rudeism, who by his own description plays games wrong for fun. He has already gotten some attention for using a Guitar Hero guitar to play both Portal 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Earlier this year he broke out the dance pads this year, eventually garnering a huge following as he tackled World of Warcraft with his feet, a task which he entitled #DanceCraft. Here is VOD of the end of the monumental task if you so care to see it. But the point is, its a truly monumental achievement both of gaming and of fitness. By the end of the journey, Rudeism had accumulated no less than 5 days, 11 hours, 48 minutes and 38 seconds of dance pad usage, which would still be impressive even if he was actually using them for their intended purpose!

Do you think this was worth that Five days? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter



Blizzard Announces Children Book Series – World of Warcraft: Traveler

Posted on March 29, 2016 by Renee Gittins

Blizzard announced this morning that they are partnering with Scholastic to create a new series of children’s books based on World of Warcraft.

The series, titled World of Warcraft: Traveler, will follow Aramar Thorne, the 12 year old son of the great explorer, Captain Greydon Thorne. Due to a series of unfortunate events, Aram finds himself far from home, only equipped with his father’s magical compass and his sketchbook to help him on his way. His unlikely companion for his adventures is the second mate of his father’s ship, Makasa, who is a tough, teenage girl.


Read More


World of Warcraft: Legion – Game Systems Panel

Posted on November 7, 2015 by Tamsin Heineman

Article By: Tamsin Skye Heineman

Blizzard revealed some bombshell news today for World of Warcraft: Legion during their panel at Blizzcon. Changes include items, classes, professions, and a full cosmetic unlock system. They’re even adding an option to hide your shoulder slot item. Mainly of note is the ability to unlock an items appearance into a collection simply by owning it.

They revealed that they will go back and unlock the appearance of every quest reward you ever got in the past. This vastly expands the customization options available and will add a large variance of player appearances in game. Tabards, shirts, and weapon enchants were also listed among the cosmetic unlocks as well as the ability to save outfits that change with specialization. Blizzard went above and beyond and made all these unlocks account wide.

Check out the rest of the (huge!) changes and panel slides after the bump!Read More


For Azeroth: Blizzcon News on World of Warcraft: Legion

Posted on November 7, 2015 by Renee Gittins


If you missed out on Blizzcon’s Legion World and Content Overview panel, here’s a summary of the information and images.



  • Third Burning Legion invasion of Azeroth
  • Gul’dan sent back to Azeroth


  • Kil’Jaeden gifts Gul’dan with the knowledge of the Burning Legion
  • Gul’dan sent to the Broken Isles, where he finds and breaks open the wards of the Tomb of Sargeras, opening a gateway for the Burning Legion to start its largest ever invasion of Azeroth



Read More


World of Warcraft: Upcoming Changes [Blizzcon 2015]

Posted on November 6, 2015 by Tamsin Heineman

Article By: Tamsin Skye Heineman

Today at Blizzcon, Blizzard revealed some upcoming changes for World of Warcraft based around player feedback. There are some very nice changes coming that I think will make a lot of players very pleased.

Here it is in text form from Blizzard themselves. The images from the panel are included at the bottom of this post.


  • The goal of the class changes was to keep classes fun, stop the PvP CC madness, make numbers easier to understand and slow down the pace of healing a little bit.
  • Removing abilities will make the game more fun.
  • Fantasy, visuals, cool effects, powerful, interactive, and abilities with a clear purpose are fun.
  • Redundant abilities are not fun (Frostfire bolt / Frostbolt for Fire and Arcane)
  • Abilities with inconsistent fantasy are not fun.
  • Situational abilities are not fun (Nourish)
  • Abilities that have been balanced to mediocrity are not fun (Mortal Strike)
  • Abilities with no feedback are not fun (Blood Strike – No real animation, visual, or fantasy)
  • Abilities that are unreliable are not fun (Feral druid positional requirements)
  • Complicated abilities are not fun (Symbiosis)
  • Returning players had more and more trouble figuring out how their class worked as more abilities were added. You shouldn’t have to go to another website just to figure out how to play your character.
  • The old talent system was scrapped to help combat this problem, but it didn’t solve it.


  • Players didn’t enjoy healing because of health bar whiplash, players were always almost constantly dying, healing consisted of spamming heals constantly.
  • Smart heals were too smart, the game was playing itself for you, you didn’t have to do any targeting. You ended up with a healing rotation and not paying attention to who was injured.
  • Mana was scaling poorly, lower item level characters had not enough mana, higher item level characters had excessive amounts of mana.
  • In Warlords, players have double the effective health, giving you longer to think and target your heals.
  • In Warlords, smart heals aren’t as smart. They just heal anyone who is injured rather than the most injured.
  • In Warlords, healers will have enough mana even at lower item levels.
  • In Warlords, Spirit is now on less slots, so you can’t trivialize mana anymore.
  • Healing will be more tactical and allow players to make decisions while healing in Warlords.
  • Players will have sufficient mana but not excessive mana in Warlords.


  • Once a tier token dropped, you had to go to a vendor, find the right item, figure out what gems and reforges you need, upgrade the item, and then you were finally ready to use it. Once you were ready to use it, you may have to change gems and reforges on your other items as well.
  • Kill a boss, loot an item, equip the item.
  • Tier tokens will convert to an item just like the Timeless Isle tokens, this removes one of the steps.
  • Hit and expertise are removed from the game, meaning you don’t need to reforge and regem all the things with every new item you got.
  • Item upgrades are also gone, removing another step.
  • Enchants and sockets are on fewer slots now, helping remove another thing to do.
  • Caps and breakpoints are gone, making stat customization easier.
  • In Mists of Pandaria, loot can drop that no one in the raid can use, which didn’t feel good. Set bonuses and stats that switch on your main armor slots help with this problem. Spirit not being on most slots also helps.
  • Dodge and Parry are now bonus armor.
  • There are now more sources of loot, especially during questing and leveling in Draenor.
  • Versatility, Multistrike, Tertiary stats, gem sockets, and randomly upgraded quest items also help to add variety.


  • Gladiator’s Resolve was a small enough change that it didn’t need another spec.
  • In case you missed it, the legendary item in Warlords is a ring.
  • Legendary weapons can be added when they fit the story / current state of the game.
  • Discipline priests couldn’t be nerfed earlier because so many guilds relied on them. Making guilds unable to defeat an encounter they could defeat yesterday is not fun. Doing so would have required retuning many of the Siege of Orgrimmar fights.
  • Seeing the bonus on tier tokens before they are used is something the developers are looking at. The wrong person getting the bonus won’t have a large impact on the raid (but it will to the person getting the loot).
  • There is still significant complexity, challenge, and depth in the game even after the Warlords changes. Specs are assessable as possible, but there is still depth in the class gameplay and encounters.
  • Tanks are better at soloing and the game isn’t really balanced around it.
  • Everyone will be able to solo old content at some point, some classes may just take more gear or time than others.
  • Druid travel forms being separate buttons is something that will be added with glyphs.
  • Shadow priests getting new / updated visuals is something that might be addressed in the future.
  • Mana gems didn’t add anything interesting to the gameplay, so it was removed.
  • Destro DPS is fine at level 100.
  • Raid cooldowns aren’t as important anymore, so there should be significant diversity in classes brought to raids.
  • Rogues needing to be behind the boss is part of overall awareness needed to play the class and how the encounters are balanced.
  • Professions making things that no one would ever use didn’t make sense, so going forward you can craft actually useful things while leveling. The dust from DEing things should still be sufficient. The amount of dust required to make things is tuned around the amount of dust available.
  • Adding more filtering and options to the dungeon finder would just increase queue times, especially for DPS. The Group Finder should help players that want to make groups for non standard runs.
  • The combo point UI could be improved, but a solution hasn’t been found yet. The team will look at what solutions players come up with for displaying combo points.


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