Monday, July 21, 2008

Wisdom comes with winters.

Wrath of the Lich King has entered into beta, putting an end to the non-disclosure agreement that veiled the Friends and Family alpha. ...And there was much rejoicing.

Any talk about the LK beta should of course mention the WotLK Information Wiki, which aims to be the definitive repository of knowledge for the forthcoming expansion.

Of particular note to melee hunters:
  • We are not receiving a "melee tree." While I would have liked to see a choice between Survival and BM/MM represent a choice in class functionality similar to other hybrids, Gweryc will press on as he always has, making do with what's available. In truth, this is just fine with me. As I mentioned before, it's the "Aspect of the Hacker" facet of playing a melee hunter that really keeps me interested.
  • New ability ranks for Kill Command, Counterattack, Explosive/Immo trap, Raptor Strike have been added. Wing Clip and Mongoose Bite are, thus far, conspicuously absent from that list.
  • The "Improved Tracking" ability will replace Monster Slaying and Humanoid Slaying, increasing damage done to targets being tracked by 1/2/3/4/5%.
All hunters should take note of the radical changes to the pet system. I won't cover it comprehensively here, but highlights include the use of pet talent trees instead of skill points, the removal of the "pet loyalty" mechanic, and the fact that pets will only have to be leveled "a maximum of five levels."

Engineers: looks like we're getting motorcycles! This will be an awesome mount for Gweryc. I think it really suits his personality.

Inscription. There's finally some information available on this. A new "glyph interface" will be added to the player's spellbook. Up to six glyphs, most of which can be traded or sold, can be added to the glyph system. Each player can add up to 6 Glyphs to their interface: 2 Greater Glyphs, 2 Lesser Glyphs, and 2 Minor Glyphs.
  • Greater Glyphs provide major upgrades to spells. Examples that have been given are the addition of stuns or DoTs to spells, increased damage, or knockbacks.
  • Lesser Glyphs provide upgrades to spells similar to Greater Glyphs, but are not as powerful.
  • Minor Glyphs provide small upgrades, or cosmetic improvements. Examples that have been given are the removal of reagent requirements from spells, lowering spell costs, or changing spell graphics.

Little information is available on what glyphs can be used, and there are no known glyphs for hunters at this point. We can guess what sort of things will be coming though. For my Greater Glyphs, I'd likely be interested in either increasing the damage dealt by Raptor Strike, or better, decreasing the cooldown on it. Augmenting my Wing Clip spam with, say, a damage proc, would be delicious as well. I'm not sure how likely it is that I'll be able to do any of that. The known glyphs on the wiki all mention specific spells. I don't know that anyone will care enough to create, say, a Raptor Strike-specific glyph.

Life as a melee hunter does get lonely sometimes. A lot of my goals are personal, not group-oriented. That's where the highly laudable Player Achievement system comes in. I'll let Blizzard speak for themselves on this:

World of Warcraft's achievements system will launch with more than 500 individual achievements covering every aspect of gameplay, including world exploration, PvE, PvP, professions, and character development; from the purely whimsical to the truly epic, there will be something for everyone. Some achievements come with in-game rewards such as tabards, vanity pets, and titles. All of these rewards are purely cosmetic and just for fun, but you'll certainly stand out when you proudly display them.

And don't fret about running out of achievements anytime soon. The list is easily expandable, so you can expect additional achievements with each new World of Warcraft content update.

Honestly, it sounds like the Achievement system is the most significant development in the history of World of Warcraft. Cosmetic toys like the motorcycle are fun. The ability to customize your character with the Glyph system is of course welcome, and I hope I can abuse it efficiently. But the Player Achievement system is a radical development, with something to offer everyone.

When I talked about Nick Yee's player motivations assessment, I mentioned that there are three broad categories that describe gamers: achievers, socializers, and immersionists. Achievers have always had goals to pursue. These are the people that were rank 14 pvp'ers, the people that are Duelists and tier 6 raiders today. Blizzard's new achievement system brings new goals for these players, and puts additional goals on the table for players in the other camps. Socializers will find plenty of new goals to work on together beyond just completing quests. Immersionists, long neglected, should rejoice to find that World Exploration is specifically rewarded. Customized appearances will also be available -- one "whimsical" achievement goal Blizzard mentions is to get a shave and a haircut. The achievement system is a huge step toward making the game approachable to players with disparate motivations, and I highly commend Blizzard on this development.


C. said...

Alas, and here I was looking forward to my vision of survivalists as endorsed hunter-tanks! ;) OTOH, it does look like BM is getting enough goodies between our talents and pet talent trees that I expect I'll be able to main-tank normal instances using my pet alone.

Oh, and Cafalle is DPS now! Apparently Blizzard loev wolves more than they let on.

Player achievements are so cool, and I'm glad to see someone else as wildling enthusiastic about them as I am.

Cayl said...

Hi Gweryc,

I was fascinated by your adventures when I stumbled upon it a week or two ago. I was at the time thinking about leveling my hunter alt with a melee focus. Not as heavy as yours though. Just thought I'd mention that according to a blue post you will be getting quite a substantial boost in WotLK.

"We're also (as funny as it sounds) improving Hunter melee DPS through an improvement to Aspect of the Beast (10% Melee AP buff while this aspect is active), and removed the conditional from Mongoose Bite (so you can use it even if you haven't dodged the opponent). Though you won't be doing as much damage if you were at range, you'll find a pretty significant damage potential while in melee range with these changes.

Cheers mate.
Cayl of Dentarg