Despite the recent stumbling blocks of the Diablo 3 PC launch, Blizzard has become quite skilled at launching games that require constant online connections. The old days of installing a WoW expansion off of two to four CDs are long behind us and with the launch of Warlords of Draenor this week, players should experience an almost seamless transition.
Players have been flocking flocking back to Azeroth this summer and fall in anticipation of WoW's ten year anniversary and latest expansion. Warlords of Draenor launches in just hours in Europe (those of us in North America need to hold out for a few more excruciating hours) and to help celebrate the launch, two of the game's lead designers and a community manager took to Twitch to field some last minute questions from the community.
Community Manager Josh “Lore” Allen, Lead Game Designer Ion Hazzikostas, and Lead Class Designer Kris Zierhut chatted with fans this afternoon about DPS stats, cosmetic upgrades to goblins and worgen, and how proud the team is of the upgrades to the game's raid finder. There was plenty of theory-crafting discussed, so more casual players may glaze over during parts of the stream, but we've got all the highlights right here.
One of the most exciting bits of information to come out of the broadcast was a reminder to fans that no addition downloading is needed at launch. If players have opened the Battle.net application recently, then WoW should be fully patched and no additional downloading is needed this evening.
"The game will just unlock. The whole thing is already on your computer."
Not only do current players not need to download anything tonight, but there is also no need to log off and then log back on at launch. The team will essentially flip a switch behind the scenes at midnight (or whatever time is designated for your time zone) and the content will be available. Players will just need to pick up the starting quest and head to the Dark Portal.
Anyone who has ever attempted to log on to a WoW server during the launch of an expansion can testify to how insane those queues can get. If you plan to play at the first moment available, we recommend logging in now and saving your spot.
Here are the abridged versions of a few of the other more interesting questions and answers to come out of the developer Twitch stream...
Q: Rings are currently invisible unless you are inspecting a character. Will there be a cool visual effect too see the new Legendary Rings?A: Yes. Something similar to the cloak proc, there will be some aura or visionary indicator. Visual component is necessary.
Q: Why enforce a limit on wearing a certain number of crafted items?A: This allows for the developers to make crafted items awesome, without making other loot in the game useless. It also leads to more variety in terms of gameplay, as players seek out different sources of gear.
Q: Will we see more level 100 soloable content in the future?A: Definitely yes. It will be more freeform and unstructured in comparison to dailies of the past. Exploration, collection games, etc…
Q: Are there keys for raids to allow players to skip to the last boss?A: Yes. Areas like Blackrock Foundry won’t require players to beat all nine bosses to get to the end (after they've earned it). An orc blacksmith can make the keys after you’ve killed the wing bosses four times. Only one raid member needs to have the key.Q: Would you consider allowing players to change a character's skin color at a barber shop?A: Seems like a very reasonable request. Never race or gender, but skin color seems doable. No current plans for this, but the developers seemed interested in it and open to the idea.
Q: Are there plans to update the Worgen and Goblin models?A: Nothing specific to announce, but there are plans to eventually update them. It’s on the list, but not a priority. Blood elf models are still in production and those are a much higher priority than worgen and goblins.
Q: Why is there still a 100 friend limit on Battle.net?A: It’s something Blizzard is working on. Technical issues are involved. Cost increases with the number of friends, so they need to find a way to make removing the cap affordable. The team feels our pain on this one.
Q: Plans for more phasing?A: One of the lessons learned from using phasing is that phasing should be used less. It breaks up the world and splits up groups of friends.
Although Blizzard is done bringing new properties into the MMO scene, the team certainly still has big plans to continue improving WoW. We expect to see the usual spike in subscribers that always accompanies a new expansion and when 2015 rolls around we'll have a better idea of how many of those nostalgic fans were won over by the Warlords content.
Do you plan to log in to WoW tonight and be a part of the Warlords launch? Let us know in the comments.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor releases on November 13, 2014.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.