BlizzCon 2011: Mists of Pandaria – Dungeons, Battlegrounds, Arenas & Major Class Changes

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

In this panel, the developers talk about some of the initial dungeons in the Jade Forest and Valley of the Four Winds, the new PvP Battlegrounds, and the new Arenas.

Achievements will be shared among all your characters, and the developers will introduce ones where all your characters participate in to complete an achievement.

Resilience will have a few changes to accommodate newbie PvP players who are wearing mostly PvE gear at first. Nothing really crazy, just a way to allow newbies to transition well without getting owned badly and overpowered to the point they can’t compete and get their initial PvP gear.

New changes to be made to your characters — ouch, how do I tell you this? Hasta la vista, Relics. Gone. The Wand slot? Vaya con Dios.

Bye, Hunter melee weapons! Ouch. Gone. Without further ado, read the full transcript of the Mists of Pandaria Dungeons Sneak Peek discussion.

During the World of Warcraft: Intro to Mists of Pandaria Panel, WoW Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton discussed details of some of the first Dungeons of Pandaria.

Dungeons Sneak Peek

Cory Stockton: We’re expecting to make 9 dungeons for Mists of Pandaria. We’re super excited to be able to do a lot of new dungeons and a lot of awesome looks. There’s going to be six dungeons specifically on Pandaria that you’ll be able to fight in. We also have something coming back that we found out was very popular with Cataclysm.

A few updates of classic favorites. So we picked a couple: Scholomance, and what’s cool about it is that it’s got a new layout and it will have bosses that are re-worked with all new abilities.

It will be a little bit easier to navigate and it will feel really cool and fresh. We’re going to talk a ton about it the dungeon panel later today.

The other one is The Scarlet Monastery. The Scarlet Monastery as you know it has four wings, but some of these wings only has one boss (aka the Cathedral), and then we have another wing that has a ton of bosses, so we wanted to make it a little more even, so we’re going to redo the Scarlet Monastery Completely and re-introduce them as two separate unique dungeons with their own bosses.

We got a few screenshots of a couple of the new dungeons. This is the Stormstout Brewery here.

You are going to be helping Chen Stormstout recapture this brewery for his family heritage.

This is a look at the Shado-Pan Monastery. It’s a really awesome outdoor dungeon.

And this is the Temple of the Jade Serpent which is in the first zone in the Jade Forest.

It’s another dungeon that goes indoor and outdoor. We’re trying to get a whole different vibe with players going both indoor and outdoor at different times.

Raids Sneak Peek

Not to be left out, we’re obviously going to be introducing three new epic raids. The races we are looking to feature in these raids are the Mogu and the Mantid.

We’ve talked it about earlier, it will be two of our killer enemy races that definitely fit well into the whole raid vibe as part having creatures that you’d want to kill.

As you know, were introducing the new raid finder in patch 4.3 for the Dragon Soul raid. In Mists of Pandaria, the raid finder will be available for all raids right from day one, so all the raids will have essentially three difficulty levels: raid finder, normal and heroic — right off the bat.

The Group finder will give the other people a chance to get into raiding with content that really fits for them, and like Tom Chilton mentioned earlier, we’re looking to bring back world raid bosses.

I think the big thing here is that obviously there were problems with them originally, but we’ve figured out solutions to those problems.

The fact that they drop very specific pieces of gear that players need. We’ve got solutions to those problems so why not bring them back. They were something players really liked, so it’s something that we really want to do here for Mists of Pandaria.

Like I said, we’ll have a lot more of info on this in the Raid and Dungeons Panel today.

So questing. What’s going on with questing in the game? A couple of different things. One thing is we want to focus on more max level content. It’s something that we saw with Cataclysm that people burned right through the content very quickly, and we saw that they really want more content to do at max level, so it’s something we want to focus here.

We still obviously want a strong leveling experience along the way but we want to make sure when you get there, you have a lot of stuff to do, and stuff that can give you valor points that you can do at that level.

Things like the molten front — from patch 4.2. We want to do things like that right from the beginning so that players have choices when they hit level 90. So we were talking about having multiple hubs for that kind of stuff all over the world. Those will play in right into the factions, as well, but give players different things to do at max level and not just necessarily the same options that they’ve always had historically.

Another thing that goes along with that is maybe giving some incentives to dungeon players for doing outdoor, daily kind of stuff.

If you did five daily quests, you would get a buff. If happen to go into a dungeon with that buff, you might get a chance to roll on a piece of loot that only shows up to the players that have that buff. So maybe you went out and did some dailies first, and then go into the dungeon — and it helps to motivate some players there from both sides.

Like I was talking a little bit earlier about the Valley of Four Winds, we’re really looking to make the questing feel less linear.

Not the fact that they’re always going to feel completely different, but the fact that we give you some choices so that when you come back, and you go through a zone, you can do it in a little bit of a different level.

Same thing with the max level. We mentioned this earlier. It’s something that feels better to not have flying mounts. To keep people on their ground mounts, we can introduce other different type of quest content that really fits, and we don’t have to worry so much about people flying up in the air, and landing on the boss mob, and kill it right away without clearing anything along the way.

It doesn’t really have that good vibe to it. You didn’t really did it. You kind of cheated a little bit, and flew in. So by keeping people on the ground, it’ll really feel better.

Finally, faction Improvements. Factions are something we’ve had in the game for a long time, and we’ve done a number of different things with them, and here we’re looking to shake it up again with offering players more ways to earn the items they want.

If you look right now, we ended Cataclysm, we had Tol Barad, and we had a number of great items, but it was like kind of your only option of a place to go.

We want to have more options for players to go, but still be able to use all these options towards getting the gear they want.

So we’re looking at having groups of factions, and you can do any quest within these factions that you want, but they all lead toward that awesome flying mount reward. That one thing you really want to get. You don’t feel like you have to grind so much. We want factions to be fun. We don’t want them to feel grindy, and that’s something we’re really going to be focusing on here.

PvP Battlegrounds

Do we have a lot of PvP’ers here? So we were talking about making some PvP Battlegrounds. We don’t know exactly which of all these battlegrounds we are going to do, but these are all ideas we are working on.

We figured out this is Blizzcon, so we wanted you guys to think about and tell us about a few of them.

So we have different types of battlegrounds here with different types of game styles. You know, we obviously have CTF (Capture The Flag), King of the Hill type of game, so we’re looking at making different types of battlegrounds here.

Another thing is we are looking out to make new Arenas. Right now we have the Tol’vir Proving Grounds, and this is located up in Uldum. We have some screenshots to show you in a little bit.

Stranglethorn Diamond Mine

First, let’s talk about the Stranglethorn Diamond Mine.

The concept behind this is that the goblin mine below northern Stranglethorn — Alliance and Horde are fighting over it to get all these minerals out of it.

We are looking at doing a Payload style gameplay. So essentially, you have these mine carts to escort to a depot. When it hits the depot, you get points.

We’re looking at multiple tracks, within the actual mine itself, and the first team to escort enough carts through the depot with points would win, but you still are buried with a lot of options every time you play.

You could get a mine cart and send it on a different track each time, and we’re also talking about having you be able to, in the middle of the game, send the car off to a different track, and the track could split, and the player can sit there and decide which way he wants it to go.

So it’s a unique kind of style of gameplay, something that we feels is really pretty cool with what is PvP.

So this is a look at a map of how that could work.

There in the center of this diamond mine would be where the cart starts and then there is a couple of different tracks that lead all around the cave.

And you can see some of the tracks split in different directions. There are some bridges there, so when a track goes across the bridge you can knock guys off the bridge.

There’s all kinds of opportunities to do cool things here. Here’s a concept art. We’ve gotten a little bit of progress on to the point where we have some playable prototypes.

The Valley of Power

Next up, this one we’re talking about. It’s called the Valley of Power. This would be about getting an ancient Mogu artifact and capturing that artifact — the Alliance and the Horde both want it — because it offers power for the war on the other side.

The way the gameplay will works is: you have an object and you pick up the object, and the longer you hold it your team earns points.

Depending on where you stand in the area of the actual map, you could earn more or less points. So if run off in the corner and hide, you’ll earn less points.

If you stay out in the middle where it’s wide opened, you earn more points. The ball itself is doing damage to you so the longer you hold it, you’re taking more and more damage — so you need healers with you to keep you alive, but it’s really a fun style of gameplay and something we think, again, will fit really, really well with WoW.

So here’s a look at how something like this could work. We’ll have some start areas on the two sides of the ledge going all the way around, and then some stairs that lead to a some kind of recessed area, and the orb is right there in the center. So you start and run right for it. We’ve got a couple simple pillars for line of sight, but really a simple map. For something like this, the gameplay is all about the combat.

You don’t necessarily need a lot of line of sight blockers or things in the map to make it fun.

Here’s what I was talking about with the point values. You see the farther away you are, the less points you’ll earn. The more you are closer to the middle, the more you’ll get.

Here’s a concept art where this could fit into the world.

Tol’vir Proving Grounds

We haven’t done an arena in a long time, so we thought — you know — maybe it’s time to add a new arena in.

A lot of players are happy with the arenas that we have now, so we’ve been tentative to add a new one, but this really felt like a cool opportunity to use a really neat piece of art and do an arena that could be simple, and that players would really like, so we based it off of Nagrand Arena, one of our most popular arenas.

It’s got a great sense of place in the world because you feel like it could be in Uldum, when you go there you’ll know exactly that it fits.

So here’s a look at it from the top down. A simple square with four line of sight blockers, and they’re on angles a little bit, but the layout in general is very similar.

Here’s a look at it from the side to see how it can fit in Uldum.

So we have one other new feature we’re talking about adding in. And Greg Street (Ghostcrawler) will tell you about it.

Achievements

Pretty much all we can say about it is we’ll take some achievements, and let them be shared across the characters, and especially the ones that are more difficult to get, and this gives us a possibility to introduce new types of achievements.

So for example, we could say, get every profession to max level. That would be really cruel to do for one character, but across your other alt characters, it would be kind of fun to look for that.

Major Class Changes

Greg Street (Ghostcrawler): Let’s talk a little bit about some class changes coming up. I think most of these are pretty exciting.

Resilience

First one is a change we’re going to try for resilience. We like the way resilience works. We like that when you’re hardcore at the very competitive levels getting more resilient can make a big difference, and we know it gives you a goal to work for. Our concern is that if a big barrier of entry into Battlegrounds or Arena, there used to be a day when you could come in with your PvE gear and gradually work up to better PvP gear.

Players have told us now they feel like they can’t compete in PvP at all because it’s such a big step up. So the way we’re going to try to do this is to treat resilience as a base stat, which means you get a little bit every time you level up, and as you get PvP gear, you get up to the kind of resilience you have now.

We don’t want PvE gear to be the best gear for PvP, but we want it to be something you can use and viceversa.

A few things I’m going to talk about, the future of range weapons, Warlock and Druids. I can’t talk about everyone — but we still love you.

Ranged Weapons

First, let’s talk about Hunter minimum range. I’m going to milk this for a second. Oooo … it’s gone.

(cheers and applause)

Once you decide to make this change, then we’re left with what does a Hunter do with their melee weapon. It’s just a staff stick. So Hunters don’t need melee weapons anymore.

Just get your range weapon, and you’re good to go, and the funniest thing about this is we went really quick from everything is a hunter weapon to nothing is a hunter weapon.

And it led to a few more questions that I will share real quick. We don’t think we need a range slot for all the other characters.

We think the relics slot is one of the least interesting pieces of gear we can introduce. It has some stats on it, but we don’t drop them in dungeons, you get a new one every tier, and you’re good to go, and there’s not a lot of gameplay there, and honestly we don’t think we’ll really miss it.

The Rogue and Warrior can throw their melee weapon when they need to do range attacks. This is literally the gun, bow and crossbow weapon slot — all hunter weapons going across the bar, and the other classes don’t ever want them.

Finally, we know some of you casters really want to be Harry Potter. So rather than cutting the Wand completely, we’ll make it a main weapon like you have your caster dagger, and your spell sword.

Sometimes you can get a wand and it will have stats like the other items you can use on your main hand.

Warlock

Warlocks. Gone.

I’m kidding. I had to show some love. Warlocks are one of these classes we’re taking a hard look at with the new talent system, because we thought once some of those kind of signature abilities are available to any warlock, you’re really left with like a bunch of guys that are kind of using similar spells, and doing similar things — so we really thought there was a lot of room to kinda push Affliction, Demonology and Destruction away from each other a little bit. So the way we are going to try this is — we have a unique resource for every spec.

We are gonna keep Soul Shards for Affliction. We like the improvements made for Soul Shards in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and we totally agree with the feedback, but they’re not quite interesting enough. We have some cool ideas for them. The Soul Shards will be something affliction uses. You get to pick Affliction at level 10, you get Soul Shards. You get Destruction or Demonology, then you’ll get something different.

Demonology has a new resource called demonic fury — you build up demonic fury by doing stuff. When you hit max demonic fury, then you metamorphosis.

So rather than being a cooldown, you can try to build it up constantly and be in demon form a little more often, and we’ll do a new cooler abilities you get to have in demon form, and we think this will make the prospectus play very differently and we have a new resource for Destruction.

Destruction has always been a little tricky to design because it kind of feels like — hey, I’m a warlock that thinks is a mage.

(crowd laughter)

We think that’s not rich enough for Destruction. We feel that Destro can stand to have a little more excitement going on.

What Infernal Embers are — you can imagine a destro warlock that keeps casting fire spells slowly like gets hotter and hotter and eventually catches on fire.

When you get to this fire space, then your conflags do like really crazy damage. The problem if ever having those big destruction nukes be too powerful is the burst issues we have, but you have to build up to get to that point so we think we can handle throwing some really massive conflags out there.

This is the kind of thing, again, you can build it up quickly, hit your big nuke, then build it up again. We think it will be a lot more fun overall to play that spec — and then if you wish to switch to Affliction or Demonology it will feel pretty different.

Shaman

We think this is a good mechanic, but we agree it’s not fun like constantly dropping just to do competitive DPS or healing and be the buff bitch for everyone else in the group.

We’ll keep the concept of buffs, but it will be something that you can just have. We want it all to be about utility, and that means we have to fill in the design space a little bit with some new totems.

We have an Earthgrab Totem that does a big root around it, and we have the crazy Repulsion Totem to keep him from getting to close to the Shaman, or wherever he put the totem; and then we have the Bulwark Totem which puts a shield on the Shaman and helps him to take a little bit less damage.

When we talk about the Shaman talent tree here, you see how some of these totems fit in the talent tree. Some are poor and some are talents you have to choose to the exclusion of others.

Druids

This is a pretty short section, but it shows what we can do with this new spec and talent system we have. The druids always felt like they had four specs. So now they do.

(crowd cheers)

We’re adding a new one called “Guardian”, and this is the bear specific spec. You’ll see they’re trying to go after the player that wants to shift around to lots of different forms.

There will be a lot of overlap, but overall if you want to be the tank for your group, probably you would want to pick the Guardian spec, and you can still go cat or bear form. You’re not losing that ability.

All Classes

Just because I didn’t mention your class, so you know, that doesn’t mean we’re not doing something for you in Mists of Pandaria. We’ve done a massive spell book clean up, and gotten rid of some junk.

We have tried to find roles for some of those spells that actually didn’t do anything, want to clean up action bars a little bit, but not removing the fun things, but we’re kind of removing the spells that you didn’t really use often.

Rotations are improved.

You now automatically learn spells on the field, you don’t have to go back to visit the trainer. Trainers will still be there for things such as respec.

Lots of new spells with a lot of new talent trees. A few new core spells that make sense. Getting in a new level 87 spell and level 90 you get your final talent point, but we might get you a new spell at 87.

And overall, we really want talent trees to be fun. They shouldn’t be a chore. They shouldn’t be the thing you’re looking up on the internet to find your cookie-cutter build. Something you can obssess over and have a lot of fun with, and I think that wraps it up.

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