Bigger and Better in Azeroth I R.I.P. VG:SOH OF
Winds of Change in DDO I Merges for Conan
File M for Miscellaneous I More WoW

Issue #70 Black and Gold
January 16, 2007

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If you're reading this then you either A) Don't play World of Warcraft and are sick of hearing about it, or B) Play World of Warcraft but aren't playing because your copy hasn't arrived yet. I'm more of a C person myself, I play World of Warcraft but I am sick of hearing about it. So, to those playing in the Outland, or a Draenei Shaman or a Blood Elf Paladin: Cheers!

I'm not much of a professional football (American) fan, but when your hometown team is one game away from the Super Bowl, you bet I'll be supportive. Geaux, geaux New Orleans Saints!

Now, on with the column.

  Bigger and Better in Azeroth

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

Last Tuesday the Dark Portal opened up and the final countdown for The Burning Crusade expansion started. The wait was over last night, or today depending on how you look at it, when the expansion went live. Of course, before entering, you had to get your copy of the expansion. Lucky for many players, stores were opened at midnight to sell to the masses. I didn't go out last night myself, but I hope those who did came out unscathed from some of the rabid fans.

As you know by now, the expansion came in two flavors, a regular edition and a Limited Collector's Edition. Unfortunately for those collectors, many stores accidentally took more pre-orders for the LCE than they should have. If you knew you lost your LCE pre-order ahead of time you had two more opportunities to get your hands on it through Blizzard's online store. Of course, it sold fast both times.

Usually expansions mean lots of server downtime. I've come to expect this, but Blizzard surprised me today by not having major downtime. Servers were consistently stable with a few instances of world servers being down. Bravo to Blizzard on a smooth launch, especially with over 8 million players trying to log in constantly. For this, Blizzard gets a cookie.


Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Yes, I intentionally made this title hard to understand. I wanted to see if I could make it using only letters that spelled nothing. I think I succeeded.

Sigil Games Online is entering the final stages of beta for Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. So what does a company do when they intend to launch in two weeks? If you're Sigil, you close the official forums for the games leaving only tech support forums. Now that the official forums are closed, fansites will now be the center of discussion for gameplay improvements, quest information, class discussions and other things one might normally find at official forums. Some players may already visit different sites for their forum needs (class, server, crafting, etc) while for others this may be a new experience.

There is a good side and a bad side to this. The good is that it will save Sigil money, since they have apparently run short of funds and had to launch at the end of January to continue development. However, that is also the bad side. Vanguard is one of the most expensive MMOs to be developed in recent years, just behind World of Warcraft. Word from beta testers in various forums is that the game is not ready to launch. This is up to debate because it's mostly the opinion of a single group of people. There are other beta testers that believe the game will be better at launch than it currently is now in Beta 5. Vanguard will already be a hit and miss game. Think of it as a major throwback to the early days of EverQuest. Traveling will be an integral part of the game. If you can't handle long boat rides (even with activities to do on the ride) or long land based travel via horse or caravan, then look elsewhere. Oh, and there won't be any class specific teleport spells around the world. So at least you won't see "WTB Port!" in shout every five minutes.

It's going to be a toss up for many on January 30th. To buy and trust those who say launch day is the start of a paid Beta 6 or trust those that the game will be more than just a paid Beta 6. Flip a coin, it works and is great for decision making.

Personally, I've tried the Vanguard beta and my machine can't run it even at settings for high performance. If you intend to buy at launch, make sure your system is up to the challenge of running the game. Better now than later while cursing at your monitor.

  Winds of Change in DDO

Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach

For those who don't keep up with the official Dungeons & Dragons Online site, changes in the Enhancement System are underway. Under the new system, there are five basics players will need to know:

  • One: Under the old system, as players leveled they gained newer versions of enhancements they had and the older ones disappeared. Now, players will be able to spend action points to upgrade a current enhancement or buy a new one.
  • Two: Players will now be able to specialize in certain enhancement areas or spread their points across everything for some versatility.
  • Three: Most current enhancements will be around in some form. Some will be split into multiple enhancements while others will be rebalanced.
  • Four: Upon logging in when the change goes live, enhancements will automatically be wiped and players will receive the appropriate number of action points. From there, visit your favorite trainer and you're set.
  • Five: No new system is good without new abilities. New enhancements will be available that will increase effectiveness of class skills and abilities.

Expect more details on the changes to be available later this week.

 Merges for Conan

Age ofConan: Hyborian Adventures

Age of Conan has received some major class changes recently in its beta process. The developers looked at the classes after gathering initial testing data. From there, they decided the classes were lacking in the ability diversity department. Due to the changes in the class system, many have been merged together to give players a more limited choice with more diversity in gameplay.

The merges:

  • Guardian and Halberdier have been merged, class name is Guardian.
  • Barbarian, Reaver and Master Thief merged, class name is Barbarian.
  • Conqueror and Liberator merged, class name is Conqueror.
  • Zealot and Dark Templar merged, class name is Dark Templar.
  • Defiler and Lotus Master merged, class name is now Assassin.
  • Ranger and Waylayer merged, class name is Ranger.
  • Stormcaller and Druid merged, class name is Druid of the Storm.
  • Scourge of Derketo’s abilities have been merged across the Priest archetypes.

In the coming weeks, Funcom will be releasing special previews on each of the classes either at the official site or through partner sites.

  File M for Miscellaneous

Pirates of the Burning Sea

Pirates of the Burning Sea developers have opened a contest for interested gamers. This being a game about pirates, you'd expect each group to have a flag and sail to show who they are, but right now they don't. This is where the contest begins. Every two weeks, information about some of the pirate groups will be released and from there, players will be able to submit their own flag and sail designs. Each submission will be judged by Flying Lab Software staff. This is a great way to leave your own personal mark on a game. For full rules and details, check out the official site.

The Saga of Ryzom

More changes are underway for The Saga of Ryzom newbies. Developers plan to implement a change that will give the Kami and Karavan teleport NPCs the ability to teleport a player from the starter island to their race capital city along with one of the other three capital cities. This change will allow new friends to stick together and continue to adventure.

 More WoW

Today I present to you two screenshots for your viewing pleasure. These were taken a few hours ago in The Exodar while I was exploring and learning the teleport spells for the city. Isn't the Netherwhelp so cute? I named him Fluffy.

The new expansion for World of Warcraft is out, so there's tons of stuff to screenshot. So, send them in and show off how uber you are at 63.

 Log Out

Another week, another column. And I do believe it is time for me to eat my dinner. Make my inbox feel happy by sending in some of those screenshots I know are stored on your computer. Trust me; I know what it's like to get Screenshot Happy.

Until next week, peace out.

Travis "Geaux Saints!" Templet

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