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The folks over at Warcraft Secrets are hard at work, with The Hivemind mount still eluding them. But that may not be the case for long, as some secrets have already been revealed and a whole lot of clues found. As a reminder, the mount is presumed to be multi-person, and each person on it speeds it up by 10%, so it's one of the most unique mounts to come to WoW in a long time. In any case, there's colored crystal monocles and a lot of puzzle games involved, as well as everyone's favorite shopkeeper Griftah, who starts the whole thing off with the Talisman of True Treasure Tracking which then leads you to Vashj'ir, Skyreach and the Halls of Origination to start with.
This one's definitely going to be a tricky hunt and you can check out the full guide for all the parts discovered so far and even help out with the search over at Warcraft-secrets.com.
And, of course, as always, you can also join the Secret Finding Discord to share your findings and get really into the secrets and mysteries of WoW.
Game Director Ion Hazzikostas recently answered some Battle for Azeroth questions submitted by the Greek WoW community before the expansion came out and here's a summary of the Q&A. We learn more about the removal of Master Loot, Warforging/Titanforging and the stat squish system.
The team is excited about Mythic+, but at the same time they realize the incentive to run Mythic+ content with a lower barrier of entry has somewhat affected raiding in general and they're going to continue adding new benefits that are distinctly compelling to make sure raiding is still popular. They wanted to disable gear swapping in Mythic dungeons sooner but felt like doing it in the middle of an expansion in Legion would be bad. An entire Mythic+ dungeon is viewed in a lot of ways just like a single boss encounter, meaning no gear/talent swapping even when you drop out of combat over the course of the run. They're always looking for each spec to have a unique combination of strengths and weaknesses in PvP and that's hard in a game with 36 specializations. If you're Class is highly mobile, it's going to have less survivability. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you can expect to be tankier if you have less mobility. The team mainly focuses on increasing strengths as opposed to mitigating weaknesses. The alternative of always trying to bolster weaknesses leads to a state where everyone's kind of average at everything and that's a less interesting game to play in their opinion. With work done to the stat squish system in Battle for Azeroth, future stat squishes should be fairly easy to execute. They've overhauled every single spell and creature from 2004 through 2018 to complement the new system. No stat squish is needed for at least one expansion. Stat squishes are there to prevent numbers from spiraling out of control when there's no gameplay value out of it. Paladins and Druids in the Legion environment already bring plenty of utility, so they decided not to bring back Blessing of Kings and Mark of the Wild in the end. They're going to add more abilities to Classes whenever there's a need for differentiation. Years ago, loot was much harder to come by. Over the years, the game moved away from a space where you just kill a boss or run some content week after week and never see the item you want. Drop rates are now higher across the board, so you're effectively spending less time getting the item you want. Warforging and Titanforging keep some level of interest and potential growth in those repeated clears and create the opportunity for everything to happen, giving you more incentive to continue raiding the same tier. Sco got a Warforged socketed Polearm halfway through progress that was a giant upgrade for him on his tank that made an immediate difference. In a world where loot is more common, the rare opportunities to have these amazing items retains some moments of excitement. You're much better off doing a high Mythic+ rather than clearing old content for a small chance to get an upgrade. This was a problem especially in Legion, where players went back to clear Emerald Nightmare for a chance to get Legendaries or Titanforged versions of Class sets. That wasn't healthy for the game and they decided to move away from that. The benefits of removing Master Loot have outweighed the downsides so far and there are three things: On the lower end of the organization spectrum, there are guilds that go through trials and historically in the Master Loot world, guilds had very strict control of loot and trials were not allowed to get any loot. For the time and effort spent, the trial would get literally nothing out of it if the guild decided to not make the player a part of the roster. On the high end of the spectrum, we've seen top guilds run the same raid over and over to funnel gear to specific mains. Split raiding made it difficult to balance encounters and provide a challenge for Method and other guilds while still being a fun and satisfying progression experience for the majority of Mythic guilds in weeks to follow. Method's item level during the first week of Mythic would be higher than what typical guilds would have to work with a month later. It worked well in Uldir. Bosses like Mythrax, G'huun and even Vectis were challenges for top guilds without needing massive nerfs. Finally, it lets the team itemize in a somewhat different way. When Master Loot was an option, they had to design loot tables around the possibility of Master Loot, so very niche items (useful only to a handful of people) would drop even though there would be nobody in the raid to wear them. They think the raid composition in place since Warlords (LFR/Normal/Heroic/Mythic) is the right for World of Warcraft. LFR/Normal are serving totally different audiences. LFR is not a social or progress experience. Normal difficulty is for friends and family groups. In Mists, Normal difficulty was similar to Heroic today, groups found LFR unsatisfying and Normal as it was then to be too difficult, that's why Normal exists today in its current form.
We have some incoming class tuning next week, with some flat % buffs for Feral Druids and Frost Mages, applied to both PvE and PvP.
Class Tuning for December 18 (source)
With scheduled maintenance next week, starting on December 18 in American realms, we’re focusing on shoring up a couple of specs that fell a little behind with Tides of Vengeance:
Feral Damage of all abilities increased by 7%. Mage
Frost Damage of all spells increased by 3%. Both of these adjustments will apply to PvP activities as well.
In Patch 8.1, pet battles in Zandalar and Kul Tiras offer significantly less experience, but they are always up.
This change is intentional: with the new Family Battler achievement, Zandalar and Kul Tiras trainers can be battled at any time and you don't have to wait for the respecting World Quest to be available. As a downside, you can no longer level pets viably in BfA zones as the experience from these pet battles has been reduced significantly. To offset this, pet leveling stones will appear more often as rewards for pet battle World Quests.
This was an intentional change.
With the new Family Battler achievement, we changed all of the Kul Tiras and Zandalar trainers to allow them to be battled at any time. This makes it so that players can complete the achievement at their leisure, rather than having to wait for a specific World Quest to become available.
At the same time, we increased the chance for pet leveling stones to be a World Quest reward, and reduced the chance of both battle pet bandages and War Resources to show up as potential rewards from pet battle World Quests.
Game Director Ion Hazzikostas answered your Tides of Vengeance questions today and here are the highlights.
Azerite Armor in the Rise of Azshara will have all traits unlocked They're shifting AP to the Heart of Azeroth, allowing you to unlock permanent powers, and more. The CrossRP addon wasn't broken deliberately. They're planning to hotfix in an elixir that will allow you to understand the opposing faction for a short period of time next week. They're planning to roll out a hotfix for non-boss dungeon enemies that cause too many wipes and are bad with Teeming. You promised us better communication. Why were so many changes undocumented in 8.1? (Profession requirements on crafted gear, multitude of M+ mob changes)?
It's a continuing process of improvement. Blizzard is reading the undocumented changes thread on MMO-Champion and reddit. The latest patch notes were thorough, but not complete.
The Profession crafted gear bug that went live was an inconsistency. The change was rolled back. The requirement will be back in Season 2.
They missed some things like Stealth detection of mobs in Underrot. They failed to capture the changes. They're going to do better about that in the future.
Could you add rationale for changes to patch notes and/or hotfixes? This would be a huge step in communication.
They're going to add more "dev notes" to changes. They're not really satisfied with how they communicated that Mythic Keystones can no longerbe deleted.
The recent 8.1 patch broke the popular CrossRP addon.
There was no deliberate attempt to break the addon. Addons can't directly parse and do things with chat in Communities. This was done to help malicious stuff being done with the chat in Tides of Vengeance. They want to add an elixir to the game that will make you able to understand the opposing faction, but not speak their language. The hotfix is coming next week.
Wondering why the change to deleting M+ keys. Seemed like a great QoL change made in BfA.
It was a hotfixed change that they didn't fully think through. In the 8.0 pre-patch, you were able to delete your keys and reattain them. The team didn't like players deleting keys and picking seemingly easier dungeons.
Why were ones made to increase challenge and change strategy without addressing pain points of other dungeons?
In the last few days, they've got detailed breakdowns of dungeons mobs, consisting of various data, difference where Teeming is introducing an artificial difficulty spike, wipe counts, and as a result, Blizzard will be rolling out a hotfix to address some of these mobs next week. They need to get better at tracking them down internally.
Are there any steps being taken to improve the M+ pug experience? Most groups are falling apart if they don't use voice chat.
Voice Chat is the norm here, they're more interested to learn about how to improve the integrated Battle.net Voice Chat. Mythic+ is designed for real-time communication and that's not going anywhere anytime soon.
Why do we have to wait for the opening of the Battle for Dazar'Alor. Why do we have to wait for Season 2 so long?
Cutting Uldir short would be too soon. It's a healthy 8 boss tier, many guilds are still pushing for Cutting Edge. 3 months of raid tier would be too short and it's a natural thing of a new Season for a raid to come out.
It'd be nice to have a source of Titan Residuum that isn't finite. I know you don't was us farming it, but can't you make the end-of-dungeon at least have a chance to drop some? Or shard of it. It'd be nice on zero azerite drop raid weeks.
The residuum system is primarily designed to solve the problem of Azerite gear delivery from the weekly chest and give players more control over their loot. For now, it's a dungeon-focused experience and they don't plan to add more residuum sources in the near future.
How do you plan on handling the transition from Season 1 to Season 2 regarding Titan Residuum?
They don't plan to delete or introduce Titan Residuum. In the new Season, two new tiers of Azerite Armor will be added (ilvl 400 & 415). The new gear will have roughly the triple cost of the current Azerite gear. If you hoard Titan Residuum before Season 2, you will be only a week ahead. The amount of residuum from your weekly chest will also be proportionally higher as well as rewards from scrapping/disenchanting.
The purpose of AK is to reduce the gap between players who play and those who do not. With AK on hold for 6 weeks, there will be a massive gap between players.
They don't want players to grind armor prior to opening of the raid, since that would allow them to unlock all Azerite traits on the new gear straight away. This wasn't a 8.1 change, the system actually was in place with BfA launch. They wanted an eleven-week AK catchup system with an increment and the final week fell for December 11th.
Any plans making the Heart of Azeroth more engaging? Many players didn't hide the artifact skins via transmog in Legion. Why must the HoA feel so bland?
They want to improve the Azerite system. Reflecting on the system they launched, there was one central flaw. On one hand, they want Artifact Power to be relevant and it's cool to have long-term goals to work toward. The system works best when they are rewards to chase, what's bland is when rewards are tied to armor. In Rise of Azshara and beyond, Azerite traits will be fully unlocked and they're shifting Artifact Power to the Heart of Azeroth itself. More details TBA.
Do you plan on increasing gear reward item level of Warfronts and world quests as time goes on? A little disappointed to see 340 from the new Warfront.
Arathi is going to keep the same rewards. The Darkshore Warfront rewards will be increased by 15 item levels when Season 2 launches. World quest rewards will continue to increase based on your personal item level. In Rise of Azshara, they plan to introduce Heroic Warfronts.
Can we get Warfront rotation to speed up a bit? Once a month to participate in aparticular Warfront is kind of lame.
In practice it's three weeks. No we have two Warfronts rotating in parallel. They want to give everyone a chance to participate. In terms of relative availability, they don't want Wafronts to give you ilvl 400 rewards that would render other content (Mythic+, raids) somewhat obsolete.
As a Horde player on a Horde dominant server I will never see the 30% War Mode bonus. This is a problem.
They would be surprised to see a 30% Horde bonus, but it's going to increase and balance itself out in the future. It's there for a healthy balance across shards.
In 8.1 we will be able to acquire some rewards from Island Expeditions with currency, but this doesn't include the items that were available before 8.1. Will the previous items be available from the vendors?
Island rewards are going to evolve throughout BfA, nothing specific to announce right now.
It was previously mentions by Ythisens back in September that new ways to obtain Vicious Saddles were being worked on for 8.1, what are they?
In Season 2, if you fill up your participation progress bar toward the Seasonal mount, the bar will reward a saddle. It can be refilled multiple times per Season.
Are you satisfied with the state of Class design as a whole? The community seems to have a negative opinion on this topic lately.
No, we're never satisfied with Class design. They want to have deep expansion systems that are going to modify how your class plays out (Legion Artifacts, Azerite Armor in BfA) instead of giving Classes more abilities, but this leads to short-term dissatisfation. The pruning in Warlords and Legion was controversial. In BfA, they took a step back from that. Pieces of raid utility were added this expansion. It's hard to keep 36 specs unique.
Can we expect any form of Legendaries throughout BfA? E.g. MoP Cloaks, WoD rings?
Nothing specific is planned right now. Where it fits the story, it's something they're always open to, but nothing specific is planned right now.
What's the status on uncoupling Artifact pairs for transmog? I really want to mog shield and sword separately on my Prot Pally.
Nothing specific to announce right now.