WoW: Bring on the Lich King!

It has been over a year and a half since the release of The Burning Crusade.  The day when we got a whole new world to explore called Outlands, the day when our level cap went up to 70.  New monsters, new gear, new races, and new professions.  But after only a year, the world is clammering for more?  You’re damned straight they are, and Blizzard is serving up a new helping of kick-assery for your pleasure.

The Wrath of the Lich King expansion hit its beta stage July 17th, and is due to hit the shelves in the later half of 2008.  So what can we expect from our King?  Well…

  • Level cap raised to 80
  • Battle with the Lich King at the Frozen Throne
  • One new playable class: Death Knight
  • A new continent: Northrend
  • The creation of a new profession: Inscription
  • Profession level cap raised to 450
  • Hundreds of new items, quests, dungeons, creatures, spells and weapons
  • Siege weapons and destructible buildings (for PvP)
  • Transform your hero’s look with new character-customization options, including new hairstyles and dances.
  • A non-instanced Battleground.
  • Improved Graphics Engine (applied to shaders, flame effects and detailed shadows)
  • New factions including the Speartusk and the Taunka, a racial cousin to the Tauren.

Subsequent features announced or confirmed by Blizzard include :

  • Achievements for both the expansion and existing content
  • New Mount and Vanity Pet Storage

For me, the raised level cap and new continent are enough to make me want to buy the expansion, but thousands of new monsters, weapons, ect…  I feel like a really fat kid standing outside the fudge shop waiting to get in because the doors don’t open until the next day.

NORTHREND

Northrend is a crescent-shaped continent in northern Azeroth.The continent is roughly half the size of the Eastern Kingdoms, but is expected to match Outland in length and width. Although Northrend is known for its snow and ice, developers stated that only parts of the continent will be frozen over.Northrend will feature approximately eleven zones with content for levels as low as 68, though players may travel to Northrend at any level.Players will land by boat either at the Howling Fjord or the Borean Tundra zones, located at opposite ends of the continent, when they first arrive. Howling Fjord is home to evil vampiric half-giants called the Vrykul as well as Utgarde Keep, the first dungeon to be described in the expansion. Meanwhile, the Naga are attempting to melt the continent’s ice in Borean Tundra. The Dragonblight and Grizzly Hills zones are located in the southern central part of the continent, and the ursine Furbolgs reside in the forested Grizzly Hills. The Dragonblight features graveyards of dragons who came to die.  Lake Wintergrasp will be the first completely player-vs-player zone in World of Warcraft, even on player-vs-environment servers.

The Forsaken and their Banshee Queen, Sylvanas, have also arrived with a new contagion that they hope will prove to be effective against the undead minions of the Lich King. The Forsaken are seeking vengeance for being subjected to Arthas’s magic. They have recently created a settlement called “New Agamand” in the Howling Fjord.

The magi of Dalaran have also relocated to Northrend to deal with the rising threat of the Dragonflight and Arthas. The city of Dalaran will function as the neutral sanctuary city for the continent, similar to Shattrath City in Outland. Dalaran is levitating at great heights but can be accessed by either foot or flying mount.

According to Blizzard game designers, Arthas Menethil and Ner’zhul, combined as the titular Lich King, is the main focus of the entire expansion. Also been said that he will be a Boss, and commence the invasion of Kalimdor


INSTANCES

Several new instances have been announced at BlizzCon 2007.Another instance will appear in the Caverns of Time, set during the human campaign of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, in which Prince Arthas massacred the townspeople of Stratholme because they were infected by the plague. Previously unimplemented instances from the original continents will also be included. Many new 5-man, 10-man, and 25-man dungeons will be located in Northrend, including:

  • Utgarde Keep – An instance in the Howling Fjord filled with the Vrykul, a Viking-like race devoted to serving the Lich King. It has two wings – Utgarde Catacombs, and Utgarde Pinnacle.
  • Grizzlemaw – Located in the Grizzly Hills’ home of the Furbolgs.
  • An unknown section of Azjol-Nerub – The contested capital of the Nerubian race of spider-people.
  • Icecrown Citadel – Players will battle Arthas the Lich King, the ruler of the Undead Scourge.
  • Naxxramas – An updated version of the original Naxxramas, redesigned to cater for 25 man content.

Blizzard has also confirmed a new instance hub called the Nexus, home of the Blue Dragonflight, which will contain at least three instances. The first, a low 70s instance set in Ice Caverns, the second a high level instance seeing the player and their group face enemies on floating rings, and a final raid instance against the Blue Dragon Aspect Malygos, which takes place in a rift in the sky.

DEATH KNIGHT

The Death Knight is the first announced Hero class for World of Warcraft. Death Knights, according to Blizzard developers, will be able to fulfill the tank and DPS roles sufficiently. Death Knights can use plate armor and new rune weapons like Runeswords and Runeaxes, but they cannot use shields. According to an interview, a Death Knight’s summoned pets will be more similar to a Priest’s Shadowfiend, a Mage’s Water Elemental, or a Druid’s Treants in that they are pets with a set duration.

This class will not be accessible using normal character creation. Instead, once a player has a level 55 character, they will be able to create one Death Knight character per realm, which will begin at level 55 with a full arsenal of spells.Both the Alliance and Horde factions will have access to the class, but Blizzard is still working on the lore as to how Death Knights were accepted into the Alliance.

Instead of relying on rage, energy, or mana, the Death Knight will use a new resource system: runes, which will be displayed under the player portrait.The Death Knight will influence what abilities they are able to use by inserting special runes into their weapon, a process which can only be done outside of combat. Confirmed runes are blood, frost, and unholy. Each rune has its own unique abilities and look. Up to six runes can be set together in combinations of different numbers and types. Different spells and abilities will require various rune combinations, depending on the spell or ability’s power. The runes enter a cooldown period upon use, but there are plans for spells to restore runes in combat.

Along with a new profession, Inscribing, and a few graphical upgrades, there is plenty to look forward to from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.  One thing I’m personally looking forward to?  Pwning each and every one of you…

Don is an avid gamer, writer, screen writer,part time game maker, film director, and horror film fanatic. You can check out his book "How to Survive Zombies and Other Disasters" on Amazon.