The day’s coverage began with many players criticizing the news site WoW Insider for not being willing to cover unverifiable rumors that fan sites like MMO Champion where reporting. Statements of being behind the curve and too slow to be a real source of information came from several readers, even when WoW Insider confirmed for themselves via a Blizz staff member, which is rather laughable seeing as how it proves the difference between a fan site and a new site.
Semantics and opinions aside, the big news was revealed yesterday, fueling a huge amount of hype and speculation. While I have said several times that I didn’t think level 80 was enough for facing off against the combined powers of Arthas and the Lich King, and thus had predicted we’d have an Ocean based expansion first, and maybe at level 90 we’d be powerful enough for Arthas. I still think we are too weak, but I guess that is why I do not make these games.
Other highlights of the features already announced for the expansion are that we will go to Northrend, where we will face mobs such as the Tuskarr, Vrykul(15 foot tall viking like mobs), and possibly blue dragons as well. The home city of Northrend, the Shattrath of Northrend if you will, is going to be a transported Dalaran, which float above the lands of Northrend. Surprising no one, Blizz took this chance to get a few laughs with an animation of the beloved purple dome floating up to Northrend.
This expansion will bring to the game several features people have wanted, and in some cases Blizzard has suggested, since before the original launch of the game. Hero classes, starting with at least the Death Knight class, will be coming in the expansion, as well as Siege Weapons in Battle Grounds, and improve character customizations, even on existing characters. Can you say hair salons? I knew you could. Hair will not be the only customization, as dances and other features will be customizable, but Blizzard developers did say that plastic surgery would likely not be in the expansion.
From the Expansion panel, where Developers gave more details than the general publicity stuff of the main announcement, we learned the names, designs, and details about the first 4 zones of Northrend that are done right now. The main entry points to Northrend will be the Howling Fjord and Borean Tundra zones, the first being home to Utgarde Keep and the aforementioned large, evil vikings who have become corrupted by the Lich King Arthas, and the second being home to Tuskarr with Naga apparently working to melt the glacial lands of the Tundra.
The other 2 zones that Blizzard introduced where Grizzly Hills, home to some unpleasant Furbolg, and Dragonblight, the graveyard of the dragon flights, and suspected home of the Blue Dragonflight and their aspect, Malygos. I saw no information on which zone Dalaran will be in, but Blizzard did say it will be floating in the sky of Northrend, and accessible by land and by flying mounts, which will give us our first chance to control our own mounts in Azeroth. In response to a question on whether we will need new flying mounts for Northrend, a developer answered that there will be new mounts available, but old ones should still work.
As I said before, WoW players have been waiting for Hero Classes for almost 3 years, and the general consensus seems to be that while Death Knights are a good start, many hope there are other hero classes at the expansion’s launch to allow players more choice and broader variations to the available hero classes. When asked about additional character slots, the original answer was no, but after much negative reaction from the audience, the devs said they would look into it.
The sense I got from what I read is that this may be simply a delaying tactic. I guess we will see. I would be happy with a different character selection screen for Heroes, but as my main server has currently 10/10 characters, if they do not have some way to add to the max limit, I would not be able to get a hero class. I would be more than a little disappointed at this. I hope we will see some news on this over the next few months.
Some of the stuff we learned about the hero class Death Knight is that it will have undead minion pets, wear plate, and have proficiency in bladed weapons. It will use runes instead of mana, with spells using specific rune combinations, each a mix of the three run types, frost, unholy, and blood. Death Knights will perform shadow spells, and will almost be a mix of the two classes Blizzard wanted to introduce in the beginning, Death Knight and Necromancer. The hero class will begin at somewhere between 55 and 70, and be a raid centric character, with the stated ability to ‘hang out with Arthas’.
Some of the changes they stated that would be coming between now and the expansion is another CoT instance, the previously announced Zul’Aman, Voice chat, and Guild banks, more daily quests, dealing with stuff like cooking, battlegrounds, and at least one dungeon. We can eventually expect to see an improvement on the lowbie grind, more information on the new Inscription profession, and much more. Oh, and for those interested, Inscription can allow you to add effects and power to spells you already have.
I hope you like my summary/review of the news out of BlizzCon, and please stay tuned for the next episode of All Things Azeroth, coming sometime this coming week.