World of Warcraft Second Expansion

So, Blizzard have announced the second expansion for World of Warcraft, Wrath of the Lich King. It's pretty much as expected, really.

The main features they're touting at the moment are:

  • The Death Knight hero class.
  • Level cap raised to 80.
  • "Spell augmentation" with the new Inscription profession.
  • New continent of Northrend.
  • Siege warfare, siege engines and destructible buildings.
  • New character-customization options, including new hairstyles and dances
  • New dungeons

The Death Knight hero class is interesting, The notion is that you somehow "unlock" the class, in much the same way as console games allow you to unlock new features as you play. I like the concept, but I'd prefer if they brought in more than one hero class - bringing them in one at a time pretty much makes it certain that every player is going to have a Death Knight character, just like every player has a flying mount (or, by this point, an epic flying mount) in the current release. There will need to be some limitations on races that can take this class, though; the notion of Tauren or Gnome Death Knights is a bit silly even for WoW.

Level cap raised to 80. Enh, that was to be expected, and I'm starting to think that level increase is the only way that they're going to get the real interest of the casual player - at least until they provide something that can be "tinkered with" - player housing, interesting fishing games, clothing dyes, or the like.

The Inscription profession is also of interest. I'm a fan of tradeskills, and an extra one is not something I'm going to complain about. It'd be nice if the path to 375 (and are they going to raise maximum tradeskill scores?) was a little smoother than in jewelcrafting, where it was possible to rocket through some stretches, and a slow, slow process through others.

New continent of Northrend - well, like the level cap raise, new areas are something they have to do in an expansion. I'm interested to see that it's something that ties back to the older stories of Warcraft, rather than building forward into new areas accessible from Outlands. It remains to be seen, though, whether Outlands will become a dead zone - that happened a lot in Dark Age of Camelot, such that the "main" areas still held population, and the newest expansion areas had plenty of people in them, but the old expansion areas were almost empty. I think there's a definite value in adding level 70+ content to Outlands - and indeed, level 60+ content to the two main continents.

Siege warfare, siege engines and destructible buildings are something that make me a lot more interested. PvP aspect, in my opinion, have more lasting power than than PvE aspects, simply because they're player driven. If these destructible buildings can be claimed and held by guilds - DAoC style - then they'll keep player interest in a way that little else can. For comparison in other games, see the huge wars ongoing in EVE Online between corporations with hundreds of members over areas of space they're claiming.

New character options are always welcome. If they're offering the ability to change hairstyles, I'll be very pleased indeed; Wormson's spiky hair has annoyed me from about three days after I created him. It's the little things...

And new dungeons: a resounding enh from the Duke Street jury. The new dungeons in The Burning Crusade were a definite case of more of the same, and I got too bored with them to continue getting together groups to run through them. Considering the awesomeness of the BC outdoor zones, this was puzzling. If they can do something that's actually new and interesting with these dungeons, I'm all for it. Otherwise, it's not something that holds a great deal of interest for me.

I know damn well, though, that even if I'm deep into LotRO or EVE by the time the expansion is released, I will buy it and play it, and that's what Blizzard are after.

Posted by Drew Shiel at August 4, 2007 11:17 AM

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