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Opinion: Wrath of the Lich King

Today, MMORPG.com's Joe Iuliani gives his first impressions of the recently announced World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King.

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Blizzard announces World of Warcraft expansion. Chinese gold farmers rejoice. (Let's face it higher levels mean more gold, Burning Crusade proved that).

From what I can tell from what the official announcement has to say, if you have been happy with what World of Warcraft has had to offer, Wrath of the Lich King looks like a crowd pleaser. If you've been disenchanted with WoW, um, why are you still playing?

Announced Features of Wrath of the Lich King are:

  • Master the necromantic powers of the Death Knight - World of Warcraft's first Hero class.
  • Quest to level 80, gaining potent new abilities and talents along the way.
  • Learn the craft of spell augmentation with the new Inscription profession.
  • Brave the harsh new continent of Northrend, the icy domain of the Lich King.
  • Engage in epic siege warfare, deploying mighty siege engines to lay waste to destructible buildings in your path.
  • Transform your hero's look with new character-customization options, including new hairstyles and dances.
  • Explore perilous new dungeons filled with some of the deadliest creatures -- and greatest treasures -- on Azeroth.
  • And much, much more...

Raising the level cap will be interesting, I'm sure all will be curious about how that will affect character's talent trees. Will there be 10 more points to add to the existing trees? Will it be possible for characters to become effective hybrids, with the hope of eliminating the need to Re-Spec your character between PVE and PVP builds?

The two major bullets to the announcement that really stand out are the Death Knights and Siege Weapons. The new zones, items, dungeons, and monsters (How many renamed and re-colored Murlocs must we deal with) are nice additions but, to be honest, those are to be expected in patches as well as expansions.

Death Knights, by scouring the internet and with the help of a guild mate (thanks Solt), I was able to find these anticipated highlights of the this new class

  • WoW's first Hero Class
  • Like an Anti-Paladin, can tank with 2h or dual wield (no shields)
  • Wears plate, likes bladed weapons (runeswords and runeaxes)
  • Will use a Rune resource system rather than Mana, Rage, or Energy-- choose six
  • Blood, Frost, or Unholy runes out of combat that can be consumed for spells, or refreshed by spells and abilities.
  • Will have their own mount and itemization.
  • Will be Alliance and Horde, "unlocked" via a long quest at level 80, and that quest will supposedly explain how players can become Death Knights.
  • Once unlocked, starts off at a higher level (55, 60, 70, not sure yet)
  • Spell: Army of the Dead: Summons ghouls. Not a pet class, but some abilities like that.
  • Available to all races

Just like any other class ever introduced in an expansion for any MMORPG one of two things will happen.

  1. It will be grossly overpowered for a while and then get thrown into the balance grinder with the normal ups and downs of the other classes.
  2. It will be grossly underpowered for a while and then get thrown into the balance grinder with the normal ups and downs of the other classes.

(Thanks to Arinon for summing that up so well)

Siege Weapons and Destructible Buildings: Take the battle to another level with new player-vs.-player game mechanics and new battlefields to wage war on. The details as to exactly how the siege weapons will be used are unclear. If it is used in a PvE environment it will certainly look cool, but will it be a resource grind to just enter new areas? I'm hoping that siege weapons find their way into PvP, the idea worked great for DAoC, and could add a lot to WoW's PvP.

Blizzard's attention to detail and their strong commitment to continuity throughout the WarCraft world shows in their decision to use the Lich King as an expansion vehicle. Warcraft's stories, lore, and characters are always entertaining, I hoping the game play stays competitive and enjoyable for the hard core MMO crowd out there.

It's a little early to make a solid opinion on this expansion, I'll be looking forward to the "much much more" listed on the releases web site.

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