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The Burning Crusade is coming and Technical Game Designer Wyatt Cheng tells us more

Well as all of you know by now the new Alliance Race is the Draenei. More importantly we were able to learn a lot about both new races and some of the upcoming content to level seventy. Wyatt Cheng from Blizzard, a producer on World of Warcraft, met with Dana and me for a good thirty minute demo. It seems that Blizzard is starting to move the game into a better direction from the stagnant end game we are all playing now. First, let me go through the races and their abilities, classes, and professions. Then I will try to go through what is coming from level sixty to seventy. There were many questions asked, not all were answered, but the ones that were will have the answers here. The Burning Crusade is a highly anticipated expansion and looks to put Blizzard back on track from the level sixty end game.

Let us start with the Blood Elves. We have seen the pictures of the “pretty” Horde race, but what about the stats? The racial traits of the Blood Elves being with: a +15 to Enchanting, +5% resist to all magic, a mana tap ability, and something called Arcane Torrent which allows Blood Elves to AOE silence enemies for two seconds with a two minute cool down. The Arcane Torrent seems to be the most important ability which will frustrate players in PvP. The small boost in mana will be great for casters, but will also boost warrior Rage and rogue Energy. Speaking of classes, the Blood Elves will have: Warrior, Hunter, Rogue, Priest, Mage, and Warlock. Those are the character statistics; let’s look at the starting area.

The Blood Elves start in Sunstrider Isle which is north of Eastern Plaguelands. Basically if you keep heading north from Stratholme you will run into the new zone, not yet though. Silvermoon City acts as the Blood Elf capitol which will have all the features and elements of Orgimar. One of the interesting elements is the giant scar in the earth from when the Blood Elves were forced to do battle. The level ten to twenty zone will be called the Ghostlands. It is an eerie bluish forest with its own creatures and habitat. Once level twenty is achieved Blood Elves can venture out into the world with the rest of us orcs, undead, tauren and trolls.

The Draenei are the new Alliance race that everyone has been speculating on until now. Here are the racial traits: shadow resist +10%, jewel crafting +15, Heroic Presence which gives your party a small boost to hit, and the Blessing of Naaru which gives the ability to heal themselves for fifty damage over fifteen seconds (those numbers are at first level and will be scaled as characters advance in level). The Draenei have the following classes available: warrior, paladin, hunter, priest and mage. Wyatt did mention that the Blood Elves come across as more of a magic race, while Draenei are more of a holy influence.

The Draenei begin in Azuremyst Isle and work through the levels the same way as every other race. The only thing was that during the demo, we did not get to run around as the Draenei as much as the Blood Elves. There are plenty of screenshots coming up soon from the press kit. So you can view the starting areas then.

Now for the questions we put forth to Blizzard. Some answers were great; some left us hanging for more. On the PvP front, there are plans for new Battlegrounds coming up. Blizzard is also looking for ways to link BGs between servers. Wyatt, Dana, and I laughed at the wild tournament potential that might provide. The one thing he did say which is very important was that members on the Blizzard staff want to see more outdoor PvP. They are exploring ways to make world PvP more meaningful for players. I really hope this makes it into the expansion but there was no comment on when this was expected. The other issue I addressed with Blizzard was the use of custom UI Mods, specifically macroing. Blizzard said that they are watching and measuring what players can do with Mods. It seems to be a growing concern among players especially in PvP combat. I plan on doing an editorial on it soon so please look for that in the future.

Jewelcrafting is the new profession available to players. There will be lots of new recipes for players in every profession (including twenty slot bags for tailors). Jewelcrafting allows players to make rings, amulets, trinkets and gems. The gems can be put into slots that pieces will have to give players a small boost to abilities. The chest piece we got to see had three slots for warriors to use. The system allows you to add gems to the armor or weapon and boost abilities. If you remember the Diablo system this is similar. The good feature is you have plenty of ways to spec before you commit to a gem socketed item. Also if you every want to Chenge the gems you can, only the old gems will be destroyed when the new ones are put in. This feature gives crafters much more to think about and players much more to focus on in regards to re-spec.

Wyatt did show us Medivh’s Tower which will be a level seventy raid dungeon for a group of ten players. The loot in the dungeon is expected to be very fair which will include both purple and blue items. Wyatt described it as, “Equal reward to other level seventy raid loot.” The tower had lots of ghosts and grand rooms; unfortunately we did not get to see much as our time was running out. At least it was good to see Blizzard is scaling some worth while end game content to small groups.

They did show us the Tier 3 armor set from the upcoming patch. The new raid dungeon offers loot that is high end but geared more towards raiders than PvPers. The Dreadnaught set I got to see is for the Warrior class and features a lot of defense and protection spec abilities. Since I play a shaman I had to ask what the shaman set specialized in. It seems they are looking to boost healing among the shaman for raids with the new armor. Remember this armor is part of the new patch not the expansion so we should see it soon.

I want to thank Wyatt for meeting with us and spending more than the allotted time on the demo. It is good to see that Blizzard is starting to add more to the game besides just large raid content. Outland looks great with the cities of Thrallmar and Honor Hold ready to greet players once they step through the Dark Portal. The Blasted Lands will become the new player haunt as the entrance to the Dark Portal can be found there. We also got to see the Nether Drake, currently the only flying mount in the game today. The expansion is still under a lot of work and there may be Chenges from what we saw today. If you have questions ask away on the forums, I will try my best to answer.

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