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World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King - first look
For the past four years, "World of Warcraft" aroused the admiration of players and the envy of the entire gaming industry. Blizzard didn't even have to make a special effort, because the competition was far behind, and the perfect masterpiece - "WoW" - required only minor adjustments. This year is a little different, because "Age of Conan" and "Warhammer Online" are released. Blizzard must therefore confirm its hegemony with the second addition to "WoW". Otherwise, players will start leaving.
Intensive beta testing of "Wrath of the Lich King" is currently underway. There are about two or three months left before the release. So far, Blizzard has not announced a release date, but it's a good sign. It's better to polish the add-on than to stress about the date when the game will hit the stores. The creators have already announced that the final changes will be made until the last days before the release of "WotLK".
The second addition is primarily a level increase to 80. These additional ten levels can be gained on the new continent - Northrend. It is located north of Azeroth and can be reached by zeppelins in case of the Horde and by ships, when we play on the side of the Alliance. As its location indicates, it is a continent covered mainly with snow and ice, but not only. After all, snowy white would be a bit too monotonous in the long run. There is also the city of Dalaran, fulfilling a similar role as Shattrath in "The Burning Crusade". It seems that the lands in "WotLK" are larger than those in "TBC", and there are certainly a lot more quests. It should be noted, however, that the jump in terms of the number of experience points required per level 71 is also considerable. Just like in "TBC" there was a gap between level 60 and 61.
Also new is a new class, called Death Knight. Previously, before the beta tests, I thought this was an unwise idea to say the least. Because if it's a "Hero" class, as Blizzard presents it, then everyone will probably want to play it, which means 90% of each group will be Death Knights and I dread to think about arenas. Especially since Death Knight is a very versatile class. It works equally well as a tank and a high damage class. Earlier I myself opted rather for new races or "superclasses" (there was once, a very long time ago, an idea that e.g. a mage could specialize into an archmage, which would involve a series of heavy quests).
However, when I played Death Knight, the doubts almost disappeared. There was a great storyline, a sensational series of quests, and an image for Death Knight. Regardless of the chosen race (all are available) Death Knight looks very dark, and his initial sets perfectly harmonize with the frosty theme of "Wrath of the Lich King". After creating the Death Knight, the player begins the game at level 55 in Ebon Hold, a citadel flying not far from Tyr's Hand. There, quite a long series of quests awaits him (allows you to freely gain three levels), which allows you to get used to the new class. Questline was prepared really well. Quests are arranged in a reasonable whole (ending with the battle for Light's Hope Chapel) and are very diverse. There is the aerial bombardment of ship decks, there are duels with other Death Knights, and in one of the best quests we get a mount designed for Death Knight - Deathcharger.
At the moment Death Knight is a killing machine. His main task is melee combat, but unlike the Warrior, Death Knight has quite a large arsenal of ranged spells, mainly infecting the target, but also immobilizing or attracting. Add to that the ability to wear plate armor and summon ghouls or Lichborne (immunity to Fear), and the Death Knight could once again make "World of Warcraft" lack the proper balance between classes. But for now there's no need to panic, we'll see how Death Knight will look like at the end of beta testing.
Read also: The Lich King - character description >>
As far as PvP is concerned, the new thing is the Lake Wintergrasp, which is designed solely for PvP. One side is tasked with defending a stronghold, another with conquering it. It was similar in Nagrand in "TBC", but Wintergrasp is a much larger scale endeavor. Blizzard has finally succeeded in what they've been promising for about three years, which is the introduction of machines for player-to-player combat. So in Wintergrasp, fighter and bomber planes are available, as well as motorized vehicles and catapults. There will be daily quests available in Wintergrasp, which include completing flight missions, evacuating NPCs, stopping enemies, and so on. For completing tasks in Wintergrasp players receive shards (similar to PvP in other lands), which can then be exchanged for items.
"WotLK" is also two new arenas: Dalaran and Ogrimmar. Unlike the arenas from TBC, the new ones contain movable objects, which will probably significantly affect the gameplay. For those who don't know, with the release of "WotLK" and the beginning of leveling, players will be removed from their current teams and their Arena points will be erased. Only at level 80 will it be possible to start or join an existing team. Arenas can therefore be played at level 70 and 80, and in skirmish mode, i.e. without points. For the fans of battlegrounds there is a new battleground - Strand of the Ancients, but I can't write anything more about it, because it is still not available.
There are no major changes when it comes to PvE. The system of 5-person groups and raids for 10 and 25 people apparently worked well, as well as the division into normal and heroic, since Blizzard decided to keep it. At the moment a total of ten dungeons are available and announced: Ulduar, Utgarde Keep, The Nexus, Azjol-Nerub, Old Strathome, Drak'Tharon Keep, Violet Hold, Naxxramas, Gun'Drak and The Obsidian Sanctuary. As you can see, the iconic, I mean arch-difficult at level 60 Naxxramas returns, and Caverns of Time will feature an unburned Stratholme. Fans of the best of the five-player dungeons in classic World of Warcraft can already rejoice. As I write these words, Americans can already enjoy pre-made characters at level 80 and Naxx will reportedly open for them today, Europeans still have to wait.
The last major novelty is the Achievements system. By questing, killing mobs, completing dungeons, killing enemies in PvP and many other occasions the player receives points for this system. At the moment there are about 500 points to accumulate, but the number will probably increase, especially since Blizzard announces that with each patch new categories will be introduced. Some of the tasks are quite reasonable (such as winning a duel or completing 50 quests), others are... fun, such as hugging 10 dead enemies.
There have been quite a few changes in the game interface, but that's not worth mentioning. Blizzard plans to introduce a patch before the release of "WotLK", which will include most of the improvements. The biggest of these is undoubtedly the fact that mounts and small pets can be "learned", thus freeing up space in your bags and bank. The second major improvement is the addition of a calendar. From other news, which are known to appear before "WotLK", it's worth mentioning the new profession - Inscription, which involves improving spells and skills, and the Barber Shop, or places where you can improve the appearance of our characters.
"Wrath of the Lich King" is a worthy successor to "The Burning Crusade". In many ways, it's an expansion of the ideas that were in the minds of Blizzard's developers back in the days of "TBC" and will probably have many hardcore gamers sobbing that it's "for noobs". Only according to Blizzard's calculations, hardcore players are only 5% of the "World of Warcraft" community. And few are right.