Tobold's Blog
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Blizzard announces Wrath of the Lich King

... and it turns out that my Freezing Jihad predictions of the second expansion being very much like the first were not so far off the mark. Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) will in fact add the icy continent of Northrend to the game, which will have level 70 to 80 content, raising the level cap by another 10. WoWInsider has the live blog from the Blizzcon presentation. There will be no new races, one new hero class, one new crafting profession, and the new zones with new high-level content. Siege engines and destructible buildings are being added to PvP. And elven hairdressers will finally be introduced, allowing you some character customization, while also teaching you some new dances.

I am completely underwhelmed. Where is the innovation? Where is player housing? Where is the new mid-level content? Apparently WotLK will have absolutely no new content below level 70. The only remotely interesting feature is the first hero class, the Death Knight. There will be a level 80 quest to unlock him, which does *not* delete your current level 80 character, but allows you to make a new level 1 Death Knight. Apparently from any race, even Gnome Death Knights have been mentioned. Yay!

Although I'm not excited about it, I'll probably buy the expansion, level one or two characters from 70 to 80, play a bit with the Death Knight, and cancel my account again after 3 months. During those 3 months I will gain green and blue items that are more powerful than the purple items people are currently getting from raids, so why would I want to stay for the raiding end game? If Blizzard wants my monthly fees all year long, they better release expansions with a bit more content than this.
For the record, every mention of the Death Knight has stated that it will start at a 'high level', with many rumors pointing to somewhere between level 60 and 70.

If they forced them to start at level 1, no one but the hardcore would bother to play them.

Still, not what i was hoping for. My fingers remain crossed that Expansion 3 is the Emerald Dream with the Archdruid Hero Class.

I love my druids =x
My thoughs exactly. I love my current character, I have invested a lot of time in him (it's also a druid btw). If I can't upgrade that SAME character into a Hero class, I'm just not interested. I don't care if it's 'high level' or not. Just imagine having to level a character to 80 in order to be able to create another one. Sorry, am I the only one who thinks this is crazy?
WoW is now entering the Luclin phase, where it's lack of competition artificially disguises the long slow decline that's just around the corner.

The whole expansion just seems discombobulated; a lack of cohesiveness or true vision. Nothing really unifies all of these promised features.
for me a great example of "expansion" is the guild wars separate campaigns. Not only do they add new classes, they also are playable without the original version, all have content from level 1-20 and all in all I'd say the pve content is pretty good.

Being a pve player myself, the pvp part of the game isn't as appealing to me as the pve side, but there's no monthly fees so I'm not complaining.
What kind of mid-level content would you expect in the expansion?

I hear this request a lot but I do not understand the basis. The only people I could see requesting this are the people who roll so many alts they are tired of running mid-level zones. If that was true you would see a lot of people in the current mid-level zones which you do not. Even Hellfire, the entry zone to the BC is in the single digit population all the time.

People might be asking for non-progression content when they say mid-level? Is this the case?

On housing - I'm sure they could throw together a simple implementation of instanced houses. But would that be good enough? We've seen that in other MMO's and it isn't so hot.

The WoW team isn't limitless. If Sony experienced the type of success WoW did they would hire a thousand people and put them on the team. A thousand people who don't know the culture, the game, the theories behind the game - in short people who are eventually going to make poor games in the long run. So that leaves the teams at Blizzard much smaller than you would expect because they can mantain a focus other companies lose at the first site of success.
It's chicken and egg. Maybe we don't see many players in mid level zones because they can't bring themselves to slog through old content no matter how much they might be interested in an alt.

The reality is that some people just flat out hate raiding and instances and prefer outdoor questing, either in solo or small groups. For those players, it's been all down hill since Velious.

I've got a level 20 Blood Elf Mage but I have zero interest in questing in Hillsbrad, so he's semi retired.

This is a tired argument, though. Blizzard has millions of subscribers. Clearly, the overwhelming majority of players have no problem either abandoning the 1-60 game entirely or simply replaying through old content regardless of how many times they've seen it.

And that's the reality. If half a million subscribers had jumped ship to LOTRO, then you can bet that Wrath of the Lich King wouldn't even remotely look like a Burning Crusade clone, but LOTRO did not snare a noticeable number of casual players from WoW, so the status quo continues - which makes perfect sennse, from a corporate standpoint.

PS: hamster wheels suck )
Isn't it way too early to comment on how WotLK will suck? This announcement is much like the first announcement of TBC at Blizzcon in 2005. It can't possibly include all the features yet.

No one announced a release date, and I bet it's not coming out til late 2008 at least. One thing about the MMORPG community that is terribly irritating is that everyone is all doom and gloom and finger pointing about decline of games so easily.
I guess that's what I don't understand. The game already has several redundant mid-level zones.

Instead of Hillsbrad you could go to the Barrens, Stonetalon Mountains, Wailing Caverns, Ashenvale, Thousand Needles, Shadowfang Keep - there are options. If you've already experienced those several times you can move on and experience the later zones.

Going from 1-60 you have at least two choices of zone progression. For each side, giving you a total of 4 1-60 experiences which are roughly unique. I'm not sure why that isn't enough. If you reach that point and want to experience new content, play the expansion zones. I went from 60-70 and barely did any quests in Blades Edge, Shadowmoon and Netherstorm. I never ran out of quests in the other zones.

I've leveled several characters to 60 on both sides and there are still some zones and dungeons I've only briefly visited.

Sunken Temple? Black Fathom Depths? Maraudon? There are tons of great dungeons that you could spend weeks going to at mid-level. Most people race ahead and only visit those 1-2 times. Myself included.

Personally, I would love to see more lateral progression options - housing, PvP scenarios and PvP goals.
Maybe it is a bit of premature doom and gloom in the air, but it seems the little bit of information that was announced doesn't excite everyone as much as it should.
Looking at the presentation blog it didn't seem so bad. DK starts at higher level, instead of designing a new race they promise to focus on more content, which in my book is a good decision.

For me TBC did basically 2 things not right: accessibility of the raiding game and lack of addition of 20-60 content. I think not adding more 60-70 content would be fine because in terms of relative density there is just more there.

The reasons why these two were bad is because it hurt alt play and it hurt game longevity by pushing a lot of people out of raiding who raided before.

I dislike the notion that everybody can interact with arthas, because for me that just sounds like they won't fix the raid accessibility problem but give alternative routes. But here it really depends how they do it, if it feels gimmicky or is actually something for those of us who could raid 2 nights a week tops.
To be fair - some things people want such as guild banks and so forth, are being patched in sometime in the future. This is often a good step towards "player housing".

This expansion no doubt has more features to offer - but so far is delivering alot of what is asked for on the WoW forums and offsite, it demonstrates that alot of player wants are being introduced, which is always a good sign.

Nonetheless, its not fair to judge yet. I however feel its good to know that features players have asked for are playing a large part in this expansion.
In what sense would player housing be innovative? The first big game had it!
Is my only impression or this expansion offer very little content than TBC? At first i think at a fake news.. but.. i hope it cost less than the first expansion ;-) PS: sorry for my English
Wow with this expansion will become more and more like EQ2. The world will get bigger and then people will be expected to solo to 60 or 70 or even 80 before they can regularly get groups. And it will begin to run off the new players. Maybe it already has in the US. They won't release localized subscription numbers anymore so we really don't know.
But all my friends who keep begging me to come back keep complaining they can't find groups. Who'd have thought 9 million players would mean less grouping.

I realized when I tried to level and alt in BC that my biggest enjoyment was riding the wave up with all the new happy players just having fun. Unless they revamp the leveling zones or add new ones that won't come back

I think that when a new game comes out that is even close in quality that you'll see a lot of people who want that feeling back jump ship and never look back.
Yea WotLK doesn't seem very exciting. I'm soo glad I cancelled my account back in March at 70lv and half way thru Karazhan. The raiding became too much of a job. I'll stick to my own private server where I can get whatever loot I want and raid BT with small groups. Then I'll play AOC & WAR. I might come out of retirement to play up to 80 and get better gear than my guild that raided 4 days a week for the past 6 months and will continue to do so for the next year lol.
"I am completely underwhelmed. Where is the innovation? Where is player housing? Where is the new mid-level content?"

Since when is player housing (trivial game fluff) considered innovation?

As for new mid-level content, sure that would be nice. But not if it came instead of new high-level content. Given that Blizzard's resources are not unlimited, I would rather see Zul'Aman than another leveling area for 20-30 or whatever. Sure I have alts to level, but my main emphasis, and I'm sure this is the case for most people, is on my main. Pun intended :)

Like most WoW players, I've never seen the inside of AQ40 or Naxx. Nor am I likely to see BT or Mount Heyjal. So for me and I suspect most players, the most important thing is new high-level *accessible* content, new game features, and further in the future, new chances to progress my character.

With stuff such as Guild Banks and Zul'Aman being talked about for a patch coming soon, I have stuff to look forward to regarding accessible content and new game features. But if I didn't have anything to look forward to in terms of character progression, I would be disappointed. Alts are fun and I have a few of them, but I would really be disappointed if level 70 was the end of the road, period.

As for innovation, seems to me that a totally new type of profession and WoW's first "Hero Class" both *scream* innovation. Initial descriptions of the new profession is that it will be like enchanting but for your spells and abilities. Now how cool is that, especially if you will be able to see those inscriptions on the AH, like gems?

As for the Death Knight, many people have reported that you will start at level 70, not level 1. The class abilities sound confusing, but I look forward to seeing how they are implemented. Certainly, they sound exciting and different. Or in a word, innovative :)
My only concern is how this class will affect class balance for for raids and PvP. Given Blizzard's usually slow response (and poor judgment tbh) with regards to class balance, I have a feeling it will get a little messy initially :)

"During those 3 months I will gain green and blue items that are more powerful than the purple items people are currently getting from raids, so why would I want to stay for the raiding end game?"

I don't understand this argument. What's the point of gaining gear now that you know will be outdated once the expansion comes? Why would you want to raid now? Well, in a word, for fun. More specifically, fun *now*.

Sure, someday I'll get better gear. That's what progression is all about. But right now, better gear means better PvE and PvP, easier farming and ability to do stuff I would not have been able to do before (solo-ed an elite 69 yesterday for a quest, something I could not have done a month ago :)). If you aren't having any fun from present content, I guess coming back only to sample the next expansion content makes sense. But I don't think having better gear in the future should lessen your enjoyment of current game content.

"I don't understand this argument. What's the point of gaining gear now that you know will be outdated once the expansion comes? Why would you want to raid now? Well, in a word, for fun. More specifically, fun *now*."

Like you said, you will never see BT, and you just beat a 69lv. I was doing that two weeks after the expansion. Raiding for 4-12 months seeing crap drop and putting in 20+hrs a week hoping for a miniscale increase in dmg is not *FUN*. If you ever raided content before they had walkthru guides you would understand.
@sam: what you say is already true right now on my server. Even grouping for lvl 70 group quests can be tedious. Basically you will meet people at 1-20, then it quickly wears thin and you basically solo to 55ish where it gets slightly more. Still for practical purposes, places like Hellfire Peninsula are almost empty already.

Most pugs go heroics, which means that many people are even rep starved who just leveled up.

Not to make this sound too bad, there are levelers around and you still can get the rep for heroics and other stuff, but it's a lot more tedious and mid-level a lot more solo.
This is basically BC2.

Raising the level cap once again by 10 is to me a really bad idea.
Just like in BC, all the hardcore players will be Lv 80 in a week. All the gear I spent ages trying to get will be junk; a couple of 10 minute quests will replace gear that took me a long time to grind at Lv 70 (Frozen Shadow Weave set for example).

No doubt there will a raft of new reps to grind, Cenarion Exiles or whatever, that have never heard of me, despite the fact I'm exalted with Circle and Expedition.

Then there will be the requisite raid instances that I havent got a hope in hell of visiting before the next expansion comes out. You can add those to the other raid instances I never had time to play like AQ40, Naxxramas and Black Temple (despite playing some 25-30 hours a week).

Karazhan will be just like UBRS, done once in a while for a laugh with 2 or 3 guildies, but otherwise empty.

I pity any new subscribers, because they won't have a hope of learning how to play in a group properly. Imagine having to play solo from 1 to 80 before there is any need to group.

New dances? Sounds fun, but hardly a reason to buy an expansion.

Excited about the new expansion? Not at all.
Does this mean that a majority of the user community will be playing Death Knights?
There's still hope, they can add more to the announcement right? You never know right?

Hm. I guess I'll go cry myself to sleep now. :)

They still have time to fix the errors though, mid-level content would be more desireable at this point. I'd rather grind levels out out the hard way than walk through strangle-hold vale again.
First i was also a bit disappointed, about the lack of new Content for Lvl20-60.

I just love twinking ;)

But in the Q&A one of the Blizz Guys said the following: "We are aware of that, we find the leveling takes too much time, we will have a solution, probably even before the Addon comes out".

So it's quiet possible that they might not add more Content ,but make the process faster to go thru 20-60, which i would welcome, especially for people who have already a high-lvl.

That would also increase the amount of people who twink, and therefore give new players more company to play with.
Wait, so people complain that they have to raid to get gear upgrades at endgame, and then complain when there's new levels added that will give you gear upgrades as you level?

What it seems like to me, is that "raiders" miss the old lvl 60 world where they had a massive gear advantage over the "peons". And yes, I've raided before and had that gear advantage. The gear disparity created far too many problems in the game and the current trend of resetting the gear is far superior in my opinion.

If you want to argue on Blizzards time frame of pushing instances out and the general lack of popuplation percentage that actually gets to see the raid zones, that's a different issue.

Personally I don't really raid very often anymore, because it's not worth the time you need to put in as much as I enjoy the boss fights. The loot was fun, but seeing the content was more entertaining. I think Blizzard made a mistake with not having more 10man raids in TBC, say 3 at different gear lvls, even if they were only minor gear upgrades as opposed to 1 zone that acted as a Guild Buster, and then you were back up to needing a bigger roster.

As far as the new expansion being a disappointment, all games are basically more of the same, if they weren't you'd risk losing massive amounts of your audience, which is honestly, stupid to risk. If you want innovation on a large scale, it will come from a different game, either someone else's or Blizzards next MMO whenever WoW runs out of steam.

The new PVP zone sounds like it can be very entertaining, and evidence that Blizzard is very aware of WAR's eventual arrival.

While new mid-level content would be fun, I think a simple upgrade in old world XP and maybe even quest rewards would go a long way towards making old world content quicker to plow through if you're intent on leveling a new character. I know I haven't had a driving urge to pound my level 30 shaman through the old world levels, but I would say that new mid-level zones are not worth the time investment for Blizzard. We all enjoyed the content for the most part leveling up the first time (or three) and while new players may find the zones a bit less full then before, it's not like they were teeming with people before TBC came out.
Frankly, I am hoping that the new expansion is at least a year away so that I can have more time to finish TBC. That aside, like others I wonder what would be innovative about player housing and more 20-60 content. Neither option is interesting to me. I get enough player info off the Armory, and with three 60+ toons still haven't completely exhausted the Horde-side 20-60 content (and have no Alliance toons past level 20) -- but speaking of needing new content, anyone tired of being funneled through Hellfire Peninsula yet?

I am happy to see some innovation in PvP. I'm a big fan of WoW PvP action even with its flaws.

All-in-all, the Lich King announcement was IMO mostly an eye-candy-and-hype preview. Assuming I'm still playing WoW a year from now, I'll pretty much ignore Expansion 2 until they drop in the 3.0 patch. This time, though, if possible (time-wise) I'll gather the mats and have a level-70 ready for the new profession.
I, for one, am extremely excited about the new expansion, and I think Solid hit it straight on.

Looking at the screenshots, reading about the Death Knight, reading WoW Insider's articles about BlizzCon, I can't wait until the expansion.

Would I like some new mid-level content? Sure, but I'd rather Blizz spend time focusing as much as they can on the 70-80 stuff... that's where quite a few people will be spending most of their time. I would rather see polished level 70-80 dungeons than a new level 20 dungeon.

Also, in one of the Q&A sessions with Blizz, they mentioned that they're thinking of speeding up the 1-60 process. While new players might not get to see all of the content, it would make things easier for alts.

Sure, Wrath is more of the same, but I loved Burning Crusade... I'm an explorer, I love seeing new sights, new dungeons, new stories. So it's a pretty safe assumption that I'll love Wrath just as much, if not more.

The bottom line is, if you didn't like BC, you probably won't like WotLK. And if you don't enjoy the game, it just might not be for you. And that's not necessarily a bad thing :P
Any new content will surely be fun.
The walrus dudes look crazy. Totally wasn't expecting something like that. And the half-giants? Hmmm…
But overall, that trailer was fairly lame. The new environments did look really cool. Love the fire in the forest. But otherwise, weak VO, odd music, and *gaspOMG* Arthas! Good lord, it's not like everyone wasn't expecting that. Now we can all be deathknights! Woo hoo! Oh, wait, that doesn't work on soooo many levels: not the least of which are class type and lore. Aren't deathknights supposed to be fallen paladins? Will a mage-turned-deathknight have the exact same abilities as a hunter-turned-deathknight? Will a hunter's pet, for example turn into a death-pig, or death-turtle, or Zangarmarsh death-ray?
Again, I'm hoping this is all extremely preliminary.
I'm not holding my breath yet - mainly because thinking too much about the expansion takes away a bit of the joy of the game for me (state of denial about what will happen to my current gear some time in the future suits me better). Who knows what the future will hold? About the 'mid-lvl-content-debate': I think lvl 40-50 needs to be less dreary. If it happens with added content or faster progression is not the main point. I'm curious though, other people asking for more mid-lvl-content: Which lvl bracket would you choose to add something too if you could choose one? Is it only me who finds 40-50 an all-time low on most characters (alliance only btw)?

Something I seem to remember said about TBC was that we would see shorter instances (relatively speaking). When I first entered Hellfire Peninsula and went to Ramparts/Furnace I felt that that promise indeed held true, and I still like those two places lots. I hope they add more instances of 'ramparts-length', any lvl will do, especially some for endgame-lvl (I guess Mechanar partly is what I'm talking about, I'd like more though).
Oh, one thing I forgot: I really fear for the rogues. Supposedly the top single target dps, but personally I think they got the short end of the stick somehow with TBC (I don't play a rogue main, just speaking from what I've seen when doing 5'mans with more than one rogue mainly, I have the impression that it was much smoother before). Another melee class sounds nice I guess, but who will save the sneaks?
another expansion finally!
i know blizz won't screw up
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