Readers might have picked up on the fact that I’m at times a bit tough on Blizzard and how they have been updating WoW. Sure I’m not the biggest fan of easymode everything, cookies for everyone, and the glacial pace of any real content being added or even recycled, but now that’s all changed. Blizzard has announced their newest expansion, and man, is it feature-packed with awesome. Lets take a look shall we?
* Two New Playable Races: Adventure as one of two new races–the cursed worgen with the Alliance or the resourceful goblins with the Horde.
Sure new races might mean a new 1-20 game and then back into the same grind as everyone else, and while originally back in 2004 races had a few distinguishing features that have since been removed and they are now all just different graphics models, but think of how great the lore will be around the goblins setting aside their neutral ways and finally picking a side! Plus the good, noble alliance gets the perfect allies with Worgen, who are kind and friendly… well no they are monsters, but still, Worgen! Maybe these Worgen crash landed in THEIR spaceship next to the space goats… right?
* Level Cap Increased to 85: Earn new abilities, tap into new talents, and progress through the path system, a new way for players to improve characters.
5 MORE LEVELS! Awesome. Sure this means another gear and progress reset, while giving you 5 levels less to quest and actually gain XP than usual, but come on, 5 MORE LEVELS! Plus just think of how awesome firebolt XIII is going to be. I mean sure firebolt XII in WotLK was nice, but can you image how awesome the XIII version is going to be? In your imagination of course, because firebolt will still have the same graphic effect it had in 2004, but come on, it’s level XIII now!
* Classic Zones Remade: Familiar zones across the original continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms have been altered forever and updated with new content, from the devastated Badlands to the broken Barrens, which has been sundered in two.
This is the big one. Remember how awesome Barrens chat was back in 2004? All those awesome Chuck jokes and deep debates about abortion? Blizzard just doubled the awesome by giving everyone TWO versions of Barrens chat! Can we pre-order yet? Plus who the hell wants NEW content when you can revisit those sure-to-be TOTALLY redone old zones? All new textures, all new layout, all new everything, just like the total remake of Nax for WotLK! This is Blizzard, and if they have taught us anything, it’s that old content is new if they say it is, and man, they are saying it here!
* New High-Level Zones: Explore newly opened parts of the world, including Uldum, Grim Batol, and the great Sunken City of Vashj’ir beneath the sea.
Another true fans dream. Remember back in 2004, when you went out to explore and found the Grim Batol ruins, but they were all empty and unfinished? Well it seems Blizzard was listening back then, because just a short 5 years later and $120 worth of expansions, here comes Grim Batol! I can’t wait for the new factions to grind out and the deep, rewarding daily quests to complete each and every day. Can we pre-order yet? Plus remember these are all new really high ( 5 levels high!) zones, so they won’t play ANYTHING like you have ever seen before!
* More Raid Content than Ever Before: Enjoy more high-level raid content than previous expansions, with optional more challenging versions of all encounters.
I don’t know, Blizzard set a pretty high standard with WotLK and it’s zero new raids. How the hell are they going to top that this time, especially since this expansion is hot on the heels of the last? My guess is when they say ‘more raid content’, they mean that MC, BWL, and AQ will still be around, but in their awesome new TOTALLY redone forms. Just think, all new bosses in MC, all new textures in BWL, and a total revamp of AQ! Plus why bother with real challenge when you can fight Rag without fire resist gear, Nef without your Ony cloak, and C’thun after you run directly into his beam? Everyone knows the TRUE hardcore do things ass backwards for those ultra elite pets and titles! I can only hope Blizzard shatters our definition of epic once more.
* New Race and Class Combinations: Explore Azeroth as a gnome priest, blood elf warrior, or one of the other never-before-available race and class combinations.
Um… gnome priests might be cool? I mean sure it’s not a hero class, or a new class, or a race system that matters beyond how your ‘epic’ dress glows, but um… a blood elf warrior is totally worth paying $40 for!
* Guild Advancement: Progress as a guild to earn guild levels and guild achievements.
Once again Blizzard goes out and pushes the MMO genre forward by leaps and bounds. This is sure to be much-copied feature in all MMOs going forward. I wonder how soon EQ2 and WAR can adapt and introduce guild levels? It would be so cool to run around with your guild’s banner in WAR, claiming keeps and opening up new buffs. Oh wait… Well at least you can earn AWESOME achievement points for your guild, which can then be turned in for… stuff? Hopefully they allow you to chat-link your guild level, so if nothing else your entire guilds e-peen can be displayed proudly across TWO versions of Barrens chat. Take that Chuck jokes!
* New PvP Zone & Rated Battlegrounds: Take on PvP objectives and daily quests on Tol Barad Island, a new Wintergrasp-like zone, and wage war in all-new rated Battlegrounds.
With out a doubt, the single biggest success from WotLK was Wintergrasp. Not only did it have a server-wide impact (in lag and crashing), but it allowed literally HUNDREDS of players (up to 100 anyway) to battle it out in truly epic battle of ‘surround the flag with tanks’. Plus it was just another layer in the already perfect and awesome PvP system that is WoW. What other MMO lets you stun-lock and chain-fear your way to victory, displaying your amazing tactical skills the entire time?
* Archaeology: Master a new secondary profession to unearth valuable artifacts and earn unique rewards.
Another serious addition to the already deep and interesting crafting system. One can only wonder what the 1-2 usable items Archaeology will bring once you grind it out to max, grind a faction to max, and get/buy a rare drop. Hopefully they announce what mats you will need to complete the grind, so forward-thinking master of the uber-complex WoW economy can start collecting now.
* Flying Mounts in Azeroth: Explore Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms like never before.
It was always a major downer to have to travel and run/ride across Azeroth. Most of my time in-game I always wondered “how much better would this be if I could just fly over everything, grab my quest item, and fly back”. Wonder no more WoW fans! Not only does flying impact the deep and tactical questing game, but it also adds… well the ability to fly places. Which is awesome, because aside from already seeing most of Azeroth from a flight path, I’m sure there are just TONS of places that are both unique and fun to explore, as anyone who has ever been on a private server can attest to. Trust me, you TOTALLY won’t believe what you will find over those previously impassible mounts (hint: nothing).
Plus, the super secretive “and much, much more”, which I’ll be honest, after that amazing sounding lineup, I don’t know if I can take ‘much more’, or even just plain old ‘more’. What could they possibly be hiding? A true hero system that expands your character rather than allow you to reroll, actual world PvP, a revamp to the graphics engine that was average-at-best in 2004, or an end-game not completely focused around epic (welfare) gear and rep grinds?
I know where my $40 is going, and that’s for the amazing chance to FINALLY play an undead paladin, with all the true Warcraft lore to back him up! What a truly great day not only for WoW fans, but for the entire MMO genre!