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Saturday, September 6, 2008

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King is the upcoming second expansion for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft, following The Burning Crusade. It is set in the land of Northrend, home of the Lich King, Arthas Menethil/Ner'zhul. It was confirmed on the first day of BlizzCon 2007, August 3, 2007.[3][4]

No official release date has yet been announced, but it is anticipated to be released in the second half of 2008.[1] Blizzard President Michael Morhaime indicated that it will be released in late 2008.[5] The expansion began beta testing on July 17th, 2008. Opt-in beta test keys were sent out starting on August 4th, 2008.




Some of the features announced at BlizzCon 2007 include:

  • Level cap raised to 80
  • Battle with the Lich King at the Frozen Throne
  • One new playable class: Death Knight
  • A new continent: Northrend
  • The creation of a new profession: Inscription
  • Profession level cap raised to 450
  • New items, quests, dungeons, creatures, spells and weapons
  • Siege weapons and destructible buildings (for PvP)
  • New character-customization options, including new hairstyles and dances
  • A non-instanced Battleground
  • Improved Graphics Engine (applied to shaders, flame effects, water appearance and detailed shadows)
  • New factions including the Speartusk and the Taunka, a racial cousin to the Tauren

Subsequent features announced or confirmed by Blizzard include:

  • Achievements for both the expansion and existing content
  • New Mount, Vanity Pet and Token Storage
  • Built-in threat meter
  • New Calendar feature
  • Ability to link professions via chat

Beta test

The 2007 World of Warcraft Trading Card Game world championship included beta keys for Wrath of the Lich King amongst its prizes.[6] A Competition was also created to make a fan art picture of Arthas wielding the legendary Frostmourne, and amongst the prizes was the main prize of the Frostmourne sword and a guaranteed invite to the entry of WOTLK beta test. 2 runners up also received guaranteed entries.[7]

As of July 3, 2008, an opt-in service for the WotLK closed beta has begun.[8] Players who wish to participate in the closed beta test may enter their account on the official website for a chance to be selected for participation. Opt-in keys began being distributed on August 4th, 2008. Additional keys will be distributed over time as the beta expands.

It has been reported that beta keys and invites have been sent to some European players on July 17th, 2008. Additionally, a beta registration page went live allowing those who had received a beta key to activate a new account and download the beta client.

Notably, there is no NDA governing the opt-in beta, so participants are free to discuss their experience openly. There is currently one PVE and one PVP server online for the beta and a separate temporary account has to be created to connect. In Europe, there is one PVE server online, which does not require a temporary account to connect. There will be more testing servers online as the beta progresses.[9]


Grizzly Hills, one of the new zones introduced in the expansion.
Grizzly Hills, one of the new zones introduced in the expansion.

Northrend is a crescent-shaped continent in northern Azeroth.[10] The continent is roughly half the size of the Eastern Kingdoms, but is expected to match Outland in length and width. Although Northrend is known for its snow and ice, developers stated that only parts of the continent will be frozen over.[11] Northrend will feature approximately eleven zones with content for levels as low as 68, though players may travel to Northrend at any level.[12] Players will land by boat either at the Howling Fjord or the Borean Tundra zones, located at opposite ends of the continent, when they first arrive. Howling Fjord is home to evil vampiric half-giants called the Vrykul as well as Utgarde Keep, the first dungeon to be described in the expansion. Meanwhile, the Naga are attempting to melt the continent's ice in Borean Tundra. The Dragonblight and Grizzly Hills zones are located in the southern central part of the continent, and the ursine Furbolgs reside in the forested Grizzly Hills. The Dragonblight features graveyards of dragons who came to die. [13] Lake Wintergrasp will be the first completely player-vs-player zone in World of Warcraft, even on player-vs-environment servers.[14]

The Forsaken and their Banshee Queen, Sylvanas, have also arrived with a new contagion that they hope will prove to be effective against the undead minions of the Lich King. The Forsaken are seeking vengeance for being subjected to Arthas's magic. They have recently created a settlement called "New Agamand" in the Howling Fjord.

The magi of Dalaran have also relocated to Northrend to deal with the rising threat of the Dragonflight and Arthas. The city of Dalaran will function as the neutral sanctuary city for the continent, similar to Shattrath City in Outland. Dalaran is levitating at great heights but can be accessed by either foot or flying mount.[13]

According to Blizzard game designers, Arthas Menethil and Ner'zhul, combined as the titular Lich King, is the main focus of the entire expansion.


Several new instances will be included in the expansion pack. Another instance will appear in the Caverns of Time, set during the human campaign of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, in which Prince Arthas massacred the townspeople of Stratholme because they were infected by the plague. Many new 5-man, 10-man, and 25-man dungeons will be located in Northrend, including:

  • Utgarde Keep - An instance in the Howling Fjord filled with the Vrykul, a Viking-like race devoted to serving the Lich King. It has two wings - Utgarde Keep, and Utgarde Pinnacle.
  • Azjol-Nerub - The contested capital of the Nerubian race of spider-people.
  • Icecrown Citadel - Players will battle Arthas the Lich King, the ruler of the Undead Scourge.
  • Naxxramas - An updated version of the original Naxxramas, redesigned to cater for 10 and 25 man content.[15]

Blizzard has also confirmed a new instance hub called the Nexus, home of the Blue Dragonflight, which will contain at least three instances. The first, a low 70s instance set in Ice Caverns, the second a high level instance seeing the player and their group face enemies on floating rings, and a final raid instance against the Blue Dragon Aspect Malygos, which takes place in a rift in the sky. It has also been confirmed that all raid instances included with the expansion will be both 10-man and 25-man versions. It has been stated that the quality of loot in 10 and 25 man versions will differ (i.e. 10 man version will be Tier 7 25 man would be Tier 8)

Hero class

At BlizzCon 2007, Blizzard also announced the debut of Hero classes, a long awaited feature to World of Warcraft. Hero classes will consist of classes from Warcraft III that were too strong to play from level one or could not fit a primary class role. Currently, Blizzard has confirmed only one Hero class: the Death Knight.[16] In an interview with one developer, he said that for the time being there is only one hero class, though more will be introduced in future expansions.

Death Knight

The Death Knight is the first announced Hero class for World of Warcraft. Death Knights, according to Blizzard developers, will be able to fulfill the tank and DPS roles sufficiently. Death Knights can use plate armor and new rune weapons like Runeswords and Runeaxes, but they cannot use shields. According to an interview, a Death Knight's summoned pets will be more similar to a Priest's Shadowfiend, a Mage's Water Elemental, or a Druid's Treants in that they are pets with a set duration. In the current beta stage death knights that have put a specific number of talent points into the Unholy Tree are granted full control over their ghoul like a hunter's or a warlock's pet (the ghoul is still set duration). The Death Knight will also be gaining the use of a new item called Sigil's which will be similar to a Shamans Totem slot, paladin's libram or a druids symbol.

This class will not be accessible using normal character creation. Instead, once a player has a level 55 character, they will be able to create one Death Knight character per realm, which will begin at level 55 with a full arsenal of spells.[17] Both the Alliance and Horde factions will have access to the class.

Instead of relying on rage, energy, or mana, the Death Knight will use a new resource system: runes, which will be displayed under the player portrait.[18] The Death Knight has 2 of each rune available for use and after they are used they enter a 10 second "cooldown" period before they can be used again. Currently each tree has talents that help speed up the cooldown on a certain set (blood, frost, unholy) of runes. With specific talents the Death Knight can also turn their runes into Death Runes which can be used as any of the 3 seperate runes.

The Death Knight will also require an additional resource called Runic Power to cast some of their more powerful spells. Runic Power works similar to a warriors Rage in that it slowly builds up during combat (unlike warriors the Death Knight must cast spells to gain runic power) and will decay over time when out of combat.


The profession of Inscription is similar to the profession of Enchanting. However, Inscription permanently enhances the attributes of players' spells and abilities. For example, an "Inscriber" could take the Fireball spell, and give it the ability to knockback or daze an enemy.[19]. Inscribers will accomplish this by creating Glyphs that other players can put into their glyph spots (reached by opening up the talent tree and clicking on Glyphs. Glyphs can range from increasing the duration fo Sap, reducing the cool down for Sprint, increasing the critical strike chance of Eviscerate etc. (all examples are for the rogue class)

Graphical improvements

Blizzard has announced that they will be revamping World of Warcraft's graphics engine to some degree with the release of the new expansion. For example, the developers are experimenting with a new shader to use in areas containing ice,[20] also the fire effects and shadows in the game will be improved to seem more realistic.[citation needed]

Release of Content Patch

On August 25, 2008, Blizzard Poster Eyonix announced a release of a content patch which includes many of the new features in the expansion.[21] This is similar to the way patch 2.0 was applied before The Burning Crusade.

With the release of Wrath of the Lich King approaching, we wanted to provide you with some important information. In preparation for the expansion, we will be issuing a new content patch in the coming weeks. Much like the patch made available shortly before The Burning Crusade's release, this content patch is designed to bridge current game content with that of the expansion and will contain some exciting changes and additions. We have outlined some of the larger features scheduled to release with the patch below:

  • New class spells and talents
  • Stormwind Harbor
  • Barbershops in capital cities
  • Zeppelin towers outside of Orgrimmar and Tirisfal Glades
  • Two brand-new Arenas featuring challenging new layouts, terrain hazards, and moving obstacles
  • Guild calendar
  • Hunter pet skill revamp
  • New profession: Inscription
As mentioned above, this is not a comprehensive list, just some of the major highlights. We’ll post the full patch notes as soon as they’re available. Regarding Inscription, please note that all Burning Crusade players will be able to select Inscription as one of their two professions and level up to a skill level of 375 with it. Upon the release of Wrath of the Lich King, players who purchase and install the expansion will be able to continue leveling in Inscription and the other professions beyond 375.

Open play

Wrath of the Lich King was announced at BlizzCon 2007, and one zone and dungeon was playable hands-on to the participants there.

The 2008 Blizzard Worldwide Invitational (28th-29th June 2008) also offered hands-on play of Wrath of the Lich King.[22]

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