World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King is to be the second and newest expansion in the popular MMORPG World of Warcraft series. It is to be set in the land of Northrend, home of the Lich King, Arthas. It was confirmed on the first day of BlizzCon 2007, August 3rd. There is currently no announced date for its worldwide release, though it is very likely that it will come out in the later half of 2008.

Some of the features announced at BlizzCon 2007 include:

* Level cap raised to 80
* A playable Death Knight hero class
* A new continent: Northrend
* The creation of a new profession: Inscription
* Introduction of siege weapons
* Destructible buildings
* All new items, quests, dungeons and creatures
* Customizable hair styles and additional dances for new and existing characters
* A Non-Instanced Battleground

Northrend is a croissant-shaped continent in northern Azeroth. 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 parts of the continent will not be frozen over.

Northrend features eleven zones with content for levels as low as 68, though players may travel to Northrend at any level. Players will land 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 half-giants called the Vrykul (clearly modeled after the Vikings) 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. Furborgs reside in the forested Grizzly Hills. Dragonblight features graveyards of dragons who came to die. Lake Wintergrasp will be the first completely player-vs-player zone in World of Warcraft, even on player-vs-environment servers.

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 somewhere in Northrend.

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.

Arthas (the Lich King of the title) is the main focus of the entire expansion according to Blizzard game designers.

Several new instances have been announced at BlizzCon 2007. Another instance will appear in the Caverns of Time and previously unimplemented instances from the original continents will be included. 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.
* Grizzlemaw - Located in the furlbogs' home of Grizzly Hills.
* Azjol-Nerub - The ruined fortress of the Nerubian race of spider-people.
* Icecrown - Players will battle Arthas, the Lich King and ruler of the Undead Scourge.

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 1 or could not fit a primary class role. Currently, Blizzard has confirmed only one hero class: the Death Knight. In an interview with one developer, he said that for the time being there is only the one hero class, though more will be introduced in future expansions.

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 efficiently. Death Knights can use plate armor and new rune weapons like Runeswords and Runeaxes, but they cannot use shields.

This class will not be accessible using normal character creation. Instead, players must first progress through a series of challenging quests. Participating in raids will not be required as part of the questline, which begins at level 80. Upon completing the quests, the player will then unlock the Death Knight class. Unlike Arthas, who evolved from a paladin to a death knight, the player character will not become a Death Knight upon quest completion. Instead, players will have to use a seperate character slot to create the Death Knight. The new character will start at a yet-to-be-determined high level, equipped with a generous arsenal of spells and access to three unique talent trees. Both the Alliance and Horde factions will have access to the class, but Blizzard is still working on the lore as to how Death Knights were accepted into the Alliance.

Instead of relying on rage, energy, or mana, the Death Knights will use a new resource system: runes. Death Knights will influence what abilities they are able to use by inserting special runes into their weapon, a process which can only be done outside of combat. Confirmed runestones are blood, frost, and unholy. Each runestone has its own unique abilities and look. Up to six runes can be set together in combinations of different numbers and types. Different spells and abilities will require various rune combinations, depending on the spell or ability's power. The runes enter a cooldown period upon use, but there are plans for spells to restore runes in 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 daze a target for 3 seconds, or give Shadowbolt a Nature damage bonus, like 50 Shadow damage, then 60 Nature damage over 10 seconds. Along with this new profession's release, the maximum level any player can achieve in any profession will be raised from 375 to 450, with additional recipes for each profession.

Blizzard has announced that they will be revamping the World of Warcraft 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.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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