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Expansion II: Wrath of the Lich King
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One of the highlights of Blizzcon 2007 was the introduction of the newest expansion to the World of Warcraft universe - "Wrath of the Lich King." This expansion opens the continent of Northrend and builds to a final showdown with the dreaded Lich King, once the human Prince Arthas Menethil.
As with Burning Crusade, Wrath will be a "mix-in" upgrade - content will be added to existing servers and players. You will need the expansion to level past 70 or to explore the new areas, but all changes to normal gameplay (including any talents added at the lower levels and access to items and enchants) will be accessible to all players.
From the press release issued 3 August 2007, the expansion will include:
The standard package contains the game on CD media. The Collector's Edition includes the game on DVD-ROM, a copy of The Art of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, a behind-the-scenes DVD, the official soundtrack CD, a Northrend continent mousepad, two March of the Legion starter decks for the WoW Trading Card Game including two exclusive cards, and (possibly most important) a special in-game pet (Frosty, a baby frost wyrm). The standard package retails for $39.99 and the Collector's Edition for $69.99.
There is a preorder limit of 2 for the Collector's Edition at most sites. EBGames.Com charges $14.99 additional shipping for the CE.
The new Achievements system introduces a group of goals ("meta-quests") in various categories (exploration, quests, PvP, dungeons and raids, professions, character development, etc), which will provide additional gameplay targets. The main reward for high achievers will be bragging rights - Achievements will be viewable in the Armory page or by inspection and some will have in-game rewards such as tabards or pets.
With the level cap raised to 80, additional talents and abilities will be available. The updated talent tree will be available to all players, although the expansion will be required to level to 80. The beta talent calculator can be found here.
All new instances (including the respiffified Naxxramas) will be raidable in either a 10-player or 25-player mode, with a different balance of encounters and different loot tables (similar to Outland's Heroic dungeon modes). This should allow smaller guilds and the occasional pickup to run all the content, while still reserving the leetest loot for the big raiding guilds.
Flying mounts will be available that can soar the frigid skies of Northrend. In addition, there will be many encounters that require the use of a new mounted combat system: aerial dogfights and mammoth jousting!
The main new class addition will be the Hero Class, "Death Knight". Death Knights will begin as L55 characters and will be an option to any account that has at least one L55 character (one Death Knight per account per server). Currently, Death Knights are available to all races. Death Knights are intended to be a hybrid tank/caster DPS class (potentially the best tank against casters).
Death Knights have three Presences (like Warrior stances or Druid forms): Blood (for soloing), Frost (for tanking), and Unholy (for PvP). Their normal battle abilities will depend on pre-selected necromantic runes, different combinations of which are expended for different abilities. The runes will have separate cooldowns, governing what abilities are available at any time (previews show six rune slots - somewhat like having six different energy bars). As the Death Knight uses rune abilities, s/he will generate Runic Power (like rage) which will be used for finishing moves.
As true necromancers, Death Knights are also able to revive slain humanoids (including players!) as ghouls. Ghouls may be used as short duration combat pets (2 minutes) or sacrificed to heal the Death Knight. Friendly players who become ghouls can choose to control the ghoul (a weird kind of combat resurrection). In addition, they begin with their base mount (L40) being a summonable Deathcharger (like a skeletal paladin warhorse). So they have characteristics of warriors, paladins, and warlocks with a sprinkling of rogue-like and shaman-like ability dynamics
The expansion introduces the new Inscription crafting profession, which will augment character abilities through the use of magical engraving (similar to the inscribers of Shattrath).
The primary new zone is the continent of Northrend, located in the northern latitudes of Azeroth. On the world map, it appears between and north of the main continents of the old world. Players will start in either the Howling Fjord or Borean Tundra.
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