World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

New interview/info about the upcoming WoW expansion; republished from ._

World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

by Luke Smith 08/11/2006

Molten Core. Blackwing Lair. The Temple of Ahn’Qiraj. Naxxramas Necropolis. And nothing else. Looking ahead to Blizzard’s expansion for World of Warcraft, Burning Crusade, the aforementioned instanced raids will be the last of Blizzard’s 40-man raid content. In Burning Crusade, end game raiding (which occupies WoW’s max level players) will be done in groups of 25 or 10. Illidan’s Black Temple, the most challenging raid instance that will appear in Burning Crusade (at release), has a 25-player limit.

Player versus Player combat will receive a major overhaul in Burning Crusade, one far greater than the upcoming cross-server battlegrounds system Blizzard recently detailed. Burning Crusade will introduce “Arena PvP.” Lead designer Tom Chilton explains this new form of PvP: “It uses a team-based approach. So, much like forming a guild, you can form an arena team. You’ll be able to go and get yourself an arena team charter; it can be for a 2-on-2 format, a 3-on-3 format or a 5-on-5 format.” Chilton continues, “For example, for a 2-on-2 team you could have four people on the roster. For a 5-on-5 team you could have 10 people on a roster. You can have your substitutes, your benchwarmers, etc. And that should make it interesting, because we use a seasonal-based concept for the arenas. So you form your team, and your team may change in rating throughout the season. At the end of each week, based on your team’s rating, you get a number of points that you can spend on the gear.”

Chilton’s mentions of “points” may confuse current WoW PvPers who are accustomed to the awkward ladder system the PvP grind entails. That system of gaining honor and ranking up is over with in Burning Crusade: “The Honor System in the expansion will no longer be a competitive ladder. The Honor System will be a system where you gain honor points a lot like you do today, but you then just use those honor points as a currency, effectively. That will include items that were previously earned through reputation. We’ll kind of roll those into the Honor System, and it will also include a whole lot of new equipment for level 60 to 70 and beyond,” Chilton says.

The recent announcement that Paladins and Shamans would no longer be faction-exclusive deepens the game’s complexity going forward. Certainly, it makes WoW’s raid game turn into little more than an aesthetic difference, but true faction balance will allow the designers more freedom in their encounter development. Additionally, Paladins and Shaman can finally be designed the way they were intended. “The core reason for us to share the Paladin and Shaman across the faction is so that we can differentiate them more. The way it stands right now, in the live game it’s very difficult for us to do one thing with one class without doing something very similar to the other class. If the Paladin needs to get better tanking abilities then we need to do similar things with the Shaman. Or if we add more DPS to the Shaman we have to do similar things to the Paladin,” Chilton says.

Two key changes Chilton talks about are brand new skills that the once-faction defining classes will each have. The long-rumored Shaman ability Bloodlust from previous Warcraft games will be live in Burning Crusade and available to level 70 players. Bloodlust will be a party buff that will increase the speed of melee attacks and reduce cast times (and include the requisite growing animation and beastly howls Lore fiends would expect) for a short duration. The ability’s duration and its and its cooldown are still undergoing internal testing.

The Paladin class will see a class-defining ability of its own in an ability to pull aggressive creatures off of classes with a “snap-aggro” ability. That ability, Chilton explains as the equivalent of an AOE taunt, but instead of being cast on the enemies, instead, true to the Paladin’s role of buffing and supporting players, it is castable buff on a party member. At that point, the mobs that were attacking the party member within an Area of Effect range will then turn and attack the Paladin. It continues to reinforce Blizzard’s desire to turn the Paladin into a secondary tank and a healer, instead of the simple healer the class has been relegated to.

Reworking the roles of these two classes is vital considering the reduced raid sizes. 40-player raids often included five to six Warriors, the class most suited for tanking (Druid-tanking has been improved during the last several months). However, with just 25 players in a raid, there will be fewer Warriors and the ability of other classes to tank mobs will allow Blizzard more flexibility with designing complicated encounters.

“In the same sense, we’re going to pushing the Shaman toward a more DPS and healing hybrid. We’re going to make sure that we focus on their ability to do DPS and perform their healing duties. I think that these kind of crossovers are very important in the sense that, in the expansion, I think that in some ways, we need more of these classes that are hybridized to become true hybrids,” Chilton says.

The hope is that these hybrid classes will find new utility in Burning Crusade’s unique dungeon system. “In the expansion we are doing a multi-tiered difficulty setting for the dungeons. So once you’ve done Hellfire Citadel — all the different wings — you’re actually going to be able to come back in. For example, you’d be able to do the level 60-62 wing in a level 70 ‘hard mode,’” Chilton explains. The loot will scale with the level of difficulty selected for the zone (that level of difficulty is related to the level of the players involved).

For now, the scaled instances will only apply to Burning Crusade dungeons, but Chilton doesn’t rule out the possibility that other zones may someday receive similar treatment, “That’s going to be only for Burning Crusade instances. It is something we can apply retroactively — that might be something that we do over time, but for now it’s just going to apply to Burning Crusade.” There’s a lot more from Tom Chilton coming soon on 1UP, but this is just the first taste of some of the new treats coming in the Burning Crusade.