Since you must have the predecessor portions of World of Warcraft to even use this expansion I won’t write to anyone but existing users, all 11 million of you, nor insult your intelligence in the process. Wrath of the Lich King is the second expansion pack for Blizzard’s Uber-MMO. With it comes both excitement and disappointment and I hopefully will express and define both for you here, even though I love this game.
Arthas! The boy king punk ass self-centered dink that we all loved to hate in Warcraft III is now back. With him comes the focus of the expansion and thus the title. Amongst the new elements of the game are of course a new continent called Northrend – you remember- the icy continent that Arthas traveled to then burned the ships so his troops couldn’t leave, always following the call of the great Frostmourne sword! There were no new races or classes introduced with the exception of Blizzard’s first hero class – the Death Knight. With this expansion came the removal of the level 70 cap and we find it replaced with a level 80 cap now. Yes, you can gain experience again! Woot! The level cap on skills and trades also rises from the Burning Crusade level of 400 up to a new 450. New instances and creatures to battle abound. So, what’s it like inside the cover?
First off, while you get a single new class to play – Death Knight – one can’t feel just a bit cheated about that being the only thing new as far as classes are concerned. Burning crusade gave us the sexy but whiny Blood Elves so that even the horde could see something without flies swarming it and the Alliance got the squid faced Draenai and their goat women. In both of those cases you could roll an alt with either gender or the full listing of racial classes. A single Death Knight – you get one only per server that you have a level 60 on – seems a tad light to me. So what of this Death Knight?
Luckily you get your Death Knight at level 55 and come equipped with some decent green gear and pretty good first aid skill. It also comes with all of the flight paths already memorized once you get out into the world. First though, you have to serve the Lich King just like that bonehead Arthas does. In fact, a hard line scripted first portion of the game as a Death Knight makes you do a bunch of dirty deeds for the LK in order for you to eventually accomplish two things – get better gear and more importantly get your talent points since you start out at level 55 with NONE! Yep, you have to complete these specific quest lines earn your talent points dished out to you in very small amounts over the duration of this time serving the dark one. Still, there are some interesting quests to do and the story line against the Scarlet Crusade is entertaining.
In the process you finally emerge into the Eastern Plaguelands with all Blue gear and you full compliment of talent points, not to mention a level or two. Death Knights are like warriors that have either Warlock or Shaman like damage abilities. Because of their plate toughness and resistances they are currently chewing up cloth wearing casters in the battlegrounds (PVP). Once you get out into the world it suddenly hits you – everyone has a Death Knight. Like a friend from Texas would put it – “you can’t throw a cat around here without hitting a Death Knight!” That would be an all too true statement, they’re everywhere. Everyone wanted a hero class, well be careful what you wish for is an adage that really comes to mind now.
Last Saturday, in order to get a really good feel for Northrend, I played for 14 hours straight and leveled my 71 Paladin to 73. There in lies the other rub in the game – how can you level your existing 70’s when you want to work on your new Death Knight? Obviously you have to make a choice. I chose to work my long time alt up. With the expansion there are a few obvious changes to the game that allow you ship access to the new continent. There now is a whole new waterfront in Stormwind that gives you access to the Northrend starting zone of Borean Tundra and this is the recommended choice. Or, you can be like me and take the boat in Menethil harbor that used to go to Darnassus and end up in the Howling Fjord. Oops! Either way your 70 will survive easily.
Graphically those two zones are totally different in that the Tundra is just that – a wide open plain with several interesting areas to visit and interact with and the Fjord being alpine country with snowy parts. You’ll also find a huge PVP battle area where Blizzard has taken the little pot shots at in game PVP without going into instanced battlegrounds and made it bigger and better. A really good stone location would be the missing city of Dalaran – the pink bubble turned massive crater now is a fully accessible floating city which much like Shattrath has connections to major cities and serves and a good central hub to all of the Northrend flight paths.
I like working my occupations up though there some interesting ways you have to get them now, like having to do daily cooking quests for tokens to eventually buy higher level recipes. Cobalt and Titanium to keep the miners busy and a plethora of leather and food sources like Wooly Mammoths abound. There are plenty of interesting quests all over as with the past editions of the game. That’s the disappointment.
While your character level, talents and skills can go up to the next limit you still fell like not much has changed. Death Knight is the only new class, no new races, inscription the only new profession. It is hard to not be in any of the new areas and feel a Déjà vu back to say Winterspring the Highlands. To make matters worse you run into some familiar NPCs from the original game now out in Nothrend. That’s not a bad idea but if I can find Stoutmantle in both Westfall AND Grizzly Hills? Granted that 70s shouldn’t be hanging in Westfall it is still the idea. I also don’t like the fact that we worked hard to get flying mounts in Burning Crusade yet we can’t use them in Northrend until we’re level 80?