CGW：World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
Computer Gaming World, December, 2005 by Jeff Green
Exclusive first look at the wow expansion
Ok, So You’re Level 60 Now.You’ve been level 60 for a while, in fact. You’ve created a few alts, messed around with PVP, maxed out your fishing, and maybe even sworn off the game (a few times). But if you’re like most World of WarCraft junkies—and there are millions now—you still think about it. You still want more. And nobody knows this better, or wants to help you more, than Blizzard.
And indeed, friends, help is on the way. On October 28 at BlizzCon, its first-ever fan convention, Blizzard is formally announcing World of WarCraft: The Burning Crusade, the first official expansion to its insanely addictive massively multiplayer game. So get your junk food ready and kiss your loved ones good-bye…again. Because after visiting Blizzard in mid-September and sneaking a peek at everything the game designers have in store for the show, we’re here to tell you: You are going to be very busy.
If the original World of WarCraft successfully transferred Blizzard’s strategy-game fantasy world to an MMO setting, it is with The Burning Crusade that Blizzard is finally picking up the huge plot threads left dangling since WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne, revealing the fates of, and letting players get up close with, many of the franchise’s biggest heroes and villains.
For players, this translates into a massive amount of new content in both the original game world of Azeroth and a brand-new one, Outland, formerly the orc planet of Draenor, now the burned-out, torn-apart, multizoned refuge of the game’s ?ad guy, Illidan—the ugly mook you’re looking at on this page. Illidan’s been wreaking havoc in Azeroth for over 10,000 years, and it is your ultimate job in The Burning Crusade to travel to Outland and bring him to justice.
But that’s just the beginning. Blizzard is also adding two new playable races, one new profession, a slew of new high-level dungeons and raid zones, a new level cap of 70, and much, much more. We’ve got details on all of this in the pages ahead, so go ahead, dive in and see how the next few hundred hours of your life are going to be spent.
Meet the Blood Elves
Blizzard is introducing two new player races in The Burning Crusade, one each for the Alliance and Horde. Despite all our whining and begging, Blizzard would only tell us about the one being announced at BlizzCon: the blood elves for the Horde. (Rumor has it that the originally planned Alliance race had to be changed, which is why Blizzard isn’t revealing it yet.) Astute players may have seen this one coming for a while. Blizzard planted a few NPC blood elves around Azeroth already—one each in the Stonetalon Mountains and Ratchet, among other places—and their story even occupies a few paragraphs in the original WOW manual.
So who are the blood elves, and why would you want to be one? In the voluminous WarCraft lore, blood elves are the troubled remaining descendents of the magic-obsessed highborne elves, who were banished from their original home in Kalimdor because of that magic obsession by the uptight night elves some 9,000 years before the events of the original WarCraft. The highborne elves founded a new kingdom, called Quel’Thalas, in the northernmost part of Lordaeron—the currently unmarked area in WOW located north of the Eastern Plaguelands.
The high elves remained in Quel’Thalas, still obsessed with magic but friendly with the Alliance, all the way through to the events of WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne, when nearly the entire land and roughly 90 percent of the population were decimated by the rampaging, loony Arthas, former good guy, and the undead Scourge. Also destroyed was the Sunwell, the source of all their magical energy—and that’s when things get really ugly. (And feel free to consult the games, manuals, novels, and Wikipedia for more, kids, because we’re just skimming the surface here.)
“This is Legolas as if he went down a pretty heavy path,” says VP of creative development and arcane-lore meister Chris Metzen. “This is not an evil race, but a people that have been through a massive cultural trauma. They’ve had their asses soundly kicked by Arthas, most of their land has been razed, and now, without the Sunwell to provide them with magical energy, they’re like crack addicts—they can barely get up in the morning.”
Out of desperation to sate their addiction, the high elves’ leader, Prince Kael’thas (who you will meet in a high-level dungeon), makes a deal with the devil—Illidan—to draw magic from demonic sources instead. And it is with this act that their former buddies, the Alliance, want nothing more to do with the high elves, who, meanwhile, have renamed themselves the blood elves in honor of their fallen people. With nowhere else to turn and desperate for magic, the blood elves choose to join up with the Horde.
Don’t Hate Us Because We’re Beautiful
That’s all well and good, but perhaps we haven’t answered your question yet. Why would you want to be a blood elf? Well, for one thing, in contrast to the rest of the Horde, they’re actually not ugly, and the zones they inhabit are bright and colorful. “One quirk—I won’t say problem—about the Horde,” says lead designer Jeffrey Kaplan, “is that they are not attractive, and their lands tend to be harsh. So we wanted to give players a more appealing, beautiful race that also fits thematically with the Horde.”
In keeping with their magical bent, blood elf players will be able to be mages, warlocks, or priests, along with the obligatory warrior class and either hunters or rogues—Blizzard hasn’t decided yet. (No new classes are being introduced in this expansion. “We feel the existing classes have so much room to go,” says Kaplan, “and we promise that they will be fleshed out, with new mechanics for all of them.”)
All blood elves, regardless of class, will begin at level 1 with a special racial ability called Mana Tap. You can use Mana Tap on creatures to recharge your mana (or energy or rage, depending on your class), and then unleash it in a secondary racial ability called Arcane Torrent, which will silence all enemies around you for two seconds, interrupting any spellcasting, and give your mana, rage, or energy a boost.
And what of the blood elf mounts? Wouldn’t you like to know...and so would Blizzard, but the designers haven’t quit arguing amongst themselves yet. “We’ve debated everything from _unicorns to nether sea horses—but nothing’s nailed down yet,” says Kaplan.
Home sweet home?
The blood elves’ starting area is Sunstrider Isle, and though the Scourge has destroyed most of their land, this is still a vital, healthy area—as you can see from the screens. “We wanted a look that was the opposite of the night elf look,” says Metzen. “Where the night elves live in eternal twilight, we wanted the high elves, at their best, to live in a place of eternal spring and vibrancy. Arthas has destroyed most of it, but some of it still lives on.” Blizzard also wanted a different architectural vibe for the blood elves’ land. “The night elves have a somewhat Nordic and Japanese architecture,” says Metzen. “We wanted something more classical and magical this time.”
At this point, Quel’Thalas is set to be composed of roughly three to five zones, including Eversong Forest, the starting zone (and also the location of the blood elf capital, Silvermoon City); the Ghostlands, which border the Eastern Plaguelands to the south; and the Sunwell Plateau, which won’t be part of the initial expansion but will be part of a live update down the line. Blizzard is also adding a high-level instanced area, Zul’Aman, home of the forest trolls, as incentive for players to take their old characters up into this new land (see the section on dungeons on the next page).
One key goal for Blizzard was to make sure that, for this new Horde race, there was enough variety in the zones to keep things interesting. “We wanted to mix things up more this time,” says Rob Pardo, VP of game design. “We learned from Kalimdor that there was just too much of the same thing—too much desert, too much bleakness.”
One particularly distinctive feature of this area will be what Metzen jokingly calls the “Road o’ Death,” the trail that Arthas’ army marched through in WarCraft III, which completely bisects the land all the way through, including Silvermoon City. “It’s a constant reminder to the blood elves,” says Metzen, “of just how much s*** these guys have gone through.”
The New Dungeons