For the World of
player base, one of the most anticipated areas of
the upcoming Wrath of
the Lich King
expansion is the vast number of additional
dungeons, daily quests, and raids that are going to be suddenly
injected into the game. Players who have been churning their wheels at
level 70 for months will now have an opportunity to level their
characters once more and vie for that cherished top raiding guild
prize. With that in mind, the developers at Blizzard set aside nearly
thirty minutes of presentation time devoted solely to the dungeons and
raids that players will be seeing in style="font-style: italic;">Wrath of the Lich King.

Acting as the point man for the dungeons and raiding presentation,
co-lead designer Jeffrey Kaplan stood up in front of the gathered
throng of game industry writers and began to divulge the secret
information that everyone has been dying to find out.

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The exterior of
Utgarde Keep.

One of the first dungeons that Kaplan explored with us was the
oft-mentioned Utgarde Keep that rests just beyond Daggercap Bay in the
midst of the Howling Fjord. According to Kaplan, Utgarde is one of the
very first instances players will be able to experience in style="font-style: italic;">Wrath of the Lich King
and features a wing that is between levels 70 and 72.
“It’s the equivalent of Hellfire Ramparts for those
of you familiar with the Burning Crusade,” Kaplan said.
“[Utgarde] is our day one dungeon that players can go into as
soon as they get the expansion.”

While there is a low level encounter in Utgarde, the top of dungeon is
far from an easy encounter. “The top of the keep features a
level 80 dungeon called Utgarde Pinnacle,” Kaplan continued.
“Again, we’re doing our winged dungeons.”
From a player’s standpoint, Utgarde Keep is a fairly
awe-inspiring spectacle – which is part for the course in the
new continent of Northrend – and should be a pretty
challenging encounter for even the veteran players of WoW.

In the midst of describing Utgarde Keep to the selected group, Kaplan
broke a bombshell to the attending press. “All of the
dungeons in Wrath of
the Lich King
will feature normal and heroic
modes,” he said. “This option was very popular in
Burning Crusade.” Just like Tom Chilton’s
presentation with the Death Knight, it seemed like Kaplan’s
description of the various dungeons and raids would have no lack of

In fact, Kaplan also announced another change to heroic dungeons
shortly after his first. “In regards to the heroic dungeons,
we’re itemizing those on their own tier this time,”
Kaplan noted. “For those of you familiar with style="font-style: italic;">Burning Crusade,
the heroic dungeons shared a lot of items with five person non-heroic
dungeons, but this time – in style="font-style: italic;">Wrath of the Lich King
– heroic gear will feel much better to players.”

Next on our tour of the dungeons of style="font-style: italic;">Wrath of the Lich King
was the dungeon known as the Nexus. The Nexus makes its home in the
zone of Coldarra, which also serves as the home of the Blue
Dragonflight and the Aspect known as Malygos. Apparently, the epically
powerful Malygos has gone crazy and decided to wage war on all magic
users. He wants to take and keep magic for the Blue Dragonflight alone.

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A look at Utgarde

Essentially, the Nexus is the Blue Dragon dungeon and will feature
three wings: the raid where you fight Maylgos himself, a level 80 wing
where players adventure on huge floating rings, and a level 70 wing
which resides below the whole structure in any icy cavern.
“One cool thing about the level 80 wing where
you’re fighting on those rings,” Kaplan stated,
“is that the first boss fight involves an interrogator where
you fight him with a bunch of drakes in cages right behind him. After
you kill the boss, you free the drakes – who are of different
colors – and then you and your party get to fly on those
drakes and fight through the rest of the dungeon. This portion will use
some of our new vehicle technology that we’ve developed
specifically for our PvP and siege stuff, but we also found ways to use
it in our quests and dungeons.”

After his explanation of the level 80 portion of the dungeon, Kaplan
moved on to show us a more in-depth explanation of the level 70 portion
of the Nexus. “At BlizzCon I compared Utgarde Keep to
Hellfire Ramparts,” Kaplan explained. “The Nexus
would be the equivalent of Blood Furnace. We wanted to give you choices
of going to either side of the dungeon – east or west. We
also wanted to make sure that players who liked five-person dungeons
had one that they could do on either side of the continent right away,
yet also feel very different from each other.” And for all
intents and purposes, Utgarde Keep and the Nexus looked very different
from each other in the demonstration.

According to Kaplan, the story behind the Nexus is that the whole
creation serves as a giant device to channel magical energies up into
the domain of Malygos who sits at the very top of the Nexus. In the
bottom regions of the dungeon, you’ll find the protectors,
librarians, and members of the Blue Dragonflight.

“This dungeon looks very large,” Kaplan stated.
“And it’s very sprawling, but we’re
tuning it so that it takes about an hour or less. We want most of our
five person level up instances to take an hour or less. We
don’t want them to get into the super extended gameplay
times. We want to save that for our raid game where we do want to do
sprawling dungeons, but for a level up dungeon we feel that players
want to get in, get some story and good loot, and get out.”

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A hallway in the Nexus

As Kaplan continued to take us through the nether regions of the Nexus,
he explained to the press the development team’s stance on
how the dungeons are going to work with the environment outside of the
instances. “We’re trying to integrate the storyline
quests from the exterior zones more elegantly into the dungeons in
Wrath of the Lich King,” Kaplan said. “Many of the
quests you’ll do out in Borean Tundra will start telling the
story and will ultimately culminate in the Nexus. We tend to refer to
this as the Deadmines theme, where Westfall built up into the Deadmines
and Edwin VanCleef was your ultimate boss.”

Even though our glimpse at the Nexus was very quick, it felt like each
area of the dungeon really had its own miniature theme inside the
larger motif of the dungeon. Kaplan hit upon this point as well stating
that “within an instance we tried to make each area feel
different. Not only does it help players navigate, but it also makes
the dungeon feel less monotonous.” He paused for a moment and
laughed to himself. “We call that the Molten Core

As Kaplan pulled out of the Nexus and back into Borean Tundra proper,
he took a moment to mention the existence of more daily quests within
Northrend. “We’re planning on doing a lot more
daily quests in Wrath
of the Lich King
,” he stated. “We want
to have those in place when the game launches, which allows for daily
quests to be a more integral part of your experience from the get

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016