Updated Sun, Feb 24, 2008 by Messiah
With the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) expansion, World of Warcraft (WoW) players will gain access to Blizzards first foray into making a "Heroic Class". This first hero class is going to be the much talked about Death Knight. What makes a class heroic though? With very little having been given away, what should we and should we not expect. Maybe most importantly, should the class be considered a heroic class, or just a new class?
For all those that have been living under a rock since last year's Blizzcon and have no idea what a Death Knight is, you can check out several places to find out more.
Now that you are all refreshed on the class, let's ignore all that and look at the heroic aspect. You did notice it is refered to as a hero class, right?
Remember that all this information is pre-release information and could change wildly before the actual release. It is unlikely the character creation and availability will though, and that is the main topic in this editorial.
The class is very different than previous classes in that you will not be able to start a Death Knight character at level 1. Instead, the plan so far is that you must complete the game to the new max level (after the release of WotLK) of 80 and then complete a quest. Completion of this quest will unlock the ability to create a new character in the form of a Death Knight. Initial word at Blizzcon was that this would be just one character and only on the same server / faction as you completed the quest on. This has however been updated by several Blue posts in the official forums stating that once you unlock the Death Knight class, it will be open for creation in a similar way as any other class for your account. This has been taken to mean that you will be able to create them on any server or faction you wish, and as many as you wish.
The idea of having to unlock the class through a long and difficult quest chain certainly does make the class a limited access one. Many players do not or will never have max level characters, and this will prevent those from gaining access to Death Knights, making then seem at least elite. Just as many players have multiple max level characters and with the recent speed increase to leveling, the percentage of players at max level is only on the rise. For these players having a difficult quest chain to accomplish will be viewed as a challenge, and many will work on it as soon as they can. While it will give those players a sense of purpose while working on it and a sense of accomplishment when done, I am not sure that it will seriously limit the number of players that complete it.
Blizzard is stating that several things will be in place once you unlock the class. These are being done so that even though you will be creating a new character, it will have a very different feel from your other characters and their leveling process.
The first thing that is being considered is that once unlocked for your account, when you create a Death Knight you will start off somewhere in the level range of 50-60 and probably start somewhere in the Plaguelands, potentially even in Stratholme having to do an escape quest. This will ensure that a "heroic" class does not start off beating up rats in a low level zone. After all that would not present the right image for a big mean Death Knight chasing after vermin now would it.
The second big item being considered is gear. Unlike all other classes you will more than likely start of with a decent set of armor and weapon so that you are not scrounging for items when you start. After all, it wouldn't be very fitting to be a penniless Death Knight would it? That would be more like a Templar with their vows of poverty and all.
Messiah's take on it
While I like many of the ideas being floated around by Blizzard for the Death Knight class and its creation / access, I have one BIG issue. To me it does not appear to be heroic. Sure the class will be different and new, sure it will be cool to start off at 50-60, sure you will likely have a huge epic chain to accomplish, and I am sure it will be fun to do. However, in the end it is just another character.
Here's my take on it. I would like everything in place the way Blizzard has described it so far, but with one big change. When you complete the quest, your character should die off to become the Death Knight! They could even keep the new level point the same, explaining it as a restart in your learning process. I would like to see the level be 70 though, as that way you can move directly into the WotLK content again, as you will have just completed it, why revert all the way back to the Burning Crusade.
Have you settled down yet? No? Ok, take a few minutes.
By now some of you have calmed down, some not and some are so ticked at me for even suggesting it that they have already closed the browser and are back in WoW. For those that stuck around, let me explain my reasoning.
For me to consider some new class or character heroic, I need to see something truly epic or heroic happen. For me just completing a quest is only half the battle, sure it can be a heroically hard and long quest chain, but we've done that before several times. We've done things like long annoying Onyxia attunement chains, Priest Benediction staff quests, Nether Dragon chains, and more. Doing another quest chain is nothing more than just that, another quest chain.
On the other hand, having to sacrifice a character that you have invested a significant portion of time with is a real sacrifice, one worthy of creating a heroic character from. Having to earn your way all the way to level 80 and then willing sacrifice that character and go back 10-20 levels or more proves dedication to the new character and too me at least would give it a heroic feel.
Would doing this be hard? Yes. Would you feel a real sense of loss? Yes. Would everyone do it? No, not by a long shot. That right there is my point. It would limit the Death Knight class in a real way, there would be few of them, they would be different and unique in the world, not everyone would have one. When you saw one it would be rare and would show as a point of accomplishment. Going the way Blizzard is saying they will, is certainly going to be a popular decision as it will allow essentially everyone to have one very easily (without cost).
To me everyone being able to get to the end of leveling, complete a quest chain and then instantly have another high level character feels like the rich getting richer. All it allows is for high level players to have another alt. Maybe it's just me, but that's not heroic in the least. If Blizzard wants to add a new class called a Death Knight and have it as just another class, then it's better to just start it at level 1 again, or allow anyone with a level 60 or over to create a new one that starts at level 60 when the expansion comes out. Just give up calling it a heroic class.
The Messiah has had his say, what’s yours? Do you feel Blizzard is doing enough to separate the class from the other classes in its creation to make is feel heroic? Do you want a limit per player? I want to hear your comments and explanations.