Another finishing move we saw actually increases the Death
Knight’s defensive capabilities. Like the “Death
Coil”, it consumes all the runic power but grants the Death
Knight immunity to stun effects and significantly increases their armor
for 12 seconds.
While all of these abilities sound terrific on paper, it’s
quite another thing to see the Death Knight in action. In World of
Warcraft, I typically play a spell-slinging character with high DPS and
incredibly low hit points and armor. Whenever I’m in PvP, I
try to unleash as much hell as possible while doing everything in my
power to keep the meatier tanks and DPS classes away from my frail
Another depiction of
the Death Knight.
With that background in mind, the Death Knight scares the crap out of
me (and all of my cloth wearing characters). Essentially, the Death
Knight is an anti-caster tank. “They’ll be fully
capable of tanking creatures on the more common level, like the heroic
dungeons and five person instances,” Chilton said.
“But where they’ll really shine in the raid
scenario is in tanking casters.”
The Death Knight has a pretty good selection of abilities that are
going to screw with enemy casters, at the core of which is their
“Anti-Magic Shell.” According to Chilton, the Death
Knight uses a rune to surround the Death Knight in an anti-magic shell,
which absorbs 75% of the damage from the next spell and transfers that
into runic power. In addition to that, they have a handful of other
anti-magic abilities including the “Mind Freeze”
ability which interrupts casting and a runic power ability called
“Strangulate” which flushes all of the Death
Knight’s runic power, silences an enemy for a maximum of five
seconds, and causing a bit of damage.
As the developers maneuvered the Death Knight around the screen,
Chilton explained a variety of different abilities to the gathered
press, including the iconic “Death and Decay”
ability, which casts an area effect damage spell and his a chance to
fear some of the targets within the area.
On top of the previous abilities that were described, the Death Knight
has a vast number of abilities that will help him with take down more
movement oriented enemies. One of his skills – the Grip of Death
– was a crowd favorite, and it actually pulled an opponent
directly to the Death Knight, bringing him face to face with the horrid
fighter. The Death Knight can also root enemies in place using the
“Chain of Ice” ability, which wraps his opponents
in icy chains.
Chilton also explained that with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion,
players will be able to use knockback maneuvers – along with
pull maneuvers like the Death Knight’s Death Grip - on enemy
creatures and other players. “That Grip of Death ability is
one of the Death Knight’s primary taunt mechanics,”
Chilton said. “It will also be a lot of fun in arenas where
you could pull a guy right into the middle of your gank
The Howling Fjord is
one of the first areas your character will see in Northrend.
Death Knights also have the ability to raise their own ghoul guardians
to fight alongside them. “The ghoul guardians are actually
more class defining than it seems,” Chilton said.
“At first glance, it looks just like an ordinary guardian; it
comes out of a corpse and helps you out. However, one of the cool
things about the ghoul is that you can use it on any sort of corpse
target.” So if a friendly player you’re grouped
with dies, you can actually cast “Create Dead” on
their corpse and that player will have the option to play as the Death
Knight’s ghoul. Players will then have the entire set of
ghoul spells and abilities. Just like normal player characters, ghouls
will have an energy bar and a pretty heft number of mechanics.
“Ghouls have the ability to leap to a target, rend them, stun
targets, huddle up to avoid burst damage, and other
abilities,” Chilton continued. “It’s
really a nice sample that players will have available to them if they
choose to play as that ghoul.”
Along with fighting alongside the character, the Death Knight can also
use the Death Pact ability to slaughter his own guardian and gain a bit
of health back. Chilton explained that since the ghouls only last for
two minutes when you raise them, it only makes sense to slaughter the
creature before he dies anyway.
As another summoning type ability, the Death Knight can also summon
their own “Death Charger” – a horse that
functions similarly to the Warlock and Paladin abilities to summon
According to Chilton, the Death Knight is more than capable of filling
either tanking or DPS type roles in a party and has a handful of
different mechanics that help him achieve those goals. With the Death
Knight, players will have three different
“Presences” to choose from while they’re
fighting: the Blood Presence for maximum DPS, the Frost Presence is the
tanking aura, and the Unholy Presence for the PvP style of gameplay. A
Death Knight’s are similar to the Warrior’s
“Stances” without changing the abilities the player
has to choose from.
You will probably
have many dealings with the Tuskar before your days are done in
“They’re more like Death Knight-only
auras,” Chilton explained. “While the Blood
Presence is the max DPS aura, the Frost Presence is really made to
mitigate the fact that the Death Knight doesn’t have a shield
when he’s tanking. It increases the Death Knights armor by
45% and also increases the threat the character generates by 25%.
It’s really the optimal mode for him to be in when
he’s tanking. He will do noticeably less damage since
he’s not in the Blood Presence, but at the same time
he’s generating a lot more threat and is able to tank much
more effectively. The Unholy Presence really focuses on PvP. The
characters will receive an increase to movement and attack speed by
15%, and we’re also considering having it increase the rate
of your global cooldowns.”
To match their three Presences, Death Knight’s will have
three talent trees – Blood, Frost, and Unholy – and
those talent trees are still very much in development. Unfortunately,
the gathered press wasn’t allowed to see the “work
in progress” talent trees at all, but Chilton promised to
explain more about the talents in upcoming content releases.
And with that, Chilton finished off his presentation and gave the
audience back to his fellow developers. That said, it took the audience
a few minutes before all of the note-jotting had finished. The Death
Knight is shaping up to be a class that provides an incredible amount
of depth and intricacy to World of Warcraft, and the introduction of
both knockback and pull abilities to player versus player combat should
really provide for an exciting environment for those of us willing to
jump into the competitive fray.
If you’re still interested in the Death Knight, make sure you
tune back in to Ten Ton Hammer throughout the next few days as we
continue to unveil more information about the Death Knight and the
Wrath of the Lich King expansion!