Dungeons, Daily Quests, and Raiding in Wrath of the Lich King - Page Two

Next, we made our way over to Dragonblight, which Kaplan noted was the largest zone that the development team had ever built. In that region of the continent, players will stumble upon an area that was once known as Icemist Village, but it has now been overrun by Nerubians from the Azjol-Nerub kingdom. Azjol-Nerub is actually one of the dungeons that will be featured in the expansion and features both low level and high level wings to it.

Further along into Dragonblight, we also ran into an area known as Wyrmrest Temple which will serve as a low and high level quest hub, along with being another major raid location in Wrath of the Lich King. The raid area in Wyrmrest Temple is known as the Chamber of the Aspects. “It’s a short raid,” Kaplan stated. “It’s similar to Onyxia’s Lair or Magtheridon’s Lair. The cool part about the Chamber of Aspects is that it’s set up in such a way that initially we’re going to go with just one Dragonflight, but if we wanted you to face the other Dragonflights in different raid scenarios we can add those over time, and you can interact with all of them.”

A snowy portion of Dragonblight.

Our next destination was a once massive Alliance base that has come under some serious siege from the Scourge, and you as a player most assist the locals in driving out the enemies from the base. Along with some very cool vehicle quests that are available in that area, players will also find that Naxxramas is flying over the area. “This is where Kel’Thuzad is making war on the Alliance,” Kaplan explained. “Both Horde and Alliance players will have to go into Naxxramas.”

Originally, Naxxramas existed as one of the most difficult and awe-inspiring pre-BC raids and was the last raid released before the expansion pack hit store shelves. “It was one of our fans’ favorite dungeons from the original game,” Kaplan said. “They felt like it was one of the coolest dungeons we ever did, but we felt like not enough people got to see it. So in Northrend, it’s going to be the entry level raiding instance, and that should make it much more accessible for many people.”

At this point, Kaplan stopped and really focused his attention on the press attendees. “We’re making a fairly major change to our raiding game that I’m really excited to talk about,” Kaplan began. “We’re going to have a lot of raid instances in Wrath of the Lich King, but rather than have some of them 10 person and some 25 person, all of the raid instances will use our heroic dungeon technology to be 10 AND 25 person instances.”

”In the Burning Crusade,” Kaplan continued, “Karazhan was our most popular instance. It was the one players run the most each week, but we also had all this great 25 person content. We found that players wanted a full progression through 10 person and a full progression through 25 person content. It wasn’t a matter of one being hardcore and one being casual; it was more a matter of what sort of social constructs are players comfortable playing with, who they played with, and what size their guild was.”

“So what we’d rather have is a scenario where the player decides how many people they’re comfortable with – 10 or 25,” he added. “We want to provide content for these groups on all tiers, both accessible tiers to the super-skilled, hardcore end-game. The 10 and 25 man raids progress completely independently of each other.”

Zul'Drak exterior shot.

Taking a breath, Kaplan continued his explanation of their system. “One complaint we did receive in the Burning Crusade was that our 25 person raid community didn’t want to go through the 10 person content to get attuned to the 25 person content,” he said. “They felt that they were a 25 person raiding guild, why should they have to go through Karazhan? They just wanted to move on to the next content. With them in mind, the 10 and 25 tracks will be completely independent. We won’t ever force the 25 person raiding guilds to do the 10 person content or vice versa.”

“That said, we do feel that getting the 25 person raid together takes a lot more coordination and effort, and we want to preserve the eliteness of the 25 person raiding,” Kaplan explained. “In terms of rewards, the 25 person versions of our raid dungeons will drop not only better loot by almost an entire tier, but also more of it. If you’re willing to take on the effort of coordinating the extra people, it’s much more rewarding.”

With that major announcement out of the way, Kaplan was very excited to let his feelings known about the change. “It’s going to let a lot of people do the content how they want to do it,” he said. “It’s not a ‘make the game better for casual or hardcore people.’ Instead it’s make the game better for the people that are playing. Provide them with raids at each level that are both casual and hardcore.”

Kaplan smiled when he made his next comment. “The irony of it all is that Naxxramas was one of our most hardcore dungeons ever, and we’re moving it to the front of the raiding queue,” he stated. “It will be very accessible to both 10 and 25 person raids. We expect those hardcore individuals who have already done the raid to progress through it very quickly.”   

According to Kaplan, the next raid dungeon after Naxxramas will be the old home of the Titans, Ulduar. “It’s a massive sprawling raid dungeon that will be waiting for players when the finish up Naxxramas,” Kaplan said.

Drak'Theron circular room.

On top of the raid dungeons included in Wrath of the Lich King, Kaplan noted that Blizzard will continue to release more raids through their patches and that by the end of the patch cycle, people will finally get into Icecrown Citadel. “We’ll feature Arthas prominently throughout the expansion, Icecrown will be present from day one as an exterior question zone, but the final fight against Arthas will come at the end of the arc of Wrath of the Lich King,” Kaplan said. “He will be the final boss to be defeated in Wrath of the Lich King.”

Finally, we ended our tour of the dungeons of Northrend with Zul’Drak, a zone that is entirely dedicated to a nearly extinct Troll empire. Rather than simply take the Zul idea and continue making it into another dungeon, the developers at Blizzard actually created an immense zone with this particular Zul. The zone itself features two dungeons that aren’t actually wings of each other. “We did a different approach here,” Kaplan said. “The entire zone builds up – it’s a giant ziggurat if you were to look at it from the top down on a map. Again we went with the Deadmines theme, and this particular zone builds up to a culmination in Gundrak where players have to fight various bosses and go through a cool, non-linear dungeon.  It’s a mid-level dungeon, but it also has its heroic mode.”

According to Kaplan the other dungeon is known as Drak’Theron Keep. “What Drak’Theron Keep is is a gatehouse to the Troll Empire,” Kaplan noted. “So we wanted that to be an introduction to this particular series of dungeons.”

With that, Kaplan’s presentation of the Wrath of the Lich King dungeons, daily quests, and raiding came to an end. In general, the entire presentation was incredibly informative, especially for those of us familiar with the content Kaplan was describing. The idea of 10 and 25 person raids progressing at the same time is a fantastic idea, and I truly hope that both raids offer players an ability to play the way they wish.   

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