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World of WarCraft: Burning Crusade

Developer: Blizzard | Publisher: Blizzard
Players: 1+ Player Game | Genre: MMO

Release Date: 01/16/07

There’s no shortage of World of Warcraft players out there, which is why, despite being far from the most graphically advanced game as well as not being released on any of the next gen consoles, World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade will be one of the most anticipated games at this year’s E3. I was able to sit down for a one on one tour of everything the new expansion offers, and there’s plenty to be excited about.

I was first shown the Dranei, one of two new races introduced in the expansion. The rep with me discussed the aims of the new expansion. “The Dranei will add a beast aspect to the Alliance, one previously unrealized”. The Dranei did have quite a particular beast look to them, but were also the holiest of all the alliance races. “Currently, the classes available to the Dranei are Paladin, Priest, Hunter, Warrior, and Mage, but that’s not in stone yet.” I was shown the intro area of the Dranei, which was somewhere around the towns of the Night Elves. The Dranei crash landed in this area and their boat has been modified into a hub. The area itself had many very large, gem-like rocks protruding out of the ground. The Dranei’s racial abilities include a penchant for the brand new gem cutting craft, a resistance to shadow attacks, and their racial ability, the Blessing of the Naru. This ability heals a target for an amount proportional to the player’s level, so it grows quite strong as you level up. In addition to this, they will have the Heroic Presence ability, which adds a 1% chance to hit for all party members in the area, and is, so far, planned to stack with other Dranei, although that too may change.
Of course, I was also shown the blood elves, who are in almost every way the complete reverse of the Dranei. “The Blood Elves will add an aesthetic quality to the horde, so horde players can now enjoy a race that’s not so…ugly.” Some may argue with this statement, but there is no doubt that the Blood Elves add an unsuspected quality of beauty to the otherwise ragtag and brutal horde. Their starting zone is just north of the Eastern Plaguelands, and, as with the Dranei’s starting zone, will allow 1-20 newbie content for all new players, and be completely accessible to other races provided the expansion is owned. The area showed off plenty of new artwork designed especially for the Blood Elves. The Blood Elf racial abilities will include a +5 boost to all magic resists as well as an ability that can be unleashed after ‘charges’ built up from mana taps are accumulated. The ability will damage the enemy and boost the player’s own rage, mana or energy.
Then, he took me straight to Hellfire peninsula, the new 60-70 zone being created just beyond the Dark Portal. The character he took was a Priest, completely decked out in the latest, most powerful set from Naxxramas, the last pre-expansion dungeon, which will feature Kel’Thuzad. “We’ve developed a new dungeon philosophy built around player response from all our previous dungeons. We’ve found that players prefer the segmented way in which Scarlet Monastery was designed. We’ve designed Naxxramas in this very same way, with 3 dungeons with varying difficulties, and a final, nearly impossible dungeon designed to be so hard, it will require the best gear from the 3 previous dungeons.” He laughed at this, knowing the best guilds would attempt the final dungeon right away. “That would be nearly impossible”.
The Outlands looked just as chaotic as ever, with plenty of floating pieces of land scoured around the area. He pointed these out to me in particular. “We’re introducing an epic flying mount for players at level 70, and they will be able to come back and access otherwise inaccessible areas to get to NPCs or other things we’ll place.”
He went on to show me a few other brand new features, including socketed items, which could have gems, either found or crafted, shoved into them to create customized effects. If a player regretted a socket decision later, he could simply replace the socketed gem: at the cost of the gem. Certain gem combos in one piece of equipment could create super effects to maximize armor effectiveness. Along with the introduction of the Gem Cutting craft, all crafts would be raised to a max of 375.
Including plenty of lore in the game is an important goal for Blizzard, and it shows in the new areas and dungeons being planned for the game. In the Caverns of Time, players will go back in time to revisit epic moments from Warcraft history, and take part in them: rescuing Thrall and seeing Hillsbrad were two mentioned events. Mediv’s tower will also be a dungeon, including plenty of classic Warcraft lore.
In addition to all this, he also talked about the upcoming Scourge invasion planned for the next patch. Floating Necropolii will float into major areas, bringing thousands of scourge with them. All players will be forced to fight of these forces, and once a certain number of battles have been won on both sides and Kel’Thuzad defeated, the invasion will end, bring what he called a ‘victory mode’, where every player will receive some kind of reward.
On a final note, I got a peek at one of his Priest’s equipment pieces: the armor in the Priest’s Set of Faith. Here are the stats: 75 armor, +18 stamina, +23 intellect, +17 spirit, increases the effect of all healing spells by 50.

By Andrew Bruck - 05/30/06
ESRB Details: Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence

Screenshots for World of WarCraft: Burning Crusade

Mercury Meltdown (Post-E3 2006)