Saturday morning consisted of preparing Haf’s famous Beer Brauts and eagerly awaiting the arrival of Beau and Leala Turkey. Upon their arrival, we dove into the bratwursts and snuggled in for the start of the Dungeons and Raids panel at 3pm, CST. As mentioned in the previous post, the DirectTV limited our direct exposure to certain panels. So, as for Saturday, we masses of streamers weren’t privy to the initial information from the WoW Open Q&A and the Game Systems Panel, but we kept up with the breaking information via various news sources and the masses tweeting direct from the event floor.
Dungeons and Raids Panel
This was the meat of the convention for me: content! The panel started off simple enough, showing the thought and development process of how dungeon/raid instances are created. Watching the idea take shape was a nice insight into the time and technology that is taking place behind the scenes of this wonderful game that we sometimes take for granted. I sat in awe of the huge chunk-lets of information that were divulged as the panelist reviewed the process. During this discussion, it was formulated that advances are made to accommodate the expansiveness of some dungeons, like the teleportation devices in Ulduar. Haf and I both giggled, “Wasn’t that new in Karazahn?”
After the process was disseminated, the dungeons being prepared for release at ship were expanded upon after initially being discussed during Friday’s preview panel. There will be a staggering 6 leveling dungeons and 4 raid dungeons upon initial shipment of Cataclysm.
Within the new zone of Uldum there will be two dungeons, Grim Batol and and the Halls of Origination. Some interesting nuggets of information were shared regarding some mysterious AWMD (Azerothian Weapon of Mass Destruction) that is hidden within these dungeons in the desert. Let me guess, when we go looking for this weapon, without the support of our fellow Horde/Alliance counterparts, we cause great tides to turn and overturn the leader without the full support of the underlings working within the confines of this area. I think that GW wrote this story a few year back. Sounds familiar. I will be interested to see if we end up finding Bran Bronzebeard held up in a hole somewhere, covered in fleas. Just a thought.
Upon initial viewing, the Halls of Origination look and feel very similar to AQ40 with a dash of Ulduar. But, that isn’t that much of a stretch considering the story behind the zone. I think… You know, me and lore don’t always get along. Good news is, there will be stuff to kill in there!
Sunken City of Vash’jir
Also available at release is the Abyssal Maw, one of two 5-player dungeons within the Sunken City of Vash’jir. And, let me just say, it is beautiful. They have created an underwater oasis that feels so organic and harmonic that even the glass walls bow as to create the effect that the bubble of the ocean pressure could give way at any moment.
Blackrock Caverns / Blackwing Decent
Since the old world content is going to be new all over again, it was no surprise that new dungeons are being added to zones we had all known and loved back in Vanilla. In this mix is Blackrock Caverns, a new 5-man instance, which appears to be a subterranean area under the well-known Blackrock Spire. Expect a very similar feel to the lava-filled, iron-clad days of BWL and UBRS.
And, by doing a dive-bomb on Naferian’s terrace atop Blackwing Lair, you will come across the new 10 and 25-man raid instance, Blackwing Decent. Artwork wasn’t shared for this little gem, but I can imagine it is where we see Naverian’s decent into madness.
This new raid dungeon got my blood pumping more than all of the others announced on Saturday. We will once again face the Lord of Fire upon his homeland, the fire plane within destruction of Mount Hyjal. Being able to face Ragnaros is even more nostalgic for me, personally, than Onyxia was. This time around we are pitted against Rag upon his firy spire-like throne. And, this time around he isn’t weakened from his decent into the Molten Core.
Needless to say, I was as giddy as a pre-BC raiding ZG graduate once again when I heard this news. I can’t wait to hear what epic prelude cut scene or pre-combat storyline that Blizzard has in store for this journey into endgame.
3.3 Icecrown Citadel and Dungeon Wings
Before all of the Cataclysm hubbub is released, we are still slated to face and defeat (not that I think he is actually going to die), none other than the Prince of Loredarian, Arthas and the sick-ass voices in his head. Much as the outside of the Citadel leads us to believe, Icecrown is an expansive thrown, which upon entry gives feeling to the icy hole atop the spire where Arthas’ heart should be.
The massive Icecrown Citadel raid dungeon will consist of 12 bosses, and is situated upon 3 floors, the last of which will be reached through an airship event as you spiral upwards towards the pivotal thrown room. I must say, the excitement was evident through the room as they described this unique Alliance vs. Horde event which has you racing the opposing faction, jumping ship in a pirate-isq fashion, shooting turrets, and generally causing much mayhem as you strive to reach your final destination. It looks to be an epic ride.
In addition to Icecrown Citadel, developers are throwing in three new 5-man instances under the bowels of the mines and refinery along the outskirts of the hold. And, as an added bonus, players who participate in these more “casual” encounters will interact with Arthas, much as we have throughout our experiences in Northrend. It was mentioned, and I agree wholeheartedly, that Wrath has been a success because we faced and interacted with Arthas more than players had come to know Illidan in Burning Crusade. By making the player interested in Arthas, the story feels more relevant and important to players of all levels of play.
Lastly, the Dungeons and Raids panel covered the previously released information regarding the reworking of Onyxia’s Lair, and covered a few specific itemization updates, including the Burnished Quel’Serrar. Previously the vanilla veterans had moaned when Blizzard posted that the original Quel’Serrar was being removed when the reworked Lair is released. But, alas… The epic, simple, and stately sword is being reworked as well in a less quest-y version.
More to come later…