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World of Warcraft is about to be turned on its head. None other than Blizzard lead designer Tom Chilton paid us a visit today, bearing news pertaining to the future of the most popular MMO ever. Once The Burning Crusade is released, WoW is going to be a whole new ball of wax, with every aspect of its design seeing some pretty drastic changes. PvP will be different, raiding will be different, even the outdoor experience will be different. And from the looks of it, all these changes will make more of the game accessible to more of the playerbase.
The Magic Number
The raiding scene in World of Warcraft is going to dramatically change once Burning Crusade is released. Here's the long and short of it: All of the new high-end raid content will be capped at 25 heads. Indeed, all the raid content that was mentioned in today's demo, with the exception of Kharazan (which is designed for 10 players) is being designed around a force of 25. Blizzard has completely done away with 40-man raiding; Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj and Naxxrammas will still exist, of course. There just isn't going to be any new 40-man content. How's that for earth-shattering?
In a move to ensure that "level up" instances don't get permanently shelved by max level players, Blizzard is working a difficulty system into its dungeons. Basically, it works like this: As you're leveling up, you run through all the Outland instances at their default difficulty. You'll earn gear commensurate for your level, and the challenges will be tuned as such. Once you hit 70, however, your group leaders will have the option of running dungeons on "Elite" difficulty. This will tune the challenges to a level 70 group and increase the relative value of the rewards. At this point, there aren't any plans include such an option for the game's existing dungeons, though Chilton said that we shouldn't dismiss the possibility.
PvP happens in the Outland.
All of the new dungeons in Burning Crusade will be "winged" -- think Dire Maul, Scarlet Monastery or Naxxramas -- and we got to see quite a few of them today. First up was Hellfire Citadel, home to a group of savage, corrupted Orcs led by Kargath (indeed, the guy whom the outpost in the Badlands is named after). We got to see two of its wings: Hellfire Ramparts, which is being tuned for characters in their low 60s, and Hellfire Military Wing, aimed at level 70s. Both are being designed for five players. Hellfire Citadel's raid wing, finally, will put a 25-man raid up against Magtheridon, a demonic pit lord whom Kargath has bonded into servitude.
Next up was Coilfang Reservoir. It will be comprised of two high-level five-player wings, and one 25-head raid instance, which culminates in a battle with the Naga queen herself, Lady Vasj. The architecture in Coilfang was especially frightful; there were lots of precarious-looking platforms suspended over dank, toxic-looking water. Needless to say, you'll be doing battle with the Naga in this set of instances.
We were then teleported to Auchindoun, another winged instance intended for players in their mid-60s. The lore behind it is particularly interesting: It was once a burial ground for the Draenei, but one day, a group of renegade Orcs botched an attempt to summon a demon in its walls. The resulting magical disaster nearly leveled the place. Its crypt-filled interior looked quite haunting.