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Has slaying Onyxia lost its luster? New details at BlizzCon hint at what's to come for players who love raids.
By Dave 'Fargo' Kosak | Oct. 28, 2005
It's almost a seperate game in itself: "The Raid Game," players sometimes call it, and it's a massively multiplayer tradition. There's something spectacular about getting 60 friends together for a massive pile-on against an enormous foe. A raid is a virtual army of badass high-level characters, each performing a function within a huge group. Serious players base their personal lives around a raid schedule, which is coordinated like clockwork in the hardcore guilds. Needless to say, Raiding is a huge part of World of Warcraft, so much so that there was a whole panel dedicated to it at BlizzCon.
There's plenty of raid content in store for players in the coming weeks, and even more in the upcoming expansion. A team of Blizzard developers walked fans through a couple that they were working on.
Not every raid in development is for armies of people. "Bigger is not always better," someone on the panel said. To that end, a new area called the "Ahn'Qiraj Ruins" will feature both a 20-person raid zone as well as a "Temple of Ahn'Qiraj" built for 40 players. For the record, the latter is absolutely massive. In fact, when the developers showed a map of the area, it could be seen that the entire Doan wing of the Scarlet Monastery would fit inside a single boss chamber.
Visit the once-palatial Karazhan.
The group moved on to talk about what kind of raid content we could expect from the Burning Crusade expansion pack. For one thing, the team is embracing the idea of having multiple dungeon wings, similar to the Scarlet Monastery. Many dungeons will have three ordinary instance wings and a fourth wing dedicated to raids. The Caverns of Time will be this way (allowing characters to step back to various points within Azeroth's history). The largest wing will feature the Battle for Mount Hyjal, which was the climactic battle at the end of Warcraft III. (Yes, you'll get to experience it first-person. We have no idea what this will look like!) The "Tempest Keep" will have three ordinary wings and a fourth raid wing, the latter of which will allow players to take down Kael'thas Sunstrider, the magic-corrupted leader of the Blood Elves (check out our Profile of the Blood Elves for more on him.)
Among the smaller raid instances will be a place called Karazan, or Medivh's Tower. This will be a 10-player raid in the haunted remains of a once palatial manor. We saw the enormous dining room with multiple-story windows and rich curtains, with wood-paneled corridors leading to a gigantic guilded opera house. It was loaded with detail: look up and you could see little orc cherubs painted on the ceiling around the luxurious chandelier.
The most important raid instances and dungeons will take place in the Outlands, a shattered world floating in the ether (actually the ruins of the Orc homeworld of Draenor). There players will find the Black Temple, where they can fight the fallen Night Elf (and perpetual series villain) Illidan Stormrage himself.
After a brief tour of the raids that the crew was working on, the panel talked in more general terms about their goals in designing raids. For one thing, they'd like to create enough content that a serious raiding guild can be kept busy every night of the week. In the future, they'll also avoid linear raid progression, which seems to be more frustrating than fun for players. And, once again, they'll be creating raids suitable for smaller groups.
The question and answer period that followed had a lot of players asking questions about loot drops ("Yes, they're random," the developers assured people. There's no secret mojo to make sure that your guild gets the big drop.) One player asked if all the elite level 60 loot that they've acquired through raiding would be made relatively worthless when the expansion introduces a level 70 cap. Developers assured gamers that their big loot would still be pretty cool, and would give them a huge advantage cruising for level 70.
Another gamer asked if the Horde and Alliance would have more opportunities to team up or work together on quests. It turns out that this isn't the case -- the Blizzard team stressed that Horde/Alliance conflict was where the game really shines, and they promised that the two groups will have "every reason to hate each other more" once the expansion rolls out. So expect more epic conflicts in the weeks to come!