BlizzCon 07: WOW: Wrath of the Lich King Hands-On

We take a run through the Howling Fjords in Blizzard's second expansion.

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Not merely content with announcing World of Warcraft's second expansion, Blizzard made the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King available to play at Blizzcon. While the areas open to exploration are a bit restricted, we got enough of a taste of the first zone's unique Norse flavor to reveal some of what awaits you in the Howling Fjords.

The crescent-shaped continent of Northrend will ultimately have two entry-level zones, according to Blizzard, and Howling Fjords is one of these. At the southeast edge of the continent, the zone is nearly bisected by a deep fjord that gives the zone its name. Playing as Alliance, we hopped on a ship from the Night Elf port town of Auberdine and sailed through the fjord to the settlement of Valgarde. The first impression you get of the zone is that it's a rugged, ancient place; the steep cliffs of the fjord tower, high above the water as you navigate inside, and the hills looming over Valgarde are largely occupied by the impressive, slightly malevolent Utgarde Keep in bright, white stone. Valgarde clings to the very edge of the land, but is under constant siege from unknown foes. As soon as you step off the boat, you're conscripted into aiding the resident forces push some of the raiders off.

The enemies, called Vrykul, you'll find laying waste to the town are entirely new to the expansion. The new foes are huge, Viking inspired threats who are accompanied by worg hounds. The Vrykul are men, but giant men--well-muscled and well-detailed, you can see hair curling on their arms and chest as they mercilessly try to chop you down. The worgs have a passing similarity to wolves but an even more ferocious appearance, with high front shoulders and lowered heads full of teeth. You fight them alongside the guards of Valgarde, who often call to each other, speaking of world events and heroes they've fought alongside, lending a bit of extra flavor to the fray. Once you thin the numbers of invaders a bit, you're sent into the surrounding pine forest to check for lost scouts.

When you find the scouts, they're cruelly impaled on huge, awful-looking blades and scattered over the ground, still clinging to life. It would appear that the Vrykul are a pretty barbaric sort that camp in Wyrmkill Village on the very outskirts of Valgarde, and with a bit of further investigation, you learn that they're lead by a fellow called Ingvar the Plunderer, who's well ensconced in the halls of Utgarde Keep.

New instances like Utgarde Keep will provide the fattest of loot.

Utgarde Keep is a five-man instance and one of the first in this new expansion, so we were eager to peek inside and see what dangers would await. The keep itself has the look of an old Viking longhall, with huge dark beams of smoke-weathered wood joined with stone in a way that somehow made us thirsty for mead. The initial pulls in the instance were small pulls of 2 or 3 Vrykuls each leading into the first chamber, which was dominated by a giant furnace spewing flames against the walls. The flame effects for the long columns of flowing fire were new and looked good, but they were also totally impassible until we started killing enemies in the room, which caused the flames to cease burning so we could sneak by.

The second chamber was a small stabling area, holding pale proto-drakes and their Vrykul masters. These small dragons are similar to drakes found all over Azeroth and Outland, but the proto-drakes are almost entirely white, and it's unclear at present what their origins are or what their relation to the Vrykul are beyond mounts. Once we cleared through this room in three or four pulls, we climbed a small stair, where we found ourselves staring at the instance's first boss, Prince Keleseth the San'layn. The room held a bunch of enemies that charged as we entered, and after we'd dispatched them we were free to hit up the boss himself.

Keleseth was decked out in what looked like tier 6 warlock gear, complete with the horns and wings, and skeletons continually ran in from the next hallway while we were fighting them, the first hint that the hand of the Lich King reaches even into Utgarde Keep itself. We were beset with a crippling (but dispellable) disease from the skeletons, an unremoveable ice tomb that would lock party members in a block of ice and gradually leech their health, and shadowbolts from the boss himself. When defeated, the boss offered up no clues to expansion loot, but gave us 5 items that are ordinarily rewards from the World of Warcraft trading card game: Bananas, the monkey pet. We were all hoping for epics, of course--but hey, free monkey.

Once you complete a few quests for the good fellows at Valgarde, they send you by griffon to warn the outpost of Westguarde Keep that the Vrykul are planning an attack. Westguarde Keep sits high on the very edge of the cliffs that surround Northrend, and looks out onto seas dotted with listing, gleaming glaciers. There was a quest here to bomb pirates in the bay from the deck of a zeppelin ("borrowed" from an extremely unhappy goblin), and this quest was marked as "Daily", meaning that it's a repeatable quest for rewards like gold. We also gained reputation with the Valgarde faction all throughout our journeys in the Howling Fjords, though there weren't any hints as to what the faction rewards might eventually be.

Not all the zones of Northrend will be covered in snow.

The landscape that we saw seemed varied even in this one zone, from the steep walls of the fjords and the pine forests at their base, to some grasslands at the top that were patrolled by odd creatures with elaborate antlers, to villages misted green with undead plague, and an area filled with proto-drake eggs and whelps located in the middle of a burning forest settlement. Invisible walls kept us from trying to catch a glimpse of lands of the walrus-like Tuskar or wandering too far afield.

Though we only got a very basic idea of the content that will be available in Wrath of the Lich King, we find ourselves already pining for the fjords. There's still a lot for us to learn about this expansion, including more details about the long-awaited Death Knight hero class, so keep watching this gamespace for the latest updates as they become available from Blizzcon and beyond.

Discussion

103 comments
NuclearDefCon1
NuclearDefCon1

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

NuclearDefCon1
NuclearDefCon1

im not currently playing wow atm, i played wow since beta and quit last febuary after 3 fully epic level 70's and a couple of twinks i decided it was time to move on. I haven't read much about the up comming expansion but im tempted to buy it to see what new content wow has added. they better give me a free month if i buy the expansion unlike burning crusade -.-!

P_R_E_Y
P_R_E_Y

i find it funny to read comments myself such as miksalud who says that blizzard doesnt care about peoples suggestsions...which is true but guildwars goes that..Anet has hundreds of good ideas in forums but they dont look..the difference is that guildwars is free but all u need to do is the same stuff over and over with all your guys...in world of warcraft there is alot more viarity....but like DeityLink there is no real fun in it...its trying to grind for years or months (if ur a addict) to get to 60 (or 70 now) I play WoW..but im now planning to stop and get Xbox Live where i can play multiple games with friends asaposed to just WoW. i think Blizzard has swarmed the the cash and should now start maybe making it free...just a thought cause it doesnt cost millions of people paying (about) £15 a year to keep it up do they? surely the profit they have accumulated should allow them to run the game? probibly a dumb question so dont spam "dont be a idiot cause they they need to pay maintenence" etc i know its just a bit greedy in my opinion. anyway i probibly wont be around for this exspansion but its not like any skin off blizzards noes to loose one person so ill leave my comment at this. i cant be bothered to check spelling either so dont go on about this either ;)

da_green_Dragon
da_green_Dragon

Looks like a few ppl out there play WOW but don't really like it that much, I have to admit I'm one of those ppl. It was interesting for a little while, but ingame politics and the fact that you have to rely so heavily on others to do anything (raids & arena) is making me lose interest. I no longer have the time to spend waiting for people to come on so I can grind for hours after hours.

adidas32x
adidas32x

i think outland is lame, other than that, i like bc. arena saved pvp for me, and is really the only fun i have playing the game. but yea, some ppl take wow way too seriously, those ppl gota quit and hang out with ppl outside of wow. ima get the next expan, i just hope the new area doesnt suck like outland does.

flic182
flic182

I started playing Wow when it first came out in 05, stopped, started got to 60, then spent a year raiding MC, BWL, AQ and then naxx before deciding it was taking up to much of my time and stopped. I was epic'd uo tp the eye balls, and then a few months later BC came out, and i got a copy so i could try out the new areas, and found that all my hard earned epics counted for nothing as i handed in a "slay ten of these" quests and got a green which was more powerful and it all those purple jems seemed nothing more than purple names and once again i stopped. I've sinced moved away from home, and now its a good way of keeping in contact with the friends i grew up with. I;ve just deleted the characters i spent literally months gearing and started a hode character. a Blood Elf mage. My friends who all now have BC Epics are going to face the same problem again with WoLK. their epics count for nothing more than fond memories of raiding with friends.

DeityLink
DeityLink

For me, the problem with World of Warcraft is that it was never really fun. It was just addictive. And I know a lot of people who, if you got them away from the game for a while, never really knew what they saw in it. Maybe add some new, interesting spells. Not just the same old thing, with a slightly altered appearance. Maybe something unique. Maybe something to make Roleplay worth it. Animations and such. Maybe add skill to PvP. But just adding one new class, ten levels, and waiting for us to line their pockets is pathetic. I loved Warcraft lll. I loved World of Warcraft. As I'm most likely going to have this post obliterated by angry fans, I guess it doesn't matter what I say. Still, I really wish they'd stop raping the story/lore. Someone else said it earlier... that they wouldn't want to have to listen to stuff like, "lol ya d00d I got mi frst frostmurne lol."

miksalud
miksalud

WOTLK is just another example of Blizzard's policitcs: one more expansion - twice the money. Now i have played WoW for like, 3 years now, and I am pissed to read the forums about pretty much everything, peeps complaining about ingame issues, class balancing, suggestions to spells and other major/minor things, and Blizzard has proven that they dont give a rat's ass about anything. Milions of suggestions, proposably written to direct the negative things the company has made over the last couple of months, to improve the gamplay but,instead they made it so sucky and its uncovering their real intention which was mention above. It's sane to say " yeah its their game they can do whatever they want" but aren't the players the most important part of every MMORPG? Or am I mistaken?

onilink915
onilink915

Love WoW. Love BC. Love this game. At first I mocked all the people who played WoW, tried it myself LOVE IT! It's NOICE! Can't wait for this expansion to come out! Now all I need is a release date I can tell everyone about!!

Solid_Devil
Solid_Devil

I haven't played wow in a long time...i cant even remember when i played it the last time? But i think i will start playing it again when WOW: Wrath of the Lich King is out or maybe before that.

franekKimo
franekKimo

Another exoansion and I still see people on lvl70 with green gear from lvl60-65.I'm lvl60 warrior plaing year already with epic gear (all epic) and still finding some interesting quests. If I'm paing for it I'm going to eat this cake slowly to taste it well. There will be rush for lvling again. What for? People are loosing lot's of fun just because they wan't be higher lvl then you. I'm going to buy BC in next few months (maybe promotions with new expansion).

LPH79
LPH79

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

inisis
inisis

This is gonna be really great. World of Warcraft is the best game there is, and I can't wait till the expansion.

Raghall
Raghall

Man This looks like this is gona be sweet. For all u wow haters here shut the f@#$ up. This is one of the best games ever so if you don`t like it, then suck it!

sauron901
sauron901

this might make it good but wow is 2 old and combat suks. i prefer games that r action rpgs

Digger65
Digger65

LOL... many of the comments bring back memories of the venom vented in the WOW forums... Its just a game folks.. nothing more nothing less.. (and a boring one at that) ;-)

gacmyver
gacmyver

omg, no more walls of words please!! my eyes burns!!! anyways, i think i will go back to wow, i quit wow like over 1,5 years ago because the end-game was just grindage. but seeing how the grindage-people with epix loot all quit the game, it's time for noobs like me to get phat epix!! hell yeah!! good job bliz! (no sarcasm intended)

reza
reza

why you think bc ruined wow? it was a good expansion i think.

uwontevenfeelit
uwontevenfeelit

Ooo heavy reaction... and yeah I'm putting my hands together for WAR too And you know, making the game casual-friendly isn't a sin in my view, of course they need to make money. Did I ever say I'm a profit-hating commie or the like? =P But I'll admit I was a little heavy handed on that one... sorry, well anyways you can always tell yourself "at least I got a life, that guy's probably wasting his on the farking game", and hey, you'll probably be right. What does piss me off is that Blizz isn't just making lots of less complex content so that everyone can enjoy themselves, they're gearing the whole game towards it, in a nutshell, "dumbing it up". Even the raid content is starting to feel more like "let's go get epix!" than "let's go kick ass and get involved in Warcraft lore!" You can call that "roleplay syndrome" but it's not exactly that, I don't need to be a roleplayer to enjoy the background. I can't think of a better example than Kargath Bladefist in Shattered Halls (though it's a 5-man not a raid) - I mean, the dude's been there since the Second War and now he's just......... well, a boss for people to go in, kill, loot, and show it off. Little or nothing more. On the other hand, there's stuff like Karazhan, which was reasonably well written and actually has this feeling of immersion. The fact that it's not in Outland is probably not a coincidence since everything in the latter sounds like it was built in a hurry, so as to meet the BC release deadline. And less than a year later they got a new expansion coming up. What do I expect from it? Well, you guessed it, more mauling the game to make people happy. And again, I DO understand that people need to be kept happy, just I think they could do it in a more careful way. You know, like they did with Ahn'Qiraj. Totally weird and innovative content, very well implemented, making me go "oooooh" instead of "ewwwww"

zunit88
zunit88

am expicting that WAR will be better

xxalucard66xx
xxalucard66xx

Hmm, interesting, but too all of you pathetic low-lifes insulting the game, go get a fu**ing life. If you quit the game and hate blizzard, then stay out of the damn warcraft pages you hypocritical low-lifes. Who cares if I'll lose my epics to greens, they've got better stats, so what difference does it make wether they're text is green or purple? Besides they'll release new epics that you can get in different methods. You're all just pissing and moaning that you were the top, and with BC, whoops! You're not at the maximum level anymore and have more work to do! Well if you don't like it then leave, and don't come back, you're not wanted by a single person.

Tremblay343
Tremblay343

Yeah, i mean how dare you blizzard make this game easier so that "the least skilled noob can get PHAT EPIX", or keep adding content to keep players interestested. I mean adding an extra expansion would only make you money, and i mean who wants more money? Now that ive actually said that, what you people are sayig is ridiculous, well the last couple of people anyways. I have been playing wow for close to two and a half years, there were times when ive been able to go on huge WoW runs or whatever, but normally i don't get to play it that often. That would make me a casual WoW player. This is what most of the warcraft population is, not to mention the entire gaming population. So in essence, changing the game a little as they did would make more sense to appeal to the larger audience. Then theres the RPers who quit because "blizzard isn't doing enough to keep there fan base support". Over 9 million is a pretty damn good job. But of course, like all games, WoW will die. It will, everyone knows that. And if they liked it enough when they played it, which im sure they did, they would buy the next warcraft game or whatever. But my favourite, by far is "prepare to lose all your hard earned epics epic's with greens". Damn. Well lets just think. Pre-BC, i'd say about 85-90% of the population had a 60. You were all doing raids AV or whatever. But your just going to to that forever? That would get boring. So two years after the game came out, which is enough to time to lvl and get all your crap, BC came out to add fresh new content to keep people interested. That arguement is just retarded. Thats like saying "why make halo 3, i just beat the campaign mode and got all these rewards online for Halo 2!". Just because blizzard doesn't make the game just the way you like it, doesn't mean that its crap, gonna to die horribly or whatever the hell else you people were saying.

Californio
Californio

Warcraft is an excellent history and I think too soon to end like this.

uwontevenfeelit
uwontevenfeelit

lol, I don't care whether Blizzard cares about *me*, sincerely... I quit playing because I was getting pissed at the game, not in the hopes that someone would miss me and come crying for me to get back. And unless my concept is completely wrong, it's not the "casual" players that keep a game alive - every game, and even more every franchise with multiple titles needs a supporting player base, people who actually care about the game world in one way or the other, otherwise the game *will* slowly die, no matter how many people played it at some point. Blizzard is not making a good job of keeping their fan base support (again, it's just my opinion, but it would be too selfish to think I'm an isolated effect). If you think the community would be 'better' without 'people like us', well... have fun. I'm gone. And so are many others. -.-

5OMEGA5
5OMEGA5

People complaining just shut up....... You fail to realize that as soon as you leave 10 more will take your place just like that,the community would be a lot better without people like you.........honestly i couldn't care less how long it took you to get your current gear and i bet blizzard cares even less, nothing you could do will change it so stop acting like anyone cares about you.

uwontevenfeelit
uwontevenfeelit

Fan-tastic... as if BC wasn't enough -.- Not only do they screw up the gameplay by adding a crap ton of rep grinds so that even the least skilled noob can get PHAT EPIX, they also manage to wreck the Warcraft universe by creating generic fantasy content so they have enough reasons to release it in an expansion rather than a patch. Warcraft was one of my favorite game worlds, yet BC managed to do in six months what the original failed to in over two years: making me sick of it. Die, Blizzard. Die! And you were the only ones who were sticking to the PC too, which makes me wonder if I'll have to buy a freaking console. WHY?! WHY CAN'T THEY BALANCE CASH AND CONSUMER TRUST?!?

Ultra-Bigfoot
Ultra-Bigfoot

Ya warwolf you just shell out a whole bunch of money just to play the game after you bought it

nightshadeA
nightshadeA

You know I heard most of the complaints about wow way back when the first mmo the original neverwinter knights came out on aol and then everquest and others in between ...........is it just becuase new people are hitting the same genere limits and what not ?

bobxstar
bobxstar

Pathetic blizzard... BC ruined WoW already, now you're making another expansion?!? Prepare to get your 1337 epics from BC replaced by greens again.

WarWolf95
WarWolf95

I can't wait, and I'm only lv 15! More custimization will be awesome. And to those who don't like the "outdated graphics" this is one of the games I can play without shelling out 10,000 bucks for a new computer.

mpirooz
mpirooz

Sonic_Wolfe: My god man, type like a human being WTF...?

Russty540
Russty540

my guild and i quit when BC came out, this won't get me back into it either. BC ruined WoW... in my opinion this is beating a dead horse

Anarion-
Anarion-

Blizzard is really pising me off.. its apparently all about the money.. because it cant possible be about the story, because they're destroying the story line completely.. WoW(tm) was okej.. because it didnt effect the stroy but WoW burning crusade almost got me over the edge.. And now there just making it even worse.. in a year or so there will be posters about "wow Guys i just got my first FM(Frostmourne)"... "First one killing arthas"... "Looted arthas yesterday it was great" and so on... And hilarious part is They're not even using the same voices as in the orginal warcraft, not for arthas and not for illidan.. The great story of warcraft is turning in to a very bitter joke. This truly sadens me..

cave_manzilla
cave_manzilla

If u play WoW would want to get this and anyone who think's they should drop it y would they they make millions of that game in less than a week and any of u that want to try something new play Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures LOL a Conan game who in hell would want to play that btw and alsoget this expansion or else .................

baker714
baker714

After about maybe 5years or so, WoW might be dropped and just like they made the MMORPG of warcraft 3 they might make another MMORPG of starcraft, in my opinion that would be really nice getting bored of WoW a little ( 2 lvl 70's) on the other hand cant wait until Lich King Comes out.

telmobarbosa
telmobarbosa

Don't really think that blizz should drop a game like WoW yet. In fact i think their doing a great job keeping it updated. But i think also that the policy of accounts and characters tranfers should be different (dunno how tho). Anyway, can´t wait to get my hands on Wrath of the lich King and return to illidan in lvl 80.

rwgober92
rwgober92

they should really start another MMO and slowly drop WoW...more than half of the players are korean farmers or n00bs (even if they are level 70's, because they buy their characters online).

Chattermouth
Chattermouth

I am Norwegian, and approve of this message.

alexed1
alexed1

Excellent Monty Python reference. Excellent.

twist3den3my
twist3den3my

muti lol "make it less gear-pve based game" when wow 1st build was a pve game wow is a great game because off gear and PvE most people dont enjoy it coz they grind but you can get to1-70 with questing and inst faster then grinding if you know where to go at the wright level FOR THE HORDE

Wu-Tang-Clan93
Wu-Tang-Clan93

I love the idea of a new expansion..but i am really get sick and tired of grinding and lvling. But seeing from the website and this review, it seems like it will be a great expansion.

ThE_MuTiLaToR
ThE_MuTiLaToR

"elowyn89 i would play wow again only if they made the charcaters balanced, more customization with talents etc. Especially if they made it less grinding and more pvp with customised characters. They just need to make it less time consuming and less addictive, less gear based and more abilities/spells." I completely agree with you. One of the most fun aspects of the game in my opinion is choosing different talents and playing each class differently to see how effective they can be. I am really looking forward to getting my toons to 80 and playing around with the new talent trees.

jyarnell
jyarnell

GUILDWARS OWNS YOU NOOBS!

MythDarK
MythDarK

neokid1640: I guess they will release it 2 years after TBC, like they did with TBC, 2 years after WoW that is.

Sonic_Wolfe
Sonic_Wolfe

Well, I love the Warcraft world and the games Blizzard hav produced, sure they aint so original in genre, but their style is certainly sumthin unique to Blizz. Ive played WoW on and off fer sum time now, and the only reason I stop playin is becoz my laptop doesnt hav the power to play the game the way I want (Im jes a snob about it), but it plays well enuff, I mean I got to level 60 and really enjoyed it, heh. But back on track, I dont play the WoW games fer PVP, or super-gear or anythin like that, I play for what the game is meant for, RPGing, dont get me wrong, everyone has their own style, but I love the fact WoW is so open you can explore and simply embrace the, erm, World of Warcraft. Everyone keep sayin Blizz simply want money, are you all retarded or sumthin? Blizz hav been makin MASTERPIECES since early 1990, and not only that, they are SO succesful they hav never had to make anythin OTHER than Warcraft, Diablo or Starcraft games, I think by now, Blizz hav all the money they r ever gonna need, and to say that they dont listen to fan input is utter bull, Ive played WoW fer three years and watched it evolve, and lil by lil they hav done everythin we hav asked! I hav every faith in Blizz, and always will, they hav never let me down with any of their games, I say bring on WoW:WotLK, Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2!!!!!

LoranHalvard
LoranHalvard

... And these servers also happen to be illegal...

craphouse74
craphouse74

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

grey79
grey79

elowyn89, you must be my long lost brother or something; I feel exactly the same... ;)