With barely six weeks to go until Blizzard launches the latest WoW expansion Cataclysm, devs Corey Stockton and Scott Mercer gave BlizzCon attendees a taste of what's to come with instances and raids for the game; both new content and old world favourites re-tooled.
Both Stockton and Mercer pointed out that a downside of the reworking of the original Warcraft world is that elements such as old dungeons and raids may not be "up to par" with the rest of the new or improved material. As dungeons are so integral to the levelling process they don't want troublesome instances like Sunken Temple or Wailing Caverns to become a roadblock to new or returning players.
Those roadblocks might be caused by extremely long instances like Black Rock Depths. They could be confusing maze-like instances such as Wailing Caverns. In both cases the devs are approaching the matter by trimming off the offending material - either extraenous hallways or confusing terrain or dropping segments entirely.
So far, so good and pretty much in tune with what we've heard in previous panels and now seen in the beta. Never-the-less some of us will miss that feeling of bedding in for a day to actually finish some of those longer runs - they felt bigger somehow, but that' probably because we were all wearing nowt but greens and not even at the original level cap.
However fans of Scarlet Monastery and Stratholme, rejoice! There'll be more winged dungeons coming your way - if not with the retail Cataclysm launch, then sometime in a further content patch. Rather than scrapping an segment of dungeon if it still felt useful the devs described splitting a longer instance into multiple wings to streamline the options. Maraudon and Uldaman were singled out for this treatment. Stockton described future Uldaman as eventually being two wings - the first wing would end with the boss Ironaya, while the second wing could be entered through what is currently the back entrance to Uldaman on the other side of The Badlands.
Cataclysm Raid Fun and Functionality
Both developers talked about the defining features of the raid environment for the expansion - fun, short raids that can be completed in a night and that are available to as broad a spectrum of the player base as possible. Players should see more dynamic choice available through a change to the raid-lock system; it will now attach to the character and not the Raid ID as it currently does. This will mean players can join up with multiple raids in a given week - having to watch out for whether a particular boss is already down before joining up - the benefits for people with erratic play hours are pretty obvious.
Also announced was the new Enhanced Map function which will hopefully be ready to ship with the retail of the game, but more than likely will appear in a later patch. The new full view map available for Northrend dungeons will be expanded out to all dungeons in the game and feature lore, loot and boss abilities for each major encounter.