WHEN THIS LATEST EXPANSION PACK for World of Warcraft went on sale it was probably instantly purchased by most of its fanatical fans. With such a large customer base, the quality expectations of each new release are astronomical. Thankfully, quality is what the fans get here. Introducing a new continent, a new character class and a host of other fresh features, Wrath of the Lich King raises the world’s most popular online role playing game to dizzying new heights.
The first major addition is the new continent of Northrend. This land exists in the lore of the Warcraft series as the frozen northern realm, where the fabled Lich King sent his plagues to decimate the world in Warcraft 3. Following this, the great traitor Arthas, who killed his own father, went north and merged with the frozen evil to become the mightiest being in existence. That was the last he was seen of - until now. The first World of Warcraft expansion pack, Burning Crusade, was about another set of enemies altogether. But now the fabled demigod has returned to centre stage, as Arthas’ undead hordes invade the major cities of both factions.
Containing a total of nine new zones, the atmospheric artwork of Northrend is staggering. From the frozen wastes of the Borean Tundra to the majestic storm peaks of the troll nation of Zul’Drak, the landscape is very picturesque. The quality of this terrain is not diminished by its overwhelming quantity either; there’s at least one hundred hours of new gameplay on offer as players battle their way to the new maximum level cap of 80. The quests are highly thematic, covering the major factions plus dozens of minor factions in their quest to put an end to the Lich King once and for all. In many instances the great enemy himself makes an appearance, conversely goading and railing at the player in several cinematic cutscenes - a new feature introduced for this expansion pack.
Almost every zone contains at least one dungeon, and the quality and style has been improved. Most dungeons are for five-man parties and quite short; very few taking longer than an hour to complete with a talented group of friends at your side. Level design is of the highest quality, and each dungeon boasts its own uniquely beautiful style. The underworld kingdom of Ahn’Khanet reeks of ancient, forgotten majesty while the insane trolls of Gundrak present some truly titanic battles. When you finally complete the game, many of the dungeons unlock separate elite sections for players to battle in much larger groups.
The second major addition to this expansion pack is the new Hero class character, the Death Knight. Players can only create this character once they have at least one other character on the same gaming server at level 55, and each player is only allowed one per server. The Death Knight is an elite class with its own playing style and unique abilities. You can think of them a bit like a cross between the Rogue and Warrior classes. They are capable of playing every role with little adjustment of skills, especially when fighting in player versus player mode. Add to their versatile skills the ability to wear plate and wield most of the two-handed weapons in the game, and you’ll appreciate that they’re a very fun class of character to control.
Wrath of the Lich King is an excellent expansion to an already great game. It builds upon the successes of Burning Crusade and adds enough new elements to give the expanding player base an entirely new and enthralling experience. This release once again proves developer Blizzard’s almost unparalleled dedication to quality.