World of Warcraft Lead Designer Jeffrey Kaplan talks to us today about the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion in this new WarCry Q&A. Jason Rice finds out about raids, story, reputation and more.
Answers by Jeffrey Kaplan
Questions by Jason Rice
WarCry: Burning Crusade released with a significantly larger number of 25-player dungeons than vanilla World of Warcraft did, and players have plowed through the available content at a much quicker pace than before. Was this intended and/or will the pacing of content be changed with Wrath of the Lich King?
Jeffrey Kaplan: Burning Crusade definitely shipped with more raid content than the original World of Warcraft. This is largely due to the maturity of the game and the sheer numbers of players engaging in end-game content in some shape or form. We’re actually pretty happy with the pace at which people are making progress; if anything, we’d like to see more people experiencing the end-game PvE content.
For Wrath of the Lich King, we’re discussing ways to foster a healthy sense of competition among guilds on the forefront of raid progression while still allowing this content to become more accessible to others over time. I think we have a lot of innovative ideas and we’ll keep trying to improve the system.
WarCry: The death knight is being billed as a tank/dps (damage per second) hybrid. How do you see them fitting into raids alongside protection warriors, feral druids, and protection paladins?
Jeffrey Kaplan: We made some really good strides in The Burning Crusade to improve the feral druid as a hybrid tank/dps class. That will be the general direction we’ll be looking to go with the death knight. Obviously, the protection warrior is in a good place in terms of dungeon and raid tanking. And the protection paladin is hands-down the best multi-target tank. Of course, there’s always room for improvement, but you can see the general direction the tanking classes are headed. While all of these classes are capable of fulfilling similar roles, they offer very different abilities and playstyles.
WarCry: In late vanilla World of Warcraft and The Burning Crusade there has been a heavy emphasis on reputation grinding and rewards, which has proven to be a great incentive for more casual players. Is this trend going to continue with Wrath of the Lich King? Any lessons you’ve learned about such a system from Burning Crusade?
Jeffrey Kaplan: Reputation is a great progression system for all types of players ranging from casual to hardcore. We’re not necessarily looking to make reputation a grind; our goal is to identify who the target audience is for each reputation and then tune things accordingly. One thing we’ll be doing more of in Wrath of the Lich King (and even before that) is incorporating daily quests into reputations. We feel that if a reputation has significant daily quests with enough variety and perhaps some random elements, it will help keep the process of accumulating reputation fresh and interesting.
WarCry: Any plans for introductory events leading up to Wrath of the Lich King similar to what happened in Blasted Lands prior to Burning Crusade’s release?
Jeffrey Kaplan: We have some really cool ideas but it’s too early to comment right now.
WarCry: Much of the Horde experience in Outland revolved around the history of the orcs and the Mag’har tribe. What races can we expect to find tied to the lands of Northrend?
Jeffrey Kaplan: Northrend has some great story development in it. Humans, dwarves, tauren, and trolls will all have their storylines developed further. Of course, all of the other races will share the spotlight as well, but those four have an especially strong presence throughout the icy continent.