- Plate-wearing tank/DPS hybrid
- Upon reaching level 80 and embarking on a quest "similar in difficulty to the Warlock epic mount quest," the ability to create a new Death Knight character will be unlocked.
- Starts around level 60 or 70, "intended as an alternative, advanced class for end-game use only"
Rather than using rage, energy, or mana, Death Knights have a special "rune sword" displayed beneath their health bar, onto which the player can etch six different runes (choose between Frost, Blood, and Unholy). Different abilities require different mixes of runes, and using abilities consumes the requisite runes until a cooldown timer causes them to be available again.
As far as I can understand, that sounds interesting. And difficult.
Update: Mike Schramm, here from BlizzCon. 1up missed one thing: in the video we just saw, Death Knights summoned pets (yup, just like the Diablo Necromancers). More info coming-- we're planning on liveblogging the expansion demo in about an hour, so stay tuned!
Update 2: More information from the live blog behind the cut.
1:32pm: Intro to the Death Knight class. Designed to fulfill both tanking and DPS roles. Can tank using 2h OR Dual wielding-- no shields here.
1:32pm: Death Knights like bladed weapons, showing off big axes and swords-- Runeswords and Runeaxes. Wears Plate armor, showing concept art-- looks like Rogue/Warrior/Warlock all had a baby.
1:33pm: Death Knight spells and abilities are a mix of both caster and melee. Not standing back and casting, but using non-melee spells and abilities. In your face, beating your head in, and using a spell called "Army of the Dead." OMG
1:34pm: Death Knight is a hero class-- can't roll as a level one character, wanted to make it more epic (no level one Death Knights). Character class with two distinguishing elements-- have to unlock the ability to play one. Don't have to be a raider. Quest chain at level 80, like the Warlock epic mount quest, to unlock Character class. Story elements-- explain interaction with Arthas. Second element: Once you've unlocked it, you start off at a relatively high level (55, 60, 70-- not sure yet), with preexisting set of spells and abilities.
1:36pm: Hero classes are Unlocked, allows us to release more in the future. Can't release them all at one time, because of game balance, but what it boils down to is your favorite WCIII heroes, playable.
1:37pm: Rune resource system. Three rune schools: Blood runes, frost, and unholy runes. All DK spells and abilities will use these different runes in some combo. DKs carve these runes into their weapon-- done anytime outside of combat.
1:38pm: Character portrait has six runes in place of the mana bar (and a special circle around the icon, probably for Hero class). These runes are consume as your spells use them-- they deactivate and then reactivate over time, so if you have two frost and four blood runes, you get that much to use as spells and abilities. We have plans for mechanics that allow you to change one resource type on the fly-- like Warlock's Life Tap (Health=mana).
1:39pm: Showing a DK with six Unholy runes chosen-- hopefully that won't happen, since players should want to use all the rune abilities. Runes are on cooldowns modified by talents and attributes-- "Death Strike" might be a spell that refreshes runes, or spells might consume more than one rune at a time. By the way, the graphic showed was an Orc Death Knight.
1:58pm: What races for DK? Our current plan is for all of them to be available. ("Gnome Death Knights ftw" from the audience)