Last weekend, the World Wide Invitational rocked our world with tantalizing news about the next expansion... and of course Diablo III, but this column isn't called "Diablo, Casually" or "Blizzard Fangirl" so we'll just talk about Wrath of the Lich King. The amount of information we gleaned from the WWI is pretty overwhelming, so let's just go over the items that I think affect those of us with limited playtime.
First of all, I think the biggest news was for the individual classes, so check out the news from the Dev panel. As a Druid, my 5-man instance viability will improve with indoor Entangling Roots and the possibility of an out of combat res. Many of the changes will make it easier for us all to find groups faster which means we can get more done in the blocks of time we have to play.
- 5-man instances should take less than an hour to play. This means that all 5-man instances will be available to us, even if we only have a couple hours to play. We should be able to find a group, prepare, get everyone there and still complete the instance before time is up.
- Death Knights will be viable in groups, easily soloable and will have their own new content. As long as you have a level 55 character of any kind on any server, you can make one Death Knight per server, any race, any faction. This means that you can join friends on other servers without having to transfer or level up a baby character. I want a Gnome Death Knight. Definitely. With pigtails if possible.
- All raids will have 10-man and 25-man versions. The 25-man loot will be a whole tier above the 10-man loot, but the 10-man raids will be able to see the story. This is good news for those who have longer blocks of time to play, but still can't commit to a large raiding guild.
More 5-man news
There is a lot of news for those of us who are max level and have time to enjoy the smaller instances.
- Heroics will have no attunement. This means that Heroic content will be more accessible to everyone, even if you who don't have the time or inclination to grind rep in order to get to the more advanced 5-man content.
- 5-mans will be more accessible to dungeon noobs. They don't want to make the dungeons easier, but they do want to make boss-kill strategies easier to understand so that newer players can learn advanced techniques. Training players who are new to the endgame content is a great idea and one that will benefit everyone, in my opinion. PuGs with more knowledgeable players is always a good thing.
- Heroics will accomodate different class combinations. They want to make sure that holy priests and/or protection tanks are not required for a group to be successful in Heroics. This will make it much faster to find groups in order to experience these instances.
Not every Casual player likes PvP, but the PvP content in WoW offers a lot of low time investment activities and these will get more varied in Wrath.
- Lake Wintergrasp. I have high hopes for this new non-instanced battleground. Yes, the Siege Engines and Destructable Environment look amazing, but I think this will be a great place to just spend some time when you can't find a group or just want to go out and play. It looks like it will be what Alterac Valley should have been. You will gain Honor and Marks just like the other Battlegrounds, but it's not instanced, so you can just join the throng battling for control without queues or setup time. Of course, this will only be great if people actually participate, but I think the vehicle combat will make that likely.
- PvE and PvP at the same time. If your faction controls Wintergrasp, all dungeons will drop Spirit Shards which can be spent on PvP gear along with the tokens for the PvE loot system. So your PvE playtime can benefit your PvP fun as well.
- New Northrend Battleground. This is instanced, also has vehicle combat and offers another variety of PvP gameplay. Variety is the spice of life and having a larger selection of places to earn honor will make the grind for gear much more pleasant.
Blizzard used the word "accessible" many times in many panels which is good news for us.
- Two Talent Specs! I'm sure the Raiders believe this is for them, but I claim some benefit for Casuals as well. We don't know any details about how this will be done, but "access" means not having to respec and implies that you could be so much more valuable in groups. Are you a druid? You could have a tank and healer spec and fill whichever role the group needs. Or you could have your Solo spec and your Group-friendly spec and switch between those. Anything that saves time and gets you into a good group faster benefits everyone.
- Faster Faction Farming. Again, we are not sure of the exact implementation, but we will have some item, like a tabard, available to us that will allow us to earn reputation for two factions at the same time. Fighting in a dungeon for one faction will also give us rep for the faction of the tabard we are wearing.
- More fun not related to Epics and Honor. Blizzard released no details here, but they are discussing marriages and other minor events that will be there for the sole purpose of having fun, like the activities at the Darkmoon Faire.
What are you most excited about in all of the expansion news?