Creation and initial play:
- Death Knights will start in a floating citadel similar to Naxxramas at level 55, and go through a series of quests that will establish their story and background in the Eastern Plaguelands.
- All Indications are that Blizzard still plans to allow all races to be Death Knights, as Worldofwar.net's reporter saw Tauren, Dwarf, Gnome, and Orc Death Knights.
- You must have an existing character of level 55 or higher to create a Death Knight.
- You can create one Death Knight per realm per account.
- You will not need to do any unlocking quests or sacrifice a character before you can create a Death Knight.
- The Death Knight will start with a wide range of abilities, as it is assumed that someone with a level 55 character has the experience to handle them right off the bat.
- They will start with a 60% speed summoned Death Charger as a land mount, which be upgradable via quest much like Warlock and Paladin mounts.
The Rune system:
- The Death Knights' Rune meter will appear below the Health Bar.
- You will be able to place up to 6 runes in any combination of Unholy, Blood, and Frost on the meter.
- The Runes will be consumed by use of abilities, but will refresh like a Rogue's energy Meter.
- There will be a secondary bar called Runic Power, which will be filled on the use of Runic abilities, but will decay over time much like Warrior rage.
- Runic Power will be used with moves that drain all Runic power and have powers and effects that are stronger depending on how much Runic Power was used. In this way it will be much like the Warrior's Execute ability or the Rogue's finishing moves.
- According to Gamespy, Blood runes will mostly cover the tank abilities (which clashes with previous information saying Blood runes were DPS, as well as with the function of the Blood Presence blow), while Frost will deal with Crowd Control.
Death Knight Abilities:
Presences: Much like Paladin Auras or Warrior stances, Presences will be powerful one-at-a-time self-buffs that will probably determine whether the Death Knight is taking on a Tank or DPS role in the group. Worldofwar.net reported on 3 presences, as follows:
Blood Presence will increase the Death Knight's DPS and provide a small healing effect when the Death Knight is hit.
Frost Presence will increase the Armor and Threat of the Death Knight.
Unholy Presence will provide increased attack speed and decreased global cooldown, and is being billed as the PvP presence.
Death Coil: It will not fear like the Warlock version, but will act like the WC3 version also used by Death Knights in that game, damaging enemies or healing friendly undead targets.
Army of the Dead: This ability will temporarily summon a small army of Undead that will fight for you. It will apparently be channeled, which makes me think it will be closer to an AE attack like a Druid's Hurricane than an actual pet ability.
Raise Dead: This will raise an actual nearby corpse, including one of a fallen ally (even in Arenas) to fight for you as a Ghoul. An ally so resurrected will have the option to control their character as a Ghoul. Ghouls will get abilities to cause diseases, stun, and fear among other things, but it seems like they will be temporary pets all the same - at least, I assume PCs will eventually be allowed to resurrect rather than stay slaves of the Death Knight.
Grip of Death: Pulls the enemy toward you and forces it to attack you (Probably a taunt effect, though It'd be great if the pulling effect works in PvP).
Blade Strike: Attacks the target and applies a disease.
Blood Strike: Deals Damage based on how many diseases are on the target.
Chains of Ice: Roots a target, then applies a snare that lifts gradually until the target regains full mobility
Death Knight Role:
As expected, Death Knights will be DPS/Tank Hybrids. As previously known, they will not use shields, but will rely on a high parry rating and the proper presence (likely the Frost one from worldofwar.net's report) to mitigate damage. As DPS, they will not do as much damage as a pure DPS class, but will bring extra flavor and utility to the table in the form of some minor crowd control, ghoul pets, and the use of diseases to deal extra damage and cause debuffs. Worldofwar.net also mentions that Tom Chilton, in his Death Knight presentation, told them that they are leaning toward letting all tank types do more DPS while tanking.
For the most part, we got most of what we expected out of the DKs, plus a lot more clarification and a look into some intriguing new aspects of their abilities and mechanics such as Runic Power and Ghoul summoning. I did notice that some old leaked abilities such as the Unholy Aura spell didn't receive any play, but if that's because they were scrapped, fake, or just not mentioned, we probably can't say for sure until the Beta drops. All I know for sure is that I am hooked, and am more dedicated than ever to having a new main when WoTLK hits.
[Via Gamespy and Worldofwar.net]