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The Digital Continuum: The Lich King made me do it

Kyle Horner

So I'll admit it. I've been pretty hard on World of Warcraft ever since The Burning Crusade launched. A large part of the reason I've been so down on the game is because a lot of Burning Crusade's end-game content came off as incredibly daunting to me. I never had any interest in most of the raids offered in the game simply because I didn't feel like going through all the hoops to access them. Sure there were the 5-mans, but most of the super-cool content was still locked away from me.

Even with the original announcement of Wrath of the Lich King, I felt complete disinterest in the expansion as it seemed to be more of the same. More raids, more high quality content that was probably going to be locked away behind hoops, barrels and fire pit traps. Yet that all changed yesterday with the icy cool wake-up blast of new information that jolted my interest -- something I thought could never happen again with World of Warcraft.

There's no one big piece of new information that's making me want to give Blizzard some more of my money to play World of Warcraft. It's mostly a lot of little things. If you've read my previous columns, then you'll know my highest level character in WoW is a level 57 Mage. So when I discovered that all a person needs to create a Death Knight is one level 55+ character, it gave me one fairly good reason to eventually go back to WoW. If that were all that interested me, I could simply wait until WotLK came out and play day one as a Death Knight -- but there was more.

Another part of the puzzle is the fact that spell inscriptions are starting to sound incredibly cool. My main in MMOs tends to be a mage class and that definitely plays into inscriptions being very compelling to me. Still, the ability to permanently tweak your spells is very cool no matter which class you play, as Blizzard has pointed out that they consider spells to also be abilities. I also like the fact that many of your spells will actually look different when casted, although some will be more nuanced than others.

The final cannon blast that's leaving cracks my iron wall of, "I'm never playing WoW again." is one sublimely clever decision Blizzard has made: all raids in WotLK will feature both 10-man and 25-man versions. This means -- to me at least -- that I can actually play through those epic experiences for the first time without as much difficulty. Sure, I've been to many of the original World of Warcraft instances -- Deadmines, Gnomeregan, Scarlet Monastery -- but I've never gotten into anything beyond the five person experience. I've just never wanted to invest the time, patience or amount of swivel-chair cushions for doing the 20+ person raids. However, 10-mans sound like the sweet spot to me. I've had several gaming experiences with a group of ten people on my team and it's always seemed like just the right number.

I've got to mention that air-to-air combat also looks pretty cool. Though I imagine that getting to experience that will require me to spend an inordinate amount of time collecting gold to purchase the skill and mount needed. If that's to be the case -- which I'm almost certain that it will be -- then I'll probably avoid it. However, if I somehow manage to get a flying mount and it isn't very time-obliterating, then I could see myself involved in some sky warfare.

What I think it all comes down to is that Wrath of the Lich King seems like it could be greater than the sum of its parts. The addition of a new class, a new profession that will add flavor to all classes and the easier-to-get-into raids all make me think, "Hm, WoW suddenly seems like a different, but better, game." which is probably the best I could've hoped for from an expansion.

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