World of Warcraft, Blizzard's massively multiplayer online RPG, has over six million subscribers regularly logging in and exploring the world of Azeroth. Jeff Kaplan, lead game designer for the game's first expansion, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, offered some new details about the game, and what players have to look forward to.
Blizzard intends for The Burning Crusade to attract new players, not just to add new content for veterans, by including two new races to choose from. While this information is not new to anyone following the expansion, Kaplan stressed that the two new zones accessible by the Blood Elves (the Horde's new race) -- Eversong Forest and the Ghostlands -- will be intended for lower-level characters just starting out. Eversong will be on the same level of difficulty as Elwynn Forest or Durotar, and the Ghostlands will be on par with Westfall or Loch Modan.
On the subject of new content, both continents accessible by players -- Kalimdor in the west and the Eastern Kingdoms -- will receive new dungeons, such as Karazhan and the Caverns of Time. Kaplan also stated that Blizzard hopes to create content of interest to both casual players and those who stick to smaller groups, as well as gamers who play with large guilds and raiding parties. "We hoping to take what we've learned since release and do a better job when it comes to providing content in The Burning Crusade and after [sic]," he said. New quests will be created and integrated into cities already existing in the game, but these quests will only be accessible to players who purchase the expansion, as will any new areas being included with it.
The new Alliance race is still being kept under tight wraps by Blizzard, but the same line used by Kaplan as in previous interviews was that the goal was to "make a 'cool' race." He continued: "We thought of races that fit into the Warcraft lore and complimented the Alliance. We also thought of races that fit this particular expansion, The Burning Crusade, and the Outland (a special area located outside the world of Azeroth), and started from there… At the end of the day, we needed to approach it as a player and ask ourselves, 'Would I want to play that race?'" Kaplan did not name the new race, nor hint at when it would be announced.
A new profession, called Jewelcrafting, has been previously announced for inclusion in The Burning Crusade, and was compared to the "socketed" items and weapons as originally seen in Diablo II. Jewelcrafting will expand on these themes, as not only will players be able to interact with socketed items in the game, they can also create various items to be worn, such as rings, necklaces, and trinkets. Most of these items can even be sold to other players.
Kaplan last touched on the subject of flying mounts, specialized mounts that players can use while in the Outlands. Flying mounts will be obtained through a special quest chain, but some monetary cost will be involved as well. Basic flying mounts can even be obtained without the support of a raid group. Blizzard also hopes to create some variety in the looks of flying mounts, so that players can distinguish themselves from others.
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade is scheduled for a release sometime this year. Stay tuned to RPGamer as more information comes out.