View Full Version : World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Review

10th January 2009, 10:03 PM
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King


Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Platform: PC and Mac
Multiplayer: It's an MMO
Singleplayer: It's an MMO


With ActivisionBlizzard announcing that the massive MMORPG World of Warcraft now has eleven and a half million subscribers, this computing phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down. If there was any slowdown expected, that will have been averted, and will also put the freeze on the competition with the release of Wrath of the Lich King. With a new continent to explore and a new class to experiment with and level, it will keep the addicted running on WoW for several months to come.

Content and Features

The bulk of the content from the expansion comes in the form of the new continent, Northrend. With 10 zones and with each averaging 3 quest hubs a zone, the levelling experience from 70 to 80 takes you through an experience which will take you many weeks to complete, and you will enjoy every second of it. With new quests, comes new instances, which include the entry instance 'The Nexus', and the retuning of the Old World instance Naxxramas. Blizzard have done a good job of tuning the 5-man instance so that even the worst of groups, which would normally take six hours to constantly wipe halfway through in Shadow labs, can clear them in under an hour.

All of the quests and instances also link seamlessly into a story which will lead into the ultimate encounter with Arthas, once the Icecrown Glacier raid instance is released in a future content patch. Unlike Outland, everything you do feeds into the idea that your fighting against the armies of the Lich King and the ultimate goal. This is aided by the new phasing mechanic, which operates by changing the NPC's in a certain area once a certain objective has been achieved. For example, the Icecrown zone is only accessed from a floating fortress to every player. However, once quests have been completed to clear one area, that area is 'phased' for you, and changes the hostile mobs to a friendly quest hub, allowing greater accessibility to the area and opens new gameplay options.

Player-versus-player combatants have been given a plethora of new features also. The main addition is vehicular combat and destructible building, a long overdue feature for the game. Whilst not an avid PvP player myself, I am sure that those who are will happily enjoy blowing up the opposition. The new content is available in two areas, the new battleground Strand of the Ancients and the PvP zone, Lake Wintersgrasp, which is PvP enabled on all servers, including those with PvP off by default. It's an interesting move, which has definitely encouraged many to participate, in order to gain the benefits of controlling the zone (5% extra EXP in Northrend, shard currency collection, and the honour from the kills to purchase PvP gear). For those who like their combat small and enclosed, there are two new arenas set in Northrend zones for the obsessive nutters to compete in.

As mentioned earlier, there are new instanced dungeons and raids for people to enjoy. Whilst the pace increase in 5-man's is a welcome design input, it's not the most anticipated. When Blizzard changed the raid participant number from 40 to 25 for TBC, the majority of complaints came from the raiding guilds, who complained that they would not be able to stick together in their current teams. However, the casual players (myself included), were still malcontent with the fact that joining a group of 25 people was still a near impossible task, with the 10 man instances such as Karazhan and Gruul's Lair being our only opportunities to experience end-game raiding.

With Wrath, they have added a new option, to do 'heroic' raids. With the TBC instances, heroics were hardened regular 5-man instances tuned for level 70 players. In Wrath, all raids have been designed for 10-man teams, with the heroic option tuning it for 25-man. The only complaint for this feature when it was revealed was (again) from the raiding guilds, who said they did not want players who didn't do as much work as they did and still get the same gear they got. They were reassured that the top end gear was only available to the 25-man raids, and the item for all, Frostmourne, had a greater chance of dropping in 25-mans than 10 mans. I'm just waiting for the first world drop to happen in the 10 man, then all the raiding guilds flaring up in arms. I honestly like the move, as it fixes one of the only remaining problems that warcraft had.

The final major feature is the new achievement's system. I won't go into much detail, but it does encourage veteran's to go back into Old World content and complete some of the dungeons they may have skipped in order to get some user titles and decent items. For me, that means I have to do all but two of the instances in the old world, as I now rue the decision to solo the entire game.

There is a problem to all this new content. Except for the achievements system, it is all geared to players above 55, but a majority is above 68, which is fair, given that an expansion to expand content to existing content for veteran and experienced players. But with the new experience bonuses from between levels 1 and 70 and the lowered experience threshold for the formentioned levels, it is now relatively easy to level a new character to 55 and experience the new class, the Death Knight.


When Blizzard announced the hero class, there was genuine excitement. And Blizzard followed through on the hero part. The Death Knight is a mix of a Warrior, a Warlock, a Rogue and a Paladin, and is available from level 55. Whilst there is a limit of one per server per level 55, the server limit will soon be removed, and thus you will be able to create them on any server, providing the level 55 criteria is met.

Having played a Death Knight to level 63, I can say that it is definitely a unique class, with it's own feel, despite the obvious shared influences. For example, the warrior's rage bar has become the Death Knight's runic power, which acts like mana for some of the death knight's ranged spells. The new mechanic for the death knight is the rune system, which recharges over a short period time during combat and are used for the melee abilities. Whilst confusing to begin with, once a spell rotation is mastered, it is easy to play and enjoy. Other influences include the warlock pet summoning with the Summon Dead spells, and the completely overpowered pull mechanic, nicknamed the Lasso of Death. The Death Knight was primarily created to fill a void in the PvE scene as a tank, but allows the flexibility to be a DPS as well, as they are able to tank with a two-hander and no shield. Whilst currently overpowered in PvP, Blizzard will wave the nerf bat around and curb their power a bit.

Death knights are now the only new gameplay features and spells. Existing classes have been given new talent trees to account for the 10 new talent points, as well as several new spells to play with. Professions have been given new items, such as new mounts from Engineering (Choppa Bike's) and Tailoring (Flying Carpets). A new profession has also been created, Inscription, which allows for some customisation of spells and giving extra effects to increase damage, healing, or proc effects. Current players should have made a run on basic herbs and made a fortune.

Graphics and Sound

Warcraft's graphics have always been distinctive and impressive, even with a now somewhat dated engine. Whilst Northrend is associated with masses of death and decay, the entire continent brims with life and energy. The plants and fauna are well placed and designed to fit each zone. The surroundings of each zone also give an evil energy and dark presence. Most, if not all buildings in Northrend show influences from Norse history and architecture, which fit with the area. The new creatures and quest design is once again up to Blizzard's high standards. When they said they would have wanted another two to three months to finish it properly, it makes me wonder where the time would have been spent. Is it Blizzard being the perfectionist again, or is there an underlying problem no-one has noticed yet. It may be to do with the improved graphics used in Northrend. It shows a nice improvement over the old world content, whilst sticking to Blizzard's base design. This may be a hint to a complete graphics engine upgrade in the future.

As many of you who read some of my post's in the Warcraft forum will know, I am a massive fan of Blizzard scores of orchestral music, as it remains true to the past Warcraft music tradition, as well as capturing the essence of the expansion completely. As with the architecture, it has traces of Norse influence, with some battle hymns. This is one part of the expansion I have explored in-depth, as I have acquired the OST and listened through it several times, and I have no shame in admitting I still do listen to tracks from time to time, and that it is the only classical music I actually listen to. I am also glad they continued to expand the opening screen music with the Azeroth and Outland themes still remaining, rather than writing a completely new intro piece.


The Good

Content – Something for everyone
Content – Death Knight
Content – Revives everything just at the right time
PvP – The Bloodthirsty will quench their thirst
PvE – Casual's can now experience the raid content
PvE – Story is Classic
Sound – Sublime as always
Graphics – Shiny, and a look at the future.

The Bad

It's warcraft, so an addiction warning applies
No content available to new players, although it is easier to get up to Northrend.
Did I mention that WoW is addictive?

10th January 2009, 11:50 PM
Haven't read the whole thing, but looks like a very very nice review. Well done Oric. I *might* be getting it after my exams xD.

11th January 2009, 04:29 AM
With ActivisionBlizzard announcing that the massive MMORPG World of Warcraft now has eleven and a half subscribers,

LOL ORIC EPIC FAIL, i think they have more than 11 and a half subscribers, and how did they count the half?

11th January 2009, 04:31 AM
Good review otherwise and i luv the mention of ur 6hr fail in shadow labs, abit lengthy but I got through the marathon of txt eventually.

11th January 2009, 10:06 AM

LOL ORIC EPIC FAIL, i think they have more than 11 and a half subscribers, and how did they count the half?


11th January 2009, 11:10 AM
11.5 million subscribers is more than the population of:
Ireland (4,517,800)
Greece (11,262,500)
Israel (7,373,000)
New Zealand (4,294,350)
Norway (4,802,050)

So for assumptions sake, if the Alliance and Horde have roughly equal populations then they'd have a population the size of... Sierra Leone with around 5,866,000 people each.

Actually quite impressive, that!

Erm, anyway, great review Oric, I found it was quite comprehensive and it's good to know Blizzard are still keeping up their same standard of music! The only thing I can really add is, if WoW has never been that interesting to you, WotLK won't draw you in either, since it's (rightly) an expansion for fans and not unbelievers. :)

11th January 2009, 11:17 AM
Fair point Bloo. But I disagree on some respects. I was once a vehement WoW hater, but as soon as I saw the content, and played it, I felt compelled to continue, because of the great interest. I'm not the prototypical RPG player (admittedly, PVP servers are not really RP-esque), and not a fantasy player. But something about WoW draws you in. If you haven't tried it, do so. If you don't like it, fair enough.

I can't tell you whether you should play WoW or not, that's for you to decide.

11th January 2009, 12:44 PM
You forgot to say 'million'.

11th January 2009, 12:55 PM
I love it how he backed up his own wrong doing. Anyway good review anyone know the console commands to make wow even better?

11th January 2009, 01:13 PM
/gogolevelandraid ?

Vicious Horizon
11th January 2009, 01:15 PM
/addiction ?

12th January 2009, 12:14 AM
thats the point i was making phantom and even though i quoted and pointed it out he still failed to see his epic mistake. He just said they had 11 and half players, so 10 normal players and then oric counting himself as 1 and a half??

12th January 2009, 08:47 AM
Fuck. I can't change it. Can an admin at million the end of 11 and a half at the end of the first line.

13th January 2009, 04:35 AM
no one will oric for 3 reason's

1.u luk like a fuk tard
2.u luv raping other ppl for mistakes so its ur turn
3.the admins luv oric abuse

15th January 2009, 04:10 PM
Haven't read the whole thing, but looks like a very very nice review. Well done Oric. I *might* be getting it after my exams xD.

says he who claimed he was clean of wow :P

15th January 2009, 06:11 PM
lol its the 4th or 5th time Phantom's threatened to get wow :P

15th January 2009, 06:30 PM
Threatened? I'm not requesting anything xD.

15th January 2009, 06:38 PM
Figure of speech noob

15th January 2009, 06:39 PM
Callin' me a noob biatch?

Vicious Horizon
15th January 2009, 09:53 PM
(Lol Bloo)

Get in there with the right internet hook! Or just call for /b/lackup!

15th January 2009, 11:57 PM
I'll hit you with my /b/itch /s/lap.

16th January 2009, 05:06 AM
i just get u wit ma 1337 h@x slap biatch!!!