Review of Wrath of the Lich King

#1 Edited by JacobForrest (307 posts) -

After playing Wrath of the Lich King for a few good hours, I felt I may as well take the liberty to write a quick rundown/review of the game for those who have not yet plunged into the icy island of Northrend yet.

Being a prominently 360 gamer myself, World of Warcraft has always been my vice. The game itself pretty much refutes everything console gaming stands for, so I've received quite a bit of ridicule from my console-gaming and (even pc-gaming) friends. It's the carrot-on-a-stick philosophy that tends to be the focal point of the game. You always want that new piece of gear or recipe, and you don't care how many hours of ceaseless grinding you will need to devote. Nevertheless, it keeps you coming back to the game. And this has not changed in WOTLK.

But WOTLK does in fact change a few things for the better. I noticed the pace of the combat has changed significantly, particularly in instances. The combat moves a lot more quickly and seamlessly, and it enhances the action-game feel that WoW has always been famous for. Some concrete changes include, obviously, the new continent of Northrend and a whole new set of quests. It can be argued that the Burning Crusade's hubris was the fact that it recycled so many environmental aspects from its predecessor, but Northrend seems to be almost 100% original. Most importantly, it's a beautiful place, with a gritty yet majestic atmosphere that permeates throughout its tall mountains and dark beaches.

Another change is shorter instances. I ventured into Utgarde Keep and Azjol Nerub, and both were completed in less than 30 minutes (depending on wipes). The bosses and trash mobs were nothing new, but the dungeons themselves were. The instances are a lot less static than some of the Burning Crusade's were, and I found myself straying away from my group looking at all the neat details which were put into the design.

Last but not least, the addition of the Death Knight class is probably the heftiest change, and from my experience the most impressive.  The abilities of the Death Knight are based on a rune system -- 2 blood runes, 2 frost runes, and 2 unholy runes -- which are required to use most abilities and, when used, enter a short cool down time and can be used again. Most abilities, such as Heart Strike, cost 1 rune to use, but some can cost more. In addition, the Death Knight gets a Runic Power meter, which is effectively like a warrior's rage meter. It is used to activate some spell effects; the only spell which I have seen runic power in use is Deathcoil, which unleashes a large amount of shadow damage onto the enemy. Even though they cannot dual wield, the damage unleashed by the Death Knight is similar to a rogue's. It is unleashed in short bursts rather than massive blows, so stick to a mortal strike warrior or retribution paladin if you want massive critical strikes.

The Death Knight is a great class because it can give veterans of the game, like me, who have been saddened by the noobifications of WoW a complex and entertaining experience. What's just as magnificent as the class itself is its quest line. The Death Knight quest line, beginning in Eastern Plaguelands, carries more immersion than any other previous WoW quests. You really feel like a bad guy when you're sent out to murder innocent villagers and steal horses from the stable. What's also great is that there are barely any nonsensical killing or fetch quests. Pretty much all quests in the Death Knight zone are carried out for a reason.

So Blizzard has done it again. They've created a phenomenal expansion pack that may re-instill the desire to play within veteran WoW-ers who were just about to take this horribly addictive game off their hard-drives. If you're dead-set on the fact that you hate WoW, WOTLK won't change your mind. But if you're on the edge, it may be worth a look. Just don't expect to leave Northrend for the responsibilities of real life anytime soon.

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