World of Warcraft is such an unstoppable behemoth of a success story, it hardly even needs an introduction anymore. Still, there's plenty that developer Blizzard is keeping tight-lipped about regarding the forthcoming expansion Burning Crusade, so we'll seize any chance we get to weed out further nuggets of fact.
We sat down with Blizzard's VP of game design, Rob Pardo, to probe his impenetrable cavern of revelations regarding just what we can expect when Azeroth's dark portals finally open, the benefits offered by the expansion's two new races and, of course, the new level 70 cap. Read on for more.
So just to remind slower readers, what can we expect to find through the dark portal in The Burning Crusade?
Rob Pardo: The land beyond the dark portal is the world from which the orcs originate. The Burning Legion invaded it and as a result, it's a patchwork world. Some sections are torn up by the Dark Legion's magic, while other areas still survive as they were. From a gameplay side, you'll see more of what you'd expect from WOW. We're really trying to give each zone its own story, quests and game mechanics.
What can you tell us about the new Alliance race you're introducing?
Rob Pardo: The Draenai are the new Alliance race and can heal a target over time. They also get shadow resistance, have a bonus for the jewel-crafting skill and have an ability called 'heroic presence', which gives everyone within their group a +1% hit bonus. Already revealed are the Blood Elves, the Horde race that have the ability to drain mana from their enemies. They also have a bonus to their enchanting ability.
And the new level cap is still 70?
Rob Pardo: Yes. One problem we had while balancing the original game from levels 1-60 was trying to match the amount of experience needed against the amount of quest content that we had. At one point, it took too long to go up levels and you ended up just attacking monsters to gain experience. In Burning Crusade, we want you to be able to gain experience through quests.
So can you tell us what kind of game experience we can expect between levels 60-70?
Rob Pardo: From levels 60-70, a lot of the outdoor content will be similar to the content between levels 50-60. It'll probably be more involved, but it'll still be a combination of solo, group and duo content. All the instances from 60-70 will be five-man instances.
How are you handling PvP in the latest expansion?
Rob Pardo: We have a lot of plans for The Burning Crusade's PvP, one of which is all the outdoor PvP. We're trying to give you genuine reasons to want to control outdoor zones. If you control a zone, a new town, graveyard or flight path will open up for you.
What's your favourite bit from The Burning Crusade then?
Rob Pardo: Flying mounts. We were hoping to get them into the original, but due to the way we made the content and the technology, we couldn't. However, this time we've been able to put in the likes of flying griffins.
We've heard that you started your career as a games tester. Did it give you a good grounding in development?
Rob Pardo: As a game designer, I think that the more jobs you've experienced in game development, the better. A lot of what makes me effective as a game designer is understanding the technology or the game-testing process behind the game.
What's your opinion on gamers who dedicate their lives to MMOs or turn them into real-life careers?