Cory Stockton and Scott Mercer discussed the dungeon design goals for Cataclysm such as the Deadmines, Shadowfang Keep and other classic dungeons which might be updated with new lore, bosses, and quests. Some dungeons like Maraudon will be trimmed into two areas: the living and the elementals.
Some dungeons deemed too big, will be trimmed down such as the Sunken Temple in Swamp of Sorrows and the Wailing Caverns in The Barrens which will be shortened. Sunken Temple won’t have the lower floor to speed things up, and Uldaman will be split into two separate dungeon wings.
This year’s Dungeons & Raids panel with Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton and Lead Encounter Designer Scott Mercer focused on the developers’ design goals for Cataclysm — starting with a look at what’s in store for two classic dungeons, Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep.
A New Feel for Classic Dungeons
In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, many classic dungeons will be updated to reflect our ever-evolving design philosophy, and the reworked Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep should serve as two good examples of how classic dungeons can be greatly improved without losing their “classic”; feel. Even after players have long memorized every last corner of a dungeon, classic dungeons can be made to feel fresh again by adding new quests, new encounters, and interesting lore lead-ins from their respective zones (in this case, Westfall and Silverpine Forest). This subtle approach helps revitalise classic dungeons for low-level characters and provides meaningful content for level-85 characters through Heroic versions, while still retaining the spirit of what made the dungeon popular in the first place.
One exciting new change that Stockton announced was that all key dungeon quest givers will now be located just inside the dungeon entrance. You will no longer have to beg your party to share their quests with you, or make your way to a dungeon only to find you haven’t completed a mandatory quest chain.
The primary goal for touching up any classic dungeon is to make them less confusing, shorter (in the case of the most sprawling crawls), and — overall — more fun. One way to accomplish this is to tweak the layouts and divide larger dungeons into separate wings. Come Cataclysm, players will see this philosophy in action in places like Uldaman and Maraudon, now separated into wings that are easier to navigate. Other dungeons are better served by trimming away the excess, as in certain sections of Sunken Temple and the maze-like portion of Wailing Caverns.
One of the first things level-85 raiders will notice in Cataclysm is that more raid dungeons will be accessible right off the bat, in the form of multiple, smaller-scale raid dungeons. Our goal is to provide a dynamic and wide range of raid content that offers a little something for everyone.
Ever since Ulduar, our philosophies for Heroic raid dungeons and lockout systems have been steadily evolving. Ulduar presented players with the first-ever opportunity to toggle the difficulty of a raid boss for a greater challenge and access to better loot — but the system was somewhat confusing, requiring players to know how to trigger Heroic difficulties through specific gameplay mechanics that varied by encounter. In Trial of the Crusader, players were granted the ability to toggle Heroic difficulty directly through UI, but could only change it for the entire dungeon at once. In Icecrown Citadel, we melded the mechanics of Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader to give players the flexibility to choose between normal and Heroic difficulties via the UI on a boss-by-boss basis… and we’re still making tweaks to give players even more options.
Patch 4.0.1 introduced the flexible raid lock system, which will be used in Cataclysm raids. While the Heroic raid lockouts will function the same as they did in Wrath of the Lich King, normal raids will lock players to specific boss kills each week, rather than to entire dungeons. This system is designed to give players with fluctuating schedules more flexibility to progress through content, to help keep players from being locked out of raiding for a week if an emergency comes up, and to give raid leaders more options when scheduling raids and maintaining a raid roster.
The panel closed with a first look at the Firelands, an all-new raid coming in patch 4.1. Continuing the quest to save Hyjal from an elemental invasion, players will be called upon to enter the Elemental Plane of fire and extinguish seven unique bosses… including Ragnaros himself. Too soon?
Also coming in patch 4.1 is the five-player Abyssal Maw dungeon, which takes players into the Elemental Plane of water to challenge four new bosses…and while it’s technically an underwater dungeon, the designers promise that the layout and mechanics are nothing like those in the Oculus.
Another major feature of patch 4.1 will be enhanced dungeon and raid maps. While dungeon maps currently show the dungeon layout and locations of bosses, 4.1 will allow players to find a host of new information for each boss, including 3D boss portraits, the lore behind the encounter, a full loot list, and a breakdown of boss abilities (by phase, if applicable).
At this point the audience was shown video footage of two new raid zones being introduced in Cataclysm, Bastion of Twlight and Throne of the Four Winds. That’s all from the World of Warcraft Dungeons & Raid panel. Thanks for reading!