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WoW: Cataclysm Patch 4.3 Press Event Preview: Deathwing, War of the Ancients, Hour of Twilight Dungeons

wow-cataclysm-patch-4-3-1807674

Blizzard Entertainment apparently held a press event a few days ago to reveal details on World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Patch 4.3 a few days ago.

Patch 4.3 features the Deathwing raid dungeon and new 5-player dungeons.

Players will go back in time and also visit a future timeline during the Hour of Twilight, as revealed in New York Times Best Selling author Christie Golden’s World of Warcraft: Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects.

The NDA has been lifted, and Curll posted a translation of the Taiwanese website: GameBase.TW‘s press coverage. Here’s the quote from ScrollsofLore Forums:

The story of 5 men dungeons are featuring time travel sagas related to Deathwing. The story is a continuous-event which will finally lead to the Deathwing raid.

End Time

First 5-player dungeon. Under Nozdormu’s guide, players will venture into the future of Azeroth (Location is the Dragonblight) to see, first hand, what if Deathwing’s plan had been fruitful. It would be the world where the Hour of Twilight had happened. It will be the end of time. Sylvanas and an undead army will be featuring in this dungeon, as well as an Infinite dragon named Murozond. Wait … that’s a play of letters for Nozdormu. The Infinite Dragon in the screenshot below is Nozdormu’s future evil self aka the leader of the Twilight Dragonflight, as revealed in Christie Golden’s novel.

Well of Eternity (War of the Ancients)

Second 5-player dungeon. The story is circling around the wrestling for the Demon Soul. Queen Azshara and her Highbornes would make an appearance.

The Hour of Twilight

Third 5-player dungeon. Accompany Thrall and the dragon aspects to the present time of Wyrmrest Temple. Players will need to protect Thrall when he is re-forging the artifact – the Dragon Soul in order to defeat Deathwing, as well as preventing the Hour of Twilight from happening. Black dragons, Twilight dragons, and the Twilight’s Hammer clan will be the enemies of this dungeon.

Fangs of Father

Rogue legendary weapon. They are a pair of daggers. The storyline of the legendary daggers is actually continuing the plot of Badland’s uncorrupted black dragon egg. The egg will hatch into a new character described as a black dragon prince. He offers the legendary quests to players. Only rogues can do this quest. It will be very time and gold consuming. The quests will involve killing some evil dragons and collecting holy ingredients from the 5-player dungeons as well as the Deathwing raid dungeon.

The legendary weapon will have a specific effect that is designed for rogues only!

The Dragon Soul

The Deathwing raid dungeon contains 6 bosses. The raid starts at the Wyrmrest Temple and ends at the Maelstrom.

Though the whole story is a long continuous-event, the Dragon Soul raid does not need any attunement or key to access.

The first boss is a giant ice elemental.

The second and third boss are both minions of the Old gods featuring scary, and horrible tentacles. The second boss is a Faceless One general named Warlord Zon’ozz.

The fourth boss is located at the Eye of Eternity. A female shaman, featuring some totem combat mechanics. It’s not revealed who she is, but rumor is starting to get hot she might be Magatha Grimtotem — exiled from Thunderbluff for orchestrating the death of High Chieftain Cairne Bloodhoof during his duel against Garrosh Hellscream — as seen in the pages of World of Warcraft: The Shattering.

The fifth boss is a monstrous Twilight dragon that you had never seen before. It is so big that it cannot land. Players will have to fight in the air.

The sixth boss is the general of the Twilight’s Hammer. His identity is not revealed, but rumor going around is it could be Archbishop Benedictus. Again, check out World of Warcraft: Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects to find out why the rumor is so strong.

Players will pursue Deathwing by riding a gunship as he tries to flee. The Twilight’s Hammer will try to intercept the players, and an imposing tauren general of Twilight’s Hammer will be the main antagonist of this encounter.

The seventh and eight encounter is against Deathwing.

The seventh encounter is fighting on Deathwing’s back. Other dragons and aspects will assist the players along the way. Deathwing will try to roll over, dive as he tries to get rid of the players. Thrall and players must rip Deathwing’s armor off, and eventually made him crash into the Maelstrom.

The last encounter has many phases. The location is the Maelstrom. The first phase is moving around the isles around the Maelstrom. Players will have to fight his claws, wings, tail alone and the tentacles. Traveling around the isles is similar to the fight in the Throne of the Four Winds.

During the second phase, the four dragon aspects will arrive and use their specific abilities to assist players to battle Deathwing. Players need to decide which aspect’s help. For example, Nodzormu can create a time-warp field to slow down Deathwing’s molten missile attack. Alexstrasza can annihilate the small tentacles Deathwing calls upon. Ysera and Kalecgos both have their own abilities. And, Thrall will use the artifact, the Dragon Soul, to join the battle. For further phases, no more spoilers!

Patch 4.3 is the last major raid patch of Cataclysm, but not the last patch of this expansion. Blizzard will offer some buffer contents for players to enjoy between 4.3 and the next expansion.

There will be several cinematic cutscenes for the whole “The Dragon Soul” raid.

No comments for Mists of Pandaria. Blizzard wouldn’t talk about anything of the next expansion in this press event held a few days ago. Hopefully details might come out at BlizzCon 2011 this upcoming October 21-22.

Darkmoon Isle

There are lots of new games and rewards for the new Darkmoon Faire. It will be very fun, a little bit creepy. Players can enter the Darkmoon Isle by walking through a portal in major cities.

The Darkmoon Isle might be located around Gilneas and Silverpine Forest. But it’s very secret and you can’t find it and can’t enter by flying or swimming alone. And the truth is, they haven’t decided where to put it.

The Darkmoon Fair had constructed the whole new fair for years secretly. It’s all part of Silas Darkmoon’s grand plan.

Random Raid Finder System

Raid finder: designed for the casual players only. The purpose of this system is to let the casual players easily find a raid group and enjoy it with the dungeon-finder system. The difficulty will be easier than the normal raid, and the loots will be less powerful.

The difficulty of using raid-finder will be easier like: bosses have less HP, complicated mechanics removed, damage to player lowered.

The raid-lock of raid finder will be independent of the normal / heroic raids.

Other Q&A

No updates for Silithus and Dustwallow Marsh.

No updates for old classic dungeons.

The other plot holes will continue when they feel the time is right.

FAQ

Ghostcrawler: The focus of our 4.3 patch is the heroes’ final battle against Deathwing the dragon. There will be an epic raid where 10 and 25 player groups can try to defeat Deathwing. In addition, we have three 5 player dungeons to kind of set the stage; it will be kind of similar to the way the dungeons in the Icecrown patch lead up to the final conflict against the Lich King. We have a new legendary weapon that players will be able to get in the raid. We have a Raid Finder system that will work a lot like Dungeon Finder to allow more casual raiders to get into the content. And we have a couple of character customization features we’ve talked about already: Transmogrification which lets you change the look of your armor and Void Storage which gives you a place to store it all. And then finally we have an update to the Darkmoon Faire – an entire island full of fun carnival games.

Will the new Looking for Raid difficulty share a lockout with Normal and Heroic raids?
Ghostcrawler: We’re not entirely sure yet because we’re still working out the details. Our goal is that it doesn’t. We want people to be able to do the raid with their group and then still do Looking for Raid, maybe on the weekends or when their guild isn’t available.

Do you feel like you are alienating any part of the player base when you make easier content or do you think the new three difficulty system might solve that?
Ghostcrawler: We’re hoping it solves it. I mean, generally this is an experiment for us. We’re not sure how it is going to work out. We have a hugely diverse player base, and we want to be able to let lots of different players see the content. We felt in the past we were struggling too much to decide “Okay, heroic mode is for 5% of the population… that means normal mode has to be for 95% of the raiding population” and we were stretching ourselves really thin. So our hope is that by offering up an additional difficulty, it will free up normal mode to be targeted towards the kind of traditional guild it has been, where players who don’t have a lot of time to raid or find the commitment too much can do Raid Finder to be able to experience the fights.

While the game may continue to go strongly for a long time, do you think WoW may have hit its peak subscription number at all?
Ghostcrawler: I mean, gosh, that is so hard to know. It’s really hard to tell what is… you know it’s a seven-year-old game at this point. We don’t have really any examples of games that have remained so popular for so long to really know what the future might bring. We certainly understand that some players have just gotten their fill of World of Warcraft, and the kind of things we would have to do to provide really interesting new features for them risks changing World of Warcraft into something else. We have to be really careful not to overhaul the game so dramatically that people who love the game fall out of love with it. At the same time, it is a rough economy going on, summers are always a little light, and periods between expansions are always a little light, so we’ll see how things look after another expansion or two.

So when Cataclysm came about, there were a lot of changes to the healing model. Do you think that it has been successful and will you insure its stability in the next raid set?
Ghostcrawler: Yes, we’ve really liked the way the healing model has worked out. It had some hiccups along the way where I think players just starting out going into dungeons, particularly the heroic dungeons, felt like they just didn’t have the mana to do anything. That was probably a little too extreme. We’ve gotten to the point now where most raid geared healers feel like they have the mana to do what they want, but they still can’t completely waste it. A Discipline Priest that does nothing but Power Word: Shield is going to find they’re going to have to do something quickly to get their mana back or they’ll have to risk not having enough for the end of the fight.

So another thing that came with Cataclysm, well even in other expansions, was that some fights favored some types of DPS that led to some classes being kind of sat out on certain encounters. Do you think that in the Deathwing fight this might happen as well or are you trying to balance that?
Ghostcrawler: We try to keep in mind, I mean on one hand we really want to encourage all available players to play. It’s tough not to go in and try to change things when you find that someone is too weak on a fight and a more competitive guild risks sitting that player out. We really don’t like that, but at the same time if we aren’t careful then the fights will all kind of feel the same because we’ll have to say “Okay, where’s the AE moment so that my Demonology Warlock can shine and where is the movement component of this fight because that is really good for my Fire Mage” or whatever. So we kind of give… it’s hard enough coming up with new encounters where players don’t immediately say “Oh, you’ve done that already; we’ve seen it all before”. We make so many hundreds of bosses that we like to give our encounter designers a lot of room to maneuver.

It becomes a problem when it feels like consistently the same types of characters aren’t competing. We’ve seen a lot of concern about the melee classes just can’t compete with the ranged classes. Part of that is class mechanics; part of it is that we just have a lot of encounters that really favor ranged. So for the Deathwing tier, what we’re going to do is just a straight up buff to the melee classes that hopefully helps them a little bit. We’re going to do that in such a way that the raid buffs will just end up buffing melee a little more than they’ll buff ranged. So hopefully you won’t have a lot of widespread effects in PvP or things like that, but melee characters who are just stabbing away on a boss in optimal situations will feel like their DPS is very competitive.

Can you talk a little bit about the new legendary for this patch?
Ghostcrawler: Sure. It is a pair of daggers – a main-hand and an off-hand dagger. We are designing them such that all three Rogue specs will be able to use it. We have a little tweak in there so that Combat Rogues will be able to Sinister Strike with the daggers without it being a big DPS loss.

The story of these legendary daggers has to do with the last remaining pure black dragon egg. So kind of how we got here is the black dragons are a really cool enemy in our universe, they have been for a while, but we’re kind of killing them off a lot. Onyxia has been killed and brought back so many times that we’re starting to feel bad for the old girl. Nefarian is dead, again, and Deathwing is going down. So we thought we were running out of black dragons, and we really didn’t want to do that because they’re a really great enemy and we really want to use them again in the future.

So players who play through the Cataclysm quests in the Badlands will remember a questline around this uncorrupted black dragon egg. It was free of the taint of the Old Gods. So what is going to happen is that black dragon egg eventually hatches and there is a black dragon prince who is pure – he’s not a minion of Deathwing; he’s not corrupted by the Old Gods. But that doesn’t mean he is necessarily a good guy. He’s kind of out for himself, he’s kind of got his own agenda, and to bring his plans to fruition he contacts the Rogue because Rogues are a little shady, always working in the shadows, always playing a number of games and has other things going on. The black dragon prince reaches out to the Rogue character and says “If you help me out, I’ll reward you with these increasingly more powerful daggers”.

How did the team decide to make a Rogue weapon rather than a tanking weapon for this legendary?
Ghostcrawler: It’s really funny because every player out there wants and almost expects the next legendary is going to be for them. We try not to let it fall into too much of a pattern. We want legendaries to be something exciting, something that is earned, not something that you “deserve” because it is “your time to get one”. We thought that we liked part of the Rogue story. We thought that Rogues had maybe felt a little bit not special in this expansion with all the high damage numbers that were being done by classes like Mages. We thought it was just the right opportunity to make them shine and feel kind of special. Unless you count the bow, we haven’t done any class specific legendaries to this extent before, so we thought it would be fun to make the legendary quest VERY Rogue-themed. There will be stealthing and pickpocketing, things we know that a Rogue can handle. Then, the weapons themselves, their proc, we’re still building, but the idea is that their proc will tie in something very Rogue specific as well.

One of the problems with tanking weapons is that our tanks use very different weapons so we could say “Well this legendary weapon is going to be for the Warrior and Paladin and hopefully we’ll get to the Death Knight and Druid someday in the future”. With all the talk about a legendary weapon that transforms “you could have a 2-handed version or a 1-handed version”, too much of that I think starts to suck away what is really special about the legendary when it can turn into all these different things.

I guess the message to the players is don’t despair and don’t assume that you’ll never get a legendary for your guy. Hopefully we’ll eventually get them all, but we don’t want to keep it on such a timetable that players are able to predict “Okay, the Elemental Shaman legendary is coming in Patch 6.2 followed by the Hunter crossbow”.

How do you feel the Dungeon Journal worked out and how will you be releasing the information in it this time around?
Ghostcrawler: We’re really happy with the feature overall. I know that it is a lot to ask the players to go research a fight completely before the first time they see it, but we really like the way you can link spells in your raid chat or something and say “Okay, I want you to handle this” and maybe when somebody doesn’t understand a mechanic very well you can explain it a little better that way. Like all of our features it will evolve over time but we’re pretty happy with how it turned out.

I know there was some concern amongst the most hardcore raiders that they didn’t want the surprise spoiled for them and they kind of wanted to do discover things on their own. Maybe in the future we won’t reveal all the mechanics on heroic, but that is something we’ll have to evaluate.

What achievements will be granted in the new Looking for Raid system and are they similar to existing ones or any new rewards?
Ghostcrawler: We are very concerned about preserving the sense of accomplishment for the Normal and Heroic tier. We don’t want to over reward Looking for Raid. It is really there for people who want to see the content and want to feel like they’re raiding, but we don’t want it to be more attractive than traditional organized raiding.

We will offer some achievements; they’ll be very simple, nothing like you’ll be able to get in a Normal or Heroic. For example, it might just be “Kill the first four bosses” as one achievement and “Kill the second four bosses” as another achievement, something like that. We won’t, for example, put the legendary in the Looking for Raid tier. We are doing epic gems this time around as a drop in the raid and we may not have those drop in the Looking for Raid tier.

Where does the gear fit in terms of the new 5-mans? Will they be like ZA and ZG were or will they be a bit lower… where will they fit?
Ghostcrawler: A little bit higher… we’re still debating the exact numbers but I think they’re probably slotting it maybe between Normal Firelands and Heroic Firelands. It will be slightly weaker than the Looking for Raid tier and obviously weaker than the remaining Deathwing raid tier.

And what about Looking for Raid gear… how powerful will it be?
Ghostcrawler: Yeah, like I said, it should be slightly above the 5-player dungeon gear but not as powerful as the normal raid. The Deathwing raid is called The Dragon Soul; it should be weaker than The Dragon Soul tier.

Will the new Darkmoon Faire update change anything to Insane in the Membrane?
Ghostcrawler: No, I don’t believe so. I think our plans for Insane in the Membrane in the future are to try in the future sometime to offer a brutally difficult achievement or Feat of Strength for players who are looking for it. But it makes us nervous to go mess with that one too much because some players were able to do it when it was really hard and we don’t want to risk making it easier or making it even harder or that sort of thing.

What kind of abilities does Deathwing have in his encounter and why doesn’t he just breathe fire on us?
Ghostcrawler: Oh, the encounter is really, really cool. First of all, it is split into two fights, so boss seven is Deathwing and then boss eight is also Deathwing.

In fight seven, you parachute off of a gunship onto Deathwing’s back as he’s flying from Dragonblight towards the Maelstrom. You have pry these armor plates off of his back and fight off the corrupted blood that comes out. All the while, Deathwing himself is trying to shake you off his back and he’s going to do barrel rolls and things like that to try to dislodge you like the little parasite you are because he is so big.

The final Deathwing fight is really amazing. He crashes into the Maelstrom and then he kind of emerges out of it again. And he’s so big; he’s taking up this whole area. The players hop around from the little islands in the Maelstrom. So on the first little island they might be fighting one of his tentacles, and then they have to fly to the next island and now they’re fighting a leg and then they fly to the next island and they’re fighting another big tentacle. All the while the dragon aspects, Alexstrasza and Ysera and Nozdormu, are flying around and they’re also helping the raid in this fight. So Alexstrasza might breathe fire at an important moment or Nozdormu might stop time. They’re not helping you at random. There is a little bit of strategy as to how you use their abilities too, so they’re not just background, it’s actually a pretty critical mechanic of beating the fight.

Transmogrification question, when you transfer the appearance of something that is enchanted with say, Mongoose, will that effect go over?
Ghostcrawler: No, the enchants won’t go over. You’ll have to enchant the weapon the same way you would a non-transmogrified weapon.

Right now leveling and gearing up alts takes a significant amount of time and investment. Are there any improvements coming in this area?
Ghostcrawler: In 4.3, we’re actually increasing the leveling rate of Northrend pretty dramatically. We’re dropping the time it takes by a third. The players should notice that. Long-term we recognize that we definitely are going to have a problem at some point. If World of Warcraft’s character level is like 120 someday, it is asking an awful lot of players to hurry through all of that to get to the endgame if that is what they are interested in. We’re taking about various mechanics we might eventually do to help out with that, but in the short-term, just increase leveling rate in Northrend.

Okay, great. Thank you so much for your time!

Press Event Sources

Some websites are starting to post their press event coverage and interviews with Greg Street.

Screenshots

The screenshots offer some interesting views into the different Patch 4.3 Caverns of Time dungeons. Malfurion and Illidan at the Well of Eternity, and Queen Azshara’s Royal Guards. The screenshot with the undead is the Ruby Dragonshrine in Dragonblight in the future timeline “The End of Time or The Hour of Twilight.”

Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003 posting news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Next-Gen MMO, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com)

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