Wrath of the Lich King hit store shelves November 13, 2008 and quickly became the fastest-selling PC game of all time. Since its release, we've continued to expand on its content and tell the story of the Lich King and many others who have been touched by the Scourge's emergence in Azeroth. From the initial release of World of Warcraft to The Burning Crusade, and then again with Wrath of the Lich King, we have steadily learned, grown, and have pushed ourselves to become better designers, and we'd like to take a moment to share with you some of the development team's recent highlights, as well as a glimpse into the future. As our mission statement says, we continue striving to provide the most epic entertainment experiences ever.
The Rise and Fall the Lich King
After feedback from the community indicated some disappointment with being unable to interact more directly with the story surrounding Illidan, we made a concerted effort to reconnect everyone with the story of the Lich King and the struggles of Azeroth against the Scourge. From the moment of entry into Northrend, the story began to play out, and the heroes of Azeroth were asked to take on the challenge the Lich King and the Scourge presented them.
Players were able to experience Naxxramas as a level-80 dungeon and face down another of the Old Gods, Yogg Saron in Ulduar. In order to better prepare for the trials facing them in Icecrown Citadel, the Argent Crusade set up camp in Icecrown to hold a tournament meant to hone Azeroth's finest heroes into a force the Lich King couldn't afford to ignore.
Today, thousands of players continue to enter into the Icecrown Citadel to face one of the most feared villains in Warcraft history. We've seen the rise of Arthas to the Frozen Throne as the Lich King and we've seen his fall at the hands of the greatest champions of Azeroth.
In order to get more players into these encounters, we improved upon what was once known as the Looking for Group system and transformed it into the Dungeon Finder System. Within the system, players have been able to get together with each other from all over their battlegroup and reap additional rewards that have helped them get the gear they need to venture into Icecrown Citadel and take part in an event that has been the culmination of seven years of story.
We also implemented our Quest Tracking feature, dual spec support, updated badge and reward system and much more.
The end of the Lich King is not the end of our plans for World of Warcraft, however, and the story carries on.
The Ruby Sanctum
Within Wyrmrest Temple are the chambers of the aspects and a new 10- and 25-player raid dungeon currently in development, the Ruby Sanctum. Here players will encounter the Black Dragonflight as they make an assault on the Red Dragonflight in a bid to weaken them before their master Deathwing's reemergence into Azeroth out of the fiery depths of Deepholm. This encounter will be similar to the Obsidian Sanctum and grant all-new rewards for players looking for a new challenge.
With so many epic adventures to partake in within Northrend, the community asked, "What's next?" We answered at last year's BlizzCon, "Cataclysm."
As we announced at last year's BlizzCon, we've been hard at work on our third expansion, Cataclysm. This new expansion advances the story of Azeroth and introduces new content for both beginning and end-game players. It will introduce two new races, new dungeons, new class and race combinations, and a change to the very face of Azeroth as we know it.
Two New Races
In the expansion we will be introducing goblins into the Horde, as they begin their journey in their homeland, the Isle of Kezan. Meanwhile, behind the Greymane wall, the fate of the people of Gilneas will be revealed at last as they join the Alliance as worgen.
Each race will have its own unique starting zones in which players will get to know the story of these two races. As a part of the story progression, the land itself will be changing via phasing to enhance the experience.
The World Trembles
Much of Azeroth will be changing as a result of Deathwing's eruption from Deepholme deep within Azeroth. We have been making great progress and have nearly finished all of our expected changes in Kalimdor and much of Eastern Kingdoms. Some areas will still be familiar, while others will be more drastically transformed.
In addition to the changes to familiar territories, we are also currently working on adding great new high-level content zones such as Mount Hyjal and the Sunken City of Vashj'ir.
The gnomes have been long without a home to call their own. As a young gnome you are told that the benevolent dwarves who have taken you in will aid you in your bid to grow strong so that you might reclaim Gnomeregan once more.
To that end, we are introducing a new quest line and event by which players can take part in taking the first steps to do just that by recapturing Gnomeregan's surface and reclaiming a small portion of their former home. Once this area has been reclaimed, all new gnomes will start in this reclaimed territory.
We are also currently working on a new quest line and event by which players can take part in joining with Vol'jin, leader of the trolls, in the taking of the Echo Isles from Zalazane, who now controls these islands.
Once the islands have been claimed in the name of the Darkspear tribe, all new trolls will begin within their own starting zone and begin reforging the troll nation into a semblance of its former glory.
With the addition of so many great new features, we wanted to make sure that our infrastructure was in place to fully support them. To that end, we will be performing additional database hardware upgrades prior to the release of Cataclysm. This will allow all players to experience this new expansion as intended.
While we do not have specific dates to share at this point in time, we will be working to communicate when these upgrades occur to ensure the best possible experiences during this time and continuing into the future.
-World of Warcraft Development Team