World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade

World of Warcraft Lead Game Designer Tom Chilton stopped by our offices today to herald the end of the 40-man WoW raid - massive battles in which huge groups of 40 players clash with gigantic dragons. With the new expansion The Burning Crusade set to launch this holiday, developer Blizzard has taken a firm stance in shrinking these massive adventuring parties to eliminate the drama that springs from arguing over the best weapons and armor. In an effort to eliminate DKP (Dragon Kill Points - earned by raiders for killing dragons and used as currency for acquiring top quality loot), the new instanced dungeons of The Burning Crusade will only accommodate a maximum of 25 players. This comes as a shock to the World of Warcraft community as the titanic 40-man raids (like Black Wing Lair, Ahn Qiraj and Molten Core) had become something of a mainstay for gearing up characters to epic levels.

Smaller raid instances will abound in The Burning Crusade, however, and Chilton showed off the Hellfire Ramparts (for level 60-62 characters), Blood Furnaces (for level 62-64 characters), and Military Wing (for level 70 characters) - separate wings of the colossal Hellfire Citadel, home to the twisted Fel Orcs. These instances will be set as five-man ordeals in which smaller groups of players will mow through the Orcs that have embedded themselves within the Citadel until finally reaching their dark overlord known as Kargath Bladefist. Buried deep beneath Hellfire Citadel, a 10-25-man raid boss awaits - the Pitlord Magatheredon whose tainted blood fuels the curse of the Fel Orcs that tap his veins to feed upon his infernal nectar (gross).

Karazhan (the former home of Medivh the infamous Warcraft villain) will also open its gates to 10-man raids. Similar to Black Rock Spire in its upper/lower level configuration, Karazhan will be the first smaller raid instance to feature a raid save timer (which saves the participating characters to the instance enabling you to break it up over a series of nights instead of having to tackle it all in one shot). In the lower levels, this instance is populated by spooky undead - the former members of Medivh's running crew. However, nearing the top of Karazhan, players will discover powerful Arcane Elementals due to the magic unleashed by Medivh that has caused the top of the tower to be slowly devoured by the Twisting Nether through dimensional tears in the fabric of reality.

But no 40-man raids... ever again. Commence flame assault on Blizzard's World of Warcraft forumsnow.