World of Warcraft Patch 4.3 Preview and Interviews

In addition to a preview of what to expect from World of Warcraft's v4.3 patch on BlizzPlanet, we have new interviews dealing with the ambitious content-rich update to report about. The first of these is with game director Tom Chilton on GameSpot:
"We've struggled since [the Wrath of the Lich King expansion] to fit our player base into raid content at a challenge level that feels good to different types of players," Chilton acknowledged. "In Lich King, before we implemented the heroic levels, we were servicing the casual raiders and hardcore raiders, but not the people in the middle. With Cataclysm, we serviced the hardcore and middle-of-the-road guilds, but maybe not the beginners and casual players, hence the new random raid finder. I think it's especially important in this tier of content, since we've built up Deathwing to be this ultimate enemy of the world, more so than the Lich King, to let anyone who wants to experience do so."

The director then went on to discuss the patch's other additions as being improvements intended to meet player needs. Transmogrification, which will let you merge a lower-level item with a higher-level item to create a new object with the latter's powers, is a feature that has apparently been on the development team's docket for some time, though exactly how the feature will work hasn't been finalized. According to Chilton, "[The team is] still in the process of figuring out the right set of restrictions, so we don't have everyone running around wearing high-level-looking gear, or low-level gear to deceptively look weak. We need to figure out the customization options while making sure not everyone has a fishing pole, or is wearing low-level cloth armor to purposely seem like an easy target."

Void storage, a new type of inventory management that will let players store up to 80 items, is intended to be an economical way to hang on to even more in-game possessions.

"I see this as being for everyone," Chilton said. "I think the gold pricing will help even people who are gold-poor be able to use the feature. It'll serve as [a money sink] to some extent, but it won't be horrifically expensive. I think it ties in pretty well at the level of [services like] reforging items."

While the other is with lead encounter designer Scott Mercer on Games On Net: Leading up to the Deathwing fight are three five-man dungeons - can you tell us how they build up towards the final raid, and is there any mechanical carryover benefit for a player who has completed all three that he or she can bring over into the final Deathwing battle?

Scott: There's nothing mechanical there - in fact we're not even going to force you to do the dungeons before you do the raid - but certainly from a story perspective, absolutely. In the raid the Aspects have the Dragon Soul and are powering it up and using it as a weapon against Deathwing, well the first three dungeons are actually you GETTING the Dragon Soul for the Aspects. It's a plan that was initially hatched by the Aspects. There's Nozdormu, who is the Aspect of Time, and he's like (Well, we have to take out Deathwing! Maybe we can use the Dragon Soul?) and everyone's all (But it's destroyed!) and he says (But I am the Aspect of Time, I can go back and get it!) Because he's crazy like that.

But there's always a snag in these kind of epic plans that the heroes have to get past, and that snag is that there's this dangerous entity who is in the future, and he's preventing Nozdormu from taking the players into the past. So the first dungeon is you actually going into the future, and seeing what happens if Deathwing is allowed to destroy everything, and you actually see Deathwing's corpse impaled on a spike in this unbelievably epic shot. You fight your way through and kill the entity preventing your travel back into the past, before jumping back to this epic moment in Warcraft history at the Well of Eternity where Sargeras is trying to enter the world. There you'll meet a bunch of very near and dear characters to Warcraft lore, you'll actually fight alongside Illidan, you'll fight alongside Tyrande, you fight against Azshara, you fight against Manoroth, you see all the Aspects there, Deathwing is there, and the fights are literally taking place around the actual Well. So it's this super epic nod to Warcraft history and as the end result of that, you actually end up with the Dragon Soul.

The third dungeon is you coming back to normal time, and you meet Thrall in northern Dragonblight and the last dungeon is ensuring the Dragon Soul and Thrall get to where they need to be, and Twilight's Hammer are doing everything they can to stop you. So at the very end of that you find out about a traitor, someone you thought was a good guy ends up someone who has been working with the Twilight Hammer for a while. So that puts you at Wyrmrest Temple with Thrall, with the Dragon Soul, and that's where the raid begins. When you go into the raid, you see all of the stuff that was attacking Wyrmrest Temple in the dungeon is here, in the raid. Deathwing is hovering around Wyrmrest trying to take it down, and he's literally brought every single bit of his forces that he can muster, whether it's elementals, Old God servants, the Twilight Hammer, you name it, he's brought it. So the raid starts with you trying to relieve the siege of his forces. And once that's done, you see the Aspects finally have the opportunity to power up the Dragon Soul, fire it at Deathwing, and that starts the chase to the final battle.