BlizzCon 2010: Cataclysm Features Revamped Classic Dungeons
Between the Cataclysm expansion on Dec. 7 and Blizzard’s next big content patch for World of Warcraft, patch 4.1, there are going to be a lot of improvements to several classic dungeon layouts to make them less rigorous and tiresome.
Blizzard’s Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton and Lead Encounter Designer Scott Mercer used a panel at BlizzCon 2010 Friday to talk about the time they’ve spent revisiting old dungeons in the game, identifying problems, and working to create a better experience — mostly by doing what Mercer described as “Cutting out The Suck.”
The changes generally boil down to cutting dungeons up into “wings,” or thematically similar smaller dungeons rather than one big, irritating dungeon. They’ve also gone back and hacked out pieces of long and confusing dungeons where not a lot is happening, both to limit the time it takes to explore them, and to make the experience more even.
Cataclysm takes place on Azeroth, but after a major change has rocked the continent, and part of that meant that Blizzard wanted to send players back to familiar places that had been altered, Stockton said. A few old dungeons are the natural climax points for their surrounding areas, and players will recognize the layouts, but encounters and bosses will be different.
Patch 4.1 to follow Cataclysm will add even more revamped dungeons. The philosophy Stockton and Mercer kept returning to was to describe the experience as “bite-sized chunks.” The hope is that Cataclysm is only going to bring more players into the 12-million subscriber fold, and old dungeons that aren’t fun to play through could provide a stumbling block to them.
Also in the vein of making travel and navigation easier with regard to dungeons, a lot of graveyards have been moved closer to their corresponding dungeons — within 30 seconds in all cases, Stockton said.
And one more thing: all dungeons, new and old, will now feature 2D maps for players to keep track of their locations while they’re exploring. Those maps will include detailed boss information as well — info such as lore, an image of the creature, the sort of loot it will drop and the abilities it brings to the fight.
Mercer and Stockton pointed out that the only way to learn a boss’s moves and plan effectively is to go in and get killed by it. Blizzard’s goal isn’t to take the bite out of the bosses, but to give players enough information going in that they can lessen the trial and error factor.