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Dungeons & Raids
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Cataclysm will initially ship with 4 new raids (with at least 2 more being added via later content patches), 7 new dungeons and 2 Heroic old dungeons (redesigned for level 85!), which means more introductory instanced content than any other expansion before!
When Wrath of the Lich King first came out, many players were mildly dissatisfied with how little raiding opportunities the expansion provided (
, which we already knew, and 3
). Cataclysm, however, looks to be a step in the right direction!
Almost all of the classic dungeons will also be improved as Blizzard expects players to run them more often (thanks to the new Dungeon Finder tool). Quest givers who give dungeon quests will now be found at the beginning of a dungeon rather than in their previous, pre-Cataclysm location, which will make it significantly easier to ensure everyone has the proper dungeon quests for maximum experience while leveling. In the case of some dungeons, entire sections/wings of the instances will be removed in order to make progressing through them easier and more logical. Yes, both Wailing Caverns and the Sunken Temple got the cut!
New PvE Point System
Available in Patch 4.0.1
– These are the lower-tier points, and will behave similarly to
Emblem of Triumph
between 3.3.x and 4.0.1. These points will have a maximum amount that can be owned, but no cap on how quickly they can be earned. The hard cap is currently set to 4,000 JP, which - in theory - you can reach in a single day if you try hard enough.
– These are the higher-tier points, and will come from the Dungeon Finder daily Heroic and raids. They are comparable to the
Emblem of Frost
between 3.3.x and 4.0.1. There will be a cap on both amount held and how quickly they can be earned.
When a new tier of PvE content is released, your current Valor points will be converted into Justice points. This will make it so Valor points cannot be stockpiled for use on newer content items. Also, there will be a way to convert Justice points into Valor points (and vice-versa), though not at a 1:1 ratio.
Flexible Raid Lock
Available in Patch 4.0.1
Starting with patch 4.0.1, all new raids (as well as Icecrown Citadel and Ruby Sanctum) will follow the new Flexible Raid Lock system. Put simply, this means that you will no longer be restricted by an arbitrarily chosen ID when progressing through a raid. What will matter instead will be the number of bosses your group has killed.
This means that you can go raid Icecrown Citadel with your guild on Tuesday, defeat the first four bosses as well as the Blood Wing and call it a night. Wednesday many people show up and there isn't a spot for you. With the old system you'd be stuck with merely half of the bosses down. With the Flexible Raid Lock you can find a different group and finish the place up without interfering with your guild's progress. The only requirement is that your new group has killed all the bosses you have (and possibly some extras). In addition to this, you will not be locked to your new raid's progression until you actually participate in a boss kill. So if you join a group that has cleared all the way up to the Lich King (so they are Plague and Frost Wing ahead of you), but actually don't manage to kill the LK, you will not be locked to their progression just for participating in the attempts - you will be able to go find a different group that meet the requirements above.
Dynamic Size & Difficulty
Available in Patch 4.0.1
Dynamic Difficulty is another aspect of the Flexible Raid Lock system. It restricts every raider to defeating every boss only once a week, regardless of the raid size and difficulty. This means that you can start the week by defeating the first four bosses in ICC in a 25-man group, then split the raid into a few 10-mans and defeat the three wings, and then bring everyone together again for a 25-man Lich King. The only restrictions this system enforces come when you start messing with Heroic modes. If you, as an individual raider, defeat a boss on Heroic, you are "locked" to this raid and size if you want to continue doing Heroic bosses. So if your guilds defeats Saurfang on 25 Heroic, and he is its first Heroic boss for the week, everyone in the group will be "locked" to raid size of 25 people and difficulty of "Heroic." You will not be able to split the raid into two 10-mans (or go up from a few Heroic 10-mans to a Heroic 25), and you will not be able to do any bosses on Normal 25 with this raid. If you want to do bosses on Normal difficulty, you will need to join a different group that has not defeated any bosses on Heroic. And if you do so, that group will not be able to do any Heroic bosses while you are in it.
Come Cataclysm both 10- and 25-man raids will drop the same loot - or at least the same items. To accommodate for 25-mans being harder to organize and coordinate, bosses defeated by a raid of 25 people will drop "more loot person" - more Justice/Valor Points, and possibly just more items than a 10-man boss would.
Wrath of the Lich King presented us with a number of raid system changes - different difficulties for individual bosses (hard modes), separation of 10 and 25-player raids, different difficulties for entire raids, and finally the complex combination of all those concepts we see in
You can read the official announcement and additional clarifications on the
Video: Guide to Finding Cataclysm Dungeon Entrances
Characters will not be able to queue for a Cataclysm dungeon in the Dungeon Finder until they have entered the dungeon the old-fashioned way. To that end, we've created a video aimed at helping you find those dungeon entrances!
The Blackrock Mountain makes its return in Cataclysm with a new dungeon (and a raid). After the incredibly long
, the Blackrock Caverns are being introduced to the game. The Caverns were created by Deathwing himself when he decided that it would be convenient of the Blackrock Mountain was connected to the Twilight Highlands, the Twilight Hammer's "base." So the Aspect of Death dug through the continent itself and create a large cavern-like network. The area is inhabited and guarded by warriors and spellcasters of the Twilight Hammer, as well as powerful elementals, and corrupted Earthen.
Protected by the Red Dragonflight until recent years, the cursed halls of Grim Batol have been retaken by the Twilight Hammer, Deathwing, and the Old Gods. The Reds are trying to regain their ground in the ancient corridors, but the armies of Twilight are numberless, and their defenses - seemingly impenetrable. But the burdens will be great for those brave or foolish enough to venture into the heart of the Twilight Hammer. A small group of Reds and Earthen Ring shamans will await you and your group at the entrance, explaining the gravity of the situation you all are in. You will need to rescue several red dragons from their tortures, defeat some of the cult's strongest generals, and finally face Erudax, a powerful servant of the Old Gods. To add even more spice to the fight, you will find him in a room of eggs laid by Alexstrasza herself... and Twilight eggs around them. The shackles that once chained the great Aspect of Life still linger on the floor, reminding the heroes of Azeroth of the price of failure.
Halls of Origination
The Halls of Origination are yet another one of the mysterious Titans' complexes built throughout Azeroth. As the story of Uldum and its inhabitants - the Tol'vir - unfolds before you, it drags you closer and closer to the Halls. There, if the legend and the Tol'vir have it right, those who are strong enough can find a weapon of unimaginable power left by the Titans in case the world falls to corruption and they need to obliterate it. With the aid of Brann Bronzebeard, you will venture forth into the unknown, challenging every one of the Halls' keepers in an attempt to obtain power and knowledge.
Lost City of the Tol'vir
(84 - 85)
The Tol'vir are another one of the Titans' races of stone, much like the Earthen. But while the Earthen were created to assist the Titans in shaping the very world, the Tol'vir's purpose was one of safekeeping. They were to maintain the various repositories and machines hidden inside Uldum. Alas, recent events have disturbed their long history of relatively peaceful life. With the Cataclysm exposing the "Land of the Titans," and the Neferset clan joining forces with Deathwing and the Old Gods, the remaining Tol'vir led by the Ramkahen king have lost the struggle to keep, or even regain one of their biggest cities - the Neferset City, - now only known as the Lost City. Inhabited by the Neferset and Deathwing's servants led by Siamat, Lord of the South Wind, the Lost City is well-guarded against any invasion from King Phaorsis, but perhaps a small group of skilled adventurers might be just what it takes to sneak it, rescue the Ramkahen prince-heir, and defeat Siamat.
The Vortex Pinnacle
(80 - 82)
The Skywall is one of the regions - or domains - of the Elemental Plane. It is the domain of Air, where the air and wind elementals of Azeroth live under the rule of Al'Akir the Windlord, one of the Old Gods' most powerful lieutenants and an Elemental Lord. Adventurers who find themselves in the Skywall will find an vast sky, endless thunderstorms, an angry yellow sun, and above them - the citadel of Al'Akir himself, held in the air by cyclones shaped like solid columns. Poetic words aside, the Vortex Pinnacle looks like a mix between elven and Dalaranian architecture, with its smooth domes and solid bridges. Populated densely by air elementals, this segment of the Skywall is one of the most hostile places you will ever encounter. The only relief in here is the fact that the powerful winds will not allow you to plummet to your death if you fall of the one of the platforms... they will merely deliver you back in the hands of Al'Akir's servants. The entrance to The Vortex Pinnacle can be found high in the sky in temples floating off the coast of Uldum.
(81 - 83)
Another part of the Elemental Plane, Deepholm is home of the earth elementals. Once a sanctuary for the wounded Deathwing, it is now a place of raging wars between Earthen, troggs, earth elementals, Twilight Hammer cultists, and numerous beasts. The Stonecore, a dungeon inside the very Temple of Earth (and possibly the heart of the entire realm), has also been infiltrated by the Twilight Hammer, and it will be up to the players to fight their way through Deepholm's natural inhabitants, scores of cultists, and the one and only
Throne of the Tides
(82 - 84)
The Abyssal Breach,
The Throne of the Tides is an ancient structure, possibly once used by Neptulon himself. It is now infested with naga and servants of the Old Gods, and even the mighty Tidehunter has been unable to stop the invasion! It will be up to you, brave heroes, to travel deep beneath the surface of Azeroth's oceans and enter the Abyssal Maw, the endless ocean of the Elemental Plane. There you will have to infiltrate the Throne, defeat the armies of naga and servants of the Old Gods, and finally assist the Tidehunter himself in his battle against Ozumat, the giant mind-controlling octopus-like creature.
Heroic Old Dungeons
Heroic Deadmines (85)
made its first appearance more than 6 years ago when World of Warcraft was first released. It was the first instance Alliance players were likely to encounter, often before they hit level 20. Still hidden beneath Moonbrook's mines, the Defias Brotherhood's hideout has had almost its entire staff replaced. Many of the Cataclysm bosses will resemble the ones that occupied the place for the last 6 years, but the final encounter will be very different. "Captain" Cookie, former cook on the juggernaut ship, is the new ruler of the Normal version of the dungeon. Players strong enough to brave the Heroic Deadmines will have to face Vanessa VanCleef, daughter of Edwin VanCleef himself.
Heroic Shadowfang Keep (85)
is a castle located in southwestern parts of
, overlooking the cursed Pyrewood Village. Formerly home of the crazed mage Arugal and his worgen, Shadowfang is now home to a trio of Gilnean nobles resurrected as Forsaken, but loyal to neither. In Cataclysm, the new ruler of the ghastly keep will be Lord Godfrey, with whom you will be very familiar if you've quested in either Gilneas or Silverpine Forest.
Baradin Hold is the main prison on the Tol Barad island. In the game, it is similar to the Vault of Archavon; Baradin Hold is only available to the faction that controls Tol Barad, and is also a one-boss encounter (VoA launched as a single-boss raid, Archavon, as well). Baradin Hold's only boss will be
, a demonic Pit Lord. Chances are, future patches will introduce additional bosses much like Wrath of the Lich King did for Vault of Archavon.
The Blackrock Mountain, historically a place hated by most players, makes its return in Cataclysm with a new raid (and a dungeon). Designed as a continuation of
, Blackwing Descent will be a place rich on lore and history, but with new layout and bosses. The final encounter of this raid will be none else, but the resurrected and now undead children of Deathwing - Nefarian and Onyxia.
The Bastion of Twilight
If Grim Batol is the heart of the Twilight Hammer, then the Basion of Twilight is its very soul. Virtually packed with cultists of all races, Twilight Dragonflight, elemental ascendants, and horrors never before seen in the world, the Bastion stands its ground in the Twilight Highlands, resisting attack after attack from the Wyrmrest Accord, the Alliance, and the Horde... while being able to spit out troops at an alarming rate. But the prize for demolishing the Twilight keep is also high - Cho'gall himself, the former chieftain of the orcish Twilight Hammer clan, and current leader of the Twilight Hammer cult resides within the Bastion's halls. Those who slay him will certainly shower in fame and riches for all eternity, as well as rid the world of a very powerful evil, of course. But Cho'gall is not the only mighty enemy to use the Bastion's halls as base. Lady Sinestra, Deathwing's latest consort, and the only one able to lay his eggs and bear his children, and arguably (in)direct mother of all the Twilight Dragonflight can also be found there... if one puts a
effort into the endeavour.
Throne of the Four Winds
The Skywall is a part of the Elemental Plane of Air, where the air elementals have made their home ages ago when they were banished from Azeroth by the titans. The Throne of the Four Winds is Al'Akir's innermost sanctum, where he advises with the Conclave of Wind, a council of four powerful air elementals, masters of the four winds. Presently Siamat, Lord of the South Wind, cannot be found there as he oversees his sovereign's operations in Uldum.
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