In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the ancient and powerful Dragon Aspect known as Deathwing returned to and laid waste to the world of Azeroth. He, once known as Neltharion, was created by god-like Titans along with four other Dragon Aspects to watch over the land of Kalimdor. But the roaming terrors of the universe, the Old Gods, made Deathwing go mad.
Now you, in patch 4.3, get to finally face and fight Deathwing. He, it, is the most powerful thing in World of Warcraft, so killing Deathwing will be far more complicated - and dramatic - than an upfront head-to-head. Just imagining the loot from such a monumental encounter is enough to stimulate millions of saliva glands around the world.
While the Deathwing fight - the culmination of the Deathwing raids - may be the focus, it is by no means the only attraction of Patch 4.3. These patches are closer to mini-expansions than they are bug-squashing updates. Patch 4.3 also brings the intriguing new ability to Transmogrify your armour and weaponry to resemble other pieces of armour or weaponry. You could have a Tier 10 set of armour look like a Tier 1 set of armour. You could even have High Warlord armour look like Tier 1 armour. How will that play out?
Patch 4.3 also brings a Raid Finder that essentially creates an easy mode for raids. This puts random people together and helps them see raid content so often reserved for organised guilds. Patch 4.3 adds an 80-slot bank called Void Storage that charges for each item you wish it to hold. The idea is to store armour sets or keepsakes rather than potions or items you need frequent access to. Those are the big-ticket changes in 4.3, but there are a myriad class alterations and world updates to look out for besides. Oh, and a new Legendary set of daggers for the most devoted rogues.
To find out more about World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Patch 4.3, Eurogamer Germany arranged an interview with lead game designer Tom Chilton. With permission, Eurogamer shares his answers.
Eurogamer: Can you tell us more about the final stage of the battle with Deathwing?
Tom Chilton: Well, the final stage takes place in The Maelstrom, actually. It's a very long encounter. You start of at Wyrmrest Temple defeating various minions of Deathwing. There are basically six bosses that lead up to the Deathwing encounter itself.
Once you get to the Deathwing encounter it takes place, at first, at Wyrmrest Temple, where Thrall uses the Demon Soul to essentially take a shot at Deathwing and wound him. At that point you get onto a gunship and you para-drop from the gunship onto Deathwing and you fight Deathwing on his back, essentially peeling off his armour plates trying to expose him and make him weaker.
Once you've weakened him enough to where you've got him essentially wrestled to the ground - he's flying towards The Maelstrom, trying to get away, a lot like he did much earlier when he escaped and tried to gather his strength once again. You wrestle him down and then you fight the final, corrupted version of him, where all the horrible corruption that has affected Deathwing is all coming out, and it all comes to an end there in The Maelstrom.
Eurogamer: Are there separate wings to the Deathwing instance?
Tom Chilton: It takes place in a variety of different areas within Wyrmrest Temple. Some are outside of Wyrmrest Temple, some are at the top of Wyrmrest Temple, and some of them are even in the instances like the Eye of Eternity.
Eurogamer: Will famous NPCs help us fight?
Tom Chilton: Correct. There are a lot of the different major NPCs in Warcraft lore helping out. Obviously Thrall plays a huge part in this. He also plays a huge part in the dungeon encounters that lead into the raid. You're also interacting with Alexstrasza and a lot of the different Aspects.
Eurogamer: Will there be a mount reward for slaying Deathwing?
Tom Chilton: Yes, there will definitely be a mount reward for defeating Deathwing. We're not spoiling what it will be just yet.
Eurogamer: One of the instances will be in the Caverns of Time - will we be going back to Deathwing's past?
Tom Chilton: Actually you go into the future first. You have to deal with Nozdormu first, and convince him to send you back to the Well of Eternity, the battle there. The way you do that is you go into the future and see what becomes of the world if the Hour of Twilight happens. If Deathwing has his way and the Twilight's Hammer have their way, you're in the future taking part in what happens if the world comes to an end.
It's a very grim vision of the future where you convince Nozdormu that something needs to be done to keep that from happening, at which point he sends you back into one of the three other dungeon instances. The next one is the Well of Eternity and you fight bosses like Azshara and Mannoroth, and you are helping Thrall retrieve the Demon Soul at that point.
Eurogamer: Do you have to go through the new instances to get to Deathwing?
Tom Chilton: You don't have to. You can go directly into the raids if you choose. But a lot of the story stuff that sets it up takes place in the dungeons. That was the case with Icecrown [Citadel], and we found that the vast majority of players still went through the dungeons even though they were capable of raiding the Icecrown raid.