Eurogamer: Don't you worry everyone will want to give up their former characters to become a Death Knight?
Chris Robinson: : Not really. Firstly, the Death Knight will be a totally different character from the former one and I'm not sure most players are likely to give up an avatar they've patiently shaped up for three years. Though a majority of players will probably try this new class, I don't think a lot of them will end up making it their main character.
Furthermore, the Death Knight is subject to some restrictions. As I said before, the progression will probably be slower. The range of available weapons will be restricted to swords, possibly axes and may be some others. Nothing's certain for the moment.
Eurogamer: Will it be possible to play as a Death Knight from level one to level 80?
Chris Robinson: No, it's definitely a high-level class. For example, if you eventually need to reach level 55 to create a Death Knight, then he'll begin at level 55 too. That's a deliberate choice we made so as to offer players new content. We want them to spend time exploring what's new in the game and not replaying what they've already done.
By equipping the Death Knight with tank-like skills, don't you risk alienating players who have spent ages building up Warriors or even defence-specialised Paladins?
Jeff Kaplan: The right balance between the various character classes is certainly harder to set in this kind of game. We definitely don't want any player having chosen to play as a tank or a defence-specialised character to feel like giving up because of the introduction of a new character class.
Therefore as soon as a Death Knight appears on one of our servers, we'll take a special care to balance his skills in terms of resistance, DPS et cetera so that each character class and specialisation can keep all of its importance within the game. We're perfectly aware that's something the players might worry about and we'll take care that no class should be devalued.
Eurogamer: Could you tell us more about the new voice chat tools?
Jeff Kaplan: We've just started implementing the voice chat on the test servers. It's an important evolution for WoW. Lots of players are used to running that kind of system using software like Team Speak or Ventrilo. Now we want to implement this in WoW for many reasons.
Firstly, we want vocal chat to be available to every player, including those who don't have the technical knowledge to install and set up that kind of software. We also wish to ease the lives of players who constantly have to alt-tab to switch between their software and WoW or play in a windowed mode.
In the system we're testing, the interface flashes and a window containing the name of the player who's speaking pops up. You can set this window anywhere on the screen so that it doesn't hinder the flow of the game. As an example, when a member of your actual party asks for cure you just click on the window and the appropriate spell to help him.
We want to offer a service which is fully integrated within the game and user-friendly for newbies. The hardcore gamers will get something more out of it thanks to some more specific settings. For example, it will be possible to get the sounds of the game through loudspeakers and redirect the vocal chat only to headphones. Or you can set the balance on the loudspeakers so as to decrease the level of the ambient sounds when someone's speaking. We're highly excited by the development of that kind of tool.
Eurogamer: What can you tell us about the dungeons in Lich King?
Jeff Kaplan: As was the case with The Burning Crusade, there will be dungeons to fit each level from 70 to 80. In fact, fans of that kind of gameplay will have been able to level up simply by playing through instances.
We're going to offer more ten-character party instances from the start. Some of them will feature different areas depending on the level of the players. For example that's the case with Utgard Keep, which has a wing reserved for level 70 players and another one for the level 80 - as well as an instance for a 25-character raid.
There will also be a return to the Caverns of Time where you'll find a Stratholme inspired from a mission of Warcraft III called The Culling. The players will have to set Stratholme on fire so that its zombie inhabitants don't contaminate the rest of the kingdom.
Eurogamer: In the Burning Crusade you introduced a new PvP system. How will Lich King take this further?
Jeff Kaplan: The presence of open, large PvP areas is one of the main innovations brought in by the Wrath of the Lich King. These won't be instances, they'll be integrated within the various territories of the add-on and those not keen to participate won't be obliged to do so.
We're going to place siege weaponry within these areas and buildings or other elements these machines can destroy. That's definitely a huge novelty in the PvP game.
We're thinking of extending the concept of the Alterac Valley, which consists of retrieving marks on the enemies' corpses to exchange them for bonuses, but we still have to rack our brains to work it out.