WoW patch 4.3 Dragon Soul interview, part one: Downing Deathwing
Yesterday, we gave you a look at Dragon Soul, the upcoming Patch 4.3 for World of Warcraft that'll finally let you face off against Catacylsm's biggest baddie: Deathwing. We had the pleasure of speaking to WoW's Lead Designer, Tom "Kalgan" Chilton, and picked his brain about what's coming up in the lore-riffic patch and just how crazy the big boss of this expansion will be. Be warned: if you want to encounter Deathwing entirely spoiler-free, you'll need to cover your eyes for some bits. But if you want a leg up on how to take down the colossal black dragon, read on.
PC Gamer: The big new content in Patch 4.3 is the Deathwing fight. We've had a lot of dragon fights before in the past; what makes Deathwing different?
Tom Chilton: Deathwing's the first fight we've ever done that spans multiple locations—any other bossfight that we've ever done has essentially been a one-room kind of fight. This fight is broken up into multiple stages; obviously we've done multi-phase fights before, where it's like, oh, you fight Onyxia on the ground, then she gets up in the air, that kind of thing. But in this one, it's actually more extensive than that. You fight Deathwing in multiple locations—for example, the fight with Deathwing begins at Wyrmrest Temple; that leads to Thrall using the Dragon Soul to damage Deathwing, at which point he attempts to escape. You catch up to him in a gunship and basically para-drop onto his back, then you fight on his back, peeling off armor plates and stuff like that. You eventually wrestle him to the ground near the Maelstrom, for the grand finale: taking on the corrupted version of Deathwing at the Maelstrom, and that's the final big part of the encounter.
PCG: So are you using vehicle mechanics in that fight? Like when you're on his back, do you have different abilities that you're using, or are you still your character and using your own abilities?
TC: You're just your character, freely running around on his back (your whole raid is), and you're fighting stuff that's acting as his corrupted bodily defenses, like corrupted tentacles that come out through his armor plates, or these different fire and lava beasts that seep through his plates, stuff like that. You're having to try to peel his plates off.
PCG: When you're on his back, is there still going to be the traditional tanking role; is someone trying to keep his attention, or is it all about the adds that are coming out of him?
TC: It's mostly about the adds, but the adds include things that need to be tanked, stuff like that.
PCG: Is it because Deathwing is so powerful that you guys decided to make this a multi-part fight? I mean, Arthas is the most famous villain, but is Deathwing the most powerful one that we've faced so far?
TC: I would say so. Conceptually, he's probably the most significant being that people have ever taken on. He's absolutely massive; he's certainly much bigger size- or scale-wise than any other boss we've ever done. His character model that we built for him is actually big enough for you to run around on his back and use it as a boss location [laughs].
PCG: And Thrall's with you the whole time. That's probably (lore-wise) why you're able to take Deathwing out--without Thrall we wouldn't stand a chance.
TC: Yeah, exactly. The three new dungeons, story-wise, lead up to the raid, and we've been talking recently about how that plays out. Essentially, you start off by convincing Nozdormu that the future of the world is going to be in terrible shape (there essentially is no future) if Deathwing and the Twilight's Hammer win. So you start off by going into the future to demonstrate and experience what the world is going to be like, and it's like this horrible, grim version of the future if the Twilight's Hammer wins. At that point, Nozdormu agrees to send you back to the past, to the battle of the Well of Eternity, and that's where you get the Demon Soul for Thrall. Then, the third instance is, you're essentially doing an escort mission to lead Thrall with the Demon Soul to Wyrmrest Temple where the raid takes place.
PCG: When you're transitioning between these different locations, will Thrall create a portal and you'll run through it, or are you actually going to have to move around the world to these different areas in between phases?
TC: Yeah, those three different segments are different instances, so for some you go to Caverns of Time, and for the escort mission for Thrall, that takes place at Wyrmrest Temple. They're all different instances that you either queue for or walk through the portal, that kind of thing.
PCG: One of my favorite parts about the old dragon raid bosses was how you used to be able to take their heads to the city, your faction leader shouts about how awesome you are, and the head gets put on a pike for all to see. Are we going to get that same sort of thing with Deathwing?
TC: We are planning to do that kind of thing. We're still in the process of deciding how that's going to work.
PCG: Does Deathwing have any specific powers that use new fight mechanics? Or is it more about the location-changing that's the new twist?
TC: Certainly Deathwing has a large number of new combat mechanics and all that kind of stuff that you'd see from any new raid boss. I would say each individual segment of that fight is reasonably traditional, in terms of the standard types of raid mechanics that we use. There isn't any funky vehicle stuff or whatever.