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Expansion for WoW revealed

New adventures in the Outlands loom

We've known that an expansion for World of Warcraft has been underway at Blizzard for some time, several adventurous gamers even managing to catch a few snapshots of the new content through the existing title. We now know that the forthcoming add-on will be titled The Burning Crusade, and will apparently be set in the realm of Outland, where bad things happen. The land is ruled by the tyrannical Illidan, and you - of course - are tasked with the destruction of this nefarious git. With the new expansion the top level will hit 70, a necessary milestone for those hoping to succeed, and players soaring to these dizzy heights will literally be able to do just that. Fly. On a creature, of course.

Eight new dungeons will also be opened to the player, whilst access to Outland can only be made through the treacherous 'Dark Portal', thanks to Illidan's decision to close off all other portals. The swine. As well as the new dungeons, which culminate with the final battle at the Black Temple, there's the Caverns of Time. These dungeons allow you to journey through classic moments in the Warcraft timeline, and can be accessed by players of lowly rankings - despite the upward curve of the pack generally.

The Burning Crusade will include a new race called the Blood Elves, who fight for the Horde, and another for the Alliance, which remains a mystery at this point. Jewel crafting is the new skills enabled through the pack, and this ability will allow you to create all manner of pretties. More on this expansion as we get it. Expansion for WoW revealed

Update: This just in from our in-house 'WoW' man, Sam Gibson:

The most popular MMO of all time is about to get even bigger. After months of speculation and glossy-eyed dreaming by fans of the game, Blizzard have finally made official their plans for WoW's first full-on expansion. The Burning Crusade will pack new races, lands and dungeons into a single package that will take the developing story of Warcraft to the next level.

Centred around the action of the Burning Legion and their attempts to control the world of Azeroth, the Burning Crusade will open up a host of new zones for players to adventure in. The Dark Portal in the Blasted Lands will finally open up to reveal the path to the Outland, an entirely new land where the imaginations of the WoW development team have been allowed to run amok. Here in the Outlands there will be all manner of new zones and dungeons to test your mettle against as well as flying mounts, available only to those who crawl their way up to the newly increased level cap of 70.

To accommodate the higher levels there will be plenty of new dungeons to explore and conquer. A total of eight new high-level instances are planned, from Hellfire Citadel to the Kharazan Tower, Tempest Keep and Auchindoun all the way up to The Black Temple, home of ultimate badguy Illidan and by far the hardest raid dungeon yet created. The Caverns of Time in Tanaris can also now be explored. This most intriguing sounding of areas will allow player to witness and become involved in many of the most famous events in the Warcraft lore as players are transported to existing zones as they appeared in the distant past. New dungeons will appear in both the Outland and the current zones in an attempt to prevent a mass exodus through the Dark Portal.

Two new races will appear in Azenroth. The Horde will be joined by the Blood Elves, an outcast race with an ancestral connection to magic. The Alliance will also swell with the inclusion of a new, as yet-unnamed race, although there are plenty of rumours they will be the Panderans, a sickeningly cute race which if true, would be yet another reason why no one in their right mind would want to play as the Alliance. Accordingly there will be new starting zones opening up, with Blood Elves residing to the north of the Eastern Plaguelands in a zone currently blocked off by a landslide.

The new profession of jewel-crafting will allow players to fashion all kinds of powerful enhancements for their equipment as WoW is following Diablo 2's steps and introducing socketed items. Slotting gems and jewels into these sockets in the right combinations will greatly add to the power and abilities of items. Existing professions will also be expanded to take advantage of the increased level limit, so hopefully Master Swordsmiths may finally find they have a reason for existing. Naturally there will be hundreds of new items to acquire throughout the expanded world along with hundreds of new quests for adventurers of every level and more new monsters then you can shake a bestiary at.

While no release date has yet been set millions of World of Warcraft fans around the globe will already be staring off into space imagining the new heights of power and infamy that they will soon be able to pursue. Expect a more in depth-preview once more rumours solidify into fact. Currently there are some intriguing and believable ones suggesting that the expansion will be out this December. Stay tuned for more info.

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