The lights are on
World of Warcraft fans eager for the release of patch 3.3, the final big content patch for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, won't have to wait much longer. Sadly, though, they will need to muster up some patience before they get the chance to defeat Arthas, the Lich King himself that we've all been waiting to take down since Warcraft III.
Blizzard has revealed in a post on the World of Warcraft forums (via WOW.com) that the Icecrown Citadel raid in patch 3.3 will not be released all at once. Instead, the four wings of the raid instance -- the Lower Spire, the Plagueworks, Crimson Hall, and Frostwing Halls -- will be released individually. Blizzard has not given specifics on how much time will pass between new sections of the raid unlocking, but they the post says there will at least be "several weeks" between the first and second wings, suggesting a good month or two after 3.3 hits before the whole instance is available.
Also of note is the news that the raid's most difficult bosses will have a set number of attempts per week. If your raid gets wiped out too many times while trying to kill Professor Putricide, Blood-Queen Lana'thel, Sindragosa, or the Lich King, you'll need to wait a week to give it another shot.
While gating the content and limiting the number of tries per week seems targeted at a more hardcore audience that tends to burn through new raid content too quickly, Blizzard is also planning some support for more casual fans as well. Once the full instance is released and the Lich King has been defeated a number of times, players entering Icecrown Citadel will begin receiving a buff increasing their HP, damage done, and healing ability. This should ensure that virtually any World of Warcraft player will be able to enter and finish the Icecrown raid as long as they're willing to wait until that buff is available.
Blizzard says the staggered release for this huge raid will "allow players to experience Icecrown Citadel at a sustainable, measured, and ultimately more enjoyable pace." Of course, it also gives Bliz the chance to portion out new content over a longer period of time, which will hopefully help keep players happy longer while they wait for the next expansion, Cataclysm. Our encounter with Arthas is delayed yet again.