World of Warcraft: Cataclysm – Thoughts so far….
Apologies for my lack of articles on the site the last few weeks, this is due to two things, first one is the release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the third expansion pack to the most widely played Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game in history. The second one is the arrival of my baby daughter who kindly gave me 10 days of playing Cataclysm before making her entrance to the world.
This will not be a generic review as in my mind WoW is a game that can be played in so many ways and attracts people for so many reasons whether you are a hardcore raider, a PvP maniac or a die hard roleplayer there is something for everyone and it would be impossible to cover everything. Instead I will go over what I have experienced so far and how it measures up to the hype.
First off to let you understand my take on it a bit about my WoW “career”. I have raided as Resto Shammy, Hunter, Mage, Tankadin and Holy Priest in a casual raiding guild since Vanilla, I enjoy the odd bit of PvP but prefer raiding. I am based on an EU RP Server and while I am not an active roleplayer I find the community friendlier and I am a bit of a carebear at heart. For Cata I chose to level my Shaman first who I had not used since The Burning Crusade when he was my main with the ultimate goal of being a healer for level 85 raids. I went for a grind Enhance (melee DPS) spec to go 80 to 85 starting out with quest greens from Wrath of the Lich King.
As there is so much to cover I will break this down into different sections:
Dungeons and Heroics – First Impressions
Worgens and Goblins
Right to start off before release I read a lot about how they were going to make it more of a challenge for each level, in all honesty that is pants. For anyone who remembers the Vanilla grind it is nowhere near that. Due to great quest layout and interface as well as abundance of quests and experience from gathering professions it is quick and easy to level.
The areas I levelled were as follows:
Mount Hyjal (80-82)
Twilight Highlands (84-85)
I won’t lie if you are not in ICC level gear from WOTLK then you may find questing tough at the start, NPC’s hit harder, have more HP and have better AI so it provides a nice new challenge. You will quickly upgrade your gear and by the time you hit 81 you will probably have got rid of most of those shiny epics you worked so hard to get.
I found the overall questing experience very enjoyable and for once I am actually looking forward to dragging the rest of my alts from 80 to 85 to spend some time in the other areas I didn’t touch with my Shammy. The quest design is great with some new mechanics thrown in, a personal highlight being a quest in Mount Hyjal where you are rescuing animals from a forest fire and there is baby bears stuck in a tree, you need to climb the tree and throw the bears down onto a trampoline to rescue them, be careful though you can miss the target! Makes a nice change from the traditional MMO quest of go and kill 10 of this or 15 of that. Not to mention one of the areas is entirely underwater.
A change I greatly appreciated at the expansion launch was that the majority of the quests that involve killing a specific named mob (let’s call him Steve) had a summoning tool to make the mob appear. This saved a lot of grief with 200 players in one spot waiting on the same respawn. So you get the quest to kill Steve and you get an item which will make him appear (let’s say Steve’s Puppy) and you can go off on your merry way summon Steve, kill him and come back to hand the quest in and move along without all that annoying waiting around.
The size of the areas you will be going through is much greater than previous expansions and the scenery has really been taken up a notch. It really makes questing so much nicer when you are flying about the area to see the sights of Hyjal or the crystal fields in Deepholm, for a game that some criticize for its cartoony graphics I would much rather see this than typical Asian grinders like FF14, Aion etc.
Overall very enjoyable to level and I thoroughly advise taking your time, getting caught up in the storylines and watching the lovely new cinematics to make the most of the experience. As a casual player who took 3 days off work to play and took my time I got from 80-85 after about maybe 25-30 hours of play time which in WoW terms is not a lot.
Dungeons and Heroics – First Impressions
This is my favourite feature of Cata so far, this is simply because they are a big step up from the pathetic attempts in WOTLK. I don’t doubt that in a few months they will be farmed like nothing once people learn all the fights and tactics etc but at the moment Pugging is a nightmare. I am pretty much only doing heroics with guildies just to save on the stress of rage quitters and whiners. Time for Hunters to dust off those traps and Mages to get that sheep button ready again because the days of the tank charging in and pulling multiple groups of mobs are gone for a good while and crowd control is once again in demand.
From my own experience and that of others in my guild a big change is for healers who are now regularly running out of mana and seemingly healing for less. This is likely due to the fact that most players now have around about 100k HP with the tanks weighing in at about 140k.
The instances themselves are a bit more open plan than LK and are not just 3 bosses and done, if you go into a heroic expect at least an hour or so to clear it depending on your group. A good comparison is that heroics are now like mini raids in terms of tactics and length of boss fights, there is a lot less tank and spank and a lot more communication required.
In all honesty I have not spent that much time playing about with archaeology, it works pretty simply. On your map there will be different dig sites highlighted, you go to the dig and use your survey skill and a little telescope with a flashing light will pop up. The colour of the light determines how close you are to your find, red far away, green is close, you follow the direction of the scope and keep surveying until you zone in on your find.
As you unlock artifacts from different cultures you unlock more items you can solve, including epic weapons, mounts etc. This is more the type of profession you would come back to at max level and not really do while levelling as it is more a timesink and a bit of fun. Saying that you can get xp from it as you can from gathering professions so it is up to you how you go about it.
Overall nice addition to the secondary professions and gives you something to do between heroics.
Worgens and Goblins
I have just completed the Worgen area this morning and really enjoyed it; you get to about level 13 before you get moved on to Darnassus. I have not checked out the other starting areas since they changed but here you cannot help but pick up the story and understand the lore of your race, with logical and thought out quests as well as a dark and sinister city of Gilneas to explore. Also you get a cool top hat as a quest reward and that makes me smile!
If I am being picky I think the Worgen models don’t look as good as I thought they might but the fact you can shift between Human and Worgen form distracts me from that mostly and their movement is good and seems quite fast compared to other races.
Goblins I have only toyed about with for an hour or so but it is probably one of the most insane starting areas I have seen. It is every bit as crazy and mental as the Goblins themselves. It really was fun to run around the opening quests and I can’t wait to go back and do some more exploring.
All in all I’m sorry I can’t write more but there is just too much to cover to fit everything in, as I said earlier WoW is different for everybody in terms of what they get from the game. I haven’t tried any of the raids or PvP stuff out yet but no doubt will in the coming weeks.
My thoughts so far are that I am delighted with Cata, I was never shy I hated LK and everything about it, I only hope they do not give into the whiners who want easy end game content. I quite like the fact that some areas might not be open to me, I loved TBC and I didn’t moan for a minute at the fact my guild could not do Black Temple, we were a casual guild who cleared Kara and were clearing Hyjal and SSC prior to LK release and we were pretty proud of what we accomplished. It was as if everyone had their level, then LK came along and said to everyone “Hey who wants epics??” and all of a sudden everyone was on the same end game content, raids like Naxx and Ulduar were quickly ignored and left to rot.
Have you played Cata? What are your thoughts so far? Let us know below.