World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. What to Expect.

Do I really need an introduction for World of Warcraft. It’s one of the most successful MMO’s on the planet and has caused blizzard’s worldwide fame. It’s no wonder that they are releasing another update in December for you to get your hands stuck into.

Cataclysm was announced last year and many Warcraft fans have been looking forward to it. It is just an expansion pack for the MMO though so what’s new?

The main plot for Cataclysm is of the return of the dragon, Deathwing the Destroyer. Warcraft fans will know that Deathwing was last seen in Warcraft 2 and he has been biding his time, getting ready to return from the elemental plane of Deepholm. His return changes much of the land of Azeroth. In the midst of the world-wide disaster comes renewed conflict between the Alliance and the Horde, which is now under the rule of the hot-tempered warrior Garrosh Hellscream.

Yes you did read that correctly, Azeroth is getting a make over. Specifically the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor areas which were introduced upon World of Warcraft’s launch in 2004. Major changes are being brought to these zones, making it so each faction has a fair, and overall easier leveling flow, by replacing the old quests with newer ones, to incorporate updated gameplay and mechanics that have been introduced since the game’s release. Along with the redesign of each zone, each race will have its own respective starting area, where players will do a series of quests in a chain that will bring them up to level 5-6, before sending them out of the small area, and into the rest of the world. Each zone will also have its own storyline, through a series of quests, as to keep the player interested in doing said quests. Each of the zones that are faction specific, however, will cater only to those of the faction that controls that zone. Neutral, or ‘contested’ zones, will feature a PvP based quest line, making the player compete against the opposing faction to achieve the desired goal of their faction. This feature is expected to make heavy usage of phasing.

What else is new? Here’s a list for you, since there is quite a lot.

  • Level cap raised from 80 to 85
  • Players will be able to use flying mounts inside Azeroth zones
  • New towns and around 3500 new quests
  • Redesigned low and mid-level quests to accompany updated zones
  • Seven new dungeons: Blackrock Caverns, Throne of the Tides, the Stonecore, the Vortex Pinnacle, the Lost City of the Tol’vir, the Halls of Origination, and Grim Batol, all available in regular and heroic modes at level 85
  • Three new raids: The Bastion of Twilight, Blackwing Descent and Throne of the Four Winds, plus the Tol Barad Prison raid dungeon after PvP zone completion (more raids planned to be released with later patches)
  • Two previously released dungeons—Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep—will be revamped with an added Heroic Mode for level 85 players
  • New battlegrounds and a new world-PvP zone, Tol-Barad (similar to the Wintergrasp world-PvP zone introduced in Wrath of the Lich King)
  • A new secondary skill: Archaeology
  • An overhaul of the Glyph system with three types of Glyphs: Prime, Major, and Minor. In addition, Glyphs are taught as a spell and can now be switched around without the purchase of additional glyphs. However, you will need a new material called “Vanishing Powder” to replace existing Glyphs with new ones.
  • A rated battleground system, along with associated new rewards
  • Newly accessible zones including Uldum, Deepholm, the Sunken City of Vash’jir, the Twilight Highlands and Mount Hyjal
  • Two new playable races, Goblins and Worgen
  • Addition of new race/class combinations
  • Introduction of new stats such as Mastery, which will enhance certain abilities depending on the player’s class and talent specialization
  • Changes to class mechanics, including abolishing the use of ammunition and stand-alone warlock soul shards, consolidation of totems and buffs, the addition of holy power for paladins, an eclipse mechanic for Druids, Rage normalization, changes to the rune system, the change from mana to focus for hunters, and racial bonuses
  • Warlocks and Hunters now attain a combat pet at level 1 without needing to do a quest. Warlocks get an imp, Hunters get a pet based on their race
  • Revamp of the stat system, removing such stats as mana per 5 seconds, armor penetration and defense rating and integrating them in other ways such as talents or the new mastery stat.
  • Major changes to the cities of Stormwind and Orgrimmar, with minor adjustments to others
  • New starting areas for Trolls and Gnomes at levels 1-5
  • Player talent trees have been reworked to a 31 point tree and players will have a total of 41 talent points at level 85. Consequently, the talent trees are being “trimmed”, and will look much like the talent trees players had available on WoW’s launch. Although it seems counterintuitive, Blizzard actually says this will give players more options, as the talents they are trimming felt mandatory previously. Instead of the old method of one talent point per level,  players get one point at level 10, then a point every odd level afterwards.
  • Unlike the current talent system where a player learns his or her first talent point at level 10 and is able to place that point and any subsequent point wherever he or she chooses, in Cataclysm, at level 10 a player must choose a talent specialization and only spend points in that “tree” until they have reached 31 points. Once 31 points have been spent, he or she is able to use the rest of his or her attained points in any of the 3 trees. When the player chooses a specialization at 10, they will gain one major active skill that sets that spec apart from the others, and 2-3 passive skills that support that particular tree. This was done in order to make players feel as though they are actually specialized in a specific talent tree as soon as they are able to choose one, rather than at higher levels where enough points have been placed into the tree of their choosing to make that feel like their specialization.
  • New raid and PvP currency systems

Many of these features have already been added in patches, but that’s the list of gameplay updates. And with that there isn’t much else to add. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will be released on December 7th 2010 for PC’s and Mac’s all over the EU and USA.


About Nick Duggan
I'm 19 an I study Computer Games Design at Staffordshire University. I'm a video gamer and also a Yu-Gi-Oh! collector/player. Twitter: @30DiedOnMars

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