Wednesday, March 17, 2010

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Preview

Platform: PC
Genre: Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game
Rating: T for Teen
Release Date: TBA
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard Entertainment is well known for their three massively successful PC franchises; Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft. Later this year (hopefully, since no release date has been confirmed), they will be releasing the third expansion to their popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game, World of Warcraft called Cataclysm. Cataclysm begins with Deathwing, a powerful dragon, escaping from his prison in Deepholm. His escape causes colossal, irreversible damage to the world of Azeroth.

For starters, the level cap will be raised to 85. Generally, at least with the first two expansions, the level cap was raised by 10 not 5. Blizzard says they are only doing a 5 level increase so they can focus on end-game content and not zones and quests for the additional levels. A number of new dungeons and high level zones will be added, but you already knew these things would be present, since they appear with every expansion.

Two new races will be introduced. For the Horde, Goblins will be the new playable race. Goblins are currently occupying multiple towns across Azeroth, including Booty Bay and Ratchet. It is unclear what will happen with these towns, since they are used by both factions as loading areas for ships that cross the ocean. As for the Alliance, Worgen will make their appearance as playable characters. Worgen are what non-WoW players would call Ware-wolves and in WoW they are quite similar. Worgen raced characters will have the ability to appear as a human or in Worgen form.

In the first expansion, Burning Crusade, the Draenei and the Blood Elves were added as new races and allowed Alliance players to be Shamans and Horde players to be Paladins, for the first time. Before the expansion these two classes were limited to only one faction. Since then another problem has surfaced because there is such a small amount of races available for those classes. Cataclysm will fix this problem by opening up Alliance Shamans to both Draenei and Dwarf. Likewise, Horde Paladins will be able to be either Blood Elf or Tauren. On top of this, multiple classes have been expanded among more races, including Druid which currently has only one race on each faction.

All of Azeroth will be rebuilt for the release, allowing players to finally use their flying mounts everywhere. When flying mounts were first implemented in Burning Crusade, they were not usable in any of the original areas. With Deathwing’s exit tearing the world apart, it has allowed Blizzard to rebuild the original Azerothian continents, therefore allowing user controlled flight in old zones. Among the environment changes are; Orgrimmar, the Orc capital city led by Azeroth’s most powerful Shaman; Thrall, will be hit hard. No details on the city’s internal layout have surfaced but a shot of the front gates shows them heavily reinforced. The Barrens, the zone directly to the east of Orgrimmar, has been split in half horizontally with the southern part gaining an Alliance controlled town. The zone Desolace, formerly an area absent of plants, trees or vegetation, will flourish with life when a tear in the landscape allows water to reach the inner core. The Night Elf town of Auberdine will be destroyed, forcing Alliance citizens to relocate further north in Darkshore as Horde citizens move into the southern part. Azshara, which is currently rarely used by anyone, will become a zone occupied by the Goblins. On the other side of the planet, Southshore will be hit by a tidal wave and demolished. Wetlands will also see a lot of destruction as a result of Deathwing’s escape from Deephold. It is also said that Stranglethorn Vale will see a total transformation. Because of all of these changes, hundreds of new low level quests will be added, making the game seem totally different to someone who levels up a new toon, after the expansion is released.

A couple profession additions will be present as well. Archaeology is a new secondary profession that can be learned by everyone, regardless of prior professions. Archaeology will consist of locating artifacts which have been unearthed by the cataclysm. Characters will be given a new tracking system that will be separate from the ones used for primary professions, allowing for simultaneous tracking of collectables. Collecting artifacts will unlock Path of the Titans, a new system that eventually will unlock unique glyphs that are much stronger than the ones inscriptionists can make. Another profession addition is reforging, which is an addendum to many existing professions. Reforging allows for an item’s creator to change his or her creation’s statistics. For example a tailor can take a pair of boots with 16 spirit and change 8 of the spirit into intellect, opening up class specific items to more classes.

Speaking of stats, the stats that appear on gear have been dramatically simplified. Things like attack power, mana regeneration per 5 seconds and spell power will now be affected by the five base stats; stamina, intellect, spirit, agility and strength. Attack power will be dependant on strength or agility, depending on the class. Mana per 5 will be based on spirit for healers and spell power will be based off of intellect. All these removed aspects will still appear on your character’s info page, but gear will no longer support them.

With no confirmed release date, Cataclysm could be over a year away. However, Blizzard just put out WoW’s 3.3 patch, the last major patch scheduled before Cataclysm’s release, so it could come as soon as this summer. I have a feeling there is something major that Blizzard hasn’t announced yet. Something like a new hero class, I’m hoping for a Battle Mage, a Mage that wears mail or plate and wields two staffs. Maybe even a major capital city, one that will be emerging from the chaos and will support both factions, as well as banks, auction houses and class and profession trainers. It would also be nice to see an old raid instance that will be upgraded for max level players, something like Molten Core or Black Wing Lair. For now Blizzard is keeping a lot of secrets, further building the anticipation of new content and speculation of what might be added.

The Gaming Savant

March 17, 2010

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