World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Preview

Written by Bryn Williams

August 18, 2010 | 10:11

Tags: #beta #cataclysm #world-of-warcraft #wow

Companies: #blizzard

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Preview

Publisher: Blizzard
Platform: PC exclusive
Release Date: Q4 2010

Poor old Arthas. His days as cock o' the north in Blizzard's World of Warcraft are most definitely numbered, and while a good percentage of regular players might have already spanked The Lich King around a bit, or at least run away from him in person, he's already yesterday's news. Blizzard's third and most promising World of Warcraft expansion -- Cataclysm -- has been the topic of conversation around geeks' dinner tables for some time now. BlizzCon 2009 delivered the news that two new playable races would be arriving, and that some jackass dragon called Deathwing the Destroyer would be looking to change the look and feel of Azeroth's original old world zones forever.

The prospect of losing those beloved vanilla World of Warcraft zones only to have them forged into new exciting content was nearly too much for us WoW junkies to handle. But it's happening, and while we're still not 100 percent sure when Cataclysm will hit the streets, we've been enjoying tinkering around with a lot of the new content, loot, features and changes in the recent public beta test.

Let's start by stating the obvious. If you're not interested in World of Warcraft, or MMORPGs in general for that matter, it's highly unlikely that anything you read here will change your mind. For those of us that do enjoy (for better or worse) the levelling, the PvP ganking and the raiding, then Cataclysm really does look set to be the most significant evolution of World of Warcraft so far.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Preview World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Preview
Goblins; Ugly buggers

Logging into the beta proved one thing to us -- we suffered from a severe case of headless chicken syndrome. What to do first? New race? New instance runs? Questing? The single most exciting first port of call had to be rolling up a new Worgen Hunter and Goblin Priest. Don't question the choice of classes; just understand that these were the defaults on the character creation screen. It's obvious that Blizzard has managed to refine its "newbie starting zone" experience to near-perfection with Cataclysm. In much the same way that the introductory levels of The Lich King's Deathknight experience were awesome, both Gilneas' Worgen and The Lost Isles' Goblin levels are pure joy to play through.

Heavy use of phasing to advance the stories of both races is put to excellent use (and indeed is promised to be very prominent through the entire expansion) giving the player a real sense that their surroundings are changing as they advance. Visually, both Gilneas and The Lost Isles are some of Blizzard's finest works in World of Warcraft to date, and when you think that the game's knocking on considerably in terms of what the engine is capable of, this simply pays testament to the art direction and talent of the developer.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Preview World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Preview
Also, bad gardeners

The Worgen's "humans overrun and infected by monsters" plot is excellent and plays out differently than you might first imagine. The Dickensian-style zone sees well-to-do chaps with top hats, monocles and a penchant for fisticuffs in a bit of a pickle as they are assaulted by Archmage Arugal's cruel pets - the Worgen. It's not long before your human character is bitten, infected and screwed over, ultimately sprouting a fluffy tail long, pointy ears and quite a lot of fur. There's no doubt that the Worgen are among the coolest looking Alliance characters in the game, and the way they scurry and skulk around is pitch-perfect for those of you that don't fear lycanthrope.

The polar opposite of the Worgen are the Horde-siding Goblins of The Lost Isles. Anyone that plays WoW knows these little green spuds as the comedic NPCs with a knack for making things explode, but now you get to be one -- and it's a hell of a lot of fun. Personal preference is always a big factor in choosing which character to play, but having played both a Worgen and a Goblin through to the end of their respective starting zones, it's the Goblin that wins out in terms of humor, style and sheer inventiveness. Seriously though, both of the new races' fledgling hours easily trounce anything seen in the game before.
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