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Published on August 22nd, 2010 | by prime


World of Warcraft: Cataclysm – Beta

So Deathwing is back and Azeroth has been left reeling. You know all this stuff so let’s get on with the preview, shall we? The Cataclysm Beta has begun and there’s so much to do: roll a Worgen or a Goblin, take your Druid to Hyjal and your Shammy to the edge of Uldum… Are you going to get your flying mount and just explore from the air and hit all those places you’ve been dying to see – Ironforge Airport, that village of dancing Trolls or just kill that pesky black drake on the flight path to Stormwind?

The key thing to remember is that Cataclysm is in Beta and it’s still early so everything can – and probably will – change before the game is unleashed upon the waiting world. There’s definitely no mistaking the anticipation though, particularly when it comes to the new races.

Both Worgen and Goblins can be played, and both are very different experiences but both build upon the enthralling experience that was the Death Knight starting quest chain featured in Wrath. Roll a Worgen and you find yourself in Gilneas, a valiant hero trying to prevent the savage Worgen from over-running the city, as well as stopping the Forsaken’s attempt at invasion. In the course of doing your thing, your hero is bitten and turns. The next few levels see you stuck in Worgen form as the world phases around you and you move across Gilneas. Eventually a great quake – the arrival of Deathwing – irrevocably changes the very landscape of Gilneas, sending villages you were just visiting into the ocean, gone forever. Eventually you meet the Druids of the Alliance who teach you to change forms once more – though your Worgen form is a heck of a lot more appealing than your human one.

Likewise the Goblin experience has been carefully constructed, as you begin in Kezan and then find yourself on the lush and tropical Lost Isles. However, the Goblin quest chain doesn’t feel quite as well constructed as that of the Worgen, hopefully though this will change before the game actually ships.

Big changes are afoot, and the biggest is a shakeup of the over-complex talent trees. Have no idea how to spend your in-game points or which tree to spec? Well Cataclysm will introduce a simplified 31-point talent tree. At level 10 you will be asked which spec you want to pick, in a similar way to the choice made in certain professions. Each spec has its own perks and unique bonuses. The trees themselves feel less daunting and cluttered but are still very much a work in progress.

Likewise, the in-game menus are getting an overhaul, along with the actual level up itself. Levelling up is now more obvious than just that tell-tale ding with an announcement appearing mid-screen, so you will never miss that important moment ever again. Any spells you can learn are displayed in the chatbox and a note is added to your spellbook, identifying the spells you can learn and telling you to find a trainer ASAP.

Flying in Azeroth is possibly the biggest draw of the new expansion. You can literally take wing anywhere and explore. Doubtless anyone who is level 80 is just going to want to take to the air, and it’s well worth it. As of this preview, over half the zones have been redone or have new features but this is most noticeable in cities like Stormwind, Undercity, Darnassus and Orgrimmar.

Stormwind has changed the most, with a cemetery and lake at its heart. Undercity looks the same but fly over the ruins of Lordaeron’s Capital City and it looks like a city. Finally, Night Elves will be pleased how Teldrassil has turned out. The city itself hasn’t changed too much but the Rut’theran Village has.

It’s totally different and features ships which come and go to Stormwind, the new Auberdine (a Night Elf settlement called Lor’danel) and Azuremyst. But the big change is you don’t have to take the portal any more. If you have the time and inclination just fly up, and after five minutes of climbing the massive tree known as Teldrassil, you can fly into Darnassus. It’s well worth the trip.

Other zones are still being done, and half the fun of the Beta is visiting older locales and trying out new quests. Lore fiends will be pleased to see the reappearance of ancient enemies like Ragnaros and the inclusion of famous faces who have never appeared in-game but are engrained in the lore, including Malfurion, Deathwing and Queen Azshara. Azeroth is entering into a new age of chaos and insecurity and the sooner it happens the better!

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