Published on October 25th, 2009 | by prime1
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
Change is coming to Azeroth with the announcement of the third World of Warcraft expansion: Cataclysm. Announced at BlizzCon, this latest expansion will not only totally transform Azeroth, it will also see the return to Warcraft lore of the insane Dragon Aspect Deathwing, as well as the introduction of two new playable races: the Worgen and the Goblins.
Rather than introduce a new continent or travel to another far-off world, Cataclysm returns to WoW’s roots by fleshing out the old world. It will introduce the sealed-off land of Gilneas and the lost Isles which will serve as the starter areas for the Worgen and the Goblins respectively. Indeed Blizzard seems to have paid close attention to the comments of fans by raising the level cap to 85 rather than 90 and revamping Azeroth so that flying mounts can be used in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms.
New Zones, old land
Slated for a release sometime in 2010, the expansion will introduce another five new zones on top of Gilneas and the Lost Isles. These include the Twilight Highlands (formally known as the dragon-held fortress of Grim Batol), the Elemental Planes including Deepholm, the sunken city of Vashj’ir, Mount Hyjal and the Titan stronghold of Uldum. Indeed Blizzard is really pushing the boundaries of this beloved MMO with the inclusion of the first underwater zone as well as revealing that Kalimdor does not stop at the gates of Uldum in the South of Taranis.
Lore and order
The lore featured in the comics, manga and novels is also being tied together and woven into the game, giving fans of the overarching franchise a glimpse of what is to come. But it also explains the reason why new class and race combinations have been introduced, giving these revolutionary changes a source in canon. From purely a lore perspective, though, Cataclysm also promises the return of Malfurion Stormrage, the fire Elemental Ragnaros, as well as Deathwing and his minions, the Twilight Hammer clan.
At the same time, Blizzard is keen to restore the importance of ‘war’ in World of Warcraft, once more pitting the Horde and the Alliance against each other, as well as changing the territorial boundaries. Known for their bias, they are giving the Horde a much bigger presence in the predominately Might Elf lands of Ashenvale and Darkshore , as well as taking over Southshore. There is no word yet on whether the Alliance races will be compensated in turn.
The heart of Cataclysm is, as the name suggests, change. This is not just a change in land and lore though, it is much deeper than that. The trailer shows town like Auberdine destroyed and natural disasters ravaging the once familiar lands. Indeed Deathwing’s eruption back into the lands of Azeroth has fundamentally changed them, causing giant cracks filled with lava to split entire zones into two.
Yet it is not all about destruction. Graphically, Deathwing’s return has allowed Blizzard to revamp old and, some might say, stale areas. However, some zones, such as the much-reviled land of Desolace and the dense zone of Feralas, for example, will bloom with new life. Equally the druidic magic’s of Naralax, found ever-sleeping in Wailing Caverns, will finally have an effect and cause the surrounding land to be revived. Blizzard will also give us a glimpse of new, and more realistic, water effects.
Yes this is all motivated as a way of allowing flying mounts but the lore perspective doesn’t make it seem that way. At the same time, given the sheer amount of changes that will take place, Blizzard is also tarting up the capital cities. Undercity will now appear as it always should have – the ruins of Capital City, the hub of Lordaeron’s civilization. Stormwind, meanwhile, will be getting a new quarter themed after Gilneas, a home from home for the Worgen heroes of the Alliance.
It’s still early days, especially given that we’ve not even killed Arthas yet, but Cataclysm is full of promise. Blizzard developer panels have hinted that there’ll be simplified stats and another legendary weapon. Classic players will be pleased to see more dungeons being revamped as higher level heroics, beginning with Shadowfang Keep and Deadmines, as well as a new secondary profession and the ability to level guilds. Indeed, we’re sure every World of Warcraft player is already counting down the days until the Cataclysm changes Azeroth forever.