World of Warcraft: Cataclysm BlizzCon 2009 First ImpressionsBy Brian Leahy - Posted Aug 24, 2009
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the newly unveiled expansion, was playable on the show floor at BlizzCon 2009, giving attendees the opportunity to play the starting areas for the two new playable races: the Horde’s Goblins and the Alliance’s Worgens. Both areas make use of the “phasing” technology introduced in Wrath of the Lich King, which allows players in the same zone to experience slightly different versions with players seeing different NPCs, enemies, and quests based on their progression through the zone.
Goblin Flight 815?
The playable Goblins find themselves stranded on the Lost Isles, the wreckage from their flying machines littering the waters and nearby beach. The player’s Goblin lies injured on top of a piece of wreckage with two other Goblins arguing over your soon-to-be-corpse. The quick use of some Jumper Cables brings you back from death’s door and it’s time to grab your starting quests as the lore of how the Goblins become part of the Horde unfolds before your eyes.
The first quests are whimsical, requiring you to release Goblins from downed escape pods, throw exploding bananas at menacing monkeys, find some lost parts, and a requisite kill quest. Soon, it’s time to rendezvous with the Horde expeditionary force and help them eliminate some SI:7 assassins roaming the jungles using infrared goggles that allow you to temporarily see stealth units. Later, you’ll assist an Orc with chopping down man-eating plants using a special weed whacker that spins your character around into a dervish of plant-killing ferocity.
Soon, you’re off to steal the keys to a flying machine and search the Alliance ships for some “precious cargo”, which turns out to be the Horde’s Warchief Thrall. Saving him results in the Goblins being let into the Horde, or so I would assume. My time with the demo ended at this point.
Goblins Like Rockets… And Money
The racial abilities of the Goblins are also humorous, but useful. The first allows the player to launch themselves forward with a jetpack, jumping a long distance. I’m curious as to what areas in the current game will now be reachable with this racial ability. The second uses rockets to throw an instant direct-damage spell at a targeted enemy. The most useful racial for the end game might be the Goblin’s ability to call in a “Pack Hobgoblin” giving the player access to his or her bank for one minute. If only there was one for Auction House access…
Passive racials will give all Goblins the best discount to a vendor regardless of faction or reputation, a 15 point increase in the alchemy skill, and a 1% increase to attack and casting speed.
Worgens… Those Are Evil, Right?
The new Alliance race, the Worgen, might be familiar to players that quested in Darkshire or Silverpine Forest. Aren’t they evil, you ask? Sure, some of them are, but not the playable faction. Through some lore spinning, the playable Worgen represent a group of Worgen from the city of Gilneas that have regained some of their humanity, but can only hold a human form outside of combat.
These half-cured creatures are brought into the Alliance when the forces of the Forsaken begin raiding Gilneas throughout the course of the Worgen starting quests. These quests, however, have less personality than the Goblin ones. They are mostly kill quests, though some have a bit more going for them. The most interesting one has the player collecting barrels of gunpowder and tossing them onto the heads of enemy Abominations, which are shot by the defending forces, exploding the Abominations into little bits.
One asks the player to commandeer a Forsaken catapult and launch themselves onto the attacking ships by loading themselves as ammo. Once landing, however, it’s a straight kill quest to cut down the ship’s captain. Another has the player swimming through the water to rescue drowning allies, carrying them from the depths to the shore.
Passive Racials Win The Day
The Worgen racials are mostly passive, with two active abilities finishing off the punch. Players will be able to switch between their human and Worgen forms, but will enter their Worgen form during combat. The animation for the transformation into a Worgen is impressive, but will probably get old after seeing it two hundred times. The other active ability is a sprint that increases the player’s movement speed by 70% for 10 seconds. On the passive side, Worgen players get a 1% increase to all damage dealt, a 15% reduction of curse and disease durations, and faster skinning and a 15 point skill increase.
Is It Worth Re-Rolling Another Character?
In the end, I can’t imagine many people will be interested in creating a Goblin or Worgen character unless they are major fans of the races. Death Knights were popular because it was a new class that spit players out at around level 60 after completing the initial quest chains. It’s possible that Blizzard is planning to do something similar for the two new races after players experience the opening quests and expositional lore. Of course, there will be people that pick one of the new races for an alt, but I don’t know how popular they will be on release day.
Blizzard’s Chris Metzen described the quests for the two new racial starting areas to be of a higher quality than what the company did with the Death Knight in Wrath of the Lich King. From what I played, however, I will respectively disagree. It could be because I wasn’t playing an entirely new class and much of the focus was working both races into the lore to explain why they are suddenly playable by each faction.
Of course, Catalcysm will come with content for high-level players, but the quests I played at BlizzCon left me underwhelmed.