Confessions of a Cataclysm Beta Addict


Posted October 8, 2010 - By Leah Jackson

World of Warcraft Developers Talk Cataclysm

The virtual population of World of Warcraft is now larger than the actual population of Belgium. Of course, the developer doesn't plan on treating the citizenry with benevolence. Instead of a typical MMO expansion in which developers increase only the level cap and release a few new zones, Blizzard is doing something fresh. Currently in its beta, Cataclysm is going back and utterly obliterating much of their five-year-old content, adding new professions, completely overhauling several classes, adding guild achievements and rewards, increasing the level cap, and essentially rebuilding the old game world from the ground up.

As someone that is in the beta and has five top tier characters in current rotation, I can personally attest to how absolutely stunning this expansion is turning out. The wildly popular, 12 million subscriber-based game is going against the very grain it helped to establish and creating a new mold for MMO expansions. But will it succeed? Is this expansion simply too bold even for the mighty Blizzard? 


World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Storyline Preview »

The content that was released in the previous expansion: The Burning Crusade is deader than Arthas himself. No one visits those zones unless they’re leveling their alternate characters from 60-70, and all of the major cities that were once overpopulated at release are now digital ghost towns. Blizzard doesn’t want this trend to continue, so instead of releasing a new continent of new zones as they’ve done with past expansions, they went back to their roots and reinvented old world zones with Cataclysm. Loved Barrens quests? Still trying to find Mankrik’s wife? Tough, because Cataclysm will literally wipe out the quests and zones you’ve grown to love over the past six years. Blizzard is offering their players a new reason to visit old content and making the experience something completely fresh and exciting. 
So what exactly is changing when this new expansion hits? First and foremost, the level cap is increasing to 85. Since the cap is only going up by five, players are going to see a more significant increase in stats per level. In the beta, tanks in greens are running around with about 120,000 HP and casters in similar gear have around 70,000 MP at their disposal. Awesome.  Everyone will also acquire one final end-game ability per spec upon reaching level 85. For example, once a Fury Warrior reaches level 85 they’ll receive the ability “Heroic Leap” which allows them to leap through the air and stun all foes for two seconds, dealing 100% weapon damage.
Confessions of a Cataclysm Beta Addict
In a random dungeon group in the beta, the tank continuously used Heroic Leap to pull packs and it was impressive how the ability worked so flawlessly yet also appeared to be extremely fun. These new end-game abilities are being added for every class and each one of them adds a unique and interesting twist to the end-game mechanics. As a die-hard Balance Druid myself, I find their level 85 ability “Wild Mushroom” absolutely hysterical. You grow up to three magical grenade mushrooms that turn invisible and then detonate for massive damage. Psychedelic! Even though crazy grenade mushrooms aren’t exactly making Balance Druids that much better, it’s adding more fun to the class. I can’t wait to be a “Shroomkin”!
Despite these new abilities however, the “cataclysmic” changes to the actual world of Azeroth are what’s really being emphasized. A large percentage of the “old world” level 1-60 zones and quests are getting updated and remapped in order to make for a more cohesive leveling experience. Let’s take a closer look at the Barrens for example. This zone, originally overwhelming in terms of sheer content, now seeks to divide its content into bite-sized chunks. In Cataclysm, the Barrens and other large zones (such as Stranglethorn Vale) are being divided into two smaller, more manageable zones with all new quests in order to streamline the leveling process.
These new quests are so much more fun than their current renditions and Blizzard has really taken the quest feedback from the beta seriously in order to perfect them and make them truly enjoyable instead of the empty grindfests they are now. To put this in perspective, developers have stated that Cataclysm is shipping with around 3,000 brand new quests. The last expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, shipped with a mere 1,000 quests, and they were primarily designed for level 70-80 players. 
            Confessions of a Cataclysm Beta Addict

But for those not terribly interested in leveling up new characters when Cataclysm hits, there’s a lot in store for you too. To get you from 80 to 85, Cataclysm features ten brand new, lavishly designed zones, filled to the brim with new quests and new types of gameplay. Some of them are truly remarkable, such as one of the first zones available at level 80: Vashj’ir. This almost entirely underwater zone is incredible. Zones like Vashj’ir are something that World of Warcraft has never attempted before and the atmosphere of it is fantastic thanks to the water physics and overall presentation. You actually feel as though you’re swimming in a seaweed forest and that treacherous sea monsters are waiting behind each corner to eat you. And that’s just one zone! Cataclysm will also introduce six new 5-man dungeons at launch, as well as two new raids to test players’ skills. 
And yet, all of this is only but a taste of the delicious, addictive pie. Several systems are also getting overhauled, as well as certain classes. Today’s 51-point talent trees are going to be a thing of the past when the expansion hits. They’re all being changed to a more linear model consisting of only 31 talents per tree, each spec getting a core ability once their character reaches level 10. This gives players less opportunity to make bad decisions while speccing and makes each talent point more meaningful.  
Confessions of a Cataclysm Beta Addict
And what better place is there to test your new abilities than while fighting other players? World of Warcraft PvP isn’t changing drastically with Cataclysm, but it is getting more competitive with the addition of rated battlegrounds. Now, instead of just proving your PvP skills in arena you can compete on a much larger scale and reap even grander rewards, including sweet titles such as “Hero of the Alliance/Horde” and even old school traditional titles such as “Grand Marshal” or “High Warlord” from the vanilla days. There is also going to be a new PvP zone similar to Wintergrasp called Tol Barad, offering daily quests and a new Vault of Archavon type raid, in addition to atleast two brand new battlegrounds: The Twin Peaks and The Battle for Gilneas, spinoffs of Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin, respectively. 
By going against the grain and introducing new content all while erasing old content forever, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is undertaking a gigantic risk. All of these upcoming additions and changes have the potential to bewilder both old and new players alike. But through exhaustive beta testing and player feedback to enhance the experience, this expansion is breaking out into uncharted territory. Blizzard’s risk might pay off, and they might once again redefine the model for future MMO gaming expansions. I know that I'll be there every step of the way.
Confessions of a Cataclysm Beta Addict


Blog Tags

  • International Sexy Ladies Show: Messy Cat Fight

    Posted: January 27, 2010

    644,696 Views | 00:49

  • Sara Underwood's Naked Bike Ride

    Posted: June 22, 2011

    1,316,284 Views | 05:20

  • Laser Snake Robots, More Mars Rovers and BigDog Is Back

    Posted: September 25, 2012

    1,290 Views | 03:00

  • NBA 2K13 Launch Trailer

    Posted: October 4, 2012

    5,601 Views | 01:53

  • Casual Vomiting - Web Soup Investigates

    Posted: March 30, 2011

    7,570 Views | 02:52