Review | World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
Format: PC | Genre: MMORPG | Publisher: Blizzard | Developer: Blizzard | Release date: 07/12/2010 | Price: £29.99
Jennifer Allen says goodbye to her friends and family and settles into WORLD OF WARCRAFT: CATACLYSM.
IT’S WINTER. Christmas is almost upon us but, after that, there’s nothing worth doing with your life until at least March. It’ll be cold and wet so why bother going out? Exactly. So while you’re hibernating away over the winter months, might I suggest a brief addiction to World of Warcraft: Cataclysm? You see, Cataclysm manages to be utterly beguiling whether you’re an old hand at the game or a newbie. It rejuvenates the world of Azeroth in a way that nearly makes you feel like you’re playing a new game. Not quite of course, the graphical engine is looking distinctly dated, but it’s forgivable when the game offers such an addictive breadcrumb trail of glee.
The world of Azeroth you see has been irreparably changed. The evil dragon Deathwing the Destroyer – sounding far too much like Darkwing Duck – has destroyed everything possible. Azeroth’s in a right state simply put, and all the zones look entirely different. These differences bring about a whole wealth of new quests and nooks and crannies to explore. Crucially this makes for a much more cohesive experience. The original world was starting to look a bit old and dull for experienced gamers. Even worse, it wasn’t really as intuitive as it could have been. Quests weren’t as obviously completed and there was no great story to bind them all together. Really, you were just wandering from A to B and killing X number of rats. It’s not that it wasn’t fun, it was, but it could have been better. Blizzard seems to have acknowledged this and have revamped everything.
Besides the potential for new race/class combos meaning you can finally become a Human Hunter or Tauren Paladin amongst other things, you also have a whole new wealth of quests to complete. This adds a much needed dose of shine to proceedings. Levelling up is significantly faster and more streamlined than before, with it always obvious where to go next. Quests even seem to congregate together, meaning there’s less running around simply for the sake of it. It makes for a simpler process but one that’s still fun to partake in. Indeed, I found myself levelling up all manners of different characters up to level 20-25 simply to see what had changed. The storyline is that bit more detailed and more engaging, the quests actually have meaning behind them.
World of Twilight
These are changes that come with the latest WoW patch though. What about the content that’s exclusive to those buying Cataclysm? That stems from the addition of two new races to the fold – Goblins for the Horde and Worgen for the Alliance. The Goblin starting area is tremendous, offering a funky steampunk feel to everything. The quests are eclectic to say the least, but they’re all equally entertaining. There might be a hint of the typical fetch quest that curses all MMOs but there are also plenty of quirky quests too. You’ll be cheering up guests at parties, dealing with rebellious troll slaves and driving around in a sleek hotrod across the zone. The Worgen starting area is perhaps more conventional in its attitude but this is where the storyline shines. The transition from human to cursed Worgen is stunning, and a series of cutscenes interspersing the quests make for an engaging tale. The Worgen starting area is distinctly grim, offering echoes of gothic suffering – a nice break from the usual World of Warcraft theme.
For those not keen on starting afresh, there’s still plenty to do. The level cap has been increased to 85, there’s a new archaeology profession tomaster, guild achievements to attain and new battleground arenas to compete in. Amongst the new areas to explore, there are also new dungeons – 7 in all. These provide a welcome increase in difficulty. They’re tougher than previous offerings, with tanks needing to relearn to control agro once again. Crowd control is imperative for success but it all makes for a much more satisfying experience, especially if – like me – you’re an old hand at MMOs on the whole.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is perhaps not quite as awe inspiring as previous expansion packs, but it’s an astonishing selection of tweaks and improvements. The two new races are compelling and offer enough variety to keep players enthralled. Notably Cataclysm, unlike Wrath of the Lich King, feels like a welcome expansion pack for new and old players alike. Exploring the new yet familiar world of Azeroth is exciting. The journey to level 80 and above is fun once more, no matter how many times you’ve done it before in the past. It all makes for an experience that causes you to smile throughout. What more could you want?