World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Review

By on December 12, 2010

Cataclysm brings impressive changes good enough for the old, existing and new players.


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First Impressions
My reaction is
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New starting zones for the Goblins and Worgens are brilliantly designed; Blizzard has truly outdone itself, raising the bar even higher than the Death Knight starting zones from Wrath of the Lich King. The quests this time are huge, linking into a long chain of events as you continue leveling in both the Goblin and Worgen starting zones. Quests are extremely streamlined and UI significantly improved (and more helpful), so much so that you don’t even feel the need for Addons such as QuestHelper and TomTom anymore. Phasing in these areas, as well as 80 to 85 zones is extremely well done, wherein you’ll be completely engaged in your own storyline while other players in the world carry along with their own quests. Pretty much the entire leveling sequence in the beginning and end can be done without anybody else getting involved, leaving you with a rich singleplayer experience.

This is more to do with the patches than Cataclysm itself, but with the new Guild leveling perks, heirloom items and the 20% XP reduction in leveling from 70 to 80 has made leveling a new character in WoW ridiculously fast. So once you reach level 85 with your main character, it will be very easy to experience some of the other classes and races in a much shorter time; something that’s now, more than ever, less boring as well.

So once you hit level 85, this is where the end-game content begins and, for many, the real fun begins too. Throughout your level 80 to 85 experience, and even once you hit 85, you’ll be going through some of the new 5-man dungeons. Two things that add some classic flavor to these dungeons, as opposed to WotLK, are proper Crowd Control as well as precise tanking. You cannot simply overpower a boss through sheer numbers (in gear) anymore; proper strategies have to be employed to bring them down, and each and every member of the party will be stressed to play out their individual class as best they can. And while I haven’t had the chance to properly start raiding yet, from what I’ve seen so far, Blizzard has succeeded in improving the combat mechanics of each class and encounter to the extent that even old school players who hold the original level 60 raid in high regards will be coming back for some action this time around.

Since I’m not really an arena player, the only PvP I’ve dabbled into for the time being is Tol Barad. It’s like Wintergrasp, but much larger. Defending the keep or attacking the three towers outside to gain more time is similar to Wintergrasp, only this time around it requires more cohesive teamwork as the defending side can literally sit in the base for the duration of the map while attackers make unfocused and ultimately useless attempts to gain some ground. However, with the new Guild leveling system, and battleground rankings, I can see more people working in proper unison (if it’s a PUG), or simply guilds coming in to claim victory.

Speaking of Guild Leveling, one of the first things you would want to do is join a guild. The more you level up or win battlegrounds/ raids (with at least 75% of your guild members in) the more you’ll be contributing towards advancing your guild from level 1 to 25. Outside of perks which open up to all members as the guild gains more levels, special items can be purchased (using gold) which can be unlocked as your own reputation within the guild also increases. Think of it like buying faction specific items, except it’s from your own guild. Yet more reasons to encourage teamwork and social play.

Of course, no new content in an MMO is without its fair share of bugs, and no matter how much testing during Alpha and Beta stages was done, there are still things that were missed out simply due to the scope of Cataclysm and the Old World being so huge. For the time being the only issues that I’ve encountered are that some of the mobs respawn extremely fast, so it’s easy to be overwhelmed without getting healed constantly; and that sometimes quest hand-ins are not registered, requiring a full restart of the game. All of these bugs are sure to be removed in the upcoming patches, so that’s not an issue in the long run.

In the end, all of the Old World (level 1 to 60 zones) can be enjoyed for free as of the latest patch. However, the beauty of Cataclysm lies in the end-game content and all the extra dungeons, raids and PvP content that will be added over the next year or so. The value in this expansion pack comes not only from what’s in it but also all of the additions in the future. Meanwhile Blizzard has ensured a user friendly experience for newcomers while keeping the existing player base happy with all the improvements and additions.

If you want to read up on some of the new features of the game in more depth, then check out our preview coverage here.

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The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
9
Significant improvements and balances to each class has been made for a more rewarding experience.
GRAPHICS
8
New water and lighting effects, improved draw distance and textures with new particle effects make everything look great.
SOUND
8
Apart from the login screen music, the rest of Cataclysm has memorable soundtrack in both the Old World and new zones.
VALUE
8.5
Although you can get the entire level 1 to 60 content and gameplay improvements for free, the end-game content and new races with future updates makes this a truly worthwhile investment.
FUN FACTOR
9
This is fun non-stop; from the moment you login till you reluctantly peel your eyes away from the PC as real life calls.
OVERALL
8.5
A brilliant addition to WoW which has brought along significant changes to both the game and how the players will feel about it: Epic!

About

From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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