Cataclysm provides needed enhancements

For the last several months, strange things have happened in Azeroth, the mythical realm of the World of Warcraft MMO (massive multiplayer online) which was first released in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment. Elementals, physical manifestations of the elements, attacked major cities, and earthquakes suddenly started breaking the continents apart. On Tuesday, Dec. 7, the third expansion, Cataclysm, was released and the World of Warcraft was changed forever. The expansion follows the return of the Dragon Aspect Deathwing the Destroyer, whose arrival from the elemental plane to the mortal realm caused The Shattering, which ripped Azeroth apart.

Not only did every area of the original game get visually changed, but there are hundreds of new quests, new character races and new playing styles that veterans will have to get used to.

Along with the updated areas, all character classes gained and lost some abilities. For those who have been playing for a while and have their fighting styles down to an almost rote strategy, this was very frustrating at first. It takes time to acclimate to the new game mechanics and reworking fighting styles, but if you can look past this, then you can see that it breaks up the monotony of doing the same old thing. Blizzard also revamped the talent trees for each character class. Again, each talent tree gained and lost some talents, but for the most part they are more streamlined and provide more variation to character specializations early on.

Previously, the level cap was 80, but this expansion raises the cap to 85. Once a player reaches level 80, they are now given the choice of heading to Mount Hyjal, an important lore location throughout the series, to aid the druids in the fight against fire elementals, or heading to the island of Vashj’ir, home to the Naga, a race of serpentine underwater dwellers. Participating in these quest lines gives insight into more lore and follows Deathwing’s rampage across Azeroth. There are also nine new heroic dungeons that offer new challenges for experienced players.  For enough gold, players can fly on their flying mount in all areas of the world which drastically cuts travel time.

For players who have not reached level 80 or might choose to start a new character, the Cataclysm expansion introduces two new races. On the side of the Alliance there are the Worgen; humans who become cursed when bitten by a werewolf. The new Worgen starting area is very neo-gothic, filled with dilapidated buildings and city squares where the sun rarely shines. Although the new race is a breath of fresh air, the starting quests are a little disappointing and attention to the storyline’s details is lacking.  On the side of the Horde, the new race are the Goblins. Quirky engineers with a Mafia-style attitude offer a comic relief with their fun and crazy starting area. Some quests include stealing and tampering with evidence that are so ridiculous it’s impossible not to crack a smile.

All in all, Blizzard’s latest expansion included some much needed updates to the game experience. While there have been previous expansions that added new gameplay, the original areas stayed the same. Now, even veterans of the game can enjoy exploring the new areas and learning more about Azeroth through the detailed quest lines. They can even start a Worgen or Goblin and create a new playing experience. Except for a few, minor qualms, Blizzard has really enhanced the Warcraft series with its newest addition.


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