World of Warcraft – Cataclysm Review (PC, Mac)
With Mists of Pandaria (MoP) about to go live, it’s clear that my blurb about Cataclysm is rather overdue. Not that much of it is relevant anymore, what with the recent MoP patch and all the changes to character classes. But there is plenty of time left to discuss (criticize?) MoP, onward to Cataclysm.
What an aptly named expansion this turned out to be. It certainly had cataclysmic effects on the WoW population, as Cata marks the largest loss of players in WoW history. Its hard not to fault the expansion for the population decline, but it has to be taken into account that the game has been going strong for seven years and all games eventually go into decline. Maybe it was time.
Whatever the case, the game needed new life, it needed to be shaken up and I believe the developers were trying for the phoenix effect; new life rising from the ashes of the old, etc.
The amount of changes really highlight how truly ambitious this expansion was. The entire two beginning continents were retooled, with all new quests from level 1 – 60; seven new higher level zones added; new raids; level cap raised to 85; character classes and item stat bonuses retooled; two new playable races, Worgen for Alliance and Goblins for Hoard; guild advancement and perks added; new profession, Archeology; but most importantly, flying in all zones.
Cataclysm was really huge and though it wasn’t my favorite expansion thus far, there was plenty that I really enjoyed about it.
What I liked:
Cataclysm has by far the best questing experience yet. I was rather skeptical of them retooling the original continents, but the changes made to leveling were incredible. Not only did they completely streamline the process by taking out much of the back and forth, they made them far more interesting.
The Goblin starting area is a really fine example of their newest quest design. Its funny, engaging, and manages to not feel like a chore. This is also greatly helped by the fact that leveling speed was bumped up in Cata. Starting a new character has never been so easy or as much fun.
But it wasn’t just the early game that benefited from the new quest design; I really had a great time leveling from 80 – 85.
Plus being able to fly everywhere is awesome.
This was added in a later patch but I wanted to mention it anyway. I was probably one of the few people who liked the Raid Finder tool. What really appealed to me was that it felt very much like an introduction to The Dragon Soul raid dungeon. Being able to run through a much easier version let me experience and practice the mechanics of the raid. Once I started raiding in normal difficulty I had a much better handle on each encounter because I at least knew what to expect.
What was also really great about this new system was that they expanded the dungeon and raid finders to be far more cross server compatible. Maybe this was to address the shrinking population, but it did greatly improve the chance of finding a group for dungeons at all levels.
What I didn’t like:
While I think they did an incredible job of revitalizing leveling, the end game suffered. This was mainly due to all the changes to the classes.
Though I understand that increasing the max level to 85 required changes, especially to talents, I found the end result not to my liking. Essentially they made healing and tanking much, much harder. DPS didn’t suffer as much; they mainly struggled with agro issues. It should be noted that many of these issues were addressed and fixed as Cataclysm progressed.
For me personally, I was very unhappy with the changes to my characters. My Warlock’s spell rotation was made unnecessarily complicated and was never very good DPS; my druid no longer had permanent tree form, which was the entire reason I made a druid; and hunters had mana removed and were put onto a system similar to rogues, which was so different it essentially made them an entirely new class. I eventually just gave up and started over as a goblin shaman. =)
Release date: December 7, 2010
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Platform I played on: PC + Mac
Genre: Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game
Hope to see you all in Panda mode. =D