Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Party Like It's 2005

While everyone waits with bated breath for Blizzcon 2009 to start up this Friday over in California, there have been plenty of leaks and information coming out about the probable announcements for World of Warcraft. The biggest news is that a new expansion called Cataclysm will be released sometime in the future, probably during calendar year 2010. This is not unexpected, but the more important features of the expansion are what everyone wants to know. All of this information is speculative until after the weekend, but MMO-Champion is a trustworthy news source and most of this sounds plausible. So let's jump into it!

1. Level Cap raised to 85 - not much to see here, as they can set the xp requirements as high or as low as they need and the level cap is just a number. If this signifies half as much leveling as in previous expansions, then this may be a signal that Blizzard is thinking of the new players and how much time is required to get one toon to endgame, let alone multiples. I'll miss the full leveling time if this is the case, but it's better for new players and my alts.

2. New Class/Race Combinations Allowed - these include human hunter, troll druid, dwarf shaman, tauren paladin, tauren priest, gnome priest. While I think allowing more class/race combinations flies in the face of some of the great lore for classes (for example the Moonglade setup for Druids explains why it's just Tauren and Night Elves), this opens up a bit more choice which is nice. I like my draenei shaman and my night elf druid, but I did not have a choice alliance side for any of the other races. Plus, as a healer I've never had access to a Gnome healer, so it will be nice to see some lil' healers in the future. This is an OK change.

3. New Races Worgen and Goblin - Apparently the story is that the Cataclysm breaks open the Greymane Wall and opens up the sealed kingdom of Worgen, who have overcome their curse partially to function like humans and will join the Alliance as the obvious link to humans makes sense. The Goblins stray from neutrality after their homes are devastated and they save Thrall from being an Alliance prisoner. While werewolves and Goblins are nifty additions to the playable classes, I don't know that goblins becoming un-neutral is a good idea. This may just kill STV for Alliance and would radically change how the leveling process goes for us on that side. What happens to the fishing contest? I also do not know that either race entices me to reroll for one of them without a new healer class to tinker with. Although you better believe my Horde-side banker will be rerolled to be a Goblin because there's no other way!

4. Old Azeroth Revamps include Flight in Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor - Now of course this is necessary if we are to be spending most of our time in the old world again, but it seems like there will be a lot of prgramming dollars thrown at a problem that Blizzard said was not worht fixing before. I do not know if this is really better than having the developers spend more money and time on better new continents and instances.

5. Revamped Zones such as Barrens split into two zones, Orgrimmar being destroyed, Gnomeregan coming into play again, flooding zones like Thousand Needles, etc. - If we are to spend a good amount of time fighting underwater, then flooding current zones is a nice way to update the world and make the idea manageable. They say these changes will speed or revamp the leveling process, and I hope this is correct. I wonder if returning to places like Gnomeregan and Blackrock Mountain is a mistake though. We've done that content, so unless you build entire new instances for us...this is becoming the rehash expansion where nothing happens.

So between these revelations and the quick release of Patch 3.2.2 on the Public Test Realms (it includes an updated Onyxia raid), I'm beginning to wonder if Blizzard is lost on where to go next after using up their ace in the hole, the Arthas storyline. I like the idea of a changing Azeroth because that's more realistic, but I don't want them to be lazy about bringing out truly new content at the same time. Destroying Orgrimmar and building a new orc city is awesome, flooding Thousand Needles so we can fight fish and a breath bar instead of wolves and cougars is not so awesome. I was really hoping for another hero class for healers this time, but alas, it appears like we're back to new races this time around. I'm sure there will be more in the coming days and months, but right now count me among the cautiously pessimistic about WOW: Cataclysm.

I am looking forward to seeing Onyxia for the anniversary event though, as I have not made it to her lair to clear that achievement. Probably better get to it sooner rather than later if I want the achievement before it becomes a Feat of Strength. We will be partying like it's 2005 in Patch 3.2.2 and Cataclysm by the looks of it.

Also, not much gameplay from me due to week 2 of sportswriting previews taking up all my free time and my grandfather being in the hospital. But there appears to be plenty to talk about whether or not I log in!

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