August 21st, 2009, 12:51 pm · 7 Comments · posted by jsimmons
“Cataclysm” looks like it’s going to be a total reset for “World of Warcraft.”
Like “The Burning Crusade” or “Wrath of the Lich King,” the new expansion will add new dungeons, zones and raids; it will increase the leveling cap; and it furthers the game’s storyline.
Unlike previous expansions, it will completely revamp Eastern Kingdom and Kalimdor, remaking all the 1-60 content. Designers at the “World of Warcraft” panel said that zones will be broken up to make quest flow feel more natural, old-world quest items will be changed to be better and new race/class combinations will open up.
The premise is simple: Deathwing, a dragon villain originally introduced in “WarCraft II,” returns to Azeroth. His return causes an upheaval in the old world; tsunamis and earthquakes change the whole face of the world. The dragon’s goals? To dominate the other dragons and to crush the mortal races beneath his claw.
The upheaval also rends openings into the elemental planes, allowing elementals — Azeroth’s original masters — to flood into Azeroth.
As far as new races and race/class combinations:
- The Alliance will get worgen, the faction’s “wolverines.” Right now, they’ve got a spring-like ability called “Dark Flight” and can be any class except paladin or priest.
- Horde’s goblins can become rogues (other classes weren’t announced). They also get a rocket belt that they can use to shoot forward, like a reverse hunter’s disengage; they can also use the rockets to deal damage to a foe at range.
- Gnome priests, dwarf shamans and tuaren paladins were all announced. (Speaking of — the completely revamped 1-6o content should make leveling these new classes up a joy, rather than a chore.)
The level cap was raised to 85. No new talents will be added; players will get five additional talent points. The new paths of progression include:
- The Paths of the Titans. These paths, which all classes have equal access to — that is, there won’t be class- or race-specific paths — are accessed through items uncovered by the archaeology secondary skill.
- Mastery system will be class-specific. Not much information was given, but this progression system will augment the existing talent system.
- A pruned and streamlined talent system. Designers say they wanted easier-to-use talents; the mastery system will be used to inject some of that complexity back into character design.
- Guild levels. Guilds who raid or participate in battlegrounds will be able to level up. A guild talent tree will include perks like cheaper repair costs, lower durability loss and mass ressurections.
Seven brand-new zones:
- Mt. Hyjal. Ragnaros has invaded the home of the former World Tree; players will work to put out fires and battle fire elementals.
- The Sunken City of Vashj’ir. This is the city Lady Vashj came from; this will be underwater and boasts the Abyssal Maw, an opening to the elemental plane of water.
- Uldum. This part of Tanaris, once hidden by Titan machines, is now open for exploration.
- Lost Isles. The islands are the home of the new Horde goblins.
- Gilneas. This Alliance city-state will finally reopen and unleash the worgen.
- Twilight Highalnds. This new area in Eastern Kingdoms will feature Grim Batol.
- Deepholm. This is the new major leveling zone; this pit is where Deathwing erupted from the earth and ravaged Azeroth.
Phased terrain, like what was used in the Death Knight starting zones and in the Ebon Blade faction quests, will be used heavily to create an immersive environment. Additionally, all the zones will allow flying mounts. Some of the confirmed changes:
- Barrens: The notoriously long zone will be split in two. At least a portion of the zone will also become overgrown with new foliage.
- Desolace: The cataclysm forced new inroads for water. Forests have filled this once-gray zone.
- Darkshore. Auberdine was totally destroyed. The Alliance regrouped in the north; the Horde, now in control of Ashenvale, has taken the southern Zoram Strand.
- Stonetalon Mountains: Goblins have carved a path where the cave to Ashenvale once stood; the Charred Vale was even further torched.
- Azshara: Changed to a level-20 goblin zone, complete with a brand-new quarry leveling mountains in the zone.
- Undercity, Stormwind and every other capital city revamped to allow for flying mounts.
Images from the newly announced “World of Warcraft: Cataclysm” expansion: