Blizzard employees are always pressed for time at BlizzCon — they’ve got thousands of fans and hundreds of journalists and fan site representative clamoring to speak with them. We were lucky enough to snag a few minutes with Tom Chilton, game director for “World of Warcraft,” just before he slipped out to get some much needed rest.
Chilton was able to give us some clarifications on “Cataclysm.”
The biggest is that the revamp of 1-60 content is coming to all WoW players, whether or not they buy the expansion. This change wasn’t difficult to divine, given the unwieldy options for the small percentage of players who would go without the expansion pack, but welcome to hear.
The other big shake-up, new class-race combinations, may not be available without purchasing the expansion, though. Chilton said he and his team were still discussing their options on that issue. (Speaking of, the current total of class-race combinations we confirmed, with information from Chilton and press releases, is nine: troll druids, blood elf warriors, orc mages and tauren paladins on Horde side; night elf mages, human hunters, dwarf mages, dwarf shamans and gnome priests for Alliance. No new classes will be offered for the draenei.)
However, aspirants to Insane or Exalted titles may want to put their efforts into higher gear. Chilton said that many old world factions will be adjusted and updated to the post-”Cataclysm” world, but that there was a chance that some would simply disappear, swallowed up by earthquakes and tsunamis. He wouldn’t say who was being examined and who was up on the chopping block, but the Shen’dralar faction — the highborne elves in Dire Maul — came up as an example of the kind of factions that were likely to see a change. (Aspiring Loremasters have much less to worry about — all completed quests, even they’re removed from the game, will still count toward the total.)
What was confirmed was that the VanCleef and Arugal quest lines — the chief villains in the Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep dungeons — will be totally revamped to lead into the new level-85 versions of these dungeons. (The VanCleef quest line is especially in need of an overhaul — it tied into the kidnapping of Varian Wrynn, the leader of Stormwind, an event that was told in the comic book series and resolved in game almost a year ago.)
In addition to these lore updates are the additions, for the first time, of the elemental planes. These prisons for the ancient rulers of Azeroth haven’t really been touched upon in any of the WarCraft games, but were a heavy influence in some of the World of Warcraft pen-and-paper role playing books. Chilton said that much of the information in that game stands to be overridden with what’s in this new expansion, noting that WoW lore head honcho Chris Metzen was intimately involved in the creation of “Cataclysm.”