My thoughts on WoW:Cataclysm
by Tachyon on Wed. 02. September 2009, 12:52
Filed under: cataclysm, expansion
This year's Blizzcon focussed heavily on the announcement of the third WoW expansion, Cataclysm.
The Bloggosphere remained surprisingly quiet over the Blizzcon weekend (a few facts here and there, but not many opinions), not due to a lack of interest (au contraire!), but due to such an astonishing fresh idea behind the next expansion which nobody had forseen and had to be digested first.
Instead of adding yet another zone to the game and further following the locust swarming (exhaust the content of a zone, proceed to next, leaving dead content behind), Blizzard decided to not only advance the storyline behind WoW but also make it dead clear that more than five years have passed since we entered the world of Azeroth.
The cataclysmic changes brought by the return of Deathwing, father to Onyxia and Nefarian, tore the world asunder. From the cleft where once were the barrens, to flooded and derailed scenery everywhere, the world will never be the same again.
Classic Zones Remade
Kudos to Blizzard for this idea, it's about time the world revolves again, and reviving old continents in such a dramatic way is just ingenious.
Of course new players won't have the chance to experience the world of warcraft as it were in 2004 ever again, but hey that's the point in a living world; it's not a museum after all. The makeover of the classic zones was a longtime demand of players, also that we will be able to use our flying mounts there too.
New starting zones will be added for the new races, and new questlines and quest hubs are to be expected to replace some of the classics ones when the face of Azeroth is changed.
3d Engine Update
WoW's 3d engine was not even meeting the 2004 standards, and we're in 2009 now. The only things that were improved in those five years were the environment effects (rain, snow, dust, mist) and the shadows. With Cataclysm, WoW finally gets environment mapped water reflections, and I hope they also improve other stuff.
The cloud cover desperately needs to be reworked, and also the rigid vegetation is a stain in my eyes. Why can't we have trees and plants be affected by a wind system; this would cost no rendering resources at all, and just a few CPU cycles to move the models slightly. Every other MMO features generated vegetation (trees with L-systems for example), why is Blizzard still modelling them individually?
The water reflections are a good start, but I hope Blizzard walks the extra mile there and brushes up the aged 3d engine. All the changes I proposed here are cheap to implement (even Dark Age of Camelot had them in 2003 or so), just do it, k?
Two New Playable Races
The worgen (you're the man now dog!) will join the forces of the alliance, whereas the goblins will become a part of the horde. I'm only very mildly interested in that, also that more race/class combinations will be enabled, as I'm no twinker at all.
Level Cap Increased to 85
Only 5 levels, you say? That's enough for a gear reset without taking too many resources away for levelling content, allowing to concentrate more on the endgame content. I always appreciated the gear resets as they are an important part of mudflation, letting casual players catch up and giving the hardcore crowd new incetive.
Character progression comes in many flavours, be it levelling or getting better gear, and it's imperative for a MMORPG to never let it stop (but only slow it down the further you advance).
Cataclysm introduces a new progression path, the Path of the Titans. Using Ancient Glyphs, you will be able to further enhance your character in 10 steps, not all being available at release, but being unlocked step by step with the patches that follow.
WoW allows the players to easily reach the level cap without relying on any help from other players, let alone a guild. Even the endgame content can be done without being in a guild, there's myriads of PUGs (pickup groups) that clear the endgame content, just hop in and party on. Even players that are in a guild are unlikely to stick with it, guild hopping is common phenomenon, and new guilds spawn like mushrooms on wet moss every day.
I'm glad that Blizzard reacts on that issue and attempts to strenghen guilds that do well and have a certain persistency. Even if the bonuses you gain from your guilds' advancement are tiny, at least there is now more than a guild tag and tabbard that makes up a guild in the game. I hope that helps a little in regulating the number of guilds on a server; if you ask me, the fewer guilds, the better the playing experience for everyone.
Hey, a new secondary profession, and though I don't know what will await us there (Treasure hunting? Brushing the dirt off excavated bones?), I'm ready to join the leagues of Harrison Jones!
Archeology has quite some potential, from a looting perspective (uncover artifacts, salvage old stuff) to storytelling (excavate fragments that are hints towards an event in the past).
The number of stats and corresponding mechanics that were introduced since the 2004 release of WoW is huge (remember - we didn't even have spellpower then, yet alone MP5, spell penetration, hit, haste, resilience etc.), and though those are all toys on us theorycrafter's playgrounds, it's a woe to most other players.
Spellpower as a stat will be removed, and Intellect will provide a spellpower equivalent instead. MP5 is also gone, and Spirit will become a healers-only stat ("no more spirit on mage/warlock gear" according to the slides at Blizzcon).
That leaves two stats I'd love to get rid of: Hit Rating (best stat until you're capped, worst stat afterwards, and you'll hate it sincerely if you're so much overcapped like me (471 hit rating atm in my best raiding gear) and can't get rid of it; and Spell Penetration, whose use now is limited to PvP, as it does nothing against the level-based resistances of bosses (and no bosses have other resistances at the moment). If any people at Blizzard happen to read this: please dump those stats too, or make them more attractive and meaningful (no caps anymore please).
The talent trees are also reworked, as Blizzard stated they want to remove most (if not all) of the passive talents (such as x% more crit) and grant such improvements based on how much points you spend in a talent tree. A new stat called 'Mastery' will be introduced which boosts certain things depending on your talent spec, so for a healing spec it improves healing, whereas for a damage spec it improves DPS.
Rated battlegrounds, gear equal to arena
This! I hate the Arena system for what it did to WoW PvP, it's about time us BG PvPers get access to the top PvP gear and are no longer penaltized for not playing the current FOTM (Flavour of the Month) class/setup in Arenas. Implementing a rating system for BGs is pretty challenging and not anybody can be satisfied, but I'll take whatever solution they come up with, even if it means that only premade group matches are rated.
When Blizzard announced Northrend and Arthas/Lich King as the content for their second expansion, I was all sceptic and considered it a bad move: when they feed us their biggest asset in the Warcraft story that early, how will they ever be able to top it?
But now I look at all the stuff and changes Cataclysm will bring, I can only say bravo, and I'm no less excited that I was with the previous two expansions.
Cataclysim = WoW 2.0? Yes!