What Cataclysm is Doing Right

What Cataclysm is Doing Right

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There is much to do about this upcoming expansion pack, more so then Burning Crusade and I dare say more then Wrath of The Lich King. I say this because of the buzz around the net as well as just what I hear walking around my home town. People are excited, hell I know I am. But I think people are more excited about this expansion then the other two. I’d like to talk about why we might feel this way about Cataclysm.

In Burning Crusade we were excited, don’t get me wrong. We had just bested the Black Dragonflight, saved the world of Azeroth from the terrors of an awakening Old God and his minions and layed the Smack down on a mighty Lich and his floating fortress of evil. We were eager to go and take on the the next threat to our home and take the fight right to it’s doorstep! We dove into Karazhan and drove out the taint infesting it, we took on Magtheridon and cut the head from between his shoulders. We beat the naga champion into pulp and took the fight to Kael’thas and his generals, all leading up to taking down the of the betrayer and then saving the all Azeroth yet again, this time from the evils of a freshly summoned Kil’jaden.

Then Wrath of The Lich King was announced. We would be returning to Azeroth full time, albeit the frozen northlands. We stepped foot into Borean Tundra or the Howling Fjord and were treated with lush, full environments to play with. From the very beginning we were taunted by the Lich King. Every step of the way he was there, messing with us, trying to break our minds and bring us into his influence. When he failed to do so he sent his agents to kill us. We cleared the Grizzly Hills and Fought back the corruption in Dragon Blight, we stomped on the trolls pledged to the lich king in Zul’drak and freed the animal spirits from their chains, We took on the Vyrkul in their homes among the storm peaks while making friends with the Sons of Hodir. We broke into the home of the titans and cleansed the corruption from it’s halls and saved the world yet again from an awakening god. We proved our worth at the foot of the Lich Kings citadel and now await the doors to be breached so we can take on the blight of our lands head first.

Burning Crusade:

Burning Crusade did a couple things right, and a couple things very wrong. It was a good time because it was new content. We got to go play in Karazhan which thrilled most people because it had been sitting there for so long. We got our first glimpse and some interaction with major lore characters. Shamans and paladins got to swap sides and new races were introduced (although I still think blood elves won out compared to us blueberries), and we got one hell of a troll instance (I loved Zul’aman). They also introduced arena style pvp with various formatting for smaller more intimate pvp battles. It even allowed you to battle against your own faction! The visuals of the landscape were wild and colorful and they let us fly around on the backs of our own personal griffins. We even got to go back in time and participate in some amazing key events in Azeroth history ( I still hate you so so much Archimonde!)

But for what they did right there were a few things they did wrong. The terrain didn’t blend very well between zones. Good example would be going from Zangarmarsh to Nagrand, the contrast was incredibly violent. This theme persisted through most of the between zone areas, with the exception truly being between Netherstorm and Blades Edge Mountains. Our major antagonist was Illidan Stormrage. He was supposed to be the architect of all the going ons in outland, and yet we saw or heard very very little from the emo elf. When we finally killed him atop Black Temple, I couldn’t help but feel it was a bit hollow. Also at some point focus seemed to shift from Illidan to Kael’thas a little bit. He was arguably the harder fight of the two, he taunted us more then Illidan did, and then tried to summon a being capable of culling all of Azeroth. Blood Elves flowed pretty well into the horde lineup, but Draenei seemed out of place even with the alliance. I asked around for some thoughts on favorite and least favorite things from burning crusade and here’s what I got in reply:

Favs:

Shattered Halls

Heroic Magisters Terrace

Lore and Burning Legion theme

Flying!

Space Goats!

Caverns of time!

Least Fav:

Heroic Rep Grind

The SSC lift (I hated that damn thing too, might be worse then door boss)

Arena

All of Hellfire Peninsula

Auchenai Crypts (hated that damn bridge)

Wrath of The Lich King:

Wrath has done a lot of things right. First thing off the bat is the interaction between Arthas and the PC’s. From our first steps onto the shores of northrend the Lich King has been there to taunt us. So much so that when I finally drive a mace through his face atop Icecrown I know I’ll dance a jig, and I think many of you will too. We are driven to want to kill him. In this they learned from their mistakes in BC and did great. The zones looked amazing and the flow between them was incredibly well done. It was very natural flow from say Borean Tundra to Dragon Blight. The quests are immersive and the entire expansion is dripping with lore tidbits, questing gives you story and feels much less of a hodge podge grind. Wrath gate event in the game is amazing, even on the 6th time seeing it.  The instances are incredibly well designed and they brought back one of the most awesome but least experienced instance of vanilla WoW back for everyone to enjoy (Looking at you here Naxxramas!) The daily quests seem less of a grind, and they got rid of attunements for raids and heroics which allows players to experience the content without the soul sucking rep grind. A hero class was introduced for the first time! New Technology was introduced in they way of phasing which was showcased in the Death Knight starting zone but is present throughout the world. It also introduced 10 man raids. Which again allowed further access to content among smaller guilds. Along with these came hard mode encounters and refined vehicle combat. To me this found it’s ultimate purchase in Ulduar, which is a beautiful and wonderfully designed raid zone, and almost ties for first place with me for favorite raid zone (BWL still number 1 in my book) Wrath has done so many things very very right, and very few things wrong. I got some replies to my question earlier to wrath too. here they are.

Favs:

No more attunements or rep for heroics!

Ulduar Hard Modes

Ulduar!

New Pets!

Storyline and Quest integration

Phasing

Least fav:

Sons of Hodir rep grind (pre relic turn in)

Arena

Door boss! (he hates me too =/ )

Quite a difference in lists. Note how short the list of dislikes is. If I missed anything above forgive me, it wasn’t intended to be all inclusive, just sort of a highlight reel.

Lets move on to the upcoming expansion,

Cataclysm

In almost every fantasy novel I’ve ever read, there is a love for home, or a quest to protect home or even the dream of returning home after the adventure is completed. You can see this trend in the Lord of The Rings trilogy, Count of Monte Cristo and various other stories. I point this out because it’s a common theme. This is one of the things Cataclysm is doing right and doing it up front before the game is even released. We are returning home after fighting a grueling war that has taken it’s toll many times over only to find our home ransacked, disheveled and forever changed. Places so familiar to us are being left scarred and broken and lets be honest it gets us riled up. Blizzard is doing something most people never thought they would, in essence they are destroying azeroth, and reshaping it. It is definitely having the desired effect, I could hear it when the game was officially announced at Blizzconm I could hear the whispers around the room and look at all the smiling faces and heads nodding.

We have major lore figures being thrown at us right away, Deathwing not even close to least among them. We see the return of those we thought we had defeated such as Ragnaros coming to burn the world tree in Hyjal and Nefarian back to help his father’s plans along. I also suspect we’ll see Lady Aszhara before too long.

We get to explore areas that have always been enigmas to us such as Uldum (pronounced “Ul-doom” in case  you missed the panel and matt’s report on it) and what lay behind those doors where all those dragonkin came to murder us in Nefarian’s throne room back in the day. We get to travel beneath the Maelstrom and we are promised we’ll be able to fly in the old world now (we get to visit Iron Forges airstrip and the dancing troll village if they are still there!). The gates of the Greymane wall come open and we get to see Gilneas for the first time! I remember sitting in front of the door on my Night Elf hunter when it had the elite furbolg in front of it wondering when I’d get to go play in Gilneas. At this point the tidbits they are releasing feel even more epic then Wrath did. We are fighting to defend our world against a force that was entrusted with it’s safe keeping by the titans themselves. A being so powerful that the earth trembles and ripples with his very power. We are waiting on the edge of our seat to see who lives and who dies in the coming events. As old enemies resurface, alliances are made and the very ground we walk upon is shattered.

In short this expansion is doing what a good novel would do, bringing you back home. In this case though it’s bringing you back home to a place that isn’t the place you remember. By tossing us into this world wide upheaval they are pushing us further into the story. Everyone from RPers to Raiders should be happy with the content that is going to be provided to us. Lore junkies will be turned on their ear and will be foaming at the mouth for more ( I know I already am!). This expansion is setting up with an epic feel to it. Even look at lowering the leveling from another 10 levels to only 5, the emphasis shifts more on content then just leveling. In my opinion that is what they are doing right. They are giving it a feeling of epic grandeur that started with Wrath and seems to have only gotten better over time. I may sound like a fan boy, but as a person who has been reading and writing fantasy stories for a very long time, I’m starting to feel like I’m playing through the events of a book rather than just a game, and that makes me happy and excited to see what’s in store.

So what do you think? What was the best and worst of Burning Crusade? What was the best and worst of Wrath? How do you feel about cataclysm so far? Excited, sad, angry? What are you looking forward to the most?

Until next time,

Sig

Image courtesy of memory-alpha.org

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About Lodur

Lodur is the right hand shaman to Matticus on World of Matticus, and a recruiting officer of Conquest and Co-Host of For the Lore podcast. Read more of his works at WoW Insider.

Comments

  1. The best thing to me about Wrath was the decision to level the Tanking playing field. In Vanilla, there was one Tank, Warriors. In tBC, you had 3 tanks each with niches (Paladins AoE, Warriors Boss Tank, Druids Offtank). In Wrath, the developers decided to create true tanking equality. A tank would no longer be judged by the color of his raid bar, but by the content of his skill and knowledge as a Tank.
    .-= Honorshammer´s last blog ..Things Didn’t Work The Way I Thought They Would =-.

  2. The Cataclysm actually reminds me of the part of LOTR where they return home to the “scouring of the shire”. Even though you worked hard to defeat all these bad guys for the last few years, you still failed at keeping your home the way you remembered it, and now you have to take back and reclaim the home you abandoned to go off and fight distant threats. I think ‘the scouring of azeroth’ is going to be great…

  3. Best of Wrath (includes):

    Phasing – having the world change in reaction to your progress.

    Worst of Wrath (includes):

    Phasing – having your computer slow to a chug whenever you enter Storm Peaks, and being unable to even see party members when standing on top of them ’cause they’re one quest ahead/behind in the Ice Crown chains.

    Avoiding an entire zone sucks, and not being able to help guildies and friends with quests sucks worse.

    I really welcomed this technology since it has the promise of alleviating some boredom with a zone by making it dynamic. I’m heartened that at Blizzcon they addressed some of the problems and said they’d be working on ways in Cataclysm for people to interact ‘through” the phasing with other players who were on different parts of a quest chain.

    I’m less complacent about the lag/memory problems. This technology requires a lot of communication from server to client and just doesn’t work well if you’re not on a recent model computer. While you can play Wrath and avoid one zone, it’ll be a much bigger problem in Cataclysm distributed all over the world.

  4. Just a point of clarification… while I haven’t been there for quite awhile, I wasn’t aware that they blocked off the airfield. Or is it that you just don’t know how to get there from the Dun Morogh / Loch Modan border?

    And honestly… the thing I’m most excited about is the changes they’re making to finally make it mean something to be a part of a guild.
    .-= Leiandra´s last blog ..The Bowling Post, Part 1 =-.

  5. @Leiandra I’m talking about the one on top of Iron Forge, last time I “climbed the mountain” I was told I shouldn’t be there and was ported back into IF with a slap on the wrist. *shrug*

  6. Somebody must be in a PVE raiding guild – Arena shows up on your worst lists both times 😛

    I think arena was one of the best things to happen to this game – it gave pvp a purpose and legs to stand on versus the PVE game. It also gives people like me who don’t always have the time to commit to a raiding guild something to do at the endgame.

  7. We’re talking about the same airfield. I’ve just never been slapped on the wrist for going up there. Now that I think about it, it’s probably been a year since I’ve been up there on a site seeing tour.
    .-= Leiandra´s last blog ..The Bowling Post, Part 1 =-.

  8. @Felade personally I love arena, I just found myself a solid 3v3 team to work with. one of the people who responded to my twitter question hates it very very much though lol.

  9. Felade, I think you could put Arena on both the Best and Worst lists for BC. It was a great new dimension to PvP, it rewarded you well without feeling too grindy, and it did a halfway decent job of identifying skill.

    On the other hand, it made battlegrounds relatively pointless, it attracted a lot of players (like me) who hated Arena play but wanted the gear, and it ultimately was vulnerable to a host of exploits that were more profitable than skillful play.

    In Wrath, I haven’t played arena so my viewpoint may be suspect. But I think a couple things have happened. The biggest is that raid accessibility has shifted the emphasis to PvE for upgrades. Even fairly casual players could get into VoA or OS PUGs and score some decent gear. So arenas were less popular. On the other hand, that meant that players in arena were really interested in arena.

    Also I think the new rating mechanics are much better at identifying and rewarding skill, but they’re still not perfect, and overall it’s much harder for players to get the best stuff through Arena. And there have been various overpowered classes and comps through the 3.x series, though I can’t really judge if this is worse than 2.x or not.

    One of the most interesting things to me in Cataclysm is the rated BG concept. If it works at combining the best of BGs and Arena, I’ll be all over it!

  10. I’m not into the end-game content yet, but probably the biggest gripe I have with Wrath is that the quests between zones are lacking.

    I wrote a post about it here: http://bit.ly/qBCfn

    Basically, it seems like there aren’t any quests that send you along to the next zone when you finish (most of) the quests in a zone. For example, in Hellfire, you got quests that sent you into Zangarmarsh to investigate reports of problems.

    In Northrend, there doesn’t seem to be any quests like that. At least that I’ve noticed. You go through Borean Tundra or Howling Fjords, and you just sort of run out of things to do. You don’t get sent along to the next area; you have to figure that out on your own.

    Otherwise, I love Wrath. What I’ve seen of it so far, at least.
    .-= Drev´s last blog ..Destiny Rides a Deathcharger =-.

  11. I’m more excited about Cataclysm than I have been about any other WoW expansion, the main reason being that Blizzard are actually trying some new stuff and pushing the boat out a little. The other expansions were pretty vanilla when it came to features. New races, been there. Deathknight class, nothing original. But an entire revamp of original content? Now we’re talking!
    .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..Interview At Grinding To Valhalla =-.

  12. @Lodur

    Happy to hear it. Shaman got some needed buffs (I think the whole 4 totems for one global on its own is really a nice change). Here’s hoping our resto brethren make an impact this season.

    @Alamein
    There have been balance issues in wrath arena, especially season 5. I like how I don’t have to schedule my life around that playstyle, mostly. I enjoy raid healing as well, but I don’t like how the raiding game can suck up your life.

    I hated BGs. Hated them. Arena was what made PVP fun for me. Mostly, because I didn’t feel like I could make a difference. I can nearly single-handedly win WSG now, as long as a few people back me up and the horde don’t have too many geared people who try to take my flag, but any other BG it is really hard for anything I do to make that much of a difference. In arena, everything makes a difference, and an ability use at the right time can win a match. BGs are more about how much people work together, and are geared. If BGs require guild groups/premades to win, that just means scheduling my life around a game again. In which case, I would rather raid 😛

    I would be interested to know a little more about why you like battlegrounds/don’t like arenas. I know in BGs that I can get away with a more PVE playstyle, but that doesn’t fly in Arenas. Does the Arena playstyle feel like “cheating” or “exploiting” to you?

    Also, as much as I hate *hate* destro burst, I think Arenas favor melee play over ranged, while BGs favor ranged. What do you think?

    Felade

  13. Nice post.

    In my view the best things:

    Ulduar (hard modes are a fantastic idea)
    Cut scenes (I’ve done the Wrathgate quest line 3 times now – its brilliant)
    Increased focus on 10s raiding

    And the worst

    Vehicle fights (is there anyone who actually like jousting?)
    Devalued crafting and reputation rewards (the initial gear should be better)
    Rushed / poorly tuned content (a lot of bugs and heaps of nerf / buff patches – especially ToC)
    .-= Silk´s last blog ..Guild drama =-.

  14. Best: Hard modes

    Worst: Daily quests (repetitive and practically required for anything cool!), especially jousting because of the terrible lag.

  15. @Felade:

    I dislike arena because it feels to me too much like a FPS — too twitchy. It’s partly because I think slow 🙂 and partly because I’ve just not practiced it enough. My impression is that I needed to learn a lot more about move-countermove, which seemed like a painful thing. That’s not a judgement on their value – I think the concept is cool – but it’s just not for me.

    What I like about BGs is that they’re more tactical. The move-countermove happens more by moving players to the right spot than by hitting the right keys. So it is rewarding to a bit of thought rather than an instant reaction.

    Of course most PUG BGs right now are mostly a free-for-all plus a few hazily learned strategies, and that’s not super great. I can be useful by looking for opportunities but it’s pretty chaotic and sometimes players just run around uselessly (fighting away from flags, useless assaults on heavily defended nodes, etc.)

    That’s why I’m really looking forward to Cat because it will lead to more premades, even with Vent and some organization. That to me sounds like epic PvP. It is more like PvE than Arena, for sure, but you still have real humans on the other side of the wire.

  16. Resilience tends to slow down the pace of arena matches, if you get enough. There’s usually a minimum where below that you don’t really notice a difference. Once you get to that point, unless you’ve got one side with ridiculous damage (read: High end PVE epics), then Arenas become like chess at the pace of a global cooldown. So yeah it all becomes “what do you on each GCD?”

    I remember doing arenas a bunch and hearing about how hard it was to heal Malygos. I went in there and did it and I thought “is that all? That’s slow!”

    It definitely can seem like an FPS at first, but after awhile its more like fast paced chess, with a suprise thrown in here and there. The thought comes in deciding to make offensive or defensive moves, and when to use your CC.

    So, I run Priest/Feral/DK (I’m the priest). When our kill target is at about 50% health, we’ll try to use our CCs so that they can’t get any more healing. I’ll try to Psychic Scream their healer, for instance, after a Cyclone goes off. Also, on defense, if I get stunned or CC’d I have to decide if I should trinket now or wait. If I trinket too early against RMP, I’ll likely eat a full-duration Blind, but if one of my team-mates is dying I have to trinket anyway. Gearing, especially resilience vs. PVE gear, comes into the picture a lot as well.

  17. That’s a really good article.
    .-= Gravity´s last blog ..Death Knight tanking weapons 3.2 =-.

  18. Awesome write up!
    .-= Skonged´s last blog ..WTB class switch =-.

  19. One of the best things about Wrath was leveling a DK from 55-58. I am not a lore junky and I don’t really try to figure out much about all the NPCs so leveling a DK and having the lore so built into the quests was great. I hope they do more of that type of thing in the future.

    Another thing that was cool was the zombie invasion of Shat. It really set the stage for Wrath’s release. I wonder if we will have weeks of earthquakes etc., before Cataclysm?

    Flying in Azeroth is going to be great. I can’t wait for that. I think I am most looking forward to the guild leveling system.

    One of the sad things about Wrath is how empty the Outlands became. It became a place to slog through quests as quick as you could to get from 58 to 68. I hope the same thing doesn’t happen to Northrend. Sure, we want to see new places but it would be nice to put new content in the old places too.

  20. @tankette Long-term empty, sure, especially the 68-70 zones… but for awhile after Wrath launched, Hellfire Peninsula was the busiest I’d ever seen it (note that I began playing WoW after BC was out). All those shiny, new DK’s made a beeline, zone chat was active, and all-DK run invites to Ramps were on almost spam levels of appearance. It was quite a riot.

    Cataclysm is looking somewhat interesting, and might be enough to lure me back to check it out (quit for WAR, just tired of PVE grinds in general).

    I will have to second the zombie event. Hands-down the best experience I ever had with WoW. Couldn’t believe the amount of whinging over the “disruptions” of a temporary event. Fully expecting to see a reined-in world event this go-round. A lot of folks loved the zombie invasion… but there were some real big mouths crying that they couldn’t get their poor L15 alt to a questgiver.

    Diddums.

    What good is make-believe, foam-coated threat? This was the LICH KING. It SHOULD have been disruptive!

    *laughs* Come to think of it, maybe the best memories will be the ones already made…

  21. The matter of the fact is that people think that the BC expansion was way better than Wrath of the Lich King, contrary to what your article says.
    Personally I have liked this expansion very much, wuth all the lore, graphics, music it has brought, but I have to agree that BC was better, why? Because of 3 reasons.
    1) BC came with a lot of intances and engame when it was released,.. Yeah, black temple was not ready yet and they implemented it later, but there was always something to do.. always, even if some bosses were “overtuned”, there was always something to look out for. In wrath the endgame arrived with a huuge delay, people grinded Naxxramas and Sartharion like crazy, and this has been one of the terrible experiences I have had in game, to grind an instance.. ruining the good reputation it had in vanilla wow, to one of the easiest instances ever. This leads to number
    2) The raiding level and gear level. now you can see a lot of people that do not have an idea how to play, that they do not have the skill with the same or better gear, just because now everything its attainable… yea.. we have the hardmodes and such, but that doesnt justify the point we have reached. Less skilled people with such gear just because they can beat a boss that is a joke. Feels like the heroic versions are the normal difficulty we should get, and normal is an insult to the wow player, the one that began playing 2-3 years ago. The game is scrub friendly and I doubt it will change back.
    3) Arenas and its disbalance, DKs and Rets facerolling the other classes, lack of models and reskinning for the pvp sets ruined PVP to me. This Wrath pvp is the worst PVP I have played.

    Conclusion, BC > Wrath.

    Thanks for you article though I enjoyed reading it even though I disagree with some points.

  22. Cataclysm is going to be so full of win. Everything about it is going to be an improvment. Will I reroll as a Goblin or a Worgen? Tauren Pally? Lvling Striffe will be my main priority, but it will be fun to play with a new toon. I don’t know, but the class changes sound pretty BA.

    Here’s what I wish:

    I love to twink. Love it. I had to pretty much retire 5 twinks that were geared to the teeth becasue blizz slowed things down so much as far as Q time are concerned. However, as much as i love to twink, I love raiding and Heroics that much more. I’d LOVE to see Blizz offer Heroic versions of all the old, low-level instances that would allow twinks to get epic quality gear at their level. Of course, you’d have to have your XP turned off in order to enter, and their could be a level cap as to ensure that the gear would have to be earned. I was thinking of this the other day, and I think that this would allow a tremendously fun new look at twinking and force people to do raids/instances.

    I dunno. Just my two c’s

Trackbacks

  1. […] posted about What Cataclysm is Doing Right on World of Matticus.  He asked us: So what do you think? What was the best and worst of Burning […]

  2. […] at World of Matticus, Lodur has an interesting new post in which he analyzes the different things that he thinks the past expansions did well and did […]

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