Rumour has it that Blizzard%26rsquo;s massive new expansion for World of Warcraft entered alpha around the same time as the final raid instance was patched into Northrend. That means we%26rsquo;re already counting down towards launch %26ndash; and that Cataclysm should be ready this year. Here%26rsquo;s why we can%26rsquo;t wait. And why lapsed subscribers should probably return to Azeroth.
1) It%26rsquo;s going be explosive
The Cataclysm name comes from the violent eruptions that will precede its launch. Nothing less than outright destruction can satisfy Blizzard%26rsquo;s requirements. They want to blow up the original world. Volcanoes will erupt across Azeroth, tsunamis will break against the shores, mountains will crumble and the entire geography will change forever. The reason? To bringboring old vanilla WoW up to the standards of new WoW.
%26ldquo;The cataclysm event provides a great hook for us to make all these changes that would ordinarily seem very strange,%26rdquo; says Tom Chilton, one of World of Warcraft%26rsquo;s lead designers. %26ldquo;It%26rsquo;s hard to go back to old content and change it without creating questions about %26lsquo;Why was that here one day and not today?%26rsquo; Something that we always hear from players is that they would like the world to be more dynamic. Even though players want the world to be more dynamic, it%26rsquo;s very important that you do it in a way that makes sense.%26rdquo;
2) You%26rsquo;ll fight the ultimate dragon...
Who%26rsquo;s behind the events of the Cataclysm? Step forward Deathwing the Destroyer. Formerly known as Neltharion and Lord Daval Prestor, the father of Onyxia and leader of the Black Dragonflight. Hehas been missing andpresumed dead since the events of Warcraft II. Actually, according to the Warcraft lore, he%26rsquo;s been recuperating on the Elemental Plane and it%26rsquo;s his re-emergence into Azeroth, directly through the world%26rsquo;s crust, that%26rsquo;s torn everything asunder. He%26rsquo;s a bit of a bad dude.
3) ...or just irritate him for a bit
One thing that Blizzard%26rsquo;s designers are proud of in their last expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, is that you%26rsquo;re aware of arch-villain Arthas from the moment you step into the new continent of Northrend. His repeated appearances help to give purpose to the expansion, and have built up anticipation for the final fight. Deathwing will have a similarly slow but pervasive introduction.
4) You%26rsquo;ll meet goblins...
New content means new characters to level up. The good news is that the Horde are getting even more green: Goblins are joining the fun. They%26rsquo;re going to make their home in Azshara, just north of the Orc city of Orgrimmar, and their engineering prowess has to be seen to be believed. Their greatest triumph? A giant, skyscraper-sized rocket launcher that should protect Orgrimmar from aerial attack.
5) ...and become a refugee
Goblin players begin their life at their home in Kezan %26ndash; a factory city that%26rsquo;s churning out sludge and trinkets. When the Cataclysm hits, an earthquake destroys Kezan and the fleeing gobbos are sold into slavery by a treacherous leader. They%26rsquo;re saved when a battle between Horde and Alliance breaks out around their boat. Epic drama: the battle is over a caged Thrall.
6) Goblins can fly
The Goblin racial abilities are already hilarious. They have their own personal banker %26ndash; a hulking Troll slave that can be summoned at will. They have a jetpack that launches them into the air. Because they%26rsquo;re such great hagglers, they%26rsquo;ll receive the best faction discounts in the game. And, they get a one percent increase to their attack and casting speed. The result? They%26rsquo;re completely overpowered.
7) Try Goblin Rogues
If you want to start a Goblin character, you%26rsquo;ll have a range of classes to choose from. You can be a Goblin Death Knight, Hunter, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock or Warrior. We%26rsquo;re torn between a Hunter (the goblins are smaller than their pets) or Rogue %26ndash; their sneak animation is hilarious.
8) You could be a werewolf
You know what the Alliance needs? Furry roleplaying Twilight fans. The new Alliance raceis the Worgen %26ndash; cursed humans that, when they start fighting, turn into wolves. If you want to find out where they come from, try visiting the Greymane Wall. Just head directly south from the Undercity, at the base of Silverpine Forest. Worgen will be leaving from here come Cataclysm.
9) You%26rsquo;ll try new werewolf fashions
Worgen are originally from Gilneas, a kingdom that has spent the past five years sheltering behind the Greymane Wall. The look of the native Gilneans is pure Victorian punk: they favour waistcoats, top hats, and expensive tailoring.
10) Worgen will be top of the charts
Worgen%26rsquo;s innate racial abilities mean they%26rsquo;re perfect for WoW players who want to hit the top of the damage meters %26ndash; they%26rsquo;re granted an automatic one percent bonus to their damage output. They%26rsquo;re great at skinning, and they get a free sprint bonus every three minutes. Not quite OP. But pretty powerful.
11) You could be a feral Death Knight
Worgens have eight class options. You can create a Death Knight, Druid, Warrior, Hunter, Mage, Priest, Rogue or Warlock. A werewolf death knight? Yes please.
12) Cataclysm chooses fun over efficiency
The talent trees for all character classes are being completely overhauled, and the main goal is to prune out boring but valuable talents that passively increase damage or healing. That should mean more toys to play with, extra buttons to click and more variety in playing styles. %26ldquo;I%26rsquo;d expect to see a further pruning of critical class buffs and debuffs,%26rdquo; explains Chilton, %26ldquo;because it%26rsquo;s still a little more restrictive than what we%26rsquo;d like to see. A lot of what Mastery (see 13) and the talent changes are about is making sure that the choices players make about their character are interesting. Hopefully that will add character depth without making the game more complex.%26rdquo; Is this the end for two button raiding?
13) You%26rsquo;ll master your role
Instead of spending points on passive skills when it comes to deciding your talents, you%26rsquo;ll earn %26lsquo;Mastery%26rsquo; bonuses. A rogue might pick up bonus poison damage for each point in Assassination, for example, and hit rating for every Combat skill. It%26rsquo;s a way for Blizzard to prune technical talents and exchange them for fun clickable abilities.
14) Play through five new levels
The previous level cap for World of Warcraft characters, 80, is being raised to 85. Previous expansions have shifted it in increments of 10 %26ndash; 60-70 for Burning Crusade and 70-80 for Wrath of the Lich King. The disparity may come from the sheer amount of quests and zones players currently have to play through. Leveling a new character is a huge amount of work.
15) You%26rsquo;ll gain the right to choose your build
At level 85, players will have access to an outrageous 76 talent points. Blizzard%26rsquo;s Greg Street points out that this means you can have a signature 21 point talent from one tree and a 51 point ability from another, hopefully removing the reliance on %26lsquo;cookie cutter%26rsquo; builds for raiders.