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14/12/2010 12:56
Nice to have you back Mach. I see you worked out your log in issues. I "fixed" something but forgot to tell You about it. So fail. LOL

11/12/2010 16:38
Mac is back on the attack and thats a fact, Jack!

10/12/2010 05:23
Quick shout out to say hello! The one thing I miss about WoW is you lovely people! Smile

26/10/2010 17:44
Hello...hello... hello... Echo... echo... echo...

07/08/2010 16:44
Sadly I don't know how soon I'll be back. Sad I may be able to pick up a game card at some point and hop in that way.

07/08/2010 14:51
Aw, miss you too Khadi! Are you coming back soon? Smile

06/08/2010 16:40
Hey everyone. Miss you guys!

14/07/2010 01:05
Sounds like you guys are doing great! Keep going, TTP!

13/07/2010 16:24
Greetings everyone! Hope you all are doing great.

08/07/2010 00:54
Fun run in Ulduar tonight. Lots of silly achievements, a few upgrades for some, many laughs. Great bunch of people. Grin

25/06/2010 12:17
Shock is anyone there

24/06/2010 14:40
Hello all, I'm so happy to be back! I look forward to playing with you all this summer. I have lots of alt's, so if any one would like to run some lower level stuff pls let me know Smile I'l

22/06/2010 17:55
Hi everyone, hope you all are doing okay?

05/06/2010 17:47
Hi everyone!

31/05/2010 06:41
A quick (4 minute) run into Kara (first time in a year) and what do you know? Eva got to ride Midnight home!! *sooo happy*

31/05/2010 06:39
Now we know! Check out the new Thebat photo at the end of the real life gallery! Grin

12/05/2010 00:03
Pinket made 46 tonight. The wee lass is growing up. Grin

11/05/2010 11:51
"You can't go Home" is NICE Marty!!! More, do more!

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If for some reason you get a 403 error on the "Edit Profile" page, please send me a message. I think it's due to a bad avatar or signature.

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Wow... formatting available in shout messages! Shock

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Twilight Phoenix :: General Forum Chat :: General Chat
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Cataclysm: The good, bad, and indiferent
Eva
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Posted on 14-12-2010 12:17
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Posts: 666
Joined: 07.07.06

Just re-posts of some comments I've been finding by accident while looking up something else related to pre-Cataclysm Azeroth...

My front page rant has been move to the bottom here as a "reply" to this thread. - Eva



1)

First of all: Iím having a blast as Iím questing my way through the new zones of Cataclysm. Thereís so much to love Ė so much beauty, so much imagination, so many new and thrilling quests, especially in my current zone Uldum, which has blown me away on several occasions.

So donít get me wrong. What Iíve seen of Cataclysm so far has lived up Ė or even exceeded Ė the somewhat crazy expectations that have been built up ever since the announcement at Blizzcon 2009. But I have a little thought of doubt: hasnít the questing in WoW become just a little bit too streamlined?

Following the pathways

Everywhere I go, I see players following the pathway that Blizzard has put out for us. Strictly speaking I reckon I could deviate from it. Itís not like when youíre hiking in one of those heavily populated nature reserves where youíre more or less forced to follow the assigned trail to preserve the surrounding grounds. But in practice this wonít happen. The quests are supposed to be done in a certain order; one thing leads to another, moving between phases. Woe the player who dares to break the quest chain! No more quests for you, ungrateful scum! Leave the trail and youíll be condemned to trash grinding your way to 85 killing nothing but murlocs.

Every now and then, without previous notice, the screen goes black and Iím suddenly thrown into a mini cinematic of some sort. And this adds to the feeling of linearity. Itís even more linear than the experience of reading a book or seeing a movie. When youíre consuming something in those media, you can always go back. You can replay the scene you came to think about on your dvd or you can go back and look at the previous chapter if you get lost in the novel. WoW is much less forgiving. If you get distracted in some way, youíve missed it.

A moving walkway

Over and over again an image pops up in my head: the image of the moving walkway in the room where they keep the royal jewels at The Tower of London. The only way you can see them is by standing on that walkway, and it passes those jewels at set, nonnegotiable pace.

You blinked as you passed? Your toddler came by as the quest cinematic was running? You got a phone call and didnít see that scene where Harrison swings around in his rope on the giant statues? Too bad for you, but the conveyor band has moved passed the jewels and the exit is there. Youíve completed the quest, here's your reward! (Which on a side note feels rather bizarr - why are we rewarded for doing nothing but staring at our screen, drinking coffee?) What are you waiting for? Hurry up, step into the next rollercoaster ride! Want to see it again? Sorry, mate. Roll an alt or check YouTube. You're in a different phase now and the ride only goes in one direction.

Whoís driving?

A friend asked: ďWhoís driving this story?Ē and my answer is simple: it certainly isnít me. I feel like a marionette doll, secured in the threads under the rule of the designers, in a way that Iíve never ever felt before.

I remember how I back in the days sometimes used Jameís levelling guides, with mixed feelings. It was efficient levelling on one hand, but it took away a bit of the ďa virtual world to exploreĒ feeling from the game. It quickly became a threadmill, with a tunnel vision focus on the XP/hour rate, rather than on the thrill of adventure and uncertainty.

The last few years Blizzard has taken WoW in a direction where the guides and quest addons arenít needed anymore. Itís all built into the UI, showing where to go and what to do next, and into the pipeline quest design. The tendency started in Wrath, but Cataclysm takes it up to the next level.

I reckon itís my lack of experience from other games that makes me react against it. Maybe this is the way that stories normally are told in games?

Iíve become used to Ė and fond of - Blizzardís open-world-design. I know that some old school players sneer at it, thinking itís more of a theme park for players that lack any kind of imagination of their own, than a sandbox where you can make anything happen.

The same meal

Until now Iíve always thought that the theme park accusations were unfair and that there were more player freedom and options than youíd think of at first sight. You could tweak your WoW experience into something different from everyone elseís. I didnít have such a strong feeling that weíre all having the same standard hamburger meal as I get in Cataclysm.

Itís an awesome hamburger, the best one theyíve ever made. Shiny. Entertaining, full of surprises. I donít think Iíve ever felt as curious, excited and involved as Iíve been exploring Uldum for instance. Iíve even started to read the quest texts for some reason, and this fact surely must be a sign of a huge improvement. Quest design taken at a new level!

Perhaps I just have to take the bad with the good. Maybe there isnít any other way to make the design than by forcefully leading us through certain pipes?

Another thing to remember is that I havenít yet dipped my toes into Archaeology. From what Iíve heard it might offer a counterweight to the streamline questing, giving the sense of freedom, exploration and individuality that rollercoaster rides somehow lack.

Itís too early to make the call what impact the changes to questing will have on us, too early to say if weíll enjoy all those cinematics as much next time we bump into them, or if theyíre just an annoyance, ďbeen there, done thatĒ.

But I canít quite get the image of the walkway at The Tower of London out of my head. The thought is a little disturbing.

Perhaps it's there because it tells us something about our real lives. Am I living my life as if I was in a sandbox, a world of freedom and possibilities, where I'm in charge of myself? Or am I just idly standing there on the conveyor belt, waiting for the trip to end when Life is done with me?

The thought crosses my mind. But some things are too scary to give a full examination.




2)

There is nothing on this earth like being in the first wave as an expansion goes live. The servers go up. New zones come online for the first time. All is quiet, peaceful, and perfect. Then a solid mass of berserk players arrives, and nothing will ever be ok again.

Imagine Omaha beach. No, imagine the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan. Except there are five hundred Allies of every nation, rank, and uniform pouring off the boats and only twenty Axis soldiers evenly spaced across the beach, each blithely patrolling their own little sector. And your commanding officer wonít let you advance until youíve killed ten Axis soldiers and blown up five sections of barbed wire.

Soon there are giant piles of hundreds of dead Axis soldiers all across the beach, the Russian and American soldiers have begun fighting one another, and someone keeps shouting over and over that they canít find the Bangalore torpedoes while everyone else mocks him. So itís actually not like Omaha beach at all. I wouldnít have missed it for anything.

This isnít meant to be a comprehensive review of the Cataclysm expansion. That is beyond our scope. One could argue that it isnít really possible to review an MMO. One would be wrong, but one could argue it. This is just intended to be a combination of my personal experiences going in face first, and some thoughts on Blizzardís design philosophy and how itís evolved. Plus some cool screenshots.

The first thing I noticed about the new zones, aside from how awesome they looked, was how linear they are. Blizzard has refined itís ďtheme parkĒ design school to an art. That isnít necessarily a bad thing. Youíre stuck on rails yes, but it is a roller coaster. The game shuttles you neatly and efficiently from one quest hub to another. Great use is made of the ďphasingĒ technology that was introduced in Wrath of the Lich King to give the illusion of progress and a world that changes based off your actions.


(Cut this part to remove spoilers)

This is, beyond any doubt, really cool. One of the most annoying things about MMOís is that, by their very nature, it is hard to feel like youíre making any impact on the world. The dragon you slew needs to be there for the next person to slay, which makes your own victory seem just a little hollow. Seeing zones change and the story move forwards from stuff you did is extremely rewarding.

This level of linearity is not without problems. In my personal experience a single NPC didnít appear in one of the early Cataclysm zones, which meant you couldnít complete the quest they were related too, and progress through the entire zone was held up. Because of a single missing character, dozens of quests were completely inaccessible. The problem was fixed in 24 hours, and to be fair this was an incredibly smooth launch considering the sheer scale involved, but the linear nature of the new zones means they bottleneck very easily. If even one quest is bugged or broken it can be very hard to keep moving forward.

Fix. The. Bugs.

If you also play the same MMO, given what weíve discussed today, I suspect our experiences in the new zones would be, by their very design, quite similar. So you probably wouldnít find it [this article] very interesting either. In fact, youíre probably busy playing right now rather than reading this carefully crafted and insightful masterpiece. Ingrate.


3)

Here's something that doesn't happen every day. A game millions of players have been enjoying over the last six years has been wiped off the face of the map. It cannot be played any more. At least, not in its original form.

What am I talking about? Well, one of the big selling points of World of Warcraft's latest expansion, Cataclysm, is that it has completely changed the game's original world. Its storyline is simple: a very nasty, very big dragon called Deathwing, who has been imprisoned underground for the better part of an eternity, has freed himself from his magical chains and busted his way out. As you can imagine, after being stuck in a stinky hole in the ground for so long, he's not in a particularly good mood. Indeed, he's decidedly miffed, and has set off on a ragin' rampage across Azeroth, Warcraft's original in-game world, setting off tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanoes. This eponymous Cataclysm has resulted in Azeroth being changed completely... and, apparently, forever....


Anyone now buying the first World of Warcraft game will not be able to play the original game old WoW players grew up with. They will instead play the new, redesigned World of Warcraft experience: a post-Cataclysm world where questlines have been redesigned and tightened. Where the levelling structure is intuitive and much more logical. Where new players are led through the game in a way that makes it much, much more enjoyable and fun. And where there is a lot less wandering around getting lost, or becoming frustrated, or running halfway across the world to deliver an item that then yields a tiny amount of experience for the effort involved.

The new WoW delivers its story in a much more successful way, and makes the player feel more involved. Questlines are tighter. The presentation is improved. There's virtually no "grinding" -- your character develops and evolves naturally and progressively. And best of all, levelling up is much, much faster. Where it took initial WoW players months to get to 60, now it takes a few weeks Ė even if playing casually, and if you know what you're doing, much less time than that. Overall, post-Cataclysm WoW is a much, much better experience for beginners, and as a consequence, a much, much better game.

4)

In case you've been in a coma: After spending a few games asleep within the earth, Big bad dragon Deathwing wakes up and disrupts the forces binding the earth together, breaking the world. It's tricky reviewing a game like Cataclysm because it's intended to be a different thing to many different audiences. If you've never played WoW before, if you used to play WoW but left the game years ago, or if you're a current player you'll likely feel very differently about the third expansion pack to Blizzard's mega-MMO. So let's start off with the commonality: Cataclysm tears apart ten years of WoW development and puts it back together better than it's ever been.

The bulk of Cataclysm coverage has been (rightly) focused on what the WoW team has done to the old world of Azeroth. Recognizing that classic WoW's "go kill 10 kobolds, now go kill 10 more kobolds" quest content was actually pretty terrible, at least in comparison to the leveling content and quests introduced in Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard has taken a heavy hatchet to its previous work.

While some quests and storylines remain mostly unchanged, the majority of content is new and implemented with a graceful technique that simply wasn't there when the game launched six years ago. What had been a simple fetch quest now involves the player watching an angry debate between three rival clans and the hunting down of a traitor within one of them. It's much more engaging than old WoW had been, with a larger emphasis on progressing through a story instead of a static, unchanging world, and is a sorely needed change to painfully archaic content.

Less has been written about changes to the game's systems, and with good reason; that discussion is one that matters most to current WoW players. If you're the type of person who doesn't know your hit from your crit, then the specifics don't matter: What does matter is that Blizzard has taken a game wobbling under the weight of an ever-growing Gordian knot of stats, skills and class bonuses and cut that knot in two.

If you're new to WoW or returning after a long absence, you'll find the newbie experience significantly improved. Not only are the quests more engaging, but the mechanics and systems have been almost wholly reworked, and the game provides players with far more useful information than it ever did before. Every time you level up, the game informs you what new skills (if any) you have unlocked for training, and the tooltips explain how an ability is used instead of dispassionately informing a player of the exact numerical properties of the attack.

In old WoW, a player would hit level 10 and unlock their various talent trees that determined their character's strengths. For someone new to the game, the only information they were given was what was listed on the tooltip, making it difficult to know good builds without outside aid. In Cataclysm, hitting level 10 still unlocks your talent trees, but the way in which it's presented makes it much easier to understand. The strengths and weaknesses of each skill tree are laid out from the beginning, and choosing one will grant you a powerful and iconic special ability right away. It feels more like choosing a subclass in a game like KotOR than simply putting points into a tree.

This change in focus accompanies a clear attempt to make every class play in a more interesting and engaging fashion than "hit, wait for random-chance ability to activate" or "spam your damage spell over and over." While the core combat is still very much WoW, there's an increased focus on reactive abilities that feed off of one another, encouraging players to react and change things up instead of going through a standard by-the-numbers rotation.

Other than the general remaking of the world, it's hard to quantify any single thing that makes for an improved questing experience whether you're level 8 or level 80. Instead, it's a bunch of little things that all add up. Quest hubs lead neatly to other quest hubs with breadcrumb trails, important NPCs are highlighted in a quest sidebar that tells you things you need to know (e.g., "this guy is on fire, drag him into water to weaken him"Wink, and if you ever get lost, the hero's message board in each major city will point you in the right direction.

In Cataclysm, Blizzard has liberally applied its phasing technology - changing the zone as player completes quest to reflect their deeds. It was introduced in Wrath and is used to great effect here, making for a much more significant feeling of progression and time than we've seen in an MMO yet. This improvement makes it more jarring when you encounter a hiccup in the system, like an unclear objective or a breadcrumb trail that abruptly ends. They feel far more flawed than they would have otherwise.....

Players who love grouping with others and running dungeons may initially find themselves out in the cold. You won't be able to join a dungeon group until you've found the physical entrance to the zone out in the world, which feels a bit jarring after growing used to the convenience of the Dungeon Finder automatically slapping a party together. That said, it's no different from how things were before the Dungeon Finder existed, but it does feel like a step backward for people who enjoy group play.

5)

Like the two expansion packs before it, Cataclysm brings plenty of new stuff to the table. First up are a couple of new races -- Goblins and the werewolf-like Worgen. Each of these races has their own starting zone, which are very nicely designed and put together. Indeed, I'd say that leveling up a Goblin is one of the most fun things I've done in WoW as a newbie character. The experience combines a beautifully crafted series of quests and objectives that articulate a meaningful story in a very fun way. Once you're through that initial new zone, you go out into the world and the game becomes the regular Warcraft experience we know and love. But it's clear the early levels were very lovingly designed and created, and you can really feel the sheer effort the developers put into making the experience a truly memorable one.

Even if you have no intention of leveling up a new character, I'd still recommending making a Goblin and going through the starting zones just to appreciate them. The Worgen starting area is also excellent, but even though it too is nicely designed, it has a hard time matching the Goblin experience, simply because that Goblin zone is so good.

Cataclysm also adds a new profession, Archeology, new race/class combinations, a guild achievement system, a bunch of new areas for high-level players to explore (and level up from the previous level cap of 80 to the new cap of 85), and new dungeons and raids where they can test their mettle. There's also quite a bit of love for those who love to kill their fellow player.....

So those are the top-line, marketing-bullet-point changes. But Cataclysm has also ushered in less obvious, but much deeper changes to the game's underlying design mechanics. After two expansions worth of design evolution and feature creep, where we've seen lots of new spells, new statistics, and new items being added to the game, in many ways the developers essentially designed themselves into a corner, making a game that was, by the end of the Lich King expansion, very difficult to continue to build on in its then-current guise. So to that end, while the world of Azeroth has been wracked by massive upheaval caused by the eponymous Cataclysm, the absolute fundamentals of WoW's gameplay have also been massively and irrevocably altered. Not necessarily in a bad way -- but certainly in a radical way.

And where those changes are most evident are in the dungeons and raids, the real bread and butter of the World of Warcraft experience, and where most people spend their time. The dungeons contain new challenges and different settings, but their fundamentals will be largely familiar to regular WoW players. What won't be familiar to some people, but will be familiar to others, is how the way you now need to play them has shifted and changed from Lich King to Cataclysm. After playing a ton in Beta, I'm really getting to grips with some very subtle, but important shifts in the way the game works that will probably surprise some people, delight some, annoy others, and catch some people out completely.....

You see, in the original WoW release, tanks had a much tougher time keeping the enemy focused on them, and because of that, if you weren't careful about what monster you were hitting, and how hard you hit it, it would stop hitting the tank and instead come after you and kill you. In Lich King, you didn't need to worry about that, because tanks' ability to keep the enemy attention on them was so over-powered. No matter what you did, you could pretty much blast the crap out of everything until it was dead. Fun, but not particularly skilful or demanding.

Not any more. Cataclysm is going back to the way it used to be: Tanks are not the aggro-magnets they used to be. Blizzard's developers want players to actually think a bit more, rather than just mash buttons. For people who've played the game since the beginning, this is going to be fairly easy to adjust to: it's a case of relearning old habits. For those who didn't... oh boy. You'll need to change your habits and learn the new way of doing things quickly, or you're going to be a liability to your team-mates, and at worst get everyone killed.

And that's not the only change. There's an additional layer of challenge -- and this is something that old players will recognize. Many "pulls" in the new dungeons (groups of monsters that you need to overcome) cannot be bested by simply blasting them with AOE effects, as they could in Lich King dungeons. Indeed, if you try to do that, the monsters will run riot and kill everyone. Instead, you have to be strategic and use crowd control effects -- spells and effects that temporarily disable a monster -- and kill the monsters selectively in the right order. Which means your team has to be organized, on point, and thinking clearly.....(Put it this way: I'm dungeon-crawling with trusted friends only for a few months.)

As well as this shift in the gameplay, something else that has seen a major change is the in-game character talents system. After two expansions' worth of bloat, they have been pared back and significantly simplified as part of the Cataclysm restructuring. The developers have told us that this is necessary to not just help with game balance -- which I can understand -- but to also help make talent choices more meaningful -- which unfortunately I have difficulty seeing in the system's current form. Some character types have fared better with these changes than others in that respect, but even so, I don't feel the new talent trees offer much in the way of customization: a choice or two here and there at best, but at worst, the feeling that I'm pretty much forced to take a bunch of talents whether I like them or not. I'm not particularly enamored. It's fine -- characters are still playable and they do most of the things I want them to do -- but I don't necessarily see this as much of a step forward, and indeed in some sense it's a step back.

Another subtle, but major change in the game -- which affects me a lot, because the character I play the most is my healer -- is that mana management is now more of an issue. ....So now the challenge of healing has been changed from ultra-fast reactive healing to one of managing mana. This has ultimately slowed the game down in that respect, and made healing far more strategic and thoughtful. Especially when you consider that something else that Cataclysm has changed is the size of players' health pools -- which are now much, much bigger than they were. So now, relative damage is a little slower because it takes monsters longer to chip away at your health, which on the face of it makes the game easier. But it doesn't, because it now requires many more heals to fill up a player's health pool, and those heals cost more mana, which now runs out faster.

Again, if you're an old-school healer, this sort of thing won't be unfamiliar to you, and it definitely reminds me of my days in Molten Core where it was all about not overhealing (wasting healing spells), and being very strategic about which characters you're healing (and indeed coordinating with other healers to make sure you don't waste heals). Many will enjoy this, but some won't. I am one of those who enjoyed high-stress, fast reactive healing -- healing seems more ponderous now, and frankly managing mana is nowhere near as exciting as the blast-healing of Lich King.

Overall, the gameplay seems to have taken a big step forward by taking an even bigger one back. Cataclysm definitely feels more like the original World of Warcraft, but one that's combined with the newer, more refined, better designed presentation layer and convenience features that were developed during the Lich King expansion. For the most part, it's the best of the old, combined with the best of the new. That's definitely a good thing, but one thing that does bug me about Cataclysm is that because so much of its focus is on redoing old content and taking the gameplay back to an earlier style is that, in some respects, it feels like it falls a little short of being a full-blown expansion compared to previous new additions to the World of Warcraft franchise. Let me explain.

In Burning Crusade, entering the portal to Outlands was a fantastic experience. It really felt like I was going somewhere new and exciting. Indeed, I'd rank walking into Zangarmarsh for the first time, where I was absolutely blown away by its mind-boggling scenery, as one of my top gaming moments ever. Similarly, jumping onto a boat moments after I installed Lich King and traveling to Northrend was another WoW memory I'll always treasure. Seeing this whole new continent, and running across its entirety that first night (and morning) was a gaming experience that I won't easily forget. It was so exciting: a whole new place I'd never seen before. So much to explore. So much to take in.

Cataclysm, on the other hand, just doesn't feel quite as exciting or new as previous expansions. Sure, it features new areas -- five of them to be exact -- and they are certainly cool looking. But they're in amongst places I have known intimately for six years. And sure, those places might have been redesigned and cosmetically updated from their original appearance in vanilla WoW, but even so, they are still very familiar.

And this is where I do feel Cataclysm falls a little short. While I was initially extremely excited about the premise of the new expansion, the "shattering" of the old world felt rather underwhelming to me. Sure, it's cool to see old areas I know so well being changed, but the novelty wore off very quickly. Some areas are barely changed; others more so. But at the end of the day, for someone who is interested in new content, a large part of Cataclysm is a cosmetic change: a new face on largely old content. I get that it's cool. I get that it's great for new players wanting to level up through the brilliantly restructured and hugely refined old vanilla WoW. But it's just not as exciting as a new land with new things I've never seen before.

In some respects Cataclysm feels like the gaming equivalent of one of the best bands in the world who, after releasing three absolutely amazing original albums, release a fourth album that is a digitally remastered and remixed version of the first album, with bonus unreleased and rare tracks. You'll listen to it. You'll enjoy it. But deep down you know an all-new album of completely new material would be a more exciting prospect.

I do have some criticisms of the game, there's more than enough to keep me happy, and I'm certainly already hard at it, blasting through levels and exploring the new areas of the game (perhaps a little faster than I expected to only a few days after release). But then, to me, leveling up is always means to an end anyway -- I've always been far more interested in the end-game than leveling, and in that sense Cataclysm offers plenty of good stuff. Cool and interesting dungeons and raids are a-waiting, and I can't wait to get my teeth into the rated battlegrounds.

6)

At this point Iíll make a quick mention of the soundtrack which deserves a detailed analysis of its own, but perhaps this isnít the proper venue for that sort of discussion. Iíll be honest, I really hate the login screen music of Cataclysm. Itís far from the epic score heard in WotLKís login screen; this one just seems like some sort of cheap and haphazardly put together remix of old themes with the intention of it sounding moreÖdramatic. Something it completely fails at. For the other major cities in the old world, I feel indifferent to whatís playing in the background; the old music was pretty good, the new one isnít bad. However in the Goblin, Worgen and end level zones, the soundtrack really comes into its own. Iíve gone on too long over music already, so Iíll just end with saying that itís genuinely awe inspiring, especially coupled with the improved visuals.

If youíre an old WoW player, than youíll most likely start by leveling any of your existing level 80 characters to 85, so Iíll begin there. Of the two starting zones, I prefer Mount Hyjal more than Vashjíir because Iíve read some of the WoW books recently and it was incredible to see many of the great characters in those stories come to life in the game. Vashjíir is awesome in its own right, but for anybody whoís into lore, I recommend going to Mount Hyjal first.

Next up is Deepholm which is actually sort of a boring area as far as quests are concerned, especially since so many of them feel generic fetch-quests, but the whole area itself is a great sight to behold. However, since the entire zone is one huge cavern, things get monotonous quickly as the quests seem repetitive and the landscape looks the same from all angles. Once you hit Uldum though, childhood fantasies of ancient Egypt (everything youíve seen in adventure movies) comes to life, especially with the huge chain quests from a rather interesting NPC called Harrison Jones.

New starting zones for the Goblins and Worgens are brilliantly designed; Blizzard has truly outdone itself, raising the bar even higher than the Death Knight starting zones from Wrath of the Lich King. The quests this time are huge, linking into a long chain of events as you continue leveling in both the Goblin and Worgen starting zones. Quests are extremely streamlined and UI significantly improved (and more helpful), so much so that you donít even feel the need for Addons such as QuestHelper and TomTom anymore. Phasing in these areas, as well as 80 to 85 zones is extremely well done, wherein youíll be completely engaged in your own storyline while other players in the world carry along with their own quests. Pretty much the entire leveling sequence in the beginning and end can be done without anybody else getting involved, leaving you with a rich singleplayer experience....

One of the first things you want to do is join a guild. The more you level up or win battlegrounds/ raids (with at least 75% of your guild members in) the more youíll be contributing towards advancing your guild from level 1 to 25. Outside of perks which open up to all members as the guild gains more levels, special items can be purchased (using gold) which can be unlocked as your own reputation within the guild also increases. Think of it like buying faction specific items, except itís from your own guild. Yet more reasons to encourage teamwork and social play.

7)

Well, so far Iím pretty disappointed. I have been playing wow since it's release. This is day 2 and I have no desire to play. I was excited like everyone else and that fizzled quickly.

Letís see. To me the content really isnít new. Itís just a rehash of the old world....

Phasing in the new Worgen area does not allow anyone to enter. I truly dislike phasing. I would like to be able to enter the zone and view it. If you have a worgenÖ the ďEndgameĒ quest is bugged so you get phased out and cannot complete there areaÖnever to be seen again. I have an open ticket but it kinda took the wind out of my sails on playing the new worgens as well.

But worst of allÖthe ability to gain Guild experience through achievements. I thought, finally, we will be doing all kinds of fun stuff together. But sadly, no. Now I can just go back to leveling and if I ever want to see some old stuff or get a group, Iíll just have to random or go begging elsewhere.


Back to Eva...

And that's it. Some good, some bad, something great for one person that sucks for the next. I'll adjust, I hope. I've spent so much time in Azeroth these near 5 years, leaving (even if I don't care for the "new" game near as much) seems too hurtful to contemplate.

I started playing WoW for some much needed quiet time and enjoyed wandering the world on my own...and found I was often forced into playing nicely with others. Oddly enough, for me, over time I came to love that group play most of all. Cataclysm feels like it's forcing me to go full circle and learn to play by myself again, unless I want to become a Dungeon Guy.... and the jury is still out on that decision. (er... especially the "guy" part)

For now, I'll explore the world, use an alt to actually level to 85 first or will level Eva only on a batch of mobs somewhere (in case something changes that I will never to get see again and will leave me feeling even more bereft.) I will screenshot everything as I go (in case something changes that I'll never get to see it again and end up feeling... lol) and get to work on my own websites more now that a large part of my WoW addiction seems to be in the process of being cured. Meh, at least I've had some time to reactivate this site too! Grin

See you in Azeroth!
Edited by Eva on 14-12-2010 12:47
~Eva

"To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart."
~ Ayrmus, Honored Rogue of The Twilight Phoenix

"We make a Living by what we get, We make a Life by what we give."
 
Eva
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Posted on 14-12-2010 12:25
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Posts: 666
Joined: 07.07.06

Stuck my front page rant in here... you know... back behind cobwebs in the basement where it probably belongs. Grin


"The Day After Cataclysm - The Great Event..... that wasnít

I'd so hoped that I'd be singing the praises of Blizzard and the new expansion in here today. Iíd planned on glowing words and soaring phrases would entice long time friends back into Azeroth. Now, I feel I must warn them.... don't waste your money. Unless you feel 40.00 is worth spending to be able to fly over Stormwind..... don't waste your money.

Pros

The new graphics are beautiful! Textures are richer, headier, more layered and lovely than ever. Screenshot enthusiasts have an abundance of new views to savour and capture. A world torn apart (in places) makes for some spectacular landscapes: new waterfalls, lava flows, desert areas inundated with water (ocean salt water Ė but itís a game, no realities required!) now growing green and verdant. All so pretty.

Two new races: worgen, beautiful, graceful creatures, at least until they run, and goblins. The goblins, a race traditionally hated by Eva, may in fact be the best part of the expansion. Their culture, speech patterns, and mannerisms are loud and funny and colourful. And, they are allowed to drive their own vehicles during quests!

You can fly! You can fly everywhere you want. No more secret places only you know about. No more taking 5 nights of your life banging your head (literally) against a mountain figuring out how to get to them. Just hop a bird and get there. Old Azeroth seems new and fresh and exciting from the air. Being hated by goblins doesnít matter anymore, Eva can fly to Tanaris now, goblins be damned. Grin

Streamlined quests. Forget levelling over many weeks and months! 80-85 can be done in a day! Truly; as the many new level 85ís (by the time I went to bed last night) can attest. If youíre relaxed and laid back and cooking and fishing and picking flowers and levelling all your professions along the way, meh, not to worry, youíll be maxed out in everything and still be 85 by next week.

Cons

Streamlined quests. Choices removed, forced paths you have no choice but follow and do like a good little gamer or there are NO quests awaiting you anywhere else. If you want to level, then do exactly and precisely what every other player in the game is doing. Or else. Want to be adventuresome? Go your own way occasionally? Not a problem! Grind your way to level 85 killing mobs. If you can find one.

Streamlined and easier everything. Whole areas of pretty landscape without a mob or creature or anything at all you can level on! Oh lookie, the pretty wee deer. And a whole herd of sheep, so cute! Monsters? Mobs? Creatures to kill? ErÖ.seriously? How long must I walk to find one? Danger in the wilderness? Ha haaa haaaa haaaaaaaa. *falls down laughing*

Streamlined and easier everything. Quests that tell you to mount up and bomb something. Cool you say? We loved those quests in the Lich King! Of course the New Improved Versions are as likely to mount you up, against your will and with no warning, give you no controls whatsoever, have the NPC at the end of your ride do all the bombing, make statements about scary terrible mobs you donít actually get to see yourself, and then take over you char and bring you back. Blizzard, do wake me up when youíre done with my character, kk?

Streamlined and easier everything. ďStarting areasĒ that are a colossal waste of manpower. They are used once - yesterday by frustrated, angry mobs of real life people - and then never used again. If you are a character of another race, youíll never get to use them at all. A human or gnome could at one time think to herself, ďBored here, Iím gonna level with the Night Elves, or near the Exodar, or in the snowy mountains of Dun Morogh and trot off nicely to go do that. Oh, do try that now! Haul your wee character allllll the way across the Tree to the NE starting area and youíll be allowed THREE quests before you are shuffled off to the places Blizzard wants you to be in. And the quests waiting for you in the Proper Places will be so nicely ďstreamlinedĒ as to require no thought, no challenge, no planning, no strategy at all! Oh, itís fast all right. Most especially when Blizzard provides you with an escort to tell you where to go and how to get out and what to do once youíre there. Especially since the mob that used to take you 15 minutes to find is now, are you ready?, standing right next to the quest giver AND you have a ďminionĒ to point that out for you!! YAY. Iím such a Great Player! Damn Iím hot. I did that fraking quest in record time. I so win!

Blizzard, because it apparently loves to show off itís programming skillsĖforget how their customers feel about the end product Ė has decided to use phasing even more than in the Lich King. Oooh, how exciting, once *I* change the world, it SO stays changed! I got the power. Yes? But hereís the problem with phasing that I hear stated over and over and over in frustration. Unless everyone you play with is doing the exact same things you are doing at the exact same time youíre doing them, you donít get to play together anymore. (And whoís schedules allow that?!) My world is changed, I canít even hope to help you once you get to a scary part. Sorry, I canít even SEE you anymore! Instead of getting to play with your friends and family, you only get to talk to your friends and family in guild chat now. You get to PLAY only with strangers who happen to be stuck in the same quest youíre in. Iíd rather talk to my friends over coffee or on the way to a movie. Iím in Azeroth to play a game WITH them.

Phasing took that away, and now promises to take it away even more and at even earlier stages in the game. PhasingÖ while as an idea is rather grand, translates into frustration and isolation. And why would one continue to pay for that when itís so easy to get for free in rush hour traffic?

A phasing starting area used for the Death Knights was one thing... they were a CLASS and started at much higher levels, and let's face it, they needed a solid story to even justify their questionable existence within the factions. But using the same choices for an entire race with an entire city and country being left behind a waste of unused and unpopulated territory, and keeping out every other same faction race that might like to share the wealth is irritating, frustrating, and letís fact this too, simply pisses me off.

At one time a group of friends could, and we often did, start up a new group to level together. Delours (NE), Shanti (NE), Eva (Human) spent their first 10 levels in Elwynn Forest and then all headed back to the Tree to restart and do their levelling there. Great fun, all of which lead to the rich histories and stories our characters have to tell. Try that with the worgen race or the gnomes now. These races, and their entire starting areas, are isolated, cut off, and on their own. If your group donít ALL want to play worgen or gnomes or goblins, well, youíre on your own. I created a pretty new dwarf shammy and ran her off to level with the new gnomes my family had made. But the New Improved Gnomeragon didnít allow ME to do a darn thing; not a quest available. And, since I didnít really feel like playing by myself, the shammy has been deleted. Sad

And Glitches. Letís not forget the glitches. *sigh* Blizzard, if you are going to force me into one narrow, restricted path, with NO other options, and I do mean none at all, then you are categorically not allowed to then screw that path up so badly that the game is, literally, unplayable.

Yesterday, millions of people swarmed the worgen starting area to learn that they got a quest or two at a time (two IF they were both done at the same time in the same place) before another was offered. You followed a nice pre-determined path and connected the dots. Well, that is fine really, in this setting. Blizzard is trying to tell me a story and if I want to know the story I play along. A little boring, a lot of feeling like ďbeen there, done thatĒ, but hey, I was game and enjoying it for the most part. But, if you lose interest in the story Ė go play another race. Because you are locked in here like it or not. There is NO way out except to follow the rules and be good little gamers. You canít walk out, climb out, swim out, or in this case, even quest your way out.

The quest line was broken you see. Broken with a glitch that was long standing and well known by all the beta players as they told us all day long. And still not fixed. There were no warnings sounded the night before when Blizzard was partying and praising themselves, there was nothing posted saying the worgen area was still being worked on and please forgive us we decided to release anyway so that all our loyal customers could enjoy the rest of the game. Nope. We rushed in early, made our nice new worgens, and followed the correct order of things. Until we couldnít. Things stopped working. And then, there was no place to go.

Once youíd picked up the quest, everything changed. NPCs disappeared, flowers wilted and died, creatures left for better climes, mail boxes were abducted by aliens, fish fried themselves and ate themselves and were gone. The world was emptied and your only, ONLY way out was through a quest that didnít work. You could not drop the quest and get the world back to level professions or just go fishing while you waited for Blizzard employees to get over their hangovers and fix the place up. You could not join battle grounds, you could not find a mob to kill to feed your angry pet.

Some 14 hours + later when the glitch finally got taken care of Ė and hereís the best part of all Ė you log back in to learn the event is done. Whatever it was you were supposed to see and do, whatever story Blizzard had forced you to wait on all day because the world as we know would have surely crumbled into destruction if youíd just been allowed to level your worgen in Northshire, you missed it! Oh yeah, itís over. You canít abandon the quest and try againÖ because, You, are done.

Blizzard, if you are going to force me into one narrow, insanely restricted path, with NO other options available then you are categorically not allowed to screw that path up so badly that the game is, literally, unplayable.

Conclusion?

The game is prettier than ever before. The game is also, for the first time in 5 years, rather boring and predictable. What is ďnewĒ is only what theyíve taken away. Once youíve streamlined your new improved way to 85 in a few hoursÖ er.. then what? You can start doing exactly what you were doing before the much hyped expansion. I find myself wishing Blizzard had put more of their money into story and new choices and less into their advertising budget. This game rose to its current heights because people loved to play it, talk about, and haul their friends into Azeroth to play with them. Not because Blizzard spent millions on propaganda. Like a pretty curvaceous blond with an IQ of 14Ö sheís lovely to look at, but gods, but once youíre done looking, how much time do you really want to spend with her?

Cataclysm: The event that didnít. Sad "
Edited by Eva on 14-12-2010 12:26
~Eva

"To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart."
~ Ayrmus, Honored Rogue of The Twilight Phoenix

"We make a Living by what we get, We make a Life by what we give."
 
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