With our Game of the Year coverage coming right around the corner, I needed to take a little time and show some love for a game that won't be making my Top 10 of 2010, but is still fantastic nonetheless: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. I've been a WoW player since 2004, and I remember picking up my copy on a whim at a local Best Buy. I was in my freshmen year of college, and actually went to the store with a good friend of mine to pick up some blank CDs (as all of the great songs we stumbled upon with p2p college networks blew our minds). We walked around the computer software isle, and wanted to get a game for his new Macbook. 'Blizzard's games come in both PC and Mac, on the same disc!' I remember saying. As we headed over to the W's, we saw an associate stocking the now-infamous brown box of World of Warcraft. 'What is this?' he asked the associate. 'Oh, it's one of those games like Everquest, but it has people like Thrall and Arthas and stuff in it, I hear it's supposed to be rad'. Rad it was, getting all sorts of rave reviews for the following months. It was even a top contender for Game of the Year at many outlets.
Now, we all know the success of WoW, we see the commercials, we hear the sales numbers, and we probably have friends and/or family members that constantly goad us into trying it, 'just to see if you like it'. Nobody needs to convince you to play it, and if MMOs aren't your thing, WoW probably won't change your mind. That being said, though, I have to post some general excitement about the launch of Cataclysm, WoW's newest expansion, because release-day excitement is the best part of the genre. I activated my digital version of Cataclysm a few weeks ago, so tonight was the night I was waiting for: the unlock of new content! Frostwing had some slaying to do, and Deathwing was first on the list!
That's the screen that greeted me right when the clock hit 12am PST. Excitedly, I logged out. It took about 10 minutes to log back in, but that's part of the charm: Knowing that myself, alongside roughly 12 million other people, are all trying to do the same thing at the same time, is exhilarating. Our passion for this franchise brings us together in the most bizarre and hilarious ways, one of which is literally killing the servers for hours at a time.
I start running around, and alot of stuff doesn't seem too different: Trade chat is still filled with goofballs, people make the joke of 'ding 85' over and over, and...wait, what's this? People are flying around in the starting areas! Ooh, that's right, they've added the ability to use flying mounts in Azeroth! This is great news, seeing as how these areas are almost 7 years old, and were designed with running in mind. Lots, and lots, of running. With the ability to fly above the map, old-timers like myself can zip past the newer recruits, straight to the high-level action. Well, what am I waiting for, time to go purchase my Flight Mastery Training!
That poor flight trainer is literally covered with people wanting to buy the skill: People, their dragons, their pets on their dragons, and not to mention the gargantuan shoulderpads we all wear. It's like a group tackle, only the victim is being thrown money whilst being slathered in crazy nerd juices. Anyways, I finally make my way through the nasty huddle, and purchase my riding skill. Success! Now, to go test it out on my old stomping grounds, Stormwind!
Ahhhhh, that's much better. I remember spending literal days of my life running around this town, and to be able to soar above it actually fills me with some sort of tangible pride, seeing how far I've come: I started as a young adventurer in 2004, and I've evolved into a crazy dual-wielding badass in 2010! It makes getting around much easier, and since I already know the landscape by heart, it makes transportation a breeze.
I fiddle around these areas for a bit, and see some of the new scenery, as Deathwing has come and put his mighty claws into the area, completely changing the landscape around us lowly adventurers. What honestly surprises me is Blizzard's balls when it comes to Cataclysm: It has the number one MMO of all-time, and an absolutely ridiculous fanbase, so the safe bet is to slowly evolve the core mechanics of the experience. With Cataclysm, though, Blizzard has done the unthinkable, and completely changed areas, and even taken out areas that used to be absolutely crucial to the game experience. For a person coming into WoW for the first time, they'll never know the difference, but to some of us veterans, these changes are absolutely jarring.
Anyways, enough of this crazed nostalgia trip, let's get into the thick of things: Let's check out the Maelstrom, the actual stomping grounds of Deathwing!
OH GOD IT'S HIM FLY AWAY FLY AWAY
So maybe going straight to the heart of evil incarnate wasn't the safest bet. Let's go questing in some bright, happy places, like Hyjal! Green grass, beautiful flowers, this is more like it! Hey, there's a rabbit!
After doing a few quests, I finally get my first piece of Cataclysm gear: A gaudy helmet. Yep, it's a Blizzard game alright! Ridiculous armor is the name of the game here, and it's always sort of eye-opening seeing my first quest reward be double the stats of my Tier-Whatever-Super-Mega-Awesome Armor that I grinded for 5 months to get in Wrath of the Lich King.
Look at that sexy stallion.
All-in-all, Cataclysm already feels pretty great. Everyone's extremely excited to have new areas to explore, new quests to do, new levels to achieve, and new dungeons to run. Odds are good that this will be the final expansion for World of Warcraft, so this will definitely be something to savor. I'll be posting up more updates periodically, to keep you all up-to-date on the goings-on and happenings of Frostwing, the Night Elf Rogue!
Before I forget, I recorded about two hours of video footage on the Nitrobeard Own3D page, so be sure to check it out! The stream is a bit choppy, seeing as how the servers were getting slammed as it was the worldwide release, but the audio comes in crystal clear, and the visuals are still a sight to behold. I hope you all have enjoyed this small look into the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm launch, and I hope to see you in the world of Azeroth!