Wednesday, December 22, 2010

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - a Review

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - a Review

The expansion pack that’s taking over.

World of Warcraft, the BEST MMO that is pay to play of all time. Orcs, humans, gnomes, fighting bosses and dragons. It is the best combination of four huge elements. A multiplayer co-op RPG for quests, or a team battleground game. Arena ladders for small groups, or a 20 man dragon raid.
These elements create a very addictive, amazing gameplay mix. The only problem was that to get through these three other games, you have to do the first.
A month worth of questing in WoW grants you up to level 80. Before Cataclysm, these quests were pretty much the epitome of boring and remedial. Bringing a package across a continet, finding a seed in some dirt, killing some animal just to kill a bigger animal.
Cataclysm is essentially stacking onto that. The cap being raised to 85, with all new dungeons and races. The same old story that came with “Lich King”. The storyline to Cataclysm isn’t important. The reason behind its implimentation is. It was a reason to revamp the world.
Back in 2004, the peak of what it could have been was unfolding. Party raids to kill a boss that was impossible to destroy by yourself. Exploring and tracking down different quests. Or even defending a certain NPC. Because of the medieval fantasy combat idea, that a bunch of people will distract a boss while you heal or assist, the game is fun in the sense of what the idea was cooked up to be. Destroying mages in PVP is hilarious. Bosses in deep underground dungeons being slayed by huge teams of players is just incredible. But it’s sad that you have to play for a month just to get there.
That’s the reason behind Cataclysm.
Cataclysm is the entertainment when there is usually a long, sad drag between 60 painstaking levels. Compared to the old WoW, where there was only killing and collecting, the Lich King expansion brought in using. It brought a ton of new interactions to the game that previously were hard to imagine.


Cataclysm patches a lot of dead system files. The old zones aren’t compatible with new designs for the most part. The old system spread NPCs out all over the place, with long, wound out areas to randomly roam around. The new system puts them really tightly packed together, with towns and areas now smaller and tigher. The problem with this was that the old system allowed you to explore and discover places on your own. The new system is essentially “do this and this for x amount of hours and you’ll get your level 85 mage in the end.”

But it’s great for capturing new players. It sets a very high bar to look up to. The old players will be accepting and happy with these new changes because of the high level zones.
The new zones are good for the most part. Vash’jir is an underwater land, and once you get past the fact that it’s underwater, you see the greatness behind it. Twilight Highlands is purely focused on story lined. It isn’t themed like the other zones, but it provides a background to the Deathwing, the dragon boss addition from the expansion. Uldum is a great version of Egyptian legends, and Deepholm is a cavern that could likely go on forever.
The only map that’s disappointing is Mount Hyjal. The tree you defend is an extension of the battle of Warcraft 3. Because of the ever changing location, you never truly get your sense of place. You never get to stop and look around because of the rapidly changing objectives. Not only that, but you battle downhill, rather than up. An uphill battle would be able to build on a story line, but a downhill battle seems to put it in reverse. The worst part, I feel, is the fact that the story line really doesn’t go anywhere. You have a bunch of different things thrown at you to try to keep your attention, but nothing makes it truly interesting to last.

A new speed addition

The quests introduced because of Cataclysm are not long and repetitive. They are fun but fast. The main hubs for a quest line have 5 to 10 max quests, and cab be gone through in probably 15 minutes. Giant arrows added to show you which direction to go, along with twinkling over objects needed to collect and red text for monsters needed to be defeated add all the aid you could ever want. It never stops moving around, and always has something to do while moving over there. “You need to do X-verb Y-noun” is essentially the main way of looking at quests. You think grinding to reach a cool objective is addicting? You’ll be stuck here for good now. The additions are so good at leading you and teasing you into new objectives you’ll be moving around doing quest lines for hours.

At first, you might assume that WoW is only for the hardcore ners who want a good storyline to follow through with while they battle each other. But that’s not the case at all. Because of the fact that Bungie isn’t working with other companies or property owned by other people, they can make whatever they feel like creating. Especially because they can add the latest pop-culture into their games. The entertainment is what matters in the end. Gilneas could be compared to Twilight in a sense, Westfall almost like CSI. It just shows that entertainment wins over everything.

Health and efficiency

The core idea of World of Warcraft is that a player does damage of a monster to kill it. Monsters can do damage back, and the damage must be avoided or it will have to be healed. Lately, the damage output has rapdily increased, but the health amounts have not. The game sped up because of this. The group’s healers would just use fast spells to heal everyone while the tanks didn’t have to bother with stopping damage from being weakend. The healers were placed in power purely for healing and the tanks for killing. If you didn’t heal, you died.
Because of Cataclysm, the health amount has sky rocketed. But the healer’s power hasn’t, and neither has the mana needed for the spells. It made healing a bigger a deal to a group. Where healers have to plan the spells for who needs them the most. The instant and fast casting heals will turn into the spells for those who happen to end up getting hit out of nowhere and need it the most, while the big heals will be for the tanks. The tanks will also have to help out with the damage coming in, or there won’t be a group left to save.

I think this addition was fast acting. It slapped players in the face in combat and instead of fast-healing and easy quests, they got a hard burden to carry. The dungeon finder tool (a Lich King expansion) also helps find people easier, but it does not mean that the people will be any better.

Getting personal

The new combat system definitely improves PvP modes. The combat is stretched out, rather than instant. Battles one on one are interesting, with the ability to turn the tables at the last minute. There’s more chances of helping a teammate out if you need it, or create a quick escape.
The only negative to this is the open world combat zone Tol Barad. Because it can be defended so easily, whoever captures it, whether it be horde or alliance, the defender will always be able to win and get the advantage.

The final decision

Cataclysm delivers an incredible amount to World of Warcraft and creates an entirely new addiction for everyone. Competitors will be hard pressesd to top this.

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