Caelcraft’s Cataclysmic Creview!

“Look at your main, now back to me… I’m on a seahorse!”

For those who might have been wondering, I haven’t quite become a ‘One Post Wonder’. My intention is still to build up this site into a proper, active blog, I just haven’t been able to spend a lot of time playing any computer games over the last few weeks since I ventured back home for the holidays and left my huge, impossible-to-transport-by-train gaming PC on campus on the other side of England. No fun! Still, I have managed to steal a few hours on family members’ computers, so Cataclysm hasn’t escaped me completely. I’ve even managed a few heroics on my little warlock, which was fun… and frantic… but mostly fun!

Anyway, in a few days I’ll be back at my own PC playing the crap out of WoW, and even now I feel I have enough experience with it to start putting together… drum roll please… Caelcraft’s Cataclysmic Creview ā€“ Ignoring Correct Spelling For Alliterative Purposes Since 2011! I’m splitting it into two parts, firstly for readability and secondly because I haven’t finished it all just yet. Let’s try not to focus on that last part though. Without further ado, I bring you part one: first impressions and questing from 80 to 85.

Where better to begin than the beginning? My first week of Cataclysm disappeared completely into levelling my warlock. I had no intention of racing to the finish, pulling all-nighters or anything like that, it just turned out that the stories and quest chains in the new zones were so engrossing and fun that I couldn’t stop. At all! From the absolutely gorgeous sunken world that was Vashj’ir to the hilarity of the various Harrison Jones quests in Uldum, Cataclysm definitely sucked me in much more than anything in WoW has done since that initial obsession way back in 2005. In Wrath I stopped questing as soon as I got to level 80 and it was a long time before I went back and finally finished the half-completed quest lines I’d left behind in Icecrown, but as soon as I hit 85 I had to finish the Twilight Highlands before even thinking of doing anything else, I felt so immersed in what was going on there.

The core mechanics of combat and interaction remain largely the same as ever, but somehow as I progressed through the different stories of Cataclysm I really felt like I was playing a new game again. I’m sure that my first few minutes on a seahorse, speeding around in circles like a drunk child on a tricycle, looked remarkably similar to how my first ever character must have looked all those years back when he first learned to shapeshift, jumping around in bear form like I was the first person ever to do so. I still love that seahorse so much though; it’s such a fun and good-looking mount that it makes me hope that in the next expansion all of Azeroth is flooded, just so that I can ride it everywahr!

All of that great stuff doesn’t mean that my early experiences in Cataclysm were perfect though. Oh, if only! Those first few days were full of bugs and since I was there from day one I bumped into more than a few of them before I’d even left Vashj’ir. In fact, I think I became quite well-loved by the other people who tried to do the final submarine quest at the same time as me and were saved from drowning by my Unending Breath buff (I knew that spell had to come in handy someday). A few quests were still glitching when I made it to later zones, and for most of that week I found myself scouring the hotfix notes daily to see if any of my current ‘problem quests’ were fixed. Every 5am server reset brought the hope that I might be able to clear another one out of my quest log. To be fair, Blizzard were indeed hotfixing the game daily and I eventually got to complete every last one of those troublesome quests and events, but it was rather frustrating at the time. It almost feels pointless mentioning this in a review since anyone who plays those areas now won’t ever come across 99% of the issues I did, but that’s the nature of the ever-changing world of MMORPGs I suppose.

Levelling was definitely quicker than I or any of my guildmates expected; a number of us were 85 within a week and none of us felt like we had powered through the content at warp speed. We all made sure to complete each zone before moving onto the next, and I only had rested experience until some point during 82. I’ve levelled my priest to 82 since then and it’s gone even faster thanks to the 5% exp increase we got from levelling our guild a couple of times, so while it’s not exactly a complaint I wouldn’t have minded if level 85 had taken a little longer to reach.

Overall, I could rave about how good the 80-85 zones are for ages. There’s much less downtime spent travelling back and forth than many zones in previous chapters of WoW – aided largely by flight being possible from the start and Blizzard regularly setting up new quest hubs every time you ventured too far from the last one. The new stories and quests in each zone flow well from one end to the other and there are probably 50-75 hours worth of gameplay to be had just completing all of those ā€“ that’s based on the fact it took me more than a couple of days on my /played time to get from 80-85 and I didn’t stop for professions or anything like that until I’d finished in Twilight Highlands, which was actually some time after reaching 85. It’s not as much time as I expected it to take, but since there are only 5 levels to gain this time I guess it’s not much of a surprise that it didn’t take as long as the 10 levels in Wrath of the Lich King did.

So I’d say Cataclysm got off to a pretty good start in my eyes. In later parts of Caelcraft’s Cataclysmic Creview! I’ll cover the many other facets of the new expansion from boss fights to dig sites and guild perks to class quirks, so keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks. Thanks for reading, and if you have any feedback, good or bad, I’d really love to hear it.

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~ by caelcraft on January 13, 2011.

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