In light of the newest Cataclysm speculation / news that WoW.com has reported on (see their posts here and here for the original sources), and because I didn’t have a particular post planned for today, I’m going to dissect the recent ‘findings’ by going through the notes they’ve made, and get more and more excitable as we go on.
At this time I would like to note that these ‘patch notes’ have NOT been confirmed and are based upon the original post at MMO-Champion, but for the purposes of this post I’m going to take them as granted. Also, when this was written I had only read the summary at WoW.com, and not the original post, which goes into more detail. The following is a summation of my thoughts based upon WoW.com’s summary.
1. New Races and Class Combinations:
- Human Hunter
- Orc Mage
- Night Elf Mage
- Dwarf Mage
- Blood Elf Warrior
- Dwarf Shaman
- Undead Hunter
- Tauren Paladin
- Tauren Priest
- Gnome Priest
- Troll Druid
This is certainly interesting! Obviously, we knew about the Worgen and Goblins already, but we had no idea that the various other races were going to acquire new classes. Some of them make sense, such as Dwarf Mages and Human Hunters (indeed, I believe Dwarves could be Mages when the original game was in beta) but some of them I’m not so sure about – Gnomes almost never follow any sort of religion, preferring to ‘follow’ science and engineering, and I wonder why they have only now discovered their faith and become Priests. Also, Night Elf Mages. Night Elves supposedly have a deep mistrust of all things arcane, and even though the Highborne and Blood Elves embrace magic, it doesn’t mean they should, although according to the aforementioned posts there is some sort of goings-on, so maybe it’s a lore twist.
All in all though, I agree with Soroks’ comment on one of the posts – if you’re going to introduce this many new race and class combinations, why not just give all the races all the classes and be done? I know it’s not that bad, but the point of the limitation on combinations is to force people to choose a little. The best class to support this is the druid – if you want to be a Druid, you have to be a Night Elf or a Tauren. Although, now apparently you can be a Troll too… I’ll admit this combination fits to an extent. However the Alliance do now need another Druid to keep it even, which makes me suspect Worgen. I guess we’ll have to see what makes it and what doesn’t – Blizzcon in a week!
2. Leveling Experience
- Level Cap raised to 85
- Azshara becomes a low level starting zone
- Barrens split up into two separate zones
Well, well, well. Let’s take this a point at a time.
So the level cap is only going to be raised to 85, and not 90. This is both a great idea and a sensible one. Since there won’t be a new continent introduced, per se, there’s not really any way they could squeeze enough zones into the existing world to support another ten levels – more on this in a minute. Also, so far as we know, the Goblins and Worgen will be starting at level one, just like any non-hero class. There will be huge amounts of people re-rolling to play these races, and admittedly 90 levels would be a long time to play for to reach max level!
Azshara is an area which nobody visits, and I feel safe saying that. I don’t know anybody more into pre-TBC content and lore than myself, and I’m getting on for finishing Loremaster – however even with all of that, I still never visit Azshara! It’s not that I don’t like the area, it’s purely that there is very, very little there. The quest hub is pitiful, so aside from a Mage-only quest chain and the Hydraxian Waterlord NPCs (for Molten Core reputation) people just don’t visit it. Certainly there’s nothing relevant to the endgame there. Making it into a starting zone is intriguing, however.
My first thoughts here are that it will be for one of the new races. While neither of them particularly fit the area, what else could it be, unless by ‘low-level starting zone’ they actually mean an area for, say, level 10-20, or 15-25, as opposed to an actual area for starting a new character? If it is for the Worgen, I guess a portal from their home world could open up there, which is plausible. If it’s the Goblins, they could have set up some sort of base camp, although assuming they’re a faction which has broken away from Undermine (their capital) it wouldn’t make much sense to sail all the way up north to Azshara. Puzzling, eh?
The Barrens being split up does confuse me. Currently, the area serves as the continuation area for the Orcs, Trolls and Tauren, none of whom have a race-specific Westfall or Loch Modan equivalent. Also, it’s a huge area, and it is a pain to run from the northern end to the south – but then, isn’t that the idea of having huge barren plains? They’re supposed to be dusty, lonely and somewhat empty, with just herds of animals and the occasional growth of trees, such as around an oasis.
Now, even by cutting the area in half, it wouldn’t change the topography of the landscape. So what could the point be to splitting it up at all? The only reason which comes to mind is to make the levels of one or both parts different – nothing has been mentioned about new quest hubs or flight paths, and indeed the flight paths aren’t too badly placed providing you’re Horde. Maybe this could be linked to Azshara’s changes, as any races starting there would have to go to the Barrens along with the other three races who already do, and that’s going to be crowded.
Generally, these ‘leveling experience’ changes are mostly perplexing, and I can’t wait to see the reasoning and details behind them.
3. Azeroth will be entirely revamped.
Ah, here we are – so reading this suggests that the Barrens, along with Azshara, could be completely redesigned, and so could the rest of the old world. I hope Blizzard will be careful here. I love the older areas, and while I know the quests are sometimes badly spread out, there are some atrocious areas (read: Swamp of Sorrows deathtrap and STD STV) and a lot of people just hate it, I feel it would be a real shame if it was changed so much that it didn’t have that innate feeling that the game started out with, and that’s with the lore and/or story put aside. They’re also going to have to watch that the lore doesn’t get all messed up, because the game isn’t just about gameplay; any fantasy MMO needs supporting lore which makes sense. We’ll see what’s said at Blizzcon.
4. Flying is allowed in parts of old Azeroth.
A lot of people have been asking for this for a long time, and the reason given for denying them it was that parts of the old areas aren’t completely finished or available, such as Hyjal. The reason is because unlike Northrend and Outland where the zones are designed that you can go literally anywhere due to flight, the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor were designed with being on the ground in mind, so a lot of places make clever use of perspective to avoid having to completely program the whole world. Allowing flight would not only require changing a lot of mechanics around these continents, but it would also mean needing to finish these areas, hence the third point about revamping Azeroth and hence the upcoming fifth point.
5. Unreleased zones and dungeons, including Hyjal, Gilneas, and Uldum will become part of WoW.
There we go! As many have speculated, Gilneas is involved in this expansion, probably Worgen-related. Uldum wasn’t such a hot contender, although it was put forward to be something in this expansion to do with the Titans and linked to Ulduar, and Hyjal seems to have come completely out of the blue here – what could it be to do with? The Well of Eternity? The Night Elves getting Mages? Kobolds taking over the world? Plenty of room for development there.
6. Deathwing and Azshara will be playing a major role in the Cataclysm that will happen.
Now, this sentence tells us several things. Firstly, we’re going to see Deathwing, the lost leader of the Black Dragonflight, father of Onyxia and Nefarion and former Dragon Aspect of the earth. My bets are on him being at Grim Batol, which could be one of the unreleased zones mentioned, but at this point we don’t really know. Whatever happens, it’s going to be awesome.
Secondly, Azshara is going to be involved. In fairness this was pretty inevitable since we know she’s plotting something at the bottom of the sea with her Naga, and the Maelstrom is almost certainly going to be where this expansion is going to be taking us for our raids (as well as Uldum, etc). This also will possibly lead to us seeing, or going to, their (currently) underwater city of Nazjatar, and for this I still think we’ll see Undermine as a staging area and new city.
Lastly is the most intriguing point out of everything here today – “the Cataclysm that will happen”. Something is going to happen. Something big. Let me quote the dictionary definition of the word ‘cataclysm’:
- any violent upheaval, esp. one of a social or political nature.
- Physical Geography. a sudden and violent physical action producing changes in the earth’s surface.
- an extensive flood; deluge.
So we have a violent upheaval. Remember the above statement?
“Azeroth will be entirely revamped.”
Maybe ‘revamped’ doesn’t just mean changes to the Barrens and changing the old areas to allow for flight; maybe it means we’re going to see a drastic change in the world, one which will require so much programming in to change that it will essentially be rebuilt, which will allow room for putting flight in there.
The other two definitions are also relevant – firstly, a sudden and violent action which produces change. This supports my above point about something massive happening which will change and redefine the world as we currently know it, and if you’re still not convinced, see the third dictionary definition…
A cataclysm can be an extensive flood. A flood. Where are the Naga? The bottom of the sea. Where is Nazjatar? The bottom of the sea. What is Azshara? A powerful sorceress. How are we going to see her, or Nazjatar, without Blizzard introducing group buffing of Unending Breath? By raising the city. What would displacing that much land do? Probably, it would cause a flood. And if that flood was to upheave and change the land as we know it, we’d sure as hell have a cataclysm on our hands.
NB: For some excellent further reading and speculation, see Lorecrafted’s ideas starting with this post.