Deathwing: Baddest of badass dragons.

So Blizzcon has come and gone, and along with hands-on time with Starcraft II and the unveiling of the Monk class for Diablo III, the big feature of the convention was the announcement of the next expansion to the World of Warcraft, Cataclysm. The reactions to the various announcements have been mixed, and I’d like to weigh in on the upcoming additions to the game.

New Races: Goblins & Worgen

What’s interesting to me about the races announced for Cataclysm is that both show a people divergent from those we as players are accustomed to. Goblins, after all, exist in various different cartels and organizations. A Venture Company goblin is very different from one belonging to Booty Bay. I have no cause to doubt that playable goblins will be just as greedy, affable and clever as those we’ve seen in NPC roles, at least when played correctly. As for the worgen, most World of Warcraft players probably see humans as hailing from the sunny lands of Stormwind, and tending towards a friendly relationship with other members of the Alliance. From what I’ve seen of Gilneas, the homelands of the humans bearing this lycanthropic curse, the general demeanor of those citizens will be as dark and brooding as the rainy landscape. I kind of want to roll one of each, if just to see their starting quest chains.

New Class/Race Combinations

This is another mixed bag, at least to me. Some of the choices that will be available, such as human hunter and blood elf warrior, make a lot of sense. Others don’t, and the biggest example is the concept of a night elf mage. It was the meddling of Queen Azshara that caused much of the strife now rampant across the face of Azeroth, and her motivation was meddling in arcane magics. Since those ancient days, arcane magic has been taboo to the night elf race as a whole. Apparently, though, some of the younger night elves (and the game developers) have short memories. Dwarves don’t strike me as particularly shamanistic, either, but I guess someone on the Alliance side needed to join that class if Tauren are getting paladins.

Everything Old (world) is New Again

In running around the older parts of Azeroth in pursuit of Horde reputation, I’ve noticed that the newer content has outstripped the original in terms of graphics. There’s also long been the question of how developers justify higher-level characters with flying mounts being kept from using those mounts to get around Azeroth. The developers are addressing such things by reworking the old world into something new, the result of the expansion’s tagline.

On the one hand, it’s interesting that the developers went this route, and are choosing to rework the world within the same game rather than releasing a sequel (as Sony did with EverQuest 2). On the other hand, it seems a little lazy. Rather than coming up with another new venue that nobody’s ever seen before, all the dev team has to essentially do is detonate a few sub-nuclear weapons all over the existing continents, plant trees in places currently without vegetation, and give new scripts to the NPCs that survive. When the expansion comes out, I’m sure it’ll be stunning to see how the world has changed, but it’ll still be old Azeroth with a more dire paint job.

“Because it’s BADASS.”

Speaking of short memories, there are rumors regarding a changing of the guard in Horde leadership, and the reasonings behind it so far seem somewhat dubious. It’d be heartening to me if the rumors turned out to be false, and the team at Blizzard had paid attention to the precedents set in previous games rather than pretending over a decade of lore didn’t exist. Even if they do go against the established canon, however, I’m still probably going to stand in line for the Collector’s Edition.

I mean, you really only need one kidney, right?