Review: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

In: Reviews by Anthony McGill

20 Jan 2011

wow-cataclysm-trailerFor a while, I was chomping at the bit for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Somewhere along the way, I grew tired of it and scoffed at the daily releases of information, including such favorites as: “OMFG, Thousand Needles is flooded!” or “Holy s*@&!, Look how pretty the water is!”

Now that I have Cataclysm, I can shamefully say I have become one those people.

Cataclysm brought a lot to the table. Not only has Azeroth been completely uprooted and redesigned, but also there are a colossal amount of subtle tweaks to the interface that, quite frankly, feel as though they should have always been there. Enemy locations on your mini-map, spell and ability tips within their descriptions, and enhanced quest objective assistance, just to name a few, have all been implemented.

The core aspect of Cataclysm that makes it such a leap forward for the World of Warcraft universe is simplification — and no, that’s not a bad thing. Blizzard has recognized the unnecessary complexities of the interface and world and scaled everything back.

The one major adjustment is the talent trees. Now, you only receive a talent point every two levels to spread between three, 31-point talent trees. This causes players to put much more thought into how they spend their points. No longer will you be required to put your points in to inane abilities that simply give you a stat boost.

In the past, there were times I felt as though I needed a Ph.D in mathematics to fully grasp the statistics system in WoW. Thankfully, Blizzard has removed most of the insignificant stats such as MP5, Spell Power and Attack Power resulting in improvements to the “core” stats like Strength, Stamina, and Intellect, creating a much more streamlined system.

In addition to the numerous changes to the mechanics, the zones and their respective maps have all been redesigned. Some of your favorite locations may still be floating above the flooded landscape, or possibly drowned by hot molten lava — it’s your job to find out. Not only have the zones been physically altered, but the quest locations, NPCs and objectives have been given the same treatment to create a fresh experience when you roll a new character.

Speaking of which: Worgens and Goblins!

These are the two races you’ll be able to play after your lengthy Cataclysm install. The starting zones for each are reason enough to play these races. The quests are varied in style, and you move so quickly through the zone that there’s no time to become bored, after which you’ll be dumped back into the world of Azeroth where you’ll have a whole new world at your disposal.

In the past, when you rolled a new character, you were basically just grinding to 60 or 70 to reach that high-level content. No longer is this the case. The world has been changed so drastically that it’s impossible to just go through the motions.

However, Cataclysm doesn’t necessarily feel like the game-changing experience that most of us expected it to be. Though the quests are varied, it’s still WoW, it’s still an MMO and you will still find the “collect five bear claws” type of quests. Unless you were turned away by miscellaneous details, Cataclysm won’t draw you in.

If you have been away from World of Warcraft for awhile, now is the time to jump back in. If raiding or PvP is your game, be ready for some changes here as well. Even some of the low-level dungeons have been freshened up for your new character. Also, get ready for that 80-to-85 stretch — so far, it’s a long haul.

Once again Blizzard has done it: Robbed us all of our 15 bucks a month and ripped us away from our families. Cancel your plans, because like me, I’m sure you won’t leave your desk. Enjoy the grind!

Score: 9/10

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
Blizzard Entertainment
Available for Mac and PC
Available now

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January 20th, 2011 at 6:48 pm

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