Written by: OmegaBob
Friday, August 21 – Day Three (Opening Day)
Having once again learned from past experience, I decided to not head over to the convention center until 30 minutes after they opened. My decision was wise as the line we ended up in moved extremely quickly, and we didn’t experience the four hour wait of last year. Since Blizzard had a 48-hour pre-sale for the majority of the items in their store a month before the con, I’d picked up everything I wanted already, so again, I avoided the crowds. Another thing different about this year was that there were more food choices. Granted, the food still sucked (except for the ice cream) and was way too expensive, but at least there was more of a selection.
The first thing I noticed when I explored Hall A was the huge line of PCs that were turned off and the signage around a covered area. Thinking to myself that on the event schedule there was an early panel scheduled called “WoW Preview discussion” I immediately knew that this was for the new expansion pack. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm would be available for play. I was lucky enough to be in the first group to play the expansion, and ended up taking multiple turns (passing on Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 in the process), just so that I could share my experience with you at Avault.
When the demo started, one was able to choose between starting as a Goblin or a Worgen with lovely looking graphics behind each one’s starting/character select screen. For my first play through, I picked a Goblin priest (which I thought was a pre-set as I don’t play priests). There was no in-game engine cinematic that described the Goblin’s background (the same held true for the Worgen). My character started on a raft a short distance away from the beach. Goblin NPCs attempted to revive me, and once revived, the programmers had set up multiple retrieve type quests to help get us acclimated to the races. The first Goblin one involved swimming in the water searching for Goblin barrels, and I noted that Blizzard has changed the water textures/rendering engine and it looks much better than what we presently have (the ripples). That said, I would hope that the ripple effect stays in place for viewing the distant ocean. The new water was transparent and distorted the objects beneath as well as reflected some surface details. One issue I had with it was that with the brightly colored Goblin starting area, it appeared almost cartoony. Goblins have the ability to rocket jump with a cool down and it helped get me out of scrapes with enemies.
Worgen have the ability to change into the werewolves when attacked, and also can move extremely fast with cool down when needed. There were no emotes or slash animations set up for either race, but the text description would be there for the action. Since these were the two starting areas for these new races, there was nothing else earth shattering to report about them. The newbie areas themselves were really interesting to view and different from what we have seen in the past (note: I haven’t played all the races in WoW plus exp. packs). I believe the Worgen start behind that huge gate near Shadowfang Keep (the gate has been destroyed?). The Worgen town seemed very detailed, with hills and paths that wind through the little town. The Worgen quests involved defending the town against the Scourge, but checking out the maps only revealed the newbie area (Blizz had disabled the ability to zoom out). I enjoyed my play time, and the experience did leave me wanting more…I want the expansion NOW!
Overall, my Opening Day impressions were mixed. Twenty-thousand people crammed together into four huge halls was easier to deal with than last year’s fifteen thousand (kudos to Blizzard for that). A big thumbs down for the substandard goodie bag. It just needed more swag within it (especially after Blizz raised the cost of the tickets from last year). I do appreciate that they scheduled the main attractions to be displayed throughout the center on many more monitors (no need to drop everything and fly to the other side of the center). The biggest downer, however, was the smell. For the first time I had to deal with severe body odor from other con goers (and here I thought it was just an official forum joke). Nerds, is it that hard to learn how to shower and use deodorant?
Now, bring on the final day!
OmegaBob is a long time Avault reader and forums contributor that has volunteered to cover all things BlizzCon for us this week.