A little more than a month ago I shared my thoughts on the upcoming Cataclysm, the third World of Warcraft expansion. Although it won’t hit the stores until December 7, recently Patch 4.0.3a went live, and with it all the anticipated, and feared, changes to the world (of Warcraft.) Although I was still unsure of whether I was going to buy Cataclysm, I was unable to resist my journalistic zeal, so I renewed my subscription for the first time since May 15, 2009. After having played all night, I bring you my impressions of the new patch. Keep in mind, WoW is absolutely huge, and it would take me months to re-explore all the nooks and crannies of it. So as you read this, remember that I’m talking about a tiny percentage of the changes that have occurred.
As I logged in, my first order of business was to get to Stormwind so that I could see what Deathwing did to my beloved city. Discovering that all the portals in Dalaran had disappeared, I had to enlist the help of a mage. Fortunately, mages of all shapes and sizes are available, screaming and fighting for customers. Nothing like some healthy competition to drive down the prices, I might add. Of note is the fact that instead of portals, Dalaran now brandishes a full selection of class trainers. Also, while being transported through the twisting nether, I saw the new loading-screen art, which I liked.
Once in Stormwind, the first thing I noticed was the absence of the park district. The most useless and non-distinctive quarter of the human capital is gone, with but a chasm in its place. Good job, Deathwing! Instead, the cathedral district has been enlarged and enhanced, with additions such as a wedding chapel, a tranquil cemetery, and so on. Whole new areas have been added to the city, all of which are a pleasure to view. The trade district has received a brand-new auction house and an awesome new bank. The Dwarven district now has a bank of its own, and the Old Town’s barracks and SI:7 headquarters have been redesigned as well. Most notably, the Stormwind Keep is completely rebuilt; it’s now a thing of beauty. Horde or Alliance, all should visit this gorgeous place.
As I rode out of Stormwind on my way to Westfall, I noticed that two of the towers are still red-hot from Deathwing’s touch, and the statue of Danath Trollbane in the Valley of Heroes has fallen. No worries, though; it’s already being moved and will soon take its proper place. I didn’t explore Elwyn much, but I noticed that a number of flight paths have been added, and are now marked on the map. Also, when you defeat Hogger, he doesn’t actually die. Instead, Gen. Marcus Jonathan appears along with two mages and takes him to the stockade. You can then kill Hogger in there, when you level up a bit.
Once in Westfall, the first thing you see is a crime scene. The Furlbrows have been murdered along with poor Old Blanchy. Lt. Horatio Lane is investigating, and by that I mean, having you investigate. Westfall has been completely overhauled. Defias are gone, a large elemental anomaly has appeared, and the entire region is overrun by drifters and vagabonds. Sentinel Hill is almost a complete castle now, and nearly all quest lines have been redone. The main storyline is both intriguing and tragic, and builds upon the past events that you have helped shape. Two more flight paths have been added, and the drop rate for things such as Goretusk Flanks has been increased to 100 percent, so the Westfall Stew quest is now no longer ridiculous. Deadmines too have a new storyline and enemies, much like the Stockade.
The last area I visited before I forced myself to go to bed was Redridge Mountains. Guard Parker is now a captain, and has his own watchtower over at Three Corners. The bridge over Lake Everstill has finally been repaired, and looks as good as new. Just as with Westfall, nearly all quests have been changed to reflect the passage of time. The main quest line has to do with recruiting an old, bitter and disillusioned soldier named John, who refuses to help, claiming that this ain’t his war. You recover his knife, bow and headband, as well as free his old buddies, to convince him to take up arms again. Much like in other zones, there are new flight paths, new monsters, and constant humorous references to pop culture, including many self-references, which I found very amusing.
I must say that I have not had this much fun since the original WoW came out, and can honestly report that I can’t wait to do all the low-level quests to see what happens next. I also can’t wait to explore all the other zones, so familiar and yet so different. I am just… excited! This happens very rarely because of my jaded and cynical character, but whenever I catch myself running around wide-eyed, I know that the $15 I spent on a subscription were entirely worth it. I also absolutely love being proven wrong when it comes to all my worries that I expressed in a previous article. Cataclysm is the best gift that an old WoW player, who emotionally invested in this game, can receive.