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Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
System requirements: Windows XP/Vista/Win 7, 1.3 GHz Pentium IV or equivalent CPU, 1 GB RAM, GeForce FX/Radeon 9500 or better graphics card, 25 GB hard-drive space, broadband Internet connection
ESRB rating: Teen
Release date: Available now
How does one review something that is vast? World of Warcraft has had its cataclysm, and now everything is changed. All of the old zones in Azeroth have been modified in one way or another. Aside from topographical changes such as chasms and volcanoes, there are lore-based alterations such as castles built and towns destroyed. There are also numerous quest changes, with each zone receiving a thorough overhaul in quests and storyline. There are also a number of new zones, two new races, a new profession, a gear and talent overhaul, guild advancement, and many other things. A month ago when I wrote about the changes to two of the zones, it took me seven paragraphs to barely scratch the surface. Today I will try to describe an entire world, so let’s get started.
Even though I have been playing Cataclysm non-stop since its release, there’s only so much I can see. The first thing I did was complete every quest in the majority of the old zones in the Eastern Kingdoms. I didn’t get to Kalimdor yet, but I feel that I have a very good idea of the overall quality of the changes. That quality is sublime. Everything is more organized now, plus the static feeling of the old WoW is gone and the world feels living and organic. Many quests can be completed without returning to the quest-giver, and best of all, the storylines are genuinely interesting. And you can fly in Azeroth now! The developers appear to have learned a lot in years past, and have really upped the ante compared to the way the game was before.
Once I got a feel for the changed old world, I went on to see the new content. My first zone was Mount Hyjal, which is a very important locale in Warcraft lore. The last level of Warcraft III took place there, as well as the Hyjal Summit raid, which was introduced in the Burning Crusade expansion. Currently it’s a war zone where the fight goes on between the druids and the Green Dragonflight on one side, and the Twilight Hammer, Deathwing, Ragnaros and other baddies on the other. As you quest, you gradually tip the scales in favor of the former by fighting as well as by doing incredibly cool things such as bringing back ancient spirits such as Cenarius. This zone relies heavily on phasing technology; you see the landscape change as you progress, which is really cool and gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Being done with Hyjal, I went to Vashj’ir, which is comprised of three underwater zones. Once again, the storyline is really cool, and you get to do much more than just killing x amount of monster y. You enter a gigantic (city-sized) organism and help its immune system fight off the Naga invaders. You have a series of visions of a Naga warrior and use her abilities to complete a series of quests that allow you a glimpse of the storyline leading up to the Naga attack on Neptulon. You ride a sea horse, and you experience many other incredible things.
Next for me was Deepholm, an absolutely beautiful place that is the elemental plane of Earth. While in Hyjal, I entered the plane of fire a few times, but those were just small pockets of it, nothing like an entire zone. Deepholm is easily one of the most beautiful zones in all of WoW, if not the most beautiful. It is the place where Deathwing ran to lick his wounds. When he broke out, he damaged the pillar that held Deepholm together, so now the elemental plane and the mortal plane are converging. Thrall (now a simple shaman and no longer a Warchief of the Horde) and other Earthen Ring members are barely holding off the apocalypse, so it falls to you to restore the integrity of the plane. And once again, you are treated to a whole host of cool quests and lore.
Following Deepholm I had a choice of two more zones. One was Uldum, an Egyptian-themed land in Kalimdor that is populated by centaur-like Tiger-people, and a place where the storyline of Harrison Jones (an Archaeology trainer) unfolds. The other was Twilight Highlands, home of the Wildrammer Dwarves, Dragonmaw Orcs, and the Twilight Hammer itself. I chose the Highlands, but I did the introduction quests in Uldum and have every intention to go back. After being completely blown away by Deepholm, the Highlands seemed a little less exciting, but I still had a tremendous amount of fun there. Without spoiling too much, in the end you witness (and participate in) a battle between the two most powerful aspects in all of Azeroth.
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