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After taking on Arthas in the previous expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, it was time for a new challenge for the legions of World of Warcraft players around the world. Deathwing appears to be this new challenge, a monstrous dragon who has decided to spice Azeroth up a little by causing the Cataclysm. This means a change of environment to all the WoW players out there, regardless of whether you have purchased Cataclysm. Old zones have been freshened up, with new quests and quest lines for those questing from levels 1-60 in Azeroth.
A quick trip to the Outlands for the Burning Crusade expansion and then a journey to Northrend to get to level 80, and it time to return to Azeroth once more because with Cataclysm Blizzard haven't taken us to a new continent, but instead expanded upon the old one, with a couple of new zones to quest in to reach the new level cap.
In short, Blizzard has added a huge amount of content to the game, only some of which you will need Cataclysm for. For people new to the game, or old players aching to explore the world with a new character, levels 1-60 feel a lot more streamlined. For most zones, the physical changes are relatively small, though the questing has changed a lot. And low level in general. The aim, it seems, is to make WoW more fun, and make low levels more fun. Gone are the days when players don't get and of the cool class abilities until high level, because Cataclysm has brought with it whole new talent trees. Core abilities are granted at level 10, giving Paladins a low level Crusader Strike for example, or Mortal Strike on a Warrior. It makes the classes more interesting at lower level, much preferred over the days when playing a low level Paladin involved two attacks, with enough of a Cooldown between them both for an enjoyable coffee break..
This fits in with low level levelling in general. The quests have been updated, generally helping to tell or advance a story, and are all linked together, allowing a smoother journey whilst questing. It's impressive, and though nothing will ever bring back the original thirty levels of WoW, where everything feels so new, so epic, I would still recommend to old players to give levelling a go again.
Of course, the lovely folks at Blizzard have given this to all WoW players, not just those with the latest expansion, so what does the new expansion add? Like previous expansions, it raises the level cap (this time to level 85), and with it, new zones to get to that level cap. You will also be able to fly in Azeroth now and two new races have been added. Not content with just the gnomes being picked on, Blizzard has given the Horde its own tiny race to play as, the Goblins. The Alliance gets the Worgen, also known as Team Jacob, with both of the new races given a brilliant (phased) starting zone.
For people wanting to just hop into high level content, you will have to level through the new Cataclysm zones and again, Blizzard has outdone itself. The quests in the zones feel streamlined and all connect to each other, telling a grant story. If playing through Hyjal for example, you play through the recovery of the zone and the raising of Ragnaros, one of the bosses in original WoW. For those who want to be a bit different however, how about the underwater zone of Vashj'ir. It isn't for everyone and player opinion seems to be split though even those not a fan of the zone will appreciate the uniqueness of an entire zone player under water. Questing can even get quite challenging at times, with enemies taking a little longer to kill.
Then it is time for the end game. Of the 5 man dungeons released so far thankfully none sink as low as the Oculus did during the Wrath years, and the heroics even provide a challenge to the players. Tactics are no longer non-existent and without some crowd control and people paying attention, it is easy to wipe, which will be a new experience for those (like me) who joined during the previous expansion when tactics for most mobs consisted of spamming area of effect (AoE) abilities until the enemy dropped.
From the small amount I have seen of raids, they too have an increased difficulty level on the whole, and this will be wondrous news to the old raiders out there who wanted some difficult content. It does provide a downside however. People in Wrath got used to the easy content of WoW, so doing new content in a random group can be a nightmare considering half the players you come across will either be elitist or mourning for the days of easy WoW so, as always, it's best to group up with people you know, guild mates for example, to prevent the drama that will inevitably befall you if you consistently group with random players.
For most people this review will be pretty useless because if you have an active World of Warcraft account and you are currently playing through the expansions you already know you are getting this game because if you enjoy it up to level 80, there's no way you'll be stopping there. However, I say to all those ex WoW fans that have maybe taken a bit of a break from the game and have always been tempted to come back...give it a go. Whether levelling a new characters or logging into an old one there are so many changes, there's just so much to do, so many new environments to explore. Classes have changed, hell, the world has.
Released in December 2010 Cataclysm can be picked up on PC for £18 on Amazon.