Cataclysm – The New Azeroth

This week we’ve looked at the theoretical new level cap, class/race combinations, and the new races themselves.

In today’s installment, I’m going to ponder about the revamp to Azeroth itself.

New Content
Cataclysm will be the first expansion not to introduce a new continent, instead making use of previously unreleased zones and revamping existing ones.

Classic Azeroth Revamp
A cataclysmic event caused by Deathwing and Azshara will change the face of Azeroth as we know it. Most of the new content for Cataclysm will take the form of a revamped Azeroth, taking advantage of newer additions to WoW such as phasing and daily quests. Most of the quests and mobs in the classic zones will also be redesigned to make leveling less painful. With the revamp, a greater narritive and sense progression will be offered to players. Some zones and dungeons will change drastically to fit this, e.g.,

The Barrens will be split into two separate zones of two different level bands.
Azshara will become a low level (~10-20) zone.
Some of the zones like the Thousand Needles will be flooded.
Durotar is wrecked and apparently Orgrimmar could be destroyed. A new Orc city is rebuilt over the course of the expansion.
Gnomeregan will be part of the expansion as well and gnomes might be able to reclaim their capital. (The last part is still unconfirmed)
Wailing Caverns will be become a lush tropical area as a result of the druid’s magic.
The Blackrock Spire will erupt and a new version of Blackrock Mountains will be available, apparently Ragnaros will be back too.
In the aftermath of the cataclysm, and the new conflicts on the horizon relief efforts can be found in many zones and new open PvP areas similar to Lake Wintergrasp.

Flying in Azeroth
Part of the redesign of the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor is the introduction of flying to the two continents, allowing access to many new areas and quicker travelling across the large continents.

Classic Dungeon Revamp
Redesigning Onyxia’s Lair in Patch 3.2.2 was just the first step. As most of the leveling will take place in revamped areas of Azeroth, so too will the dungeons, allowing players to use them to level from 80 to 85.

Unreleased Zones & Dungeons
With the addition of flying mounts to Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms and the redesign of many zones, most of the previously unreachable or incomplete zones will now be made available to players. This is where most of the new content from 80 to 85 will take place. Some of these are,

Hyjal (present)
Gilneas – The Worgen starting Zone.
Uldum
It is unclear if the old Goblin locations such as Kezan and Undermine will be included in Cataclyms with the revelation of the goblins’ plight, but several new islands have also been risen from the seas by the events of Cataclysm, some on the backs of giant sea turtles and whales, with the addition of several underwater zones.

Wowsers.

No new continents. I like this, but I’m still curious to see what’s on the other side of the freaking planet. Oh well, maybe next expansion.

Let’s focus on this for a second:

Most of the new content for Cataclysm will take the form of a revamped Azeroth, taking advantage of newer additions to WoW such as phasing and daily quests.

Eek.

Let’s say you’re on a 10-day trial of WoW. The trial starts you off with the base vanilla WoW, nothing fancy.

What is Azeroth going to look like for you?

Will it look like it does currently and only after you complete some phased quest chain will you see the after affects of the Cataclysm?

I see some technical difficulties with that. It would mean that the developers would have to maintain 2 versions of Azeroth: the vanilla and the new. Not just sections, but probably the whole damn thing. That’s big.

Tickets for bugged mobs and such would be terribly complicated, “So… when you say that the stuck zhevra is in the Barrens, which Barrens? The new Barrens or the old Barrens?”

This would also mean that there would be a monumental split in the population. Half the players would be hanging out in old Orgrimmar until they got through the quest chain and the rest are chilling in the new capital. “LF JC that can meet me in Old Org”

Go back to help a friend finish a quest? Go back to finish quests that you might have missed and now you are grinding rep or working on achievements? That would be virtually impossible once you have phased out of that world.

Mage portals? I open a port to Thunderbluff and half my party ends up in old and the other half in new? “LF mage that can still port to Old UC, paying 100g!”

Ugggh, what about the zeps? Well, most of you are going to new UC, but that hunter in the corner is going to get off at old UC… WTF?

Just because they say the expansion will be making use of phasing doesn’t mean that the whole thing will be phased.

My guess is that they are really going to rebuild Azeroth from the ground up and it will be released through patch data. They often said before that we couldn’t fly in Azeroth due to some hard coding issues. The easiest way to remove those would be to redo it without those limitations.

With the introduction of flying, they may even remove the restriction of not being able to get to the Exodar and Silvermoon without the Burning Crusade expansion. Otherwise, it will be tricky to keep people out of Eversong Woods without the use of an invisible wall that you fly against and if you let them have Eversong, you have to open up Azuremyst.

And just think! All those blocky areas on the edges of zones where things don’t quite line up right may get taken care of!

And if they really do rebuild Azeroth, maybe they’ll fix it so Blink won’t bug out over every blade of grass!

So much potential!

(fix blink pl0x, kkthnxbai)

I think some portions of the new Azeroth will be phased, like the worgen starting area. But I think it will be select areas like it is now in Northrend and Eastern Plaguelands.I don’t think entire zones, much less continents will be phased.

If it is too much information to be released via patch for vanilla players, this may be Blizzard’s subtle hint to upgrade or GTFO. TBC has been out for a long time and there really isn’t any reason not to have upgraded that far. Blizzard is under no obligation to continue supporting an outdated release for such a small percentage of the population.

They should quit manufacturing boxes with just vanilla WoW, only sell the battlechests.

I think it is absolutely awesome that they are redoing all the old dungeon content and I hope people shut the fuck up about it being cheap and recycled.

First of all, not all of us have been around since beta. We haven’t set foot in Molten Core because no one wants to do it, especially not when it was level appropriate. I am attuned, just never been in. Also haven’t seen AQ, or Sunwell, or SSC, or Gruul’s…

Secondly, it’s just wasted space right now. A lot of wasted space. Might as well get it back into use and spread out the population again. Dead zones aren’t fun for us and they aren’t fun for developers. Been in Silithus lately? Of course not. But if you had been, you would have been there all alone.

Third, Blizzard has learned. Yes, we may be seeing some of the same bosses you wiped to over and over, but the encounters will be different. I would hope that the same flavor is there, but won’t it be nice to go against a fire-based boss and not have to sit the fight out because most of your damage comes from fire? You’ll have all new abilities and gear to pit against all new mechanics.

New story too, but I’m one of like 10 people that cares about that.

And the gnomes may finally take back their city from level 40 mobs. Good job, guys! I’ve soloed that place, it’s about time you got off your tiny asses and got around to cleaning it up.

I wonder if that portal in Stormwind that doesn’t go anywhere will finally be given a purpose… or the one in the back of Stratholme?

It sounds like they are happy with the direction Wintergrasp has gone in since they are talking about implementing similar zones. (I call the new Hyjal area as a PvP zone.)

We already have a 240 player limit on Wintergrasp, this would give people another option or two if WG is full or still laggy on your server. If they time them right, you could conceivably do WG, take a 5-10 minute break and zone into the next one, lather, rinse, repeat. Spend all day bouncing between them.

Tangent: I wonder if they broke apart the battlegroups and made battlegrounds more like Wintergrasp if they would get more play? Wintergrasp starts at *scheduled* times, it’s reasonably predictable. Queuing for a BG is a total crap shoot – you could get picked up immediately or be waiting over an hour. If the BGs were given more of a defined schedule and kept instanced per a server, would it get people more interested? Of course, they’ll still need to tweak it so that people are rewarded for actually playing and not going /afk at the blacksmith.

For the Achievement Whores:

  • Azshara is getting redone and Thousand Needles is getting flooded. Go out and finish your quests!
  • Depending on how much the geography changes, I would expect the Shimmering Flats and parts of Feralas to also flood. More quests!
  • Go finish Wailing Caverns and all of Blackrock Spire!
  • Durotar destroyed, go quest before it’s too late!
  • Hell, just finish up all the old world quests to be on the safe side!

It doesn’t sound like Outlands are in danger yet, so I’m going to focus on Azeroth. I imagine a lot of those achievements for exploration and dungeons and such will turn into feats of strength when the new stuff comes out.

Just a few tidbits left to discuss tomorrow, we’ll talk about the big movers and shakers in the expansion. Theoretically of course.

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3 comments on “Cataclysm – The New Azeroth

  1. Ten'nen says:

    Aaaaaaaah I need to do all the old world quests on my mage…gah. That’s going to take so long x_x but I’m quite excited about the old world revamping. It should be quite fun. By now, though, anyone who still only has Vanilla WoW can’t possibly be having that much fun. There’s not exactly a lot to do, now is there? I do agree with you, though. Not all of us have been around for all the old content. I think in terms of a storyline, it’s not unrealistic to say that they were brought back to life by the Lich King (if they were killed), have new names with similar fight mechanics if the bosses were just “chased away,” or whatever. But it could get messy. They’ll have to fix that (fix blink 2 pl0x, kkthnxbai).

    I’m also very curious to see some new battle mechanics that don’t involve moving out of the bad stuff. Because they seem to be stuck on the fact that idiots can’t move (which they can’t) and that all WoW players are idiots (which we aren’t).

    Like

  2. leela says:

    The portal in Strat is a raid portal to naxx. At release, the intention was that 40man raid portals were behind instance portals, ie. MC was deeper within BRM inside BRD, and BWL was higher up in BRM behind UBRS. And Naxx was beyond Strat. The portal never came into use, and a portal was outside start to get into Nax in the end. But that’s why it is there.

    Like

  3. hazred says:

    Gotta feeling that our guild name “pride of xr” will feel a little melancholic once cataclysm hits :(

    Like

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