World of Warcraft: Cataclysm ReviewPublisher: Activision Blizzard
Platform: PC exclusive
UK Price (as reviewed): £22.99 inc. VAT
US Price (as reviewed): $39.99 excl. Tax
It's not very often that you can look someone right in the eyes and tell them that a game as popular as Blizzard's World of Warcraft just got a whole lot better. MMORPG expansion packs rarely tear things down and build them back up to be better than they were before.
That's exactly what's happened with WoW's third expansion, Cataclysm, though. It'll most likely be a topic of much debate in the comments section, but there's seriously never been a better time to start playing World of Warcraft.
We're not going to (or trying to) change the steadfast minds of those of you that have already given Azeroth ten of the best over the last half-a-decade and decided to call it quits, but those of you that are still treading the gnomish boards of one of the most popular virtual worlds ever made are going to love what's on offer. Plus, as we alluded to you earlier, those that are new to the game are probably best positioned of all.
Between the countless unofficial blogs, message boards, beta testers and so on, there are really not that many secrets left to unearth in Cataclysm. By their very nature, hardcore gamers rip MMORPGs apart long before the game even hits the shelves, but taking a step or two back from the dizzying array of stats, facts, items, monsters, dungeons and weapons, Cataclysm manages to bring a much needed breath of minty-fresh air to all corners of its virtual globe.
Fact: The two new playable races are both totally awesome. The sneaky, gadget-minded Goblins of Kezan and the slightly scary Worgen of Gilneas (along with their respective low-level starting zones) represent the very pinnacle of Blizzard's introductory experiences. Through cleverer-than-unusual narrative, addictive questing and sweet environmental design, both newcomers' tales prove to be well worth a full levelling stretch.
Does my bum look big on this?
What makes Cataclysm so excellent, though, isn’t its new content, but the way in which it refreshes and updates what was already there. New race and class combos are unlocked, and the starting zones have all been completely rebuilt, with more sophisticated quests and interesting stories. While previous expansions have brought new high-level end-game zones, dungeons, raids and PvP jaunts, Cataclysm focuses on reworking all those tired sub-level 60 zones into a piping hot digital beverage that we'll all want to sip.
The Barrens, previously infamous for Chuck Norris entendres and mindless player character jibber-jabber, is now cleft in twain. Thousand Needles is now flooded, and vast geographical changes have been wrought across Azeroth. In other words, Blizzard's seen fit to revamp older instanced dungeons too. The Deadmines is no longer a run-up to kicking off Edwin VanCleef’s nuts, but rather one of his erstwhile employees. For veteran players, Cataclysm is a pretty big wet sloppy kiss on the lips, whereas new players will basically get to play through a more fun and engaging level 1-60 experience.