By now you should see Worgen and Goblins running around the cities in World of Warcraft as Cataclysm officially went live at midnight Pacific time this morning. We’ve played the beta extensively and it’s safe to say that Cataclysm is an even better expansion than Lich King. From the redesigned old world, the new areas, the new races, Guild Achievements and progression, and just about every other upgrade and addition (Archaeology!); it’s well worth your $40 to upgrade. Besides, you don’t want to be left behind as your guild raids at level 85 and gets facerolled in the new heroics and raids?
That’s right, raids and heroics are actually hard again. If you weren’t around for Burning Crusade much, heroics in that expansion were tough, but that was more of a situation of “holy crap they hit hard”. In Cataclysm, it’s a combination of that and the need for actual tactics. Mages rejoice as CROWD CONTROL has returned to WoW and you will actually need to cast Polymorph in a dungeon again! There’s no more AOE facerolling heroic dungeons in farm mode this time, they actually tuned the heroics to be a challenge and it’s a challenge that WoW has sorely been missing.
One addition to the game that hasn’t received too much attention out of the beta is the guild progression and achievements. Sort of like how your EverQuest II guild levels up, WoW guilds now do the same but there are guild achievements and as your guild levels up and unlocks achievements special rewards become available, however they are pretty expensive. Your guild gains these levels and achievements by doing things as a guild. For example, in a ten man dungeon, eight of the players must be guildmates for it to register. You’ll know that you’re in a qualifying guild group by your tabard icon appearing near the mini-map.
Another major change that will actually alienate some players is the killing off of lower-level crafting alts with a level 84 requirement to train some of the higher level crafting skills. Previously a lot of players would just keep an alt about fifteen levels under the cap for crafting, but now all crafters need to hit level 84 and head to a phased part of Twilight Highlands for the higher crafting recipies.
I mean seriously, despite that one thing that some people will likely complain about, if you’re a WoW player there’s no way you can possibly pass up this expansion. This is how you make a MMO. Polish it, make sure everything works, and then release it to satisfied players. Are you listening Square?