The first day of Cataclysm is upon us. For World of Warcraft players this represents the fast climb to level 85. It also may mean players might start a new character with a Goblin or Worgen. Either way, no one can ignore that Cataclysm is here to stay and World of Warcraft has become a different game.
I am not going to try and talk about what the expansion has to offer. We know all about it. We have known for months. Really what I want to bring up is why Cataclysm is so important to MMOs in 2010. Warcraft is a six year old game. It started off strong in terms of a new MMO in 2004 and 2005. Then it grew huge. It became a cultural phenomenon and started to even break into the main stream. This was a turning point for games and, more importantly, for MMOs. By 2006 Warcraft dominated the market and a host of games were launched to try and grasp some of that glory.
Here in 2010 MMOs are shifting away from their roots and becoming more streamlined and action oriented, which is exactly what Cataclysm is doing for Warcraft. The game systems of the past are being replaced by a much simpler interface and character design. Players can spend more time adventuring and less time balancing talent trees for the perfect build. I do think this makes the game easier, but does it make it less fun? Well, for now the jury is still out.
Cataclysm launched at midnight last night and gamers grabbed their copies and ran home to start the race to 85. I know one couple who took this week off of work just to level their characters. The trick to getting to 85 this time for me will be to take it much slower. I will work on some crafting skills along the way and enjoy the new zones and stories that come with the game. I suppose this is a result of my own maturity as a gamer. Six years ago when my group all started playing WoW, it was a mad race to 60. Crafting skills, bah we’ll get those later. Keep in mind we came over from Dark Age of Camelot where the end game PvP started at top level. Choosing a PvP server to play on, it made sense to level up quickly.
I do think that only adding five levels to the game is a great move by Blizzard. It does not seem as daunting a task for players to get to 85. I am sure someone will be there by Thursday and we’ll see a report about it. This expansion was much more about giving players a new world to play in. Correcting some of the mistakes they made with zones that were still left over from the 2004 design. It allowed Blizzard to overhaul the original game. It seems like these elements were added to give new players a chance to experience a much more up to date MMO with WoW. The expansion will bring a lot of players back and maybe even get some new players as well. If so they will experience a much smoother run through while leveling.
I guess the best parts of Cataclysm will come in the winter months. While we are all snowed in and reach 85 then we can start raiding and running instances again. I do think Lich King was a fantastic expansion and brought a lot to the world that was missed in Burning Crusade. I thoroughly enjoyed Lich King and loved the Norse style of the zones. Let’s hope the new Cataclysm zones give players the same excitement. I’ll be leveling my Shaman and Death Knight likely at the same time. I hope to get them both to 85 together, this way I’ll have a tank and healer for raids. The idea of creatign a Goblin is fun too, they look much better than I thought they would.
It is 2010 and we now live in the age of Cataclysm. I am sure there are many MMO companies who will be studying the design and changes to World of Warcraft. I do think Cataclysm will help bring in new players. Even though I think the new system makes it much easier to spec your character, I do like the simplicity of it. See you in Azeroth tonight, I’ll be fighting my way to 81.