Aug 13, 2012

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A Look Back at World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

A Look Back at World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

It has been a year and a half since Deathwing burst from the maelstrom and changed the face of Azeroth forever.  With Mists of Pandaria right around the corner, it’s time to take a brief look back and see what was good and what wasn’t in Cataclysm.

Like many others, I was very eager when Cata launched in December of 2010. After experiencing all of The Wrath of the Litch King, I could only imagine what Blizzard had in store. On launch day, and several days after, my hopes remained high. The five new zones to level-in were beautiful and the quests were far more engaging than any quest before. The five-man dungeons were all very nicely designed though didn’t present much of a challenge while leveling. Once I hit the level cap of 85 however, my frustration emerged. The heroic dungeons were incredibly difficult. Blizzard had said they wanted to give players more of a challenge, and they did with the raiding content (I’ll get to that later), but the dungeons were taking over two hours to complete when they should only take about half an hour. Aside from this however, the first tier of content was the best of Cataclysm. The first three raids of the expansion had a total of 13 bosses and they were all fantastically designed encounters. The raids were challenging and the artwork was gorgeous.

When it came time to releasing some new content, instead of releasing a new raid, Blizzard decided to rehash old raids and turn them into two five-man dungeons. To some people, they were fun and helped them get gear that was almost up to par with the current raid gear. To others like myself, it was a waste of time, but we didn’t have to wait too long for the next patch. In June 2011, the next raid tier, Firelands, hit the game. The raid was big, open, and unfortunately easy. Once again Blizzard showed off their design skills with the aesthetics of the instance; however the boss encounters were so easy that most guilds wiped them out in the first two weeks. Thankfully the heroic encounters were a bit more challenging and kept people busy until Dragon Soul.

The final raid in the expansion, Dragon Soul, landed in December of 2011 and was a total disaster. With the patch came three new five-man dungeons and they were the best part of the patch. They were fun, fast, and easy to clear. The raid, on the other hand, wasn’t only too easy, but had nothing new to offer raiders. The raid was set in an area from Wrath of the Litch King, Every boss was a reused model from previous raids, and the added “Looking for Raid” feature made the content too easy to enjoy. Blizzard really tried to make the raid feel like a story, and make you feel important, but they overdid it and the content felt too corny. When you finally kill Deathwing it was a major let down because I was expecting an epic fight like Arthas and didn’t get that at all.

Leveling in Cataclysm was a blast and was thoroughly engaging. Once I hit the level cap it seemed like everything Blizzard tried to do was hit and miss.  With the loss of five million subscribers, Blizzard needs to really up their game with Mists of Pandaria. From what I’ve seen in  the beta, they seem to be going in the right direction; however only time will tell. Will MoP be the driving force to win back hardcore players? Or will it be a disaster aimed at casual players and force the hardcore raiders to look elsewhere? We’ll find out September 25th.