World of WarCraft: Cataclysm Preview (PC)

World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm expansion is almost here but before Blizzard fling open the virtual doors to their whole new Azeroth they’ve got a beta to keep well greased. Well who better to help keep the cogs of industry turning than the brand new race of Goblins?

Previously on Cataclysm...

Kezan is probably the most light hearted zone we've seen from Blizzard so far
Last time I jumped into the shape-shifting shoes of the Worgen race and explored the whole new zones and back story the studio had put together, but now it’s time for the little green men (and women) to have their turn in the spotlight. After many updates to the beta Blizzard has finally included the intro sequences and voiceover. What’s great is that you get a very quick glance at these highly industrious Goblins and how more laid back and light hearted some of Azeroth can be.

After picking our Goblin and doing the usual customisation at the beginning we find ourselves on an island far removed from the major continents of Azeroth where the engineering prowess of the Goblins have forged themselves an impressive little city. It’s got that metropolis atmosphere and even has its very own road/highway system snaking throughout the zone, which comes in handy when you’re given the key to your very own sports/rocket car. While the Worgen starting zone is very serious in tone and its mythology, Blizzard decided to go the other way with Goblins.

The whole area is one big tongue-in-cheek laugh as your character is placed squarely in the centre of everything major going down on the island, which is just as well because you’re supposed to be gunning for the top job of Trade Prince or Princess. This is essentially what all your quests are geared towards so it’s no wonder we’re zapping trolls slacking off from mining, picking up friends around town in a sports car, winning the Goblin’s own ‘super bowl’ game, and then throwing a party as the humble host. All of this is backed up by Blizzard’s phasing mechanic which makes the world around you appear to change – it’s their favourite toy still.

On the way I noticed a number of improvements Blizzard have made, even since the earlier beta version, with the Goblin’s island now more alive with detail and oddities like animated billboards over the highway, and our car pumping out tunes as we zoom around town. More substantial than that are tweaks to the gameplay, for instance one of the first ever quests are to zap miners that aren’t working and previously this would need you to use an object placed in your inventory. The team seems to have abandoned this traditional method and simply lets you do the special interaction when needed when you’re close enough just by right clicking them – the cursor changes.

Frankly I hope this will be universally applied as it gets annoying having to juggle loot you want to auction or do other stuff with later, and deal with fresh items being crammed in your backpack because you need to go shrink something before you kill it – making it just a part of the normal way to attack something (right click) is much friendlier. Naturally things don’t go according to plan for your chances are being crowned the Trade Prince/Princess as a slightly over kicked football of all things bring about a set events that require a hasty retreat from the Goblin island paradise. Blizzard want some more fun yet though and so we even get to go do a bank heist, although technically it’s not stealing as it is your money.

Before long we’re shipwrecked and enter the second act if you will of the Goblin origins story, and it’s here we start to form a relationship with the Horde. It doesn’t lose the humorous edge though as we get to witness perhaps one of the greatest inventions ever: the town-in-a-box. Yes this little gizmo has all the contents of a mini-town to literally spring up and keep the Goblins industrious. Of course it’s also here that quests and the challenges start to ramp up in difficulty and align themselves to the more traditional or usual type of quests we found through World of Warcraft, unless you count the rocket boots slaughter or attaching mini-jetpacks to poultry. In fact this island has a very distinct Stranglethorn Vale vibe about it what with its jungles, raptors and annoying little tribes people.

The UI for dealing with talents has been cleared up a lot

Blizzard has come a long way from even the Death Knight’s more plot driven introduction, which was real heavy on the phasing. It seems this is the new trend to for the studio that any new character class that’s added gets a full blown starter zone or two completely isolated from the rest of Azeroth. Of course the downside is that you can’t get help from any high level buddies in a guild like you could with the original selection – speed running n00bs is sacrificed for narrative which isn’t a bad thing seeing as how Blizzard know how to tell an interesting story. In fact phasing is really what Cataclysm is all about as it helps World of Warcraft ‘evolve’ along with your character and events; it’s releasing on PC this December 7th.

Most Anticipated Feature: It’s a real close shave between the huge class revamps (like no harvesting soul shards for Warlocks) and being able to finally fly in Azeroth with our own mounts.


By fltatk (SI Veteran Member) on Nov 16, 2010
I am so clad that I'm not addicted to it anymore XD
By Cambian (I just got here) on Nov 26, 2010
It looks great but i don't play WoW anymore.
By unsilviu (SI Core) on Dec 12, 2010
My favorite feature has to be the flying mount :D
By abahnur999 (SI Veteran Newbie) on Dec 14, 2010
"My favorite feature has to be the flying mount :D"

that and to be eable run wilde wiff worgens :3
By bosnian_dragon (SI Core) on Dec 17, 2010
Nice intro movie. Blizzard always makes good movies :) And games too, of course :D