The “Problem” with Cataclysm:
I’ve heard a lot of Warcraft players complaining about Cataclysm–that it’s a bad expansion, a let-down, that Blizzard was lazy and cut corners with it.
Personally, I think it’s all greatly overblown, but I will admit that even I, hardcore fanboy that I am, sometimes feel a bit disappointed with the measly five zones and handful of dungeons we received with this expansion–though that feeling has been lessened by the awesomeness that is the Molten Front.
Lately, I think I’ve figured out what the problem is with Cataclysm–and depending on your perspective, it’s not really a problem at all.
Every other WoW expansion has focused almost exclusively on adding high level and end game content and has largely ignored that which came before it. Cataclysm is not like that. It completely revamped two of the game’s four continents.
The trouble is the playerbase is largely focused on the end game. I’m not a progression raider, and I enjoy leveling just as much as the end game; I made it a goal to experience as much of the world changes as possible. But even I become distracted by the promise of those pretty purples. However, lately, I’ve gotten back to exploring what Cataclysm has to offer, and I’m reminded of how much awesomeness is now available pre-60.
While some zones are little changed, the vast majority of zones have been vastly improved by Cataclysm. Take the Southern Barrens, for instance. Once a bland grind of killing quillboars and kodos, it is now the scene of an epic struggle between the Horde and the Alliance. It’s a zone packed with action and emotion no matter faction you play as, but as Horde, I think it can stand with the Storm Peaks and Dragonblight as one of the best zones in the game.
I honestly got a little choked up as my shaman went among the ruins of Camp Taurajo–a place he also quested in before the Cataclysm–and performed the funeral rites for the NPCs who once taught me skinning, offered me quests, and sent me on my flights back to Orgimmar. And rarely have I felt such a surge of pleasure as when I and my Orcish brethren brought bloody retribution against the Butcher of Taurajo.
It’s a zone that shows us the full savage fury of Hellscream’s new Horde, but unlike most other new zones, it doesn’t just paint them as a bunch of ruthless war criminals. It was, in fact, the only time since the Wrathgate I’ve taken pride in being a member of the Horde.
“You yield? WHAT PART OF ‘VICTORY OR DEATH’ DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?”
But it’s not as if Southern Barrens is the only zone changed for the better. Bring an Alliance character through Darkshore and Ashenvale and revel in unleashing nature’s righteous vengeance against the Horde invaders. Level a Horde toon through Silverpine and watch a grave new threat to Azeroth come to life. See the flowers in the Plaguelands and realize that us adventurers really have made a difference after all. Pay a visit to the Speedbarge in flooded Thousand Needles and be prepared to laugh your face off. Aid the Red Dragonflight in the Badlands and watch one tiny seed of hope take root in world of corruption and violence.
People can say that Cataclysm offered little content, but the fact is it includes hundreds more new quests than its predecessor, Wrath of the Lich King. In fact, when you think about it, it’s actually a massive expansion and has at least as much to offer in terms of sheer volume of content as the previous expansions. And that content is high quality, with beautiful scenery, interesting storylines, and lovely soundtrack.
Of course, what this all means is that if you’re only playing the end game, you’re missing out on most of what Cataclysm has to offer. I suppose this does suck for those who are only interested in the end game, but I can’t help but wonder if they’re just not being closed minded. Perhaps their bad view of leveling comes from the fact that tried it back in classic and Burning Crusade, where it was so much less interesting. Or perhaps they just don’t enjoy it because they see it as a chore between them and the end game.
Still, I shouldn’t judge too harshly. But if you haven’t spent much time exploring what Cataclysm has to offer below level 80, I urge you to do so. This is a good expansion; it’s just not all about the end game for once.
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One Other Thing…
I’ve been finally having better luck with Cataclysm raids. I’ve now even cleared Bastion of Twilight. I still suck, but I suck less.The funny thing is this, and a recent Blackwing Descent raid that got up to Nefarian, wasn’t on my uber-geared, 20K DPS-pulling rogue, nor my “I can’t remember the last time I went OOM” holy pally. It was with my PvP and blue gear-wearing, “I struggle to pull 12K and live on a server where no one plays Horde” mage. Most confusing.