Monday, December 20, 2010

The “Cataclysm” Continues in Azeroth

This should be my last “Warcraft” article for a while. It’s not every day they make a major update. Though there have been a lot of changes here.

Besides the wolflike Worgen for the Alliance, Goblins are now available as player characters for the Horde side. Small and quick, they are higher in agility and intelligence, have a bonus in attack and casting speed, and those choosing alchemy as a profession start out at 15. From their gadgets, they’re able to do a Rocket Jump and Rocket Barage. And reflecting their background as moneymakers, are able to receive the best discount regardless of faction standing and able to call up access to their banks wherever they are.

The beginning quest chain for the Goblins explains how his/her cartel, the Bildgewater Cartel, got into the Horde. Instead of am unknown, the player starts out as an up and coming businessman/businesswoman on the cartel’s island city of Kazan. As you go about your business, including a ride on a hot rod, Deathwing, the main villain of the game expansion, shows up, and sets off the volcano. You gather your life savings (and then some), in order to get a seat on the Trade Prince’s yacht, but he double crosses you and makes you his slave. However, the ship gets caught in a storm and wrecked. So you get a chance to prove to your fellow Goblins you can be the hero who can get them out of their mess.

The beginning Goblin quest chain is longer than that of the Worgen's, the 100 Quests achievement reached along the way. But it’s packed full of chuckles as you face down funny-looking pygmies, “Oomie goomie goomie!”, who want to sacrifice your friends to their turtle god. Fortunately, you have your Goblin gadgets to get you through, from rocket boots to weed-wackers, but with little to no safety features, there’s always that chance something can go wrong. Along the way, you meet up with a group of Orcs, and everyone decides it’s best to cooperate in order to get off the island. You also run into the most well-known Orc, Warchief Thrall. Players who take up Goblin characters hear from him that he’s placing another Orc in charge of the Horde. This explains why Thrall’s nowhere to be seen in Orgrimmar these days.

But “Cataclysm” is much more than two new races available for play. Flight is now available in the “classic” continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, at least for those Level 60 and over. I’ve heard some wonder if this takes away from some of the experience, but most seem happy with it, the popular gathering places at Ogrimmar and Stormwind filled with flapping mounts as players happily show them off.

You’re going to need your flying license. New areas are now open in these two continents that would otherwise be inaccessible. New quests, monsters, and enemies await. These are more dangerous than previous areas, and your level cap has been raised to 85 to keep up. And with these new levels, new weapons and armor are available. Profession levels have also been raised from 450 to 525, the new rank of proficiency called “Illustrious Grand Master.” And with them, new materials to make high level armor, weapons, potions, etc.

And there’s a new Secondary Profession available, Archeology. Players go around Azeroth digging up artifacts at dig sites recently unearthed by the Cataclysm. After getting the skill from a trainer (the one in Stormwind named Harrison Jones, an obvious take on Indiana Jones), players go to dig sites, and survey them for archeology fragments. A survey site with a red light means you’re far away from your find. A yellow light a fair distance, and a green light means you’re close. One can gather fragments from a site three times, and then it closes while somewhere else on the continent another opens. Four dig sites are open at any one time, and contain artifacts from one of the races, such as Elven or Troll, or fossils.

Once enough fragments are gathered, then can be combined to make artifacts. Your first ones will be common and not worth much, such as common vases and trilobite fossils, . But as you continue to come across artifacts, more valuable ones will appear. Finding fragments will level your Archeology skill for a while, but eventually you level just by combining them into artifacts. But finding the fragments will still get you experience points, which can help out characters that haven’t quite reached Level 80 yet.

While a way to enjoy WoW between questing, some players have their doubts on how valuable this profession is. One guide I came across suggested truly epic items were few and far between. But as a Worgen I saw one Alliance character on a fossilized skeleton mount. A prize from archeology? Maybe.

Another new feature is guild advancement. Guilds can advance with 25 levels of progression, done through the accomplishments of it’s individual players through quests, battleground victories, etc. Each new level brings perks, such as bonus experience from quests and clobbering monsters, faster mount speeds, etc. There are two new Player vs Player battlegrounds, Twin Peaks and Gilneas.

And of course there are the jokes. The Worgen and Goblins have their own special jokes, such as “Since the change, I prefer my meat rare,” and, “When in doubt, blow it up.” Perhaps it’s the perception of this player, but the game designers seem to be getting a little brave on occasion with the humor. One of the female Goblin jokes is a vieled bondage crack, and in one of the lady Worgen jokes, a supposed listener confuses what she actually means by a “bone.” The slightly riskee humor continues to the new quests, in one the player delivering a shipment of crab meat to a lady sailor and being told a subtle STD joke. And it's not just the jokes where the off-color remarks appear. In one of the new low-level quests, the new Orc Warchief insults the Undead queen by calling her a rhymes-with-witch. Blizzard must think their audience is getting older.

Some are probably asking “why just raise the new top level to 85 instead of 90?” Despite being around for several years, World of Warcraft is still successfully at keeping a large audience, and will probably remain so for some time as long as Blizzard continues to be good at giving the players a great game. Someone thought they would keep their lead for at least 20 years. Most likely it won't be that long (in my opinion), but although some people still talk about a potential “WoW killer,” more game developers admit Warcraft will not be going away anytime soon. Instead of being knocked off it’s number one spot by a new hot game, most likely it’s position will be chipped away over time as players’ tastes change and new technical developments allow for stunning new games.

And of course some players would prefer to be in a smaller game where they can meet up with the administrators and content developers, and maybe even contribute to developing in the tools of the game, such as the roleplays and combat RPs in Second Life.

World of Warcraft may be the McDonalds of online games, to paraphrase Eurogamer writer Robert Purchase, but most would prefer to dine elsewhere on occasion as well, and some never get a taste for it to begin with.

Sources: WoWwiki, Eurogamer,net, Massively

Bixyl Shuftan

No comments:

Post a Comment