(Yes, I realize I’m probably using the word wrong, but still, this is supposed to be a look back at Cataclysm, prior to going through all the zones. So… yeah.)
There are two aspects that have to be considered when looking at the Cataclysm expansion: The Gameplay and the Story.
On the Gameplay side of things, I think it was largely a success. The new battlegrounds were entertaining, even if they were a bit of a retread on Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin. The new heroics tended to be fairly difficult, requiring enough competence from players that they could not simply be overwhelmed by gear, at least before significantly high level gear came into play.
Of particular note are the features that were added. Looking For Raid is a phenomenal success, even if I find the difficulty a bit lacking, but its giving a lot of players a chance of seeing content they would never have even touched previously. Their expansion of the Dungeon Finder tools has made instancing a breeze. For the most part, all of the features they added feel great, or would be great with a few adjustments that are sure to come.
But, as for the story?
To be honest, it started off strong. The advancement of the Horde/Alliance War from WotLK came across wonderfully, particularly in the leveling zones. The progression through the 81-85 zones did show you the danger that Deathwing’s forces possessed. You went to strange locales, saw things never before seen in WoW, and played sidekick to Indiana Jones.
…yeah. He’s #1 on my list of mistakes. Expect a lot of swearing when I get to Uldum.
But, for the most part, it had a lot of elements that worked, and the ones that didn’t were understandable given the massive amount of changes they made (except for Harrison Jones). It wasn’t as good as WotLK at launch, and the lack of a “Wrathgate” event really didn’t help matters, but it wasn’t bad either.
But the updates killed the story. If you remember the three story arcs I mentioned last time, Omnicidal Deathwing, Horde/Alliance War, and World Got Blowed Up Good?
Well, patch 4.1, the Zandalari Go Evil patch, didn’t touch the first and the third plot arcs. Looking back, there was no element of that story which tied into Deathwing’s desire to kill things, and it didn’t really touch upon the changed world. While there was an element of the Alliance/Horde War, it really only detracted from the rising tensions. Horde Trolls go to Stormwind to join forces against Zul’Gurub, while the Alliance High Elves go to Zul’Aman to lend aid to Silvermoon. And… that’s it. No real closure to it all, besides “Woo we killed shit! Hooray for genocide!”
Patch 4.2 at least dealt with Deathwing a bit, or at least one of his allies, Ragnaros. The problem again is that its Horde and Alliance joining forces to deal with Ragnaros, with absolutely no conflict between the two sides. I realize, they’re dealing with a greater threat, but there was still conflict going on between the Alliance and Horde at Arthas’ doorstep in Icecrown Citadel. The tension between the two sides was never even touched upon. Oh, and we kill Ragnaros. Again. Hooray.
Oh, and Thrall got a quest chain where we learned a bit more about his character. More on him in a later filler post, as I have too much to talk about with him.
At least 4.3 got to Deathwing himself again, only, well, the Old Gods seemed to steal the show. The last of the Heroics and the first three bosses of Dragon Soul had a huge focus on the Old Gods’ forces, only for them to be entirely forgotten after we reach the top of Wyrmrest Temple, even though it becomes clear that the Old God N’zoth is the real threat.
And the final cinematic… I could do a whole post on that. I’ll put a pin in that, along with a longer look at Thrall.
Anyway, there’s my long and slightly ramble-y look at Cata, prior to going over the whole shebang in depth. Coming up next: Drinking Game!