My five favourite things about Cataclysm

We probably still have quite a few months of Cataclysm left before the next expansion hits, but still, many players already have their eyes firmly on Mists of Pandaria by this point. ("Mists will fix it!") I've been reflecting a bit on what I did enjoy about the current expansion - while I still think that it's the weakest of the three released so far, it also brought some things to the table that I had a lot of fun with. So without further ado, my top five Cataclysm game additions:

1. Rated Battlegrounds

No surprise here, this is basically the only reason I've remained subbed over the last couple of months. I still think it's extremely strange that Blizzard decided to introduce rated battlegrounds when they did, considering that they are moving the PvE game further and further away from anything to do with preformed groups. And here they come and introduce a PvP feature (and work hard to push players towards it via rewards) that requires you to put together a proper team of ten people or more the old-fashioned way? It's strange.

Nonetheless, I'm grateful because I've really enjoyed having a reason to PvP with friends and come up against a good challenge week after week.

2. Transmogrification

I've never been one to collect lots of different outfits in WoW, but I did care about the way my character looked, especially whenever I found myself "forced" to wear a particularly ridiculous or hideous outfit. Fortunately for me, priest sets have had a reputation for being very pretty in the past, but this expansion I felt that the tier set designers went a bit overboard with the crazy for pretty much every class, and in many cases the results were simply extremely ugly in my opinion. Though to be honest, as a troll priest I often felt that even the nicer looking sets didn't really look quite right on a troll. I'm no worshipper of the light, I should look more like the bosses in Zul'Gurub or Zul'Aman!

Well, now I finally can, and it's been most satisfying. In addition, transmogrification has also turned out to be something that appeals to my inner socialiser, which actually surprised me a little bit. Since its introduction I'm paying attention to random strangers in the city again, and I've struck up more than one conversation starting with: "Nice transmog you got there..."

3. The revamped levelling game

This one might be a bit controversial, as a lot of bloggers at least have ended up absolutely hating the revamped old world as far as I'm aware. And I agree that a lot of things did go wrong with the 1-60 revamp: The levelling speed feels out of whack, nothing poses any kind of threat after level ten, the quest chains are very linear, and the story is way too focused on the current expansion, which means that story-wise, a lot of 1-60 will already be obsolete again once Mists of Pandaria comes out.

However, despite of all those flaws, I really got a lot of enjoyment out of the Shattering. I had fun discovering what had changed and what hadn't, and I brushed the mothballs off low-level alts that I hadn't even touched since Burning Crusade. I probably spent more time levelling alts than doing things at endgame, and I had fun doing so. That's got to count for something.

Incidentally, I also really liked the Cataclysm talent trees. They didn't completely get rid of the "+x% damage/healing" talents, but they did reduce their numbers greatly, and while levelling my alts I actually felt that getting new talent points was always fun. The effect was almost always noticeable immediately, whether it was that I gained a new proc, or an ability gained an extra effect, or one of my base moves just became noticeably stronger. The whole "signature ability at level 10" thing was also a great idea in my opinion, even if it seemed to create lots of balancing problems in low-level PvP.

4. Archaeology

Once again, I think that this is a feature that ended up being a bit of a let-down for many people. At the start of the expansion it offered some extremely useful pieces of gear, but trying to purposefully grind anything out via archaeology is simply madness and created a lot of resentment in players. I mean, I must have solved hundreds of projects by now and still haven't seen any of the items I actually wanted.

However, once you manage to let go of the desire to achieve anything specific with this profession, it can be very zen and relaxing to just fly from dig site to dig site and "dps the ground". It's not something to focus all your attention on, but it's great if you're just waiting for a queue to pop but don't want to spend all your time twiddling your thumbs in a city. I wouldn't want to miss this option.

5. Endgame as it was upon Cataclysm release

I actually liked the hard heroics. For a few glorious weeks I got to enjoy something similar to my best days in the Burning Crusade again, as guildies preferred forming guild groups over pugging with strangers, and we actually flew to the instance and used the summoning stone to summon the ones who hadn't discovered the dungeon entrance yet. Inside the heroics, people coordinated their play, and we wiped if we messed up. Yes, I actually am nostalgic for wiping in heroic Grim Batol!

Similarly, I actually thought that tier 11 was a really solid raid tier. The devs stuck to their promise of releasing multiple smaller raids to allow for a frequent change of scenery, and the bosses were varied. Normal mode was difficult enough to keep us busy for months, and I could almost pretend that heroic modes didn't exist.

Yes, I understand why they changed it - because players like me aren't their target audience anymore - but I would still like to go on record as saying that I actually liked things the way they were.

What did everyone else like about Cataclysm as an expansion?


  1. I'll touch with my opinions on what you mentioned.

    1) Sadly I have had zero experience here, so if it where never added it would mean nothing to me. There are not enough PvP players on my server to make a decent pug team. heck, not enough to make even a bad pug team and even my guild, with constantly trying to recruit PvPers, can not get one off the ground.

    2) I don't use the feature but I like it. It could have been done a hell of a lot better but it is something I am glad they added to the game.

    3) I believe I've been about as vocal as one person can be about the leveling process. I hate it. I think that the hard core players should be allowed to get to 85 in under a few days played. I do not think someone playing for the first time should. First timers are leveling at an alarming rate and I believe that takes away from the true feeling of the game. I don't think I would have fallen in love with the game like I did if it took me 4 days to get to max level. It took me 40 over days played (as in over 960 hours) to get there, and I loved it.

    4) I like archeology for what it offers me. Something to do while waiting in queue and a non pressing way to get some fun toys, pets and mounts. I still do not think I would ever do it on more then 1 character however.

    5) I loved the end game when it started. I liked using CC. I liked there being mechanics that mattered. I liked all of it in the heroics. That is until I started doing it solo and getting 4 random people instead of 4 guild mates to go with me.

    It was shortly after that I learned that even if I loved them, for the betterment of the game those dungeons needed to be dismantled and I hope to never ever see anything like them again that is part of the random feature. I wish they made dungeons like that again, but they should only be for premade groups, never random people. You need to personally assemble and walk into them to do them. No other way.

    I liked the first tier of raiding too. I only had one problem with them and that was instant wipe mechanics. One small mistake should not be an instant wipe in non heroic raid content. It should be brutally painful but not instant wipe.

    My top list for the expansion.

    1) Reforging.
    - What can I say, giving us control over our secondary stats made me happy. There is no one in the game that could ever call reforging a bad thing for the game. At least I can't think of one reason how it could be.

    2) Guild Perks.
    - They did not need to be anything big, but I love mass rez, I love have group, I love all those things so much. So much so that in a way it has ruined me for other servers. If you are not a level 25 guild then do not bother inviting me. I'll stay guildless until I get into a level 25 guild thank you very much.

    3) The last patch.
    - I don't think I have ever awaited a patch more in my playing time. I loved the idea that I knew this expansion was over now. Even if the next one does not come out for a year I know my grinding this expansion is done. I know if I want to take a break until MoP comes out I can because there will be nothing I will miss.

    I log in having something to look forward to and more importantly, the end of the 2 zuls as the random dungeon grind. In truth, if they made patch 4.3 with just a change that all heroics gave 150 and that was it, I would still call it the best patch this expansion. The 2 zuls nearly destroyed this game and I think single (or is is double) handedly made 10% of the player base quit this game. I know I almost did because of them.

  2. I had pretty good experiences in the Zuls recently, having been gone a while. Maybe they got rid of certain types of players who I'd rather not play with. For me, that's a good thing. Less so for them, but that's their problem.

  3. The trolloics were rough in pugs, no doubt, at least for the first month or so, but I enjoyed them. I liked them a whole lot more than the 4.0 heroics. The one thing criticism I would make about them is the prevalence of insta-kill mechanics. They make the difficulty too binary, in my opinion. Do it right, everything rolls over and spews loot, do it wrong, you wipe. I think t13 raids (not the heroics, wrath-era faceroll zergfests) get that balance exactly right. Doing it wrong is still likely to kill you, but only after your healers all oom - and doing it right requires more than not standing in the bad. The coordination, timing, flexibility and "use your entire toolbox" mentality of the DS tier has been a ton of fun. This might be my favorite raid tier since karazhan, honestly. One exception: morchok needs a few more tricks, he's dull as hell. We've been treating him like a trash mob since the first week - "buffs? Flasks? Mana full? Meh, who cares, pull his ass already."

  4. I agree with Christopher - while I do think there is a place for cc in 5mans, I am not a fan of insta-kill mechanics. I am also not in favour of needing to interrupt mega-damage spells with short cast times, as it unfairly disadvantages those with high latency (ie. me!).

    Personally, I really liked T11: both the fights and the varied scenery.

  5. I liked:
    (1) Dragon Soul, fun and varied fights, difficulty pitched right for my Guild, and a Gunship!
    (2) New Darkmoon Faire, love it! Want more of this non-progression endgame content please
    (3) A better "open world", I like some of the easter eggs that are being added to the world, like Mr Grubbs, or the Tiny Shale Spider that you have to rocket jump for
    (4) Making videos, my personal form of emergent gameplay, my raid videos have been improving and I like making them
    (5) Vasjh'ir, this seemed to divide people but I thought the place told a fairly epic story, and as a druid with aquatic form I felt right at home!

    It was pretty easy for me to find five things. That must be a good sign!

  6. I won't go on about how much I hate the revamped zones and removal of any optional challenge (they really ought to drop the minimum level of non-Dungeon Quests by 6-7 levels in the revamped zones and 3 levels for Outland onward; would also help with the 75-79 bracket for those on 'dead' servers/Factions), Class Quests, Keys etc.

    Nor will I comment on how making eg Achievements and a lot of stuff account-wide will make for even less replayablity (and punish avowed altoholics like me who actually grinded out all those things for their alts in case I wanted it on them).

    And the atrocity that are character level-requirements atop of Profession level-requirements on Mining and Herb nodes from Wrath nodes onward, while grating and unnecessarily limiting legitmate players' enjoyment of the game, as well as ineffective due to noding now providing bots the XP to reach those Character level requirements with ease, is something I won't go on at length about.

    I will just say that the best feature of Archeology is the huge amount of XP you get from it, it allows people to skip zones they have no interest in (re)playing. My friends use it almost exclusively to level 80- 85 with their alts, as the Cata zones have even less replayability as the revamped zones, thanks to their utter linearity.