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.
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.
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?