The Cataclysm happened on December 7th, 2010.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been working toward killing Deathwing for nearly 2 years. Some have killed him on Heroic mode, more have killed him on normal, and I’m not sure that I know a level 85 that hasn’t killed him in Looking for Raid.
That guy had it coming, though he did bring us some good stories, and changed the way we view Azeroth forever.
I can’t say that I’ve seen all of the revamped content, but I have seen some of the level 1-60 content, and all of the new Cataclysm zones and stories. Some were outright successes, others had some improvements that could have been made, but here we are, looking back on the last 20 months of how we got to the brink of discovering Pandaria.
Cataclysm brought a new mindset with questing and leveling to 85, where you get so immersed in the story, that you, theoretically, will not mind just following the same quest lines through to the end. I think this was a miss, largely due to the WoW population that has plenty of alts. Doing the same quest lines the same way for any more than 2 characters became cumbersome, and really pushed a lot of people away from working toward leveling alts. The leveling was easy for the most part, but the redundancy caused many players to lose interest.
I’ve always been a big fan of a challenging dungeon, but I think when Cataclysm first launched that the Heroics that were out there were tuned to people who already had Heroic gear, instead of being tuned to people who are trying to gear up. Granted, Blizzard did tune the heroics down a bit, but it took them awhile to do it. I know a lot of players were very frustrated during this time.
One thing that also happened in Cataclysm is the first raid tier was actually challenging — and there was a lot of it! Blackwing Descent, Bastion of Twilight, and Throne of the Four Winds contained encounters that had all new mechanics that many raiders had never seen before. For that, I think it was a good thing; however, those types of challenges I would have expected in the latter tiers during this expansion. I’d be willing to wager if you took a sampling of progression minded guilds who struggled with Tier 11 Heroics, you’d find that many of them have cleared T13 due to the difficulty level. Keep in mind I’m not saying that I minded the challenge in raiding — I did, do, and probably will for a long time, I just would have expected Blizzard to save their “something different and special” for a latter tier of raiding.
Dragon Soul. While I liked the finality of the story with Dragon Soul, the raid instance is largely linear, and the mechanics are not totally foreign (like the additional bars for Cho’gall or the sound for Atramedes). There were coordination challenge fights (Spine, Hagara), DPS race fights (Ultraxion), and LOL encounters (Lootship 2.0 and some would argue that of Spine on regular). I would have liked to see the expansive more epic dungeon as the final tier (think Black Temple or ICC) versus just having the “epic” dragon fight at the end. Once my guild is finished getting mounts for our raiders in DS, I don’t think I’ll ever want to go back just because of 1. how long we’ve had it, and 2. how systematic and redundant some of the fights are. Now Black Temple I run as a hobby, and I don’t mind going back to ICC every once in awhile — so just keep that in mind.
The Day Deathwing Came. If you haven’t done this quest line, launch your game, fly out to Badlands and do it now. I’ll wait.
Did you do it? Awesome, right?
I loved the stories in the Cataclysm zones. I loved spending time in Hyjal and Deepholm, seeing the depth of the Blizzard storytellers, and watching their imaginations be put into pixels.
I liked the innovative encounters like Atramedes, and I love a DPS race fight like Ultraxion. I even liked the reappearance of the elevator boss in Blackwing Descent. It had been awhile since we’d seen a good one of those. SSC was the last couple? Correct me if I’m wrong.
I liked Tol’Barad by comparsion to Wintergrasp. It felt like there was more to win or lose by controlling the island, and was more engaging.
My Hopes for Pandaria
Having played some of the beta, my hopes are mostly going to come true, but I’ll go ahead and run through them here.
I want to see immersive story lines like in Cataclysm, but also have the flexibility of quest hubs more like we saw in Burning Crusade.
I’m very much looking forward to pet battles, even though it’s going to turn into a massive time sink.
I want to see progressively more difficult raid content throughout the expansion. The first raid should not be the most difficult, nor should it be super duper easy.
I do not want to ever see 5-man dungeons take longer than an hour again. That’s what raids are for.