Beta Review: Spoiler Free Edition
I will admit that I received an invite to the Cataclysm beta about a month ago. At the time, I was on vacation with my family and while we were out sightseeing, I was using the wi-fi at the resort to download the client. Eventually, I got into the beta and got to test things out. My first impressions?
Let me start by saying that this post is going to be spoiler free (as in, no lore or story spoilers). So if you’ve been clamouring for impressions about the next expansion without wanting to ruin anything for yourself, this post is for you. I will probably do a post where I don’t avoid spoilers in the near future so that I can talk about some specifics in more detail.
For the record, I’ve only tried the Goblin and Worgen starter zones. I completed the entire Worgen zone twice, while only completing parts of the Goblin zone and not much past level 6. In addition to that, I played the Troll starter area on a Druid up until I ran into a bugged quest. I played through the entire Dwarf starting zone. And I logged in game at the Tauren starting zone but never did any quests there. On my level 80 warrior, I respec’d with the new talent trees into Arms and went to Mount Hyjal, getting about 10 minutes of gameplay in, which allowed me to complete a handful of quests. That’s about it for now.
For my impressions, Blizzard has put the full force of their company into the development of the Goblin and Worgen starter zones. At least it feels that way. They have outdone themselves and topped everything I’ve experienced before. The two zones have different feels, but they are each great in their own way. The Worgen zone has one of the best written stories of anywhere in the game, and the atmosphere and character interactions only make it better. The Goblin zone doesn’t have the same force, so their zone has been done, re-done, over-done, over-re-done, and re-over-re-done again until it just topped everything you could possibly imagine. The Goblin zone makes up for story depth with humor, fun and wacky-crazy events. As I said above, they were both amazing.
Going from there (I did those first in the beta), I went on to the Dwarf starter zone. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Dwarf starter zone has changed to be updated with the ‘current’ events that have happened. That being said, while the zone’s quests and objectives have mostly been updated, there are still some horrendously obvious vanilla quests that weren’t changed at all, or if they were, only the reason for doing them has changed, the mechanics have all stayed the same. As a comparison, of all the quests and mechanics in both the Goblin and Worgen starter zones combined, none of them really feels like it’s a vanilla mechanic. What does that feel like to me then? There are two possibilities. Possibility the first: The zones aren’t completely done yet. This doesn’t seem very likely to me. The flow of quests, the amount of experience they give you and the overall progression of the story feels complete to me. That leaves me with the second possibility. Possibility the second: Blizz decided that the old quests were fine ‘as is’. They may have decided that based on priority. For instance, they have a priority list done of which quests still fit, lore-wise, despite old mechanics and only need to get changed ‘if’ they have extra time. They may have decided that the mechanics were still valid, acceptable or fun. This bothers me the most of all of them. If this is the case, we’ll likely see this trend continue through the old world, which means that the game won’t be ‘as’ different as Blizz claims. Something I saw in a blue post was that they lose over 90% of their players before level 10. I’m not sure of the accuracy of that, to be honest, but it suggests that in order to keep newer players, the starter zones can’t have any of the vanilla-flavoured crap on a stick shovel fed to us as just fine.
The Troll area was completely new and to be honest I only saw a few levels of it, so I can’t really speak to the overall flow, story progression or feel of it. I can say that the artwork looks amazing and the zone seems pretty cool. I’m looking forward to getting back there and seeing if that quest I need has been fixed. The same thing goes for the Tauren zone. It looks good and there is a definite update to the overall story, but I haven’t played through to see it all.
Finally, Mount Hyjal. I flew out to Mount Hyjal, which is cool and crazy. I did a little sightseeing a few days before this and things looked weird. Anyways, Hyjal is a place that just oozes lore and history, coolness and epicness, wonder and amazement, shock and awe. You get the idea. I did the first couple quests there and found that it was really, really hard to level the way I normally do on my warrior (as arms). My normal way of doing things: Charge, rend, mortal strike, overpower, execute. From there, the mob would be dead and I’d go on to the next, rinse and repeat, throwing in Victory Rush when it was available. The problem is that the mobs in the new zone hit hard. Now, I’m not talking like, you were jogging on a cold day and a car couldn’t quite stop in time and it bumped your buttocks causing a bruise hard. I’m talking, there is a snake on a mofo’ing plane that just fell out of the sky and landed on a puppy that was giving a hug to a kitten hard.
What I didn’t realize at first is that Victory Rush has become an absolute must for a levelling warrior, as it now restores 20% of your health, which allows you to keep going. The problem then becomes ‘what happens when you’re questing with others and the mobs still beat on you, but you don’t get the killing blow and so you can’t victory rush?’ Are we going to go back to a time when warriors have to sit and eat after every pull or get use to sighing on the corpse run every other pull?
As I said, I only got a few minutes of play time there, and it may get much better after more time. The thing to remember is that I’m wearing non-cataclysm gear, so there is no mastery on the gear and the stamina boost hasn’t affected me yet. Perhaps with Cataclysm gear on, the huge jump in stamina coupled with the damage bonus to mastery will mean that things die much faster, before they have a chance to do much damage. We’ll see. I will probably try out Prot and Fury soon as well. I don’t know if I have any plans to try out all the classes in the Beta itself, but so far, I’ve tried Druids and Warriors up to level 12, and they both play much better there than on live, so I’m happy with that (at least so far).
Anyways, those are my initial impressions so far. Perhaps in the future I’ll do another post where I discuss lore events that I’ve seen in game. If there are spoilers, I’ll be sure to make it clear for those who want to stay away from them. For now,