|Release: December 7, 2010|
|Players: 1 (MMO)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Crude Humor, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence|
(Warning: Skip the following paragraph to avoid minor spoilers for the goblin quest line.)
But after these early hours (and what are a few hours in MMO time, really?), things get a lot more interesting. One quest required me to kick a field goal in the goblin version of football, and just as I did so, a huge dragon soared overhead, angrily breathing fire and damaging the ground below. Evidently, this is the event that sets Cataclysm off from the rest of the World of Warcraft universe: By entering the world through a dimensional barrier, this dragon alters the game's entire landscape, improving aspects of the world that players found frustrating and paving the way for entire new quest lines. After the dragon struck, I had to pull together enough money to get onto a ship that was fleeing the site of the attack. Unfortunately, the ship got in the middle of a battle between WOW's two main factions, the Alliance and the Horde. The vessel was destroyed, and I ended up on shore with a few other washed-up goblins, facing down some highly lethal dinosaurs and trying to figure out what was happening in the world around me.
I could go on about the new story developments, not to mention all the tiny intricacies that go into equipping your character with weapons, spells, and items -- and in future columns, I intend to. I'm especially interested in getting to know the combat system. But for now, the important thing is this: Once I got past the initial confusion, I really started to see what the big deal was. Each early quest is simple and easy in and of itself, but together they keep the plot and action moving in a way that's addictive. Even though I had just started the game, I noticed the hours going by faster than they should, and I'm eager to find out what happens next to the goblin race.
Just a few closing points. While the graphics are improved, WoW no longer holds up next to other cutting-edge PC games, such as competing MMO Final Fantasy XIV, in this area. You can see this as a good thing; big improvements would have required an equally big hike in the system requirements. I found the voice acting to be grating, though the absurd accents might be unique to the goblin race. Also, I enjoyed the dramatic music, but it doesn't pass what I call the iTunes Test: After trying out the game for a bit, I turned off the music, played my own music in iTunes instead, and decided I liked that better. WOW may be addictive, but it doesn't have the kind of white-knuckle moments that require just the right music at just the right time -- at least, not for my low-level character.
To be sure, I've only scratched the surface of what Cataclysm (not to mention World of Warcraft in general) has to offer. I haven't even explored a dungeon or conducted a multiplayer raid yet. Based on my hours with the game, though, I feel confident saying that now is a good time to try out World of Warcraft if you've been thinking about it. Not only has Blizzard created the most user-friendly MMO experience to date (however confusing it may still be to true n00bs), but lots of other players -- including yours truly -- will be starting from Level 1 right alongside you.
CCC Freelance Writer