Certainly in more ways than one since my little household companion is spending the weekend at the vets with them attempting to bring a high feline fever down. Some of the conversations I’ve had with the vet make me wonder if she isn’t the veterinarian version of House in regards to our discussions of diagnostic techniques. Good news is the fever has dropped a bit, bad news is that they’re not sure what’s causing. Worse news is likely to be the bill!
But apart from puns about cats and cataclysms, there has been a lot more been said regarding Blizzards announcement during Blizzcon about the Cataclysm expansion. The weekend is usually pretty quiet on the blog front. A lot of bloggers seem to post less frequently on weekends (including me) but this weekends annoucement certainly put the cat among the pigeons… sorry.
The big news was that the rumors that leaked a couple of weeks about turned out to be true. Apparently the Blizzard guys weren’t too happy about that one. No one likes to have their thunder stolen (although, that does seem to be the Blizzard M.O. in making major huge annoucements and releases when other game companies are making theirs, perhaps they’ll know a little how it feels now) but the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the rumors took the edge off.
Myself. I was taking the rumors with a grain of salt like many other bloggers. I did however post a bit of conjecture about the nature of the Cataclysm expansion a little while back that was more than a bit tongue in cheek. In that I said that the Cataclysm would destroy old Azeroth allowing Blizzard to have players start at a high level instead of having to go through all those old levels. Probably the biggest surprise of the weekend’s announcements is that they are going to do just that. Well, not exactly that. Some zones will be apocalypized, The Barrens, Darklight Woods, but they won’t be upping the starting level as far as I can tell. BTW, are they destroying Stranglethorn Vale? If not, I hope at least those loose pages of the Greenhills of Stranglethorn end up getting consumed in the destruction!
The one thing that did occur to me reading all the news from the con was that it seemed an awful like Blizzard was heading down the path of the New Game Experience (NGE) that SOE went down with Star Wars Galaxies. (I did see that Genda had the same thought.)
There seem to be some substantial changes that are going to be made to the game, revamping old zone not withstanding, especially concerning changes to the game mechanics. This isn’t that surprising really. Blizzard have made changes to how everything, damage, healing, have been calculated before and this doesn’t seem to be something they would shy away from. As Genda said, it’s a brave move, but not so much because of the changes, but because they are happening in the context of so many other changes.
The most surprising thing to me was the announcement of the new level cap being 85 instead of 90 or 100, and the addition of the new Goblin and Worgen races.
There’s been a lot of discussion over the years regarding how Blizzard seem to be focussed solely on a vertical progression with World of Warcraft by simply adding to the level cap and adding more and more endgame raid content.
Personally I think its a positive sign for the long term health of World of Warcraft that Blizzard are looking at adding horizontally to WoWs progression. If the game only ever added levels, at some point it would become too daunting for new players to start, and for existing players to create alts. That can’t be good for a continued business plan.
As for release dates. It’s probably too soon to speculate, but in the past Blizzard have announced the expansion around six months before the planned release date which ends up becoming a twelve month time frame. Wildly guessing, I expect an initial date will be for second quarter 2010, with the game actually releasing sometime in November.
Of course, if Star Wars: The Old Republic ends up announcing a firm release date, Cataclysm’s date will be announced shortly thereafter to be in close proximity to Bioware’s release.
Now let the Cataclysm speculation and analysis begin!
What do you reckon?