A must play for anyone who loves rewarding teamplay.
So yeah the third expansion from Blizzard Entertainment has hit the shelves a week back (December 7th) and it is more epic then I could imagine. This expansion brings back awesome team-play in both PvE and PvP and makes it more challenging, thus more enjoyable then ever before.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is the game I'm talking about of course. Being a big fan of the series I pre-ordered this baby on Battle.net and was online in less then 1 hour after the launch time. The transition went pretty much flawless (amazing for a game that changed so much and has such a big player base) and everyone was able to play almost instantly and enjoy this epicness.
For those not familiar with the game, I suggest you stop reading and go buy the game right now before trying to get to know anything I am about to write.
A few weeks before the expansion Blizzard released the Cataclysm content in a patch where the face of Azeroth (without adding the new zones) was changed forever and made ten-thousands if not millions of players re-activate their account to check it out. And I assure you the game looks better, more polished, active and more alive then ever before. New quests make new players get to know the game faster and in a very fun way. The interface has changed drastically to help out new and old players, the leveling process is more streamlined and more direct, making the game less confusing for new players. And I remember when I started playing all the way back in Vanilla, it can be quite frustrating to get to know everything. Also, the talent tree system has been completely revamped where at level 10 your talent screen will pop up and you have to choose one of the 3 trees of your class and stick with that until a very high level. This forces people to stick to one thing, get to know it and learn it. This also allows Blizzard to give lower level players better abilities that are just tied to that spec, making the leveling experience that much better.
As soon as you hit 81-82 you get send to Deepholm which is in the Maelstrom, yes if you ever wondered if you would ever get to see that area, you will in this expansion. In fact you get 'welcomed' by Thrall who gave up leading the Horde to assure things would not end in tragedy ( Garrosh Hellscream is now leader, yes I know, dear God) the good shaman he is. He is channeling into the Maelstrom to keep the world pillar up, so the world doesn't collapse. You get send down in the middle with a flying mount, where you enter an underground area, called Deepholm. This is a very earthen place, very epic and again very unique. And most of the quests involve finding pieces to restore the center world pillar.
After this you either get send to Uldum or Twilight Highlands, both amazing and unique in their own way. Uldum, a huge dessert with loads of Egyptian/Persian styled buildings, has loads of cut scenes and has the most amazing quest lines I have ever seen in WoW. On the other hand the intro quest to Twilight Highlands, which is a as the word says, a highland, green that is taken over by a lot of twilight bad-asses, is probably the most Epic. Words cannot describe how well Blizzard made these quests.
Every new zone has a new faction to get exalted with, with unique rewards. The badge or emblem system has been revamped, you now get points instead, which has a cap. And there are 2 different types of points, Justice and Valor, where justice is the lower level gear and Valor points the current raid tier gear, epics, yes no more epics in 5-man heroics. Without going to deep into it, I personally think the system is awesome and is a good improvement.
Talking about PvE, dungeons are a lot harder and need more teamwork and effort, especially if you do them on heroic mode. Of course the good players will get through them but newer players will have a harder time, especially in a Pick up Group (PuG). This is where I think Blizzard is trying to push people to play with friends in a guild to do things together (this is an MMO after all), because there is so much more to gain with a guild group. Also raids are really hard, especially because everyone has been nerfed from 80 to 85, hit wise, dps wise and gear wise, numbers are completely different and you have to start from scratch, also a new stat has been introduced Mastery, in which you gain certain things depend on your class/spec combination for example more fire dmg as a fire mage, the more Mastery you have (just an example) and things like Defense (worked out in talents) Attack power, Spell power and Armor Penetration have been removed for the greater good it keeps the game more simpel and direct, at least number wise.. Not even that but raids demand more tactics, focus and preparation. Thus again, you really want to be in a nice guild with friends. You now can do 10 or 25 man, while receiving the same loot ( less quantity in 10man) and the same achievements.
There is now a guild leveling system, with the current cap on level 25. Every level you gain a new perk, which includes more rep gain, mount speed increase, and even things like Mass Resurrect or Mass Summon, where you are allowed to resurrect your whole guild raid at once, or summon them to your spot. Guild experience is earned while doing quests, dungeons (guild runs only), guild achievements, or rated battlegrounds (with the guild). While you gain guild experience you gain personal reputation with the guild, which allows you to purchase different items or things, depending on what level your guild is and what rep you have (friendly, honored, revered, exalted). While you gain new rep levels you get new subtitles as Guardian of "guild name", which only guildies can see.
Guild achievements are also added to the game where you can earn for example raid achievements by doing a raid with the guild, and even getting rewards for it at some point. But also things as professions have guild achievements, where your guild for example has to fish 10.000 fish in pools around the world, with as reward a new feast for everyone who can learn it. This makes the game more enjoyable and makes it that much more social.
Oh yes I said rated Battleground, where old PvP titles (Vanilla WoW ones) come back and much more. You have to have a team of 10 or 15 players on order to do this, depending on what week it is (10 or 15). This breathes new life into Battlegrounds and it surely needed it. I haven't tried it yet, but is sounds like a lot of fun. Also there has been added a new open world PvP area (like Wintergrasp) called Tol Barad, where you either defend or attack and when you when get 2 hours to do dailies and a new raid dungeon. The first boss is not hard but intense enough to NOT be able to be PuGged, the boss drops PvP gear and tier 11 hands, legs. Also new rewards are added to this faction where you get mostly PvE items, weirdly enough.
Archeology has been added to the game (all professions are now capped at 525) and is a new secondary profession, together with cooking and first aid. The point of this profession is to find artifacts around the world by gathering objects from dig sites which you can find around the world and if you have enough you artifacts you can study them to discover new things. In the beginning these are all useless, but funny grey items but after your skill is high enough and you find the right stuff then they can be blues or even epics. Including mounts, patterns, pets and gear. I haven't gotten my skill high enough yet to get anything good, but it sure is a lot of fun and very unique.
Last but not least the 2 new races. I haven't tried either of them out so I can't say much about the new starting zones, but from what I have seen and heard it they are both quite amazing. I'm personally not a big fan of the Worgen but the Goblins are hilarious with their new-yorker-like accent. My girlfriend race-changed to one and it looks awesome! Oh right, you are now able to have different race/class combinations, which means you can be a Troll Druid, or a Dwarf Shaman, etc. There is a full list somewhere on the net. This gives players more variety and that is awesome!
Shit totally forgot to tell you about Reforging, you are now able to reforge certain stats on your gear into other stats ( 40% of secondary stats, like spirit, hit, haste, crit and expertise).
The game changed so much that people who played in WotLK and didn't like it SHOULD come back to check it out. Blizzard listened to the "real" players and made this game more challenging and more team-based rather then anything else. This is without doubt the best Expansion yet and brings back WoW like never before!
Go check it out now!