On November 23, 2004, World of Warcraft was released, and over the years it became the most popular MMORPG on to the internet. It was new, fresh and exciting, with content constantly being added via patches and expansions for its 11.5 million players. Yet even with six years of expansions and patched content, the core world remained entirely unchanged.
A brief summary of the upcoming World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion from Blizzard reads as follows:
"Hidden away in a secluded sanctuary, the corrupted Dragon Aspect Deathwing has waited, recovering from the wounds of his last battle against Azeroth and biding his time until he can reforge the world in molten fire.
Soon, Deathwing the Destroyer will return to Azeroth, and his eruption from Deepholm will sunder the world, leaving a festering wound across the continents. As the Horde and Alliance race to the epicenter of the cataclysm, the kingdoms of Azeroth will witness seismic shifts in power, the kindling of a war of the elements, and the emergence of unlikely heroes who will rise up to protect their scarred and broken world from utter devastation."
... They weren’t kidding.
Azeroth has been left in total disarray, and nothing has escaped the effects of the Cataclysm. Deserts have been flooded, wastelands overgrown with jungles, oceans have receded, mountains and cities torn a sunder, even whirlpools and other phenomena now lay scattered about causing havoc for everyone. Disaster looms throughout the world.
However, where there has been destruction, there also has been rebuilding. Cities are bigger and better than ever before. New roads, towns, oasis’ and vistas exist to explore and inhabit. Players can now fly in the old world, allowing them to really see it all again for the first time.
I spent hours flying around Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms, seeing everything with fresh eyes. Sights I have spent 6 years learning like the back of my hand, were now unfamiliar and exciting. It is a whole new world to explore.
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I was shocked and amazed at some of the changes. Some of my favorite spots were now under water or lava, and some sites I didn’t enjoy before are now awe inspiring. Blizzard clearly has spent a lot of time on this expansion; the attention to detail is incredible and they were not afraid to destroy beloved places or people to create a whole new experience for the players.
Graphical and texture improvements (though not fully implemented yet on all PC and Mac clients) has also added to the ‘brand new world’ effect around Azeroth. Players will most likely have to spend some time tweaking their computer/clients settings to ensure full performance, but it is well worth the time. I am looking forward to seeing some of the completed effects and graphics, but even in this incomplete beta state, the game is gorgeous.
The sounds and music have also been redone. I use the World of Warcraft wireless headset from Creative Labs, which as always given me amazing sounds, but with this expansion... the music, the sounds, it is just epic, enthralling, and engrossing. I think the new symphonic soundtrack is breathtaking.
The world has so much more for us as players to explore and experience now, which is an amazing statement considering how much there is to do before the Cataclysm hits. My recommendations of what you should do before Cataclysm comes out stands out truer now then it did before. Having seen hints of what is to come, it is important we as players experience what we have now while we can. Because like it or not, Azeroth is changing, forever.