Previewing Blizzard's Coming Cataclysm - HotHardware

Previewing Blizzard's Coming Cataclysm

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Cataclysm completely overhauls WoW's fundamental game mechanics. A number of once-vital statistics such as Defense, MP5, Spellpower, and Attack Power, are gone. Other stats, like Armor Penetration, have been wrapped into the game's new concept of "Mastery." These changes make it much easier for a player to understand which stats he should focus on acquiring. The game's UI has been restructured and simplified, as have many of the helpful tool tips.


The new sunshafts are gorgeous, even if the game's polygon count and ground textures remain unfortunately low-res in areas.

These changes haven't gone over well with everyone. Certain current players have claimed that the new mechanics are meant to "dumb down" WoW and reduce the amount of skill/coordination needed to clear high-end content. This was initially a concern of ours as well, but it vanished within a few hours of actual gameplay. Cataclysm doesn't dumb down World of Warcraft, it removes layers of obfuscating game design that prevented more casual (or simply less mathematical) players from enjoying the game. Gamers who enjoy complex theory-crafting may not like how the game is evolving, but those who stick around and try it will find there's still plenty of depth to explore.


WoW's spellbook now lists which abilities are acquired at each level.
The spellbook itself has been condensed from 3-4 pages down to 1-2.


Another new feature that deserves special mention is the introduction of guild achievements. To date, all of the achievements in WoW have been either individual (i.e., personally loot 10,000 gold) or raid oriented (kill X boss on hard difficulty). In Cata, guilds will be able to earn their own titles, perks, and other various goodies. These achievements give players good reason to group and work together while simultaneously providing a form of alternative advancement. If they work as planned, they'll give small guilds objectives to focus on as a team if neither raiding nor PvP appeal to them.

Conclusion:

In my review of Wrath of the Lich King two years ago, I wrote:
If Blizzard wants to keep WoW from becoming stale, it needs to push the envelope...Wrath is a solid buy, but if Blizzard doesn't do something different, it risks being trapped in the mold it once defined.
Cataclysm is something different; it's the first expansion to make such fundamental changes to World of Warcraft. This type of change is always a gamble; Sony's decision to revamp Star Wars Galaxies with its infamous New Game Enhancement is a perfect example of what not to do. The potential reward, however, is equally enticing. If Cata's changes work, it could entice new players that were previously put off by the game's complexity.


Treebeard's ugly cousin over there is planted smack in the middle of the Tainted Scar. Once a burned and blasted ruin, it's now a twisted, unholy morass of unnatural life. Why can't Druids ever take on the challenge of beautifying, say, the French Riviera?

Even if the new mechanics prove unpopular, we're glad Blizzard took the risk. Azeroth and Kalimdor feel new again and that's an achievement in and of itself. 

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"If Cata's changes work, it could entice new players that were previously put off by the game's complexity." I love this quote. As a long time rpg/mmorpg player ( I started playing on day 18 of EQ1, and was also a GM as well as a Guild leader of one of the first big guilds on Prexus server "The Rangers of Tunare"), I must say Warcraft has never been looked at as a complex MMO. It has in fact for most of it's existence been ridiculed as a child's/easy version of an MMO skipping all the long term Goals/extensive quests/character development for an easy fix.I have actually heard that this expansion is supposed to bring more of that to Warcraft.

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Rapid1,

Ah, the ancient argument over what does and doesn't constitute "a good time."  I played EQ1 back in the day and was completely put off with how long it took to travel from Point A to Point B, the lack of solo content, kill-stealing, non-instanced content, and the fact that standing in one place killing the same monster time after time was considered fun.

I'm a number cruncher and a theory crafter; I was originally very dubious that I'd like the Cata changes. The game, however, is still fun. Most of my experience is with Paladins and Warlocks, both of which are now a bit *more* complex than they used to be. The difference is that the complexity is no longer mathematical (i.e, reach 580 defense,  X Stamina, Y% Parry, Z% Block). Instead, attacks and abilities must be more carefully timed / synchronized for maximum effect.

There's a huge range of MMO designs between EQ and WoW, but insomuch as WoW is concerned, I know I'd rather be playing the current version than even the one that debuted 6 years ago.

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True and not so true really. I played EQ for years, and even though I was usually in a guild I generally played solo. So EQ having no solo content was basically up to the player as well as both the class the plaid, and of course there ability with said class. I played a Monk, a Druid, a Ranger, and a SK as well as an Enchanter, but never had the no solo content problem although I only actively played half the classes in the game (each for roughly a year) I may be wrong.

Either way I played WOW for my month free, and leveled my char to max then I quit, and never looked back. So I never saw much difficulty in the game at all as far as it goes I have more difficulty in some of the quests in Dragon Age:origins realistically. Either way I am not you, and neither are you me so to each his own right. Also as far as it goes EQ1 is so outdated it is not even a joke, even though they are still upgrading it, and from what they say it has an active player community.

I am not going back to EQ1 that is for sure. I may check out the new WOW for a bit as I still have until April or May waiting on SWtor to be released, not to mention that is if they actually get it completed on time which of course may or may not happen.

 

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I'm also curious about the upcoming SW MMO and I've long eyed EVE as a potentially interesting title. In a way, even though I wrote this article from a positive perspective, I'm concerned that WoW has actually been harmful to the MMO industry. It seems that every MMO is inevitably compared to WoW from launch day to subscriber base. 

WoW's sheer size make it a statistically unreliable predictor for the popularity and profitability of any MMO. 

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I think the thing about WOW's size that scares me on top of that is that it has become so large that there is no escape for it's customers. While that is great from a companies perspective the customer has nowhere to turn. Of course one of my statements on Microsoft in another article would seem to be at odds with this. The thing with that is that the reason we have the digital culture we have today is greatly because of the acceptance ratio of or rate of Windows in general. This made computers general devices as well as making the parts common enough to drop the usage price as a whole. This therefore led to computers being cheap enough for a very large number to own.

In the case of WOW it means the customers may not like something or several things, but they have nowhere else to go, so Blizzard can ignore them readily. I would say one of the largest differences is the scope. Whereas WOW being as large of a player in a single are not specific only to software, but then to gaming, and then on top of that to an MMO makes it singular.

Also as I said earlier I may re-open my WOW account for a short time to check it out when this next installment goes live for a bit, but before the Star Wars MMO goes live, and or I get in on BETA if I do. As far as it goes I have Beta tested the large amount of successful MMO's on the market including every Beta for EQ1 from the first expansion on to Dragons I think was the last, and many other studios besides SONY as well.

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I used to enjoy this game alot, but now it doesnt seem as special as i remember when i first played it. I think the fighting system needs some major overhaul to get the game interesting again. Although that is my opinion and some players might not like having to learn a new fighting system. I havnt played this game in little over a year, but some times i see friends still playing it and seems like the same game.

A fun mmo i have tried recently was DC universe. At first i thought the game would suck, but turned out to be pretty good. It has alot of bugs to work out still, like how people can glitch npcs in walls, and problems to fix , like the easy lvling system, but it is pretty fun to travel though a highly detailed city with super powers.

Ps: I never played the game city of heroes so i cant say if it is like it or  not.

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Fat78,

When's the last time you played WoW? The PvP system has been entirely overhauled compared to what it was prior to the launch of Burning Crusade and it evolved through Wrath of the Lich King and this pre-Cataclysm patch. Without knowing what you disliked I can't say it's 'better', but depending on when you last played it may be considerably different.

 

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