This year's Blizzcon featured some megaton announcements that I'm sure has World of Warcraft fans across the world incredibly excited. In all honesty, I'm not even that avid a WoW player, and even I'm excited about all the changes and two new races that are coming with the Cataclysm expansion. If you want to read more about the specific details that are coming in the new expansion, Andrew Long did a pretty good job summing up a lot of it in his news brief. While I didn't get to see any of the new Torn and Destroyed areas, I did get the chance to try out the Worgen and the Goblins in their brand new starting areas:
"(Cataclysm) will blow a lot of WoW fans out of the water."
The first of the new races that I tried out was the Worgen. The demo started off with me at level 6 and my character locked in a stockade. As soon as I was free, I headed to the nearest quest-giver while I explored a bit of the city at the same time. The Worgen starting town has a very dark feeling and tone that is reminiscent of Grimm's Fairy Tales and the Victorian period. The whole town thematically captures what you'd expect from a town of werewolves with a nice mix of lighting and atmospheric, accordion-laden music.
Speaking of werewolves, the Worgen are an impressive sight to behold and are actually Humans under an ancient curse, but you will find out more about that when you start Cataclysm at level one with this race. The transformation process from Human to Worgen looks like a slow and painful affair as you change into a Worgen one arm at a time before exploding into a puff of smoke.
I really like that you can switch between Human form and Worgen form whenever you aren't in combat. It is mostly for aesthetic purposes, but it is still a nice touch. I also noticed how well-done the Worgen animations are. A few times during the game, my Worgen got on all fours and started sniffing the air for prey. It really does feel like they are half-human/half-beast.
The quests were also very unique in that as soon as you start off, the town is under siege from evil-looking ships along the coast. There was a clear battle line made up of NPCs and a quest-giver that were trying to hold back the enemies while sending off players to fight in the onslaught. The battle line was quite the sight to behold as wave after wave of respawning enemies clashed with a small army of Worgen Blizzcon attendees. It was really quite difficult to reach an enemy in time before someone else killed it or threw an exploding barrel at it. Still, the battle did a great job of setting the tone and feel of what a Worgen would have to deal with: enemies that are a mix of gruesome abominations and undead soldiers in elaborate skull armor.
Even though the Worgen are cool and are located in a very atmospheric and interesting area full of new content, I wasn't really drawn into the Worgen race. I found myself saying "Oh cool" a lot, but after about fifteen to twenty minutes or so, I was ready to move on and try out the Goblins. Still, its nice to see the Alliance get something so thematically dark and brooding.
Now the Goblins, on the other hand, drew me in instantly. The Goblins were a neutral race from a tropical island nation that were forced into the Horde. The demo starts off after some sort of naval disaster as your character lies lifeless on a floating piece of debris from your ship. After you are brought back to life, you are tasked with freeing other Goblin survivors of the wreck from their escape pods. Within seconds of starting the demo, I was already swimming around and fighting off sharks in crystal clear waters along a tropical shoreline in order to save my fellow Goblins. I have to say that is one hell of a way to start a demo. After saving the survivors from their steampunk-esque escape pods, I made my way to shore. The beach and the tropical jungle just beyond were very lush, colorful, and detailed. They were full of palm trees, debris from the wreck, little herds of turtles scurrying about, and of course, lots of enemies and Blizzcon attendees running around in fierce battles.
The quests in this area were also very colorful. At one point, I had to throw nitro-fueled bananas at bomb-throwing monkeys to make them rocket into the air. It was very strange but also very cool and funny. Oh, speaking of rockets, one of the special abilities Goblins have at their disposal are rocket belts that can either be used to launch homing rockets at enemies or to quickly dash forward. This proved to be very helpful when I was dealing with angry raptors who were upset because we "accidentally" broke their eggs after landing on shore.
There was a lot to see and do, and I liked it so much that I tried it out with two classes, a Hunter and a Rouge. I started to feel guilty after awhile because I was playing for so long that I decided to move on forty minutes or so after I started using the Goblins. I did see one quest that involved dragging mine carts out of a monster infested mine. I wish I knew what that was about, but I figured with the amount of time I played as both the Worgen and the Goblins, I had abused my press privileges enough and should move on for other Blizzcon attendees to get a chance to try the expansion.
It goes without saying that of the two new races, the Goblins are my clear favorite. From the humor to the vibrant colors and graphics to the devilish green smiles on the squat, little goblins, the new area is a fun, visual treat. Combined with the Jack of All Trades meets Monkey Island steampunk aesthetics, this is the kind of experience I wanted from an MMO that I didn't get playing as a Human Paladin in WoW. With my new pet Grunty in tow, I could see myself losing a lot of time playing a Goblin and exploring the torn world of Cataclysm.
I feel as though I have spent enough time with both new races to really get a solid feel for what's in store for at least part of the Cataclysm expansion. The Alliance has a really cool, dark new race, and the Horde has its own light-hearted, fun race. Combined with a lot of the new enhancements like a guild-leveling system, the new secondary skill Archeology, a brand new landscape for the world, and impressive new areas and bosses to deal with, this update has a lot going for it. If I had this much fun with the demo, I'm sure the full retail release will blow a lot of WoW fans out of the water.