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100% More Cataclysmic!

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I just finished my first week of graduate school, and boy does it take up a lot of time!  This weekend is really going to make me appreciate how relaxing the summer was.  Now I am at Mariana’s house, where I am  trying to help her with her plight with pneumonia (Don’t worry, she’s on the road to recovery!)  What this really means is that I am away from my mega-awesome PC and only have my laptop to play WoW.  Well….I tried that just now….and I don’t think I can play more than 5 minutes of 4 frames a second…oh well =P  Now I have an excuse to write an exhaustive article about the Cataclysm announcement at Blizzcon 2009 and what it may mean for the future of World of Warcraft:

352px-Deathwing_Cataclysm

First, the backstory…

Horde and Alliance are dealing with Arthas, the Lich King, in Northrend.  He is a bad guy, and rightfully so, we are responding to his threat.  Meanwhile, under the earth and in the Elemental Plane of Earth, Deathwing the Destroyer (previously known as Neltharion the Earth-Warder), dragon aspect of the black dragonflight, has been tending to his wounds from the War of the Ancients and planning his next move carefully.  The Old Gods have been gathering power, as seen through the awakening of C’thun and the prison break-out of Yogg Saron.  Their power has spread to Deathwing as well, who has seen a 10-fold increase in his power since his last appearance on the physical plane.  The whispers inside Deathwing’s head have also increased in intensity, driving him even more crazy.

It is time for Deathwing’s plans to take effect.  With the mortal races locked in a battle with the Lich King at the gates of the Icecrown Citadel, Deathwing literally errupts from the Elemental Plane of Earth and rips through into the Physical Plane.  This eruption destabilizes all of the elemental planes (the others are water, fire, and air) and looses many more elementals upon Azeroth.

The eruption also scars Azeroth forever.  The powers of the Earth-Warder ripple through the planet, leaving huge gashes in places like the Barrens, sending the ocean into Darkshore and wrecking the Alliance town of Auberdine.  Blackrock Spire erupts, changing the landscape and opening up a new base of operations for the Twilight Cultists.  Other places, like Desolace, benefit from the Cataclysm: It’s shoreline wrecked, water floods in and lay down the foundation for a more fertile land.

Finally, an entrance is made to Deathwing’s hiding place in the Plane of Earth.  Called “Deepholm”, adventurers will be able to venture into Neltharion’s home and take the battle to his sanctuary.  On the Physical Plane, Deathwing took up residence in Grim Batol, along with his Twilight Cultist followers.

The Future…

So now that the world is ruined, what should we expect?  Well for one, the feud between the Horde and Alliance will ramp up.  Orgrimmar will be outfitted with better armor (a lot more steel), Southshore will be taken over by the Horde, and Zoram Strand in Ashenvale will get bigger and more armored.

Barrens-cata

The level 1-60 leveling experience will also get a face lift, being made friendlier and more streamlined to avoid having to figure out which zone to go to at which level…the quests should have a feeling of more flow from zone to zone.  Also, some zones you know as level 20 zones will become level 40 zones.  This goes for all the zones: their monster and questing levels may be changing.

Cataclysm_Ashenvale_-_Zoram'gar_Outpost

Did I mention flying mounts in Azeroth?  They are going to be remapping both continents  in order to have a fully fleshed out landscape that will allow flying anywhere.  this means you can fly from Undercity to Booty Bay on your own mount and still get there in 14 minutes or however long it takes to fly that stupidly far distance.  Places like Undercity and Orgrimmar are getting updated to look better from the top, as in the case of both cities, a wall in the front blocks the view so the designers didn’t ever design what it would look like from the sky.

New Zones

There will be seven new zones in Cataclysm: Gilneas, The Lost Isles, Mount Hyjal, Uldum, Twilight Highlands, Deepholm, and The Sunken City of Vashj’ir.

Gilneas and The Lost Isles are the starting areas for Worgen and Goblins, respectively (i’ll talk about them in a few moments).

Mount Hyjal is in trouble, again.  This time, Ragnaros, released from the Elemental Plane of Fire (and apparently really really pissed off about dying in Molten Core) is out trying to destroy the world tree by way of inferno.  He is at his full power now, showing you that once and for all, Molten Core was merely a setback.

Uldum is a Titan compound in the desert south of tanaris.  Apparently, a giant Titan cloaking machine was used to hide Uldum (but they missed the door with the elite’s hanging around it?….) but said device broke when Deathwing ripped Azeroth asunder.  Titan cloaking machinery isn’t what it used to be I guess.  Rumor has it there is some Titan super weapon in the desert of Uldum, and everyone is out to get it…including you!

Twilight Highlands will include Grim Batol and be the hangout place for Deathwing and the Twilight Cultists.  It will encompass the area northeast of the current Wetlands.  It will also be a level 85 zone.  (What? level 85?  I’ll also talk about that in a few moments)

Deepholm is the original hiding place for Deathwing in the Elemental Plane of Earth.  Expect Old God influence down here close to the center of the world, where the Old God’s are locked up.  I would also expect Earth Elementals and lots of nature resistant monsters.

Finally, The Sunken City of Vashj’ir will be a sunken night elf city underneath the Maelstrom.  There will be underwater combat and underwater instances.  It will also include the instance to the Elemental Plane of Water, which will be a whirlpool at the bottom of the ocean you have to get sucked into.  Why it is named after Lady Vashj, handmaiden to the night elf Queen Azshara, we may never know.  As far as I know, Lady Vashj is still hanging out in Serpent Shrine Cavern out in Zangarmarsh….

New Races

The Cataclysm affected more than just what we knew.  The Goblin island of Kezan got rocked hard when their island volcano started spewing liquid hot magma, so they fled.  One particular cartel had their boat shipwrecked upon The Lost Isles, a group of islands between Kezan and Kalimdor.  Throughout the starting zone for the Goblins, you will go from neutral to finding refuge with the Horde in nearby Orgrimmar.

Goblins_cataclysmCataclysm_Worgen

At the same time Kezan’s volcanos were exploding, earthquakes were knocking down the Greymane Wall in southern Silverpine Forest.  What lay behind the wall was unexpected (well, the community expected it, but lorewise, completely unexpected!).  The Worgen curse spread to the humans of Gilneas, where they have fought to keep their humanity and not be taken by the vicious animal now living inside them.  Playing as a Worgen, you will be able to convert between human and worgen form anytime while out of combat, but must always be a worgen while in combat.  I suspect when you enter combat in your human form, you will go through a quick form change animation to fight as a worgen.  The out of combat form change animation is available online in the form of a video from blizzcon, and I must say it looks pretty darn awesome.

Increased level cap

Forget that +10 levels per expansion set you were taught back with Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King…only 5 new levels are being added this time around with a level cap increase to 85.  Blizzard says this is because they wanted to focus more on revamping the entire world and also honing their focus on endgame.  Obviously they want to get more into storytelling at the level cap, so the more people who can get to the level cap and actually listen to their story, the happier they will be.  Questions like “will heirlooms still work in the expansion?” have yet to be answered….

New Raids and Instances

Shadowfang_Keep

Blizzard has said they will release Cataclysm with 8 heroics and 4 raids for level 85 players.  Of these 8 heroic instances, 2 will be revamped old world instances: Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep.  The other 6 will be in the new zones that are being added.  I can see the reasoning behind making heroic Shadowfang Keep, with Archmage Aurgal and his connection to the Worgen Curse, but I think heroic Deadmines is just for the fans who wanted more VanCleef.  If they give Horde a flightpath in Westfall, I’ll be happy about this heroic.

Comment your thoughts/opinions!

The Lore of Ulduar

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WordPress has this nifty option to let its bloggers check what keywords people searched for when stumbling upon our website.  One of the searches that caught my attention was “The Story Behind Ulduar.”  I thought it would be fun to write an article about the lore of Ulduar, that way, next time someone searches wordpress for something like that, they’ll really find what they were looking for!

Ulduar Map

To fully understand what Ulduar is all about, a little bit of titan lore is needed:

Titans have always existed, and the thing they loved (and still love) to do most was travel the universe and spruce up planets in order for them to support life: both sentient and not so sentient.  They didn’t straight up terraform planets, but rather nurse those that have all the required elements into a better state so that life could exist more comfortably.  Azeroth was one of these target planets, but before the titans even got there, primordial gods waged war and claimed total control of the young planet.  When the titans arrived, they decided it was time for the Old Gods to go, but they couldn’t just kill them and get on with their plan.  Unfortunately for everyone, the fate of the Old Gods was tied directly to the fate of Azeroth itself: they die, the planet dies.  That was something the titans would totally not stand for.  So, the next best thing to do, obviously, was to lock all the Old Gods up inside the planet, never to escape again.  Ulduar was a containment facility for one such Old God.  This Old God was Yogg-Saron, the God of Death, and the Beast of a Thousand Maws.  This facility was guarded by four ‘watchers’.  These watchers were Hodir, Thorim, Freya, and Mimiron.  Above them in command was Thorim’s brother, Loken, who was declared the supreme designate for the Ulduar complex.  With the security set up and the planet nice and cozy, the titans split for another planet…..

Tens of thousands of years past since these events.  Sentient races such as the humans, night elves, dwarves and tauren sprang up all over the planet.  However, the Old Gods never forgot the power they once had, and tried to regain the planet back for themselves in any way they could.  Yogg-Saron was able to secretly influence key moments in Azeroth’s history:  The assassination of King Llane by the half-orc Garona and the forging of the Demon Soul and the utter destruction caused by it through the Black Dragon Aspect (now known as Deathwing).  Yogg-Saron was also able to corrupt the mind of Loken, the master guardsman of the Ulduar complex.  Through time, he was able to manipulate Loken to betray the titan leadership and work exclusively for the Old God.  With Loken in his pocket, Yogg-Saron was able to corrupt the other four watchers.

At the end of Halls of Lightning, adventurers such as yourself square off aganist Loken himself.  When he dies, he tells you that his death heralds the end of the world.  So what exactly does that mean?  Well….the titans knew Yogg-Saron was clever and may try to escape or kill his captors.  It was set up so that Loken’s death would send out an emergency distress call out to the titans.  Pretty much a ‘HEY!  THE HEAD OF YOUR SECURITY IS DEAD AND YOGG-SARON MAY BE ON THE LOOSE!’  The titan response to this message is a messenger named Algalon.  It is his duty to travel to Azeroth and perform a full biopsy of the situation and diagnose the planet’s situation.  He is cold and calculating.  If titan defenses have suffered enough damage and threat of Old God release is significant, he will tell the titans to ‘reoriginate’ the planet.  Read: kill everything and start over.  Well, you like being alive and have to stop algalon’s message at all costs.  Right? RIGHT!

Once you are able to whittle away Algalon’s life within sixty minutes, he will come to his senses and see that, like all cold and calculating characters must at some point, sometimes things that do not compute are worth saving!  He gives you, the advendurers, the Return Code: Alpha.  That is the signal back to the titans that basically says ‘Everything is cool here.  No need to blow up this cute little planet.’  You bring the message to Rhonin in Dalaran and shoot the message from a floating message gun in Dalaran.  Crisis offically averted.

Written by Nick

July 30, 2009 at 5:03 am