For six years, players of World of Warcraft have been leveling through generally unchanged zones through level 60. With the coming of Cataclysm, the third expansion for the award-winning, massively popular game World of Warcraft, every existing zone was touched and several new zones were added.
Cataclysm was launched in several phases, as is common with expansions to World of Warcraft. Each phase -- except the final one -- contained content that is available to all players, regardless of which expansions they have purchased. Free content has so far been covered in my Geekend posts World of Warcraft: The beginning of the Cataclysm and WoW fans, experience the Cataclysm; this basically includes everything that affects players level 80 and below.
- Media: DVD or electronic download
- Genre: Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game
- ESRB rating: Teen
- Game system: PC (Windows XP/Vista/7) or Mac (OS X 10.5.8/10.6.4 or newer)
- Price: $39.99
- Where to buy: Battle.net and various retailers
- Check out TechRepublic's Cataclysm gallery
Content that is available upon purchase and upgrade to Cataclysm includes:
- Two new playable races -- Worgen for the Alliance and Goblins for the Horde -- along with a brand new, phased starting zone for each race to level from one to 12.
- Five zones to help players level from 80 to 85 -- two "entry-level" zones and three zones for progressively higher levels.
- Seven 5-player instances geared for various levels between 80 and 85 with Heroic versions available for better equipped players at level 85.
- Flying mounts in "Classic" zones.
- Archaeology secondary profession. Works like Cooking, Fishing, and First Aid, so players can have it without sacrificing other professions.
What I like
- Phasing: Cataclysm brought with it much more extensive phasing than Wrath of the Lich King, including terrain phasing.
- Quests and lore: Blizzard has updated the quests and lore in each zone in the world, improving the flow within each zone and from zone to zone. Additionally, the new 80-85 zones each have a very in-depth storyline.
- Quest hubs: Each zone in the game now has several quest hubs that break up the zone into manageable chunks. It also shortens the travel time to and from the quest location by moving quest hubs closer to the quest location.
- Azeroth flight: While players have been able to fly in Outlands and Northrend for quite some time, flying around in the original part of the game is new with this expansion. Azeroth flight is available at level 60.
What I don't like
- Nothing: I can't think of anything that Blizzard hasn't released either as free or purchased content that I would like to have.
Geek bottom line
Any World of Warcraft players would enjoy the updated "Classic" content available to all players, as well as the new content available to those who purchase the expansion. In addition, the two new races have fun and exciting starting zones, and the new Archaeology profession should grant players some extremely interesting items that can be used, traded, or sold. The best feature is the ability to fly in the two original continents upon reaching level 60. In short, Cataclysm is a must buy for any World of Warcraft player.
Geek gift score (out of 5)
- Fun factor: *****
- Geek factor: *****
- Value: *****
- Overall: *****
Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2010.