Tobold's Blog
Friday, August 21, 2009
I was wrong, leak was true

Blizzard just officially announced the third World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm, and I was wrong doubting the leaks: They were completely true. My apologies. Best details can be found in the official Cataclysm FAQ, videos at the Cataclysm site. Main features are:
  • Two New Playable Races: Adventure as one of two new races--the cursed worgen with the Alliance or the resourceful goblins with the Horde.
  • Level Cap Increased to 85: Earn new abilities, tap into new talents, and progress through the path system, a new way for players to improve characters.
  • Classic Zones Remade: Familiar zones across the original continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms have been altered forever and updated with new content, from the devastated Badlands to the broken Barrens, which has been sundered in two.
  • New High-Level Zones: Explore newly opened parts of the world, including Uldum, Grim Batol, and the great Sunken City of Vashj'ir beneath the sea.
  • More Raid Content than Ever Before: Enjoy more high-level raid content than previous expansions, with optional more challenging versions of all encounters.
  • New Race and Class Combinations: Explore Azeroth as a gnome priest, blood elf warrior, or one of the other never-before-available race and class combinations.
  • Guild Advancement: Progress as a guild to earn guild levels and guild achievements.
  • New PvP Zone & Rated Battlegrounds: Take on PvP objectives and daily quests on Tol Barad Island, a new Wintergrasp-like zone, and wage war in all-new rated Battlegrounds.
  • Archaeology: Master a new secondary profession to unearth valuable artifacts and earn unique rewards.
  • Flying Mounts in Azeroth: Explore Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms like never before.
The most interesting part in all of this is something that rarely, if ever, happens with an MMORPG expansion: The disappearance of old content. The old zones of Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdom will disappear. And that will happen for everyone, whether he bought the expansion or not: "When the Cataclysm occurs, it will occur for all players, whether they have purchased the expansion or not--you will no longer be to play in the original version of Kalimdor or the Eastern Kingdoms. However, certain features such as the new zones, new races, and new level cap will only be accessible to players who purchase the expansion." The original versions of the zones will disappear completely, and will be replaced by new versions, which are flight-enabled. Well, there is still quite a while until the Cataclysm happens, so you can still roll a couple of alts and explore the old world zones as they are right now. But when the expansion comes, the old content will be gone forever.

Oh, and there is no new hero class.
Wow, they really are lazing out.

The fact that they are using blood elf warriors as a major selling point tells the whole story here. Lamesauce.
Basically, at least 95% of the time something posted by MMO-Champion is correct. I don't think Boubouille has ever been wrong on one of his "leaks".

Other sites are a different story. But MMO-Champion has a great track record with leaks and such.
So far I'm seeing lots of stuff people have been asking for, for a long time. Old world redesigns, legacy dungeons getting brought back to life, new races, flying in old world, more class/race combos, new 1-60 leveling...and Deathwing finally making his grand entrance.

Sounds pretty interesting. Not sure if it'll bring me back to WoW but it certainly sounds good.
It takes a good man to aknowledge he was wrong.

50 DKP PLUS @ Tobold!
I'm so glad I finally decided to try WoW this Summer. Got just enough time to explore and appreciate the old version before the new one comes in.

I know they are making money faster than they can bank it, and I know they already said "No Classic Servers", but if they have any sense they'll be keeping a copy of the pre-cataclysm version in the vaults; 10th Anniversary Classic Edition would clean up.
No reason they can't have their cake and eat it.
As an explorer, I don't think they could give me a better reason to go back to the game, at least for a few months.
I really like this, actually. But it's too much to comment right now ;)
I'm wondering how a new player will feel, going through phasing, amazing new Vanilla WoW (or will it be chocolate WoW now?), and then hitting boring old red Hellfire Penninsula?

I'd perfer it if they made old world 1-70, and had the dark portal cracked and destroyed instead. (though they should keep Quel'danas).
"Wow, they really are lazing out.

The fact that they are using blood elf warriors as a major selling point tells the whole story here. Lamesauce."

Man, people always whinge :P It's not a major selling point, it's just a thing. If they didn't include it, no one would really care. But if I'm re rolling my character, and I want to play a warrior, well then it's one more option? And why not have it. It's not like content is being taken out because all the developers were to busy making more classes for each class.

Like Anonymous said, tons of things that they've announced are actually things that lots of people have been asking for for a long time.

Of course, Blizzard can't really win. If they were to release an expansion the same as the last two, people would complain about things being too similar, and others would complain about old content being left out. Now they're going back and totally redesigning the old world, people whinge because some old stuff might get re-used.

I was fairly optimistic about the leaks because

a) There's been leaks about the next expansion just before Blizzcon for BC and WOTLK, and they turned out to be true.

b) MMO Champion is a very reliable website, I can't think of a case where they've been wrong. If Boubouille says that he's absolutely certain that the information was correct, then I'm pretty certain that the information is correct
It's alot of stuff people want, but nothing that will really bring back the unhappy customers or help bring in new customers.

Pretty much all of the announcements out of Blizzcon were very "meh".
If you're calling Blizzard lazy after they remake nearly the entire leveling experience over 60 levels, I'm not sure what "hard-working" would constitute.
It will be a new experience to level from 1-60 again, and THAT I look forward to greatly. If even half the zones are half-changed to wotlk/DK should be great fun to level all the way. No more doldrums?
Well, if that old world content is gone for good, it's a perfect time to sell it as a standalone offline game. ;)
> "The old zones of Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdom will disappear"

I'm not sure whether you mis-wrote, mis-understood or I am simply mis-reading your words, but you seem to be saying the entire 2 continents will disappear. This is false.

There will be some changes but for the most part the continents will be the same as before, except for the changed areas such as Azshara. In any case the continents will not disappear.
Wow, they really are lazing out.

I can't tell you how much I HATE that statement. Blood Elf warriors aside, the real story here is that they are re-making the old world Azeroth.

I wrote a blog entry a bit over a year and a half ago bashing Blizzard for NOT revisiting Azeroth.

The fact is, Azeroth is where 90% of the Warcraft lore took place in the original games and it's the area that most of us still identify as the core world.

It's not laziness to revamp that content and make it relevant again.

And that's exactly what I WANT them to do. I want to play in Azeroth again in the next expansion. I want a reason for Orgrimmar to be important again. I want to revisit the old world again with in a way I have never experienced.

We all know the existing Azeroth like the back of our hand. It's familiar. And that's why actually SEEING change in those areas is so interesting and captivating.

This isn't laziness, this is the smart play. It NEEDS to be relevant again. THAT is what I want, not a new zone, race, class or continent.

Now granted, the way they are revisiting it (Deathwing part 2) isn't the plot line I would have used. I would have advance the "War" plot between Alliance and Horde.

That said, boy am I glad they are going back to Azeroth instead of a new continent. My biggest fear was that this next expansion would be some underwater adventure (Atlantis?).
I'm curious what you think about this heralding the "one expansion a year" thing they talked about a while ago. Fewer levels and zones, and then the next one could be 85-90 and possibly an Emerald dream could be maybe done in a year. Toss in a Hero class and that could be an expansion. I know it's a bit early to really get serious about, but something to think about.
I must say this is very interesting to me. For those of us that know the old zones it should be pretty interesting seeing it all in a different light. I really like the fact that they're not afraid to change the world. Players have been asking for worlds to be less stagnant - this should help a little.

While I'm burnt out on MMO's at the moment I can definitely see playing this for a couple of months.
Remember how there was speculation for a while that Blizzard's next MMO was going to be WoW 2?

Now we know why that was a silly assumption. They don't need a whole other MMO to make WoW 2. They're just blowing up the existing game.

From what they said in panels today, they're not just changing the geography of Azeroth, they're redoing the entire game -- redoing levels 1-60, all the talent trees, game mechanics (no more attack power, MP5, spellpower), etc.

It could be either the best or the worst thing to happen to the game. It all depends on how the playerbase ultimately reacts.
Even though it's not what you expected, Tobold, does it interest you? Is this the sort of redesign on things you were looking for since it's not the typical expansion?
"So far I'm seeing lots of stuff people have been asking for, for a long time. Old world redesigns, legacy dungeons getting brought back to life, new races, flying in old world, more class/race combos, new 1-60 leveling"

My impression as well. Blizzard listens to their fans, and the announced features demonstrate that.

My only frustration is what Tobold points out: they are, for the first time, removing significant pieces of content from the game. What was the foundation for the game will be mere history. While I can appreciate that they're establishing the sense of a real timeline in the game, change comes at the consequence of preventing new or old players from ever experiencing it again.

I wonder then what their motivation is beyond responding to existing player desires. Are they reconciling themselves with plateauing subscriber numbers and making a play at existing player retention versus attracting new customers? Or do they want to put their best foot forward, attracting new customers by taking the lessons they've learned over five years and applying them to the entirety of the player experience? Moreover, they seem to have recognized that for a lot of their player base "the real game starts at 80," despite the improvements they've made in the quest/leveling experience.

All in all I'm excited for the focus on raiding, the new mechanics (guild leveling/advancement, new professions, etc) and the new races while being somewhat saddened that I will probably never see much of the original content because I simply don't have that much time to devote to the game and only started playing about a year ago.
who this guy who leaked the info about cataclysm ? seem believable.. this is high grade leak hehehe..

in the future , leaks from this guy is worth reading
i think this will pave the way for a (paid ?) classic server 1-60..
Having the re-worked Azeroth available to everyone, whilst it makes sense in lore terms, has some pretty serious practical implications. It means that everyone who doesn't buy the expansion will need to download all the new content, which I'm guessing is several GB of data. Not fun if you're one of the people who still plays on dialup.

I also wonder how they will keep people out of the new zones with flying mounts everywhere. In previous expansions it was easy, e.g. don't let them go through the dark portal. Unless Blizzard have some incredibly cunning plan that they haven't mentioned yet, in Cataclysm, players without the expansion would see invisible walls everywhere, which seems like quite a clunky solution.
I'm not sure whether you mis-wrote, mis-understood or I am simply mis-reading your words, but you seem to be saying the entire 2 continents will disappear. This is false. There will be some changes but for the most part the continents will be the same as before, except for the changed areas such as Azshara. In any case the continents will not disappear.

I don't think you are right. Of course there will still be two continents, one called Kalimdor and the other Eastern Kingdoms in the game after the Cataclysm. But the majority of the code which makes these two continents will be new code. Even if some bits still look like before from the ground, they will have been rewritten to still look good from the air. Lots of space which currently is just blank, because you can't reach it on foot, will now get textures etc. They announced "hundreds of new quests". Quote Metzen: "No part of the old world will left untouched. Except maybe Westfall. Old Blanchy is core."
the new water in the cataclysm trailer looks very nice.

i hope it makes it ingame.
The new race/class matrix shows that I was right at least about one thing: There is the same number of druid-enabled races for Horde and Alliance, the troll druids get balanced by worgen druids. Everything else is better balanced too, with the Horde now having two paladin races, and the Alliance two shaman races.
EverQuest (1) has done the same, they've replaced many of the old zones from classic EQ with newly designed ones.

That was surely partially because the old ugly zones looked out of place, but also because they company doesn't have the tools (and know-how) anymore to change the old zone files :)
The emperor got new clothes. You are supposed to level a Goblin/Worgen alt now. :P

It is all pretty exciting, but I would still prefer a completely new AAA MMO instead of the overhaul of ye olde DikuMUD.

All power to GW2, but I fear that, sadly enough, this expansion will steal them potential new customers.

I mean I quit WoW for a reason, do I really want to hop back in the easy themepark world of fun for everyone?

Maybe they rebalance world mobs, they die so quickly by now in TBC and WOTLK that it is a disgrace.
Drastically changing old content isnt lazy. As a software developer myself i know it is sometimes *extremely* difficult and painful to get an age-old piece of code -possibly not that well documented and/or made by people no longer in the company- to do something new (or the same in a new way). This really is something you dread, as a developer. In those cases it makes much more sense to start from scratch (perhaps reusing some core pieces of functionality).

Gaming-wise, it all makes sense. Instead of further dispersing players, Blizzard is bringing them more together, on the old lands. It also fits in the illusion of a changing world. As a grand concept and regarding hype potential it certainly beats the 10 levels + new land formula.
A bunch of details and screencaps here:

BlizzCon 2009 Kicks Off - Friday BlizzCon Highlights

One of my writers bought the pay-per-view event for the whole weekend. She's going to write at least one article a day with details, screencaps, etc.
@Toxic I think this expansion is anything but lazy. They are redoing huge amounts of original content and quests and obviously rebuilding the zones in order to let mounts fly in them - that's a serious undertaking. Plus it's very brave because not only will some people hate that idea but also they have to give it away for free to people who don't buy the expansion!
Another expansion like the first two would have been the often mentioned "WoW Killer" in my opinion. This one sounds so good I'm almost hoping SWTOR dosen't come out in 2010.

Just when I had kicked the alt habit, along come the Goblin & Worgen which will just have to be played.

Bit concerned about the rated battlegrounds though, seeing as the best players are the ones that know flags and towers/bunkers don't defend themselves, how the do you rate someone who spends their time doing this if the enemy doesn't show up much at their position during a game?
As one of those players who have been complaining that the old world is still the same and doing it all again for the fifth time, I'm glad to see a revamp of the old content.

And with the introduction of the goblin race, I've got a horde choice for my gnome fetish. I might finally manage to level a horde character.

On the other hand, if you don't want to level a sixth character, is there a reason to go back to the old world as a level 85? I hope they add some.

It's too bad there is no new hero class. I had a ton of fun with my deathknight and would call it the most fun feature in TLK.

But overall, looks interesting. Level a few more levels, do some instances. Level a character through the new content. Yep, looking good.
Well you can call Blizzard lazy. Introducing flight but not in the old lands was lazy. Now they correct that.

That aside they introduce 2 "new" races where most graphics are already in the game, they only modified them. And lets face it: races are purely cosmetic (racial bonus aside) and are just for looks.

No new class, no new function but flying "underwater" which really is a modification for current mounts.

The only thing I am excited about is:

- only 5 levels. This weakens the fact that equipment becomes obsolete too fast as in the last expansions. Which is good.

- much more raid content. Yes, thats why I play WoW

Otherwise the guild leveling is a nice rip off from WAR and is overdue. They should also enhance the guild functionalities and communications. They try to do that through the new battlenet functions, we have to wait and see how that ends up.
First, I think it's FANTASTIC that Blizzard is revamping old world zones with new content. As a player that doesn't care for battlegrounds or raiding, this is truly a dream come true.

Second, this means that both Star Craft 2 and WOW's third expansion could both be released in 2010. It will be interesting to see how that impacts the rest of the industry.

Third, this expansion either comes out before SC2 or afterwards. I wonder which will come first?

Fourth, no character model updates. Bummer.

= # # =
I was wondering what Blizzard would do about the old content. One tact would have been to let players start at level 55 with any class and just bypass the old content. They are not doing that, of course.

So this is interesting to me. I've been Horde exclusively since WoW launched. With this expansion I can see trying a worgen druid, a class I've always wanted to level. The bonus is that I'll not only get some fresh Alliance content, but all the 1-60 content will be refreshed. Sounds good to me.

(Or if I wanted to stick with Horde, I could roll a troll druid -- I just don't like the taurens so I've never leveled a druid.)

People will probably be playing WoW twenty years from now, just like D&D is still being played nearly 35 years after it was introduced.
"It could be either the best or the worst thing to happen to the game."

This was my initial reaction as well. The new content looks absolutely amazing and I really look forward to seeing it but it appears that they are also completely reworking stats, the way that talents work, more or less the entire game. I enjoy the current form of the game and I'm a bit worried at the scrapping of so many stats.. the numbers aspect of the game and amount of depth and complication a person could get into with gearing is something I've always liked and I'm a bit sad to see it simplified so much.

This WoW won't be the same as the WoW that has existed for the past 5 years. We all thought the difference between Vanilla & BC was big, it turns out the prophesied WoW Killer is the new WoW. Good luck to any company trying to kill that, you're going to need it.
I was pretty confident about the leak due to my inside information that there is a team at Blizzard working 24/7 to remove anything I once enjoyed in WoW: e.g. chain heal, shadowstep, treasure chests, flash of light healing. jk/sigh

@^ I though they had backed off on the 1 WoW expansion a year; something like one Blizzard game expansion a year? but i am not sure, espcially sine SC 2009 has slipped.

I don't think it is lazy but not at all sure it is good business. There are two different types of games: the ones where you boot up, choose your character and then begin (porsche or Z, racecar or thimble, Blizzard tournaments) and those where you invest/tortuously grind for dozens, hundreds, thousands of hours.

In the former, constant change is interesting. In the latter, you must prevent stagnation but you run a real risk of ruining the customer's identification with their toon. In marketing class, the with ephemeral products like services, the more you want to make it seem concrete. The fact that people on vent who knew my real name for a year used my toon name, showed that it was working.

So I am not a huge fan of Cataclysm, but not horrified. But the amount of class changes in WotLK has been very frustrating - I am supposed to level/gear up a toon and then hope the style of play when I get there is somewhat similar to when I started the path.

I guess philosophically I am much more in tune with sandbox games than the change for change sake model of WotLK. Although, I think some adult supervision by management at Blizzard could ameliorate a lot of the damage the designers are currently doing.
Wasn't a cataclysm of sorts something you wanted to see, Tobold? I remember reading one of your wish lists for upcoming WoW expansions, and "revamping old content" (paraphrasing) was included. You wanted to see something big and destructive happen on Azeroth and Kalimdor, opening the door for veteran players to revisit their old stomping grounds.

There's no good reason an MMO shouldn't change over time, considering all the good reasons for such changes.
So my question on reflection--- is this a mandatory xpac?

They've at least maintained the illusion that you didn't have to upgrade for a while now. But if they redo the old world, they will have to force you to upgrade. Implies that they will be selling a unified WoW box, with all xpacs, in the future.
Teut, more accurate to say guild levelling is a nice rip-off from the games WAR ripped it off from, e.g. EverQuest 2. :-)

Toxic, they stated that even if you don't buy Cataclysm, you'll be in the changed world, just without access to the new races, their starting zones, the new level 80-85 zones, etc. Needless to say, 4.0 will be a MONSTER patch!
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