Cataclysm is the latest expansion for the most highly populated MMORPG on the planet; World of Warcraft. With two highly successful expansions already under its belt, Blizzard has launched the biggest revamp of the original content since the game was first launched. In the storyline for this expansion the menacing dragon Deathwing, patriarch of the black dragon flight, has burst forth from his self imposed exile and has forever changed the world of Azeroth.

Cataclysm has completely changed the original landscape of the two continents in Azeroth (Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor). Zones and Capital cities that existing World of Warcraft addicts would be well accustomed to have been altered and upgraded so severely that it is basically as if starting from scratch again. These dramatic changes to the starting lands will grant a great chance for new players starting the game to become immersed in the games story line. It has been known for some time now that Blizzard have completely revamped the levelling structure from 1-60, with some saying they have made it quicker to get to the higher levels than ever before, while still making the starting levels more attractive than ever!

For the higher levelled players, Blizzard have also allowed us to use our flying mounts in the original continents for the first time, something wow addicts have been waiting for ever since flying mounts were introduced in the Burning Crusade expansion.

Most of the visual changes were however, made before anyone even bought their copy of Cataclysm. Those with the previous expansions already installed were able to try out most of the new race/class combinations (with the exceptions of the two new races), such as Troll Druid or Tauren Paladin and wander the broken landscapes ever since they launched the previous two patches 4.0.1 and 4.0.3. Activating your game key for Cataclysm, allows you to enter the new areas such as Vashj’ir, Mount Hyjal, Deepholm and Uldum and begin levelling to 85, the new level cap.

 Vashj’ir is probably one of the most notable of the new areas as the entire area is completely underwater. It is an island just off the west coast of the Wetlands area of the Eastern Kingdoms. Players starting out at level 80, set off on their way to the island on a boat only to become halted by a kraken. Your boat sinks and you appear to be heading towards a watery death until you are saved and begin your underwater adventures.

The two new races, Worgen for Alliance and Goblin for Horde; only available after your Cataclysm CD key has been activated, bring fresh starting areas to the world of Azeroth. Traditionally, Goblins have been a neutral race between the two factions, populating areas such as Booty Bay and Everlook but now members of the Horde faction are able to play with the many different classes available for this new race. Worgens, supposedly humans infected with ‘lycanthropy’ are the new race for the Alliance faction inhabiting the town of Gillneas.

Instead of the original idea of guild talents being introduced, Blizzard has implemented a guild perks system. Perks, such as additional experience or mass resurrection, can be earned by the guild working together and then purchased by individual players. A new system known as a guild level system has also been introduced. Guilds are able to level from 1-25 by gaining achievements, doing battleground and completing end game raid content and dungeons.

As individual players in a guild complete the thousands of new quests available, they are able to gain guild reputation until they are fully exalted with the guild. This allows them to purchase rewards inside their guild and gives players more of an incentive to build the reputation available.

Although no new primary professions have been added to the game, Blizzard has introduced a secondary profession to join the original three (Cooking, Fishing and First Aid), known as Archaeology. The Cataclysm has unearthed ancient treasure that the Explorers’ League and the Reliquary are searching for. Artifacts can be found by completing certain quests, getting them as rewards, random drops and occasionally from fishing.

In conclusion, I have been playing this game for several years now and despite my initial scepticism Blizzard have outdone themselves once again. Content and storyline keep getting better and this expansion with the geographical makeover have freshened things up while offering new and veteran players alike plenty to do, for a long time to come. Players are eager to try out the new races, the new race/class combinations, engage in new quests and explore the vast changes made to the original two continents.

Players will spend the next few years exploring and achieving, just as they did when the previous expansions were released until, I imagine, Blizzard release yet a further expansion in the biggest, most popular roll-playing game of all time.

The near perfect score that Cataclysm has achieved was soured only by the speed in which one can jump through the extra five levels. But Blizzard, as the masters of the end game, offered up plenty of other treats and guild tasks to help with that. Until next time, see you all in Azeroth

New areas of the map to explore