WoW Cataclysm review roundup

WoW Cataclysm is quite literally the most earth shattering expansion pack for World of Warcraft since its launch half a decade ago. As well as new levels for hardcore players to reach and new characters, the whole of Azeroth has been reshaped. Cos, it’s a cataclysm, innit. What do the online RPG experts make of this mid-life booster for Blizzard’s MMO? Find out in our WoW Cataclysm review roundup.

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Reviewing an online RPG is always a tough challenge: it’s what a player makes it. As such, the reviews so far have largely focused on the individual experience of the reviewers – it’s up to the gamer to take from them what they will. Let’s find out what they thought.

The Escapist‘s John Funk was prepared to make the most definitive statement of all the reviewers so far: Wow Cataclysm “tears apart ten years of WoW development and puts it back together better than it’s ever been.” Quests are smarter and “much more engaging” than ever before, and the new look areas look beautiful – quite an achievement on such an old engine. “From the Egyptian-themed Uldum and crystalline Deepholm to the underwater ruins of Vashj’ir and the lofty midair temple of Skywall, Blizzard has once again demonstrated why its art team is widely considered one of the best in the business.”

But as the mag points out, its take on WoW Cataclysm isn’t an everlasting one: “All we can do is judge what is there in front of us, which is the best-designed content – rather, the best-designed version – that has ever existed in WoW.”

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Over at Kotaku, Mike Fahey has been testing out WoW Cataclysm and keeping a log of his experiences, and they’re pretty positive so far. He wasn’t expecting the new races and starting areas to prove so compelling: “with new music in place, new game mechanics tweaked, and the cinematics all present and accounted for, the experience is quite immersive and enjoyable.”

Fahey too loved the new quests and impressive storyline – something that’s tough to pull off in a game being played by thousands of people at once: “The quest line that takes players from the Darkshore zone into Ashenvale is truly epic…It was so compelling that I made it all the way to level 29 before realising.”

IGN‘s Nick Kolan meanwhile was struck at just how well the story segues from pre WoW Cataclysm to the new expansion pack. “What sticks out most at this point is the continuity that many of the early quests contain. So many of them directly reference the quests players did pre-Cataclysm, usually quests they would have received from that very same character they were now talking to.”

But, Kolan came away slightly frustrated by some problems – with overcrowding, of all things, as everyone rushes to try out WoW Cataclysm. “The massive population in some of the questing areas has meant that there would be a dozen people all vying to slay the same unique enemy,” he wrote. Even so, he too had nothing but praise for the plot: WoW Cataclysm “seems to much more strongly emphasize the story throughout.”

Verdict

Though it’s hard to make a definitive statement about something as open a WoW Cataclysm, The Escapist summed up the general consensus so far. “Blizzard tears WoW to the ground and builds it up more skillfully than ever before.” If you’re a PC gamer, you owe it to yourself to try it, and if you left World of Warcraft years ago, now’s the time to come back.

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