Cataclysm Post Mortem

Cataclysm is the only expansion that I’ve played from start to finish, it’s the expansion where I came into my own as a player. It’s an expansion that gets a lot of bad press, and it’s true that it had it’s bad points but it had a lot of good points too. I’ve looked back on Cata raids, and I’ve written my bucket list, this is looking at the whole of the expansion. What worked and what didn’t, from my point of view of course.

When I started Cataclysm I had one level 80 (my mage), a level 65 paladin, a level 30 something warrior and a level 15 (or thereabouts) rogue. I had maxed out tailoring and I think I just managed enchanting as well. I had the other professions in varying states of disarray. My rogue was a leatherworker back then, my warrior was a skinner and my paladin a miner. Those characters don’t have those professions any longer, I’ve shuffled them about.

Now with just under eight weeks left in Cata I have 8 level 85’s, by the time Mists drops I’ll have 11 or 12. All my professions are maxed out with alchemy, tailoring and enchanting being maxed twice over. I’m getting the mats stocked up to level enchanting for the third time when I roll a monk, that disenchanting ability is very useful. I’ve moved guilds three times, the last move meaning I’ve also moved realms, I call Bronze Dragonflight home now as opposed to Argent Dawn. A lot has changed over the course of one expansion.

The old world revamp
The revamp from 1-60 was a necessary improvement. The quest flow is much better, the story easier to follow. There’s very little go talk to this person in Kalimdor, now go talk to this person in Eastern Kingdoms, back again, and back again, and so on. The placing of dungeon quests inside the dungeons is a great quality of life improvement, not just limited to old world Azeroth. This also allowed change to occur, for the story to move on, for new story hooks to be seeded and new lore developed. Generally change isn’t possible in a static world like warcraft. Outside of a few phased areas players don’t see any impact that their actions have had. This allowed that impact to occur.

Due to the revamp flying mounts became possible in Azeroth. This made working on loremaster at max level, gathering old mats, working archaeology, or just plain travelling a lot easier. It’s not all sunshine and roses though as the revamp made questing quite linear, and depending on who you talk too, a lot easier. With the old world it was easy to miss quests, and particularly when you were trying for loremaster it could be a real hunt. However, I don’t equate difficult with annoying and running around the world handing in quests was annoying. It was easily done, it just took a while and was a pain.

I like the old world revamp. There are quest chains I don’t like of course, like the oil quest in  Thousand Needles. Actually though if a quest gets a reaction, even a negative one, then it’s done it’s job. I also loved all the new achievements that make up the loremaster. Before you just had one per continent but now there’s zones achievements. For me the more achievements the better.

The new zones
As I quasi proved when I did some exploring a while back, the new zones are larger than you think. I think the common assumption that they’re small comes from the fact that we’ve flown all over them. Flying is fast, you go straight to your destination and don’t have to go round things, everything looks bigger from the ground. They also weren’t grouped up into a new continent so it’s hard to see the scale of the additions. Vash’jir was very different being underwater and therefore 3D, you could get attacked from above/below as well as the sides. I liked it well enough but I’m glad there was only one zone of it.

The questing was also very linear – too linear. I appreciated the chance for the story to develop but it went too far. When levelling alts you had to do exactly the same quests, in the same order, you couldn’t skip about. This got very boring and I’m completely sick of them. There were also too many cutscenes in Uldum, I didn’t need to see a cutscene of me walking up a hill. Plus you don’t get the opportunity to loot the last thing you killed which just bothered me. Some cinematics are great but these weren’t skippable, and there were too many of them.

Don’t get me wrong I liked the zones well enough the first time, and the second. The linear nature though meant I did a few quests in Hyjal, bought green gear from the AH, and then went dungeon crawling, anything to avoid having to run the same quests again.

The dungeons
These were a bit hit and miss. At the start of cata these were hard to pug as people didn’t get the idea of cc, interrupts, and priority killing. I liked them well enough but only to run with friends, which meant when they weren’t on I was a bit stuck. The remakes of Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep were good, although I do still miss the old versions. I wish that perhaps they’d altered them for heroic but left the old versions intact for the original low level.

The trollies were an exercise in frustration. They took forever to complete, wipes were frequent and there was only two of them. That mean that for that tier of gear they were your only option. Running them on one character was a chore, running more than one character was just plain testing your sanity. Having said that they weren’t bad dungeons. They just suffered from being tough in appropriate gear, and there only being two of them.

The HoT’s were a lot easier, very pug friendly, quick to run and interesting enough with the attached lore. I liked them as they are what random dungeons are supposed to be – appropriate for randoms. Running with friends is always preferable but when you’re capping your valor, or running for a particular drop, or even running for some justice for some transmog gear, friends aren’t always available. The original set of dungeons were beautiful, interesting and definitely something to run when just going for points, particularly when overgeared. The HoT’s were also good for gearing up alts to get into LFR or even normal mode Dragon Soul. I like that and it’s useful in a way but it also cuts out a large portion of content as being irrelevant. I’m not too sure what the answer is there.

The raids
I did all of the cata raids at a vaguely appropriate ilevel. I did the original three (TotFW, BwD and BoT) after Firelands had come out but I wasn’t running Firelands then. I did Firelands before Dragon Soul came out and Dragon Soul is obviously the last one so that was in a mix of Firelands gear, HoT gear and LFR.

I admit I got hooked on raiding but it wasn’t until Dragon Soul that I joined a proper raid team. Unfortunately our approach to raiding turned out to be a bit incompatible so the guild is trying to put together two raid teams for Mists. I started off as a healer, then I filled in as a tank when we were missing one. Now I’m hoping that I’ll get to main tank from now on. This is a big change for me, I mean when I first started this blog I wrote a post about how I hated raid tanking.

I liked all the raids and they’ve got their own post saying as much, and highlighting which encounters I liked in particular. I will be one sad panda if I don’t get to raid in Mists. Raiding, and being ready for raids, was a big part of cata for me.

Molten Front and Darkmoon Faire
The Molten Front was a nice idea, I liked the achievements, but it was a gigantic pain in the arse. The cumulative repetitive dailies made you get sick of them long before you unlocked everything and finished it. Then, if you’re like me and you have alts you should do it again for at least the profession patterns. They should have made those patterns/plans bind on account. Then if you wanted to repeat the grind for soon to be outdated gear on your alts the choice was yours. I’ve gone back to doing all the dailies everyday for a shot at the Searing Scorchling pet, which refuses to drop. At least now I’m in Dragon Soul gear the dailies are a lot quicker to complete.

I both like and despair at the Darkmoon Faire. Again I like the achievements, and the pets and mounts are nice. I can also see the potential in adding to it in future patches/expansions like with the T3 transmog replicas. However, it greatly simplified the rep grind to exalted and I feel slightly cheated at that. I was going to do it anyway but then I didn’t have too. I have a guild bank tab full of assorted DMF cards that I was going to make into decks. What do I do with them now? I mean sure I could have done the old rep grind and then taken part in the faire. I wanted my pets and mounts though and the achievements. With the DMF rep made easy Ravenholdt was the only real obstacle left to getting ‘the Insane’ so I managed it within short order. I love that title but compared to my friend, who had to do Shen’dralar and the DMF the old way, I really didn’t earn it.

Looking for Raid
I really should do a post all on it’s for LFR. I think that this is a great feature for people to see out the end of the story. It opens it up to the whole playerbase, as it’s queue-able, so everyone who wants to can see the conclusion. However, it has so many problems I don’t even know where to start. For anyone dedicated to raiding running it is mandatory to get gear upgrades until you’re decked out in normal gear, particularly for set bonuses. That isn’t a problem until you get to the loot, where everyone rolls need on everything they can roll need on, without regard as to whether they actually need it or not. They’re changing the loot system for Mists so it’s individual and so that will solve that. What they can do about it being a cesspool of abusive players, those who queue healer or tank in dps gear, those who afk out and turn up just to loot.

LFR isn’t a raid, it’s just a supersized random and so it has supersized random issues. I think that in theory it is a great addition to the game. However, I do think it was a really odd choice to release this in the last patch of cata. This is a completely new feature and it should have been on the box, not added in a random patch. I don’t think that people appreciate it as a feature, or that it’s had the impact it should have had, because it dropped in patch 4.3 as opposed to being new at the start of the expansion.

In theory this is a great addition, in practice it is something I run when I have too and then cheerfully abandon as soon as possible.

This suffered from the same problem as LFR, it really should have been on the box and released at the start of the expansion. I love transmogging my main and I have a different set depending on what I’m doing. I have my tank set, my healing set, my ret set and my pvp set. It’s also great when you have something like the tentacle staff, it was a good upgrade on my mage, but I can’t stand to look at it.

Basically I love this feature. I understand why a lot of the restrictions are in place but the main hand/one hand restriction I don’t get. They are both one handed weapons, it’s just one is designated main hand instead. I really don’t understand what difference it makes, and I’ve put together outfits before, and then had to change it because of this restriction. I’d also love it if they’d relax the weapon type restriction. What should it matter if my bis weapon is a sword and I want to transmog it into a mace? I understand keeping the one hand/two hand restriction as that could mess up animations, but the weapon type shouldn’t make a difference. It would be nice if they allowed you to wear your old armor types, like for paladin being able to transmog mail. Obviously they want to try and keep class identity as much as they can, but I would have loved to transmog the Scarlet set for instance. You can wear it as a paladin when you’re at that level but then you level out of it as it’s mail.

Cataclysm was a good solid expansion. It suffered a little as it was a split expansion with some of the focus on retooling the 1-60 experience, rather than just the endgame. There were some frustrating parts in it like the trollie tier of dungeons. Questing was too linear in a lot of places meaning if I have to go back to Hyjal or Uldum again I’ll scream. However, the art department did amazing work, the lore is incredible, the encounters were interesting and the new features are great. It wasn’t perfect but it was still a fun time.