The Worgen racial starting area was a real ‘role-playing’ experience, interesting quests with a progressive narrative and real sense of your character having an impact on the world thanks to the game world mechanic called ‘phasing’. The ‘phasing’ system was implemented in the previous paid World of Warcraft expansionWrath of the Lich King, that works by changing what your character can see in the world as you complete quests. As you move through a quest chain, different buildings, monsters, and conditions phase in and out – making the world very dynamic, without changing the fundamental structure or interfering with the play of others. It gives your character a much bigger sense of having an impact on the world – not like the old days where 50 people would kill the local bad guy and the world remained the same. Everything in the new expansion, Cataclysm, has brought a real sense of progress to the world of Azeroth. Suddenly WoW has lost its ‘static’ feel, after about five years it finally feels like MMO with a strong role-playing element.

The Gilneas starting quests are great fun, there is a good deal of variety to the action – and some great cut-scenes – never knowing when you human character will become a Worgen is a nice touch. The rescue at the close of the Gilneas missions by the Night Elves, sends your character off to the Night Elf lands and you get to witness the devastation that Cataclysm has brought to the world – the new textures, details, monsters and phasing quests are all good fun – but I have to admit to a bit of quest ‘glaze’ in the post 80 content with my main character Tallidus.

Last night I took my new level 24 Worgen Warrior on her first instanced dungeon – a ‘five man’ group through the Shadowfang Keep – and took my main character, Tallidus – a human level 80 mage – through Blackrock Caverns. In both cases, I simply clicked the button and got in the queue for the dungeon – Tramayne’s group was formed by the automatic system in 30 seconds and I had my first experience as a ‘tank’ in WoW, while Tallidus’s group took 35 minutes to form and I was trying out the new Arcane talent build after being told my ‘crits’ were not high enough to play the fire talents tree I had previously chosen.

The Shadowfang keep was good fun – even got surprised by some innocent look gargoyles that transformed and attacked as we crept by – our healer was new to the instance, as was I and so we took it slow.  My character was the only one to die but I then switched from a single two handed weapon, to a mace and shield – doing less damage but increasing the damage I could take, and managed to keep ‘aggro’ – the attention from the monsters so they didn’t hit our healers.

The Blackrock Caverns was less enjoyable – I find with ‘pick-up-groups’ or PUGs these days,  which a five person groups formed by people entering the dungeon ques across five or so different servers,  that people aren’t very patient, are often rude, weird, unkind and just not very nice. There is probably a bunch of reasons for this: the endless drive for ‘loot’, the rinse and repeat style of play ( doing the same content over and over) and general saturation of people in the game perhaps. One of our group left in order to “pass out” and another got lost. I died once from gaining too much ‘aggro’ from a couple of big spells, but we managed to kill all the big monsters – the Bosses – and I got a new piece of equipment for my ‘toon’.

All my old gear on Tallidus – gained from a few hours spent in dungeons raiding in Wrath – is now worthless which is a shame, but it does give me reasons to play more. That sense of change that comes with the new expansion and new mechanics like phasising have positive and negative consequences as all the old affects generated by the play of the game have been reset. I am keen to play more but the new mechanics, especially for the higher level characters, are quite difficult to master. I couldn’t understand all the strategy in the Blackrock dungeon and have to read up more on that, and my Warrior isn’t ‘specc’d’ right for tanking but there is always something else to do in WoW.

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