Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cataclysm Retrospective

The Cataclysm expansion seems to be winding down. The Mists 5.0 PTR is up for testing. The Mists beta is doing raid testing. Deathwing has been made dead many times over.

Guild and Raiding

It's been a pretty fun expansion for me and, I think (hope), for Darkfall too. This is actually the first expansion since Vanilla that I've been in one guild the whole time. Of course it helped a lot that I became a guild officer pretty early on. I could make sure the raid schedule was as comfortable as possible for DraNgNon and myself. Fortunately this wasn't actually any sort of change from what Darkfall had originally had as a schedule.

It was fun, over the past 18 months, to learn how to be a better raid leader. And, over the past eight months, I've learned a lot from being guild leader as well. Though I don't think I'm nearly as good a guild leader as I am a raid leader. Darkfall is currently 5/8 in Heroic Dragon Soul 10man so I don't think I've done a terrible job as raid leader thus far.

I am also really happy that I instituted the Monday night fun runs. I initially started them as a way to get guild achieves. We'd grab whoever was on and and interested to run old dungeons and raids. It actually turned into a really fun experience as we also would get whatever achievements individual people needed from the raid or dungeon we were slaughtering. In addition to being fun it was also a great way for the guild to bond. Most of the time I'd alternate easy and hard stuff on a week by week basis. So one week we'd be romping through Outland 5mans or Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj while laughing and talking on Vent. The next week we'd be concentrating on avoiding the defile from Heroic Lich King or twilght cutters of Heroic Halion. There was still laughter, but often it was laughter as someone fell to their death from an unnoticed shadow trap. Regardless of what happened it was a good way to have fun and helped the guild bond.


The general Cataclysm story was pretty good. It suffered a bit from not being separate from the rest of Kalimdor and EK. With BC and Wrath I expected it when the new zones were their own new and separate stories. But with the new Cata zones being part of the original Azeroth it was both nice and odd that the rest of Kalimdor and EK were updated to fit with them. I think that it's going to be increasingly jarring to level as more expansions come out. I'm not sure there is any way to solve this, but I do wonder how the new trainers in the starting zones are going to fit in with everything.

The major problem I had with the Cata story, both in the new Cata zones and in old revamped zones, is how very linear most of it seems to be. I've complained about this before. And I still think that Blizz learned just the wrong lesson from the DK starting area. The very linearity seems to have taken away a lot of the mystery and the sense of a big unexplored world just waiting for you. Except for the sections where the dangling plot hooks are just completely unexplained. Azshara, Neptulon, and the Naga spring to mind as a story that had a lot of promise but was just dropped to the floor. I have fun theorizing about that, but, of the new zones, that is the only place where there is any sort of major speculation possible.

There was also a lot of recycled content in Cata. Some of it tried to bridge the gap from Vanillla to current times, and some of it was just entirely recycled. I think that Blackwing Lair to Blackwing Descent would have been more successful if we hadn't had to kill Onyxia for the *third* time as part of the end boss encounter. Perhaps I'm more forgiving of Nefarian in that encounter because I didn't ever raid BWL more than the first few bosses. However I did raid Molten Core on a semi-regular basis so I had no leniency whatsoever for the entirely recycled nature of Firelands, and Ragnaros in particular. OH LOOK! The Sons of Ragnaros!! /wrists

I also would have been more impressed if the revamped troll dungeons were handled a bit better. Well, in fairness, Zul'gurub did have updated story around it, so the new bosses there made sense. However, Zul'Aman didn't have any explanation for why Daakara replaced Zul'jin but the animal loa bosses and Hexlord were still there. It would have been a good chance to update the Blood Elf starting area, which is sorely in need of an update, or at least the ability for people to use flying mounts there.

Uldum Sucks

However, my least favorite part about Cata was the Harrison Jones quest in Uldum. I really, really hate that quest line. I did it on one character, and I will NEVER complete any of it again. It was such a bad story, but what I truly hated was how often you lost control of your character.

Understand, I did the Uldum quests with Mornara. Mornara is a TANK. This means (I'm talking to you Blizzard) that she regularly gets hit by very large and angry beings and it does not kill her. Ok, yes, there is a full raid group, with healers, behind her. But consider this situation: Mornara and Kuan and various raids have fought their way through ICC. They defeated Arthas. Anub'arak's carapace lies cracked at their feet. They ride Rust-bound Protodrakes because they freed the Keepers of Ulduar and killed Yogg-Saron without their help. Now they are headed off to Uldum, and a band of pygmies with spears and rocks capture them?!?! And then later Harrison Jones needs to rescue them from a single goblin with a rocket propelled grenade. Mornara jumps on grenades for fun! It's called being a tank!

I'm also not a big fan of the pygmies in Uldum. It's rather racist portrayal, but Saif said that better than I can.

Oh and lets not forget that the entire set of Harrison Jones quests is thinly veiled WW2/Nazi references. Yes, yes, I like Raiders of the Lost Ark, it's a fun movie, but the quests in Uldum had too many references to actual Hitler and his cronies. That's history, it's not something that should be made into a joke.


The new secondary profession for Cata, Archaeology, was also a modest success. I found it most useful as a filler while I was waiting for a battleground or arena queue to pop. I suspect it is also useful if you are waiting for a dungeon queue, but as a tank the longest part of my LFD queue is waiting for that one dps who is asleep to time out.

I've gotten some cool rewards with archaeology. There are bunch of rather cute companion pets you can get. I'm also always happy to be riding my skeletal raptor around. And even better, to my mind, there are a bunch of small bits of lore you can get out of Archaeology. Every item you assemble has a sentence or two at least of explanation or history on it.

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