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BlizzCon 09: Blizzard Officially Unveils  WoW  Expansion,  Cataclysm
BlizzCon 09: Blizzard Officially Unveils WoW Expansion, Cataclysm
August 21, 2009 | By Chris Remo

August 21, 2009 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC

The third World of Warcraft expansion pack has been officially unveiled as Cataclysm during BlizzCon 2009 in Anaheim, California.

Blizzard Entertainment's creative development VP Chris Metzen introduced the game's debut trailer to raucous applause from the assembled crowd of Blizzard fans, claiming the game "will very literally change the face of the world of Azeroth as you know it."

Notable amongst the expansion's additions are a new playable Horde race, the Goblins, as well as a new playable Alliance race, the werewolf-like Worgen. Unlike in previous expansion packs, the player level cap will be raised only 5, to 85, rather than by 10.

Apparently confirming early rumors, the trailer -- and Metzen's comment -- strongly suggested that the expansion will see many dramatically redesigned environments reflecting the occurrence of a catastrophic event, rather than simply adding new areas onto the existing game.

Other new mechanics include the Archaeology skill for characters, a leveling and achievement system for guilds, and ranked team multiplayer.

No release period projection was given for the game.

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Bob Stevens
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Very clever, as they tap into 4+ years of nostalgia while advancing the story and content this way. This is going to be like crack for most WoW players, though I can't imagine it will be out until next Christmas.

Mark Auer
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I have to agree Bob. This is a fairly novel idea to revitalize the entire world and not alienate it is as most expansions seem to do.

Ross Dutton
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I'm still very confused as to how this will be rolled out...

With all the starting areas changing up and such, the original wow box is basically obsolete right? Would you still need to own that AND Cataclysm to play WoW? As well as BC and Lich King? Or will be be that you just need to when it to get to the lvl 80-85?

I'm really interested to hear how they are handling this, since the old kingdoms haven't had a design change since the game was launched (nothing this huge anyway). They've just been adding areas on not connected directly ala Outland and Northrend...

Lance Rund
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It must certainly be recognized that Blizzard has mastered showmanship. Regardless of liking WoW or not, anyone working on a AAA title needs to pay attention to how Blizzard manages its brand, its intellectual property, and its public relations. What other company would have the hubris to sponsor their own love-fest convention, and have people beating down the doors to participate? What other company would then actually deliver on those expectations (or, at least, be perceived to be delivering)?

At Austin GDC 2007, one of the senior Bioware folks (Gordon Walton, I think) gave a talk on branding. Partway through, he asked "How many of you would buy a title from Sony Online Entertainment based solely upon the fact that Sony was the producer?" Not a single hand. "How about Microsoft?" No hands. "Bioware?" Several hands. "Well, it's nice to be loved by some. Blizzard?" Almost every hand went up. "Look around you. What is the value of what you are seeing? Do NOTHING to harm your brand. Nothing you have, no award, no intellectual property, no superstar designer, is worth as much as your reputation. Protect your brand!"

Those people raising their hands were not fanboys. They were developers, publishers, PR specialists. They were industry professionals. They were objective, even cynical. To the last person they knew how games are actually made and sold. Not exactly susceptible to hype and BS.

How do you sustain interest in your 11.5-million subscriber base? That's a problem we'd all love to have. Love 'em or hate 'em, Blizzard is showing one possible way.

Of course, when I have my own company with 11.6 million subscribers, I'll be schooling Blizzard... and no. I won't share what I'm smoking. I'm mean.

Franklin Brown
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Rather than making "World of Warcraft 2" and making the same mistake Everquest made, Blizzard is re-inventing the level 1-60 experience in World of Warcraft.

What this means is that if you buy the vanilla WoW box, you'll probably be forced to download an enormous content patch so that you can see the 1-60 zones that come with Cataclysm. You will still need the expansion packs to see Outland, Northrend, and all the new zones in Cataclysm, but users of the base game are, essentially, getting a free upgrade.

It's a brilliant move, and it will only serve to sell more accounts. The old world has become stale and was in dire need of graphical and functional upgrades to bring it current with the quality of the expansions, and this accomplishes that.

I would imagine Blizzard will eventually start shipping a vanilla WoW version that already has the base Cataclysm content so that the enormous patch isn't necessary, but they just torrent the download anyway, so it's not an enormous drain on their resources.