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A Last Look Back at World of WarCraft: Cataclysm

/ May 1st, 2012 No Comments

WoW: Cataclysm Final Thoughts

World of WarCraft: Cataclysm was the third expansion for the most popular MMO of all time, created by Blizzard Entertainment. At the time of release the expansion was widely anticipated and early reviews lauded the new zones, features, dungeons and raids. Since that time and with the first two major updates, WoW took a noticeable dive with subs (subscribers) due to various reasons ranging with frustration to boredom. With the Hour of Twilight 4.3 release, Blizzard sought to right many of Cataclysm wrongs by making dungeons and heroic dungeons much more manageable and bringing in the Raid Finder feature which for the first time allowed Pug raids (pick up group). With this feature most players actually got to see end-game content and enjoy upper tier gear without being a slave to their guild’s schedule. In this article we’ll take a quick look back at WoW Cataclysm and look back at some of the things that worked and bombed.

WoW: Cataclysm Final Thoughts

WoW: Cataclysm Final Thoughts

Speaking first to the raid finder, this feature mentioned in the previous paragraph allowed players to engage in the final two part showdown with Deathwing in similar fashion to joining up with a group for a regular or heroic dungeon. One of my biggest beefs with WoW was that I always wanted to kill the guy on the box, whether it was Illidan (Burning Crusade), Arthas (Lich King), or Deathwing (Cataclysm). However, I’m hardly a hardcore player and don’t have the luxury of time to constantly grind out dungeons and raids with my guild. That meant that I always got to miss out on end-game content and never got to kill the guy on the box. Seriously, I can’t stress how badly I wanted to do that – I *really* wanted to kill the guy on the box … which makes me wonder how I’ll feel about Mists of Pandaria.

Anyways, as someone that loved the lore of WoW and of WC3 I really wanted to see how the story played out with these two central characters. Now though, thanks to the raid finder I had the incentive to build up my 85, grind out the heroics (which I will talk to later) and finally qualify item-wise for the LFR (looking for raid). It made WoW playable again since I had some incentive to continue playing – I wanted to kill the guy on the box and see how this whole expansion’s story arc ended and now I had a means of doing so. After playing through for a while I’ve looted some incredible top-tier gear and got to kick some Deathwing butt. Kudos to Blizzard for finally allowing players of my lifestyle for opening up this content.

Taking a step backward, I can say the single most frustrating aspect of World of WarCraft for me used to be playing through heroic dungeons. Like many gamers I’d join a group, maybe play through the first boss or two and along the way lose one or two members of the party. The requeue would take much too long and before I knew it I would have invested 1-1.5 hours in one single heroic only to be the last idiot standing and everyone else having already rage quit in frustration since the dungeon was just too darn hard. That meant a time suck with nothing in the game to show for it – and that got old really quick. I get the fact that heroics at supposed to be hard but you also have to consider the holistic gaming experience. In the future I hope there are three levels of difficulty for heroics, much like we’ve been promised with future raids and that the first to tier allows you to get enough oomph to take on the final raids. You’d be able to back and play the dungeons on insane mode for whatever incentive someone could dream up. Fortunately for me, patch 4.3 remedied the frustration and made the heroics enjoyable once again.

Thrall and Dorilina Hanging Out in HoT

Thrall and Dorilina Hanging Out in HoT

I don’t think speaking to the new zones is worth too much conversation as everyone has already written as much as there needs to be on this subject. Some new zones were awesome, some totally sucked (Vashj’ir) and the expansion zone of The Firelands ultimately proved disappointing for questing but exciting for the raid against the Firelord. For the Hour of Twilight patch, I thought the three new dungeons and final two-part raid were awesome from both a WoW lore perspective and just for pure action fun.

I almost feels like theres three major groups of people when it comes to Cataclysm. The first group felt the game was nerfed too much and that all the end game content and top tier gear should be reserved for the serious grinders. Others got so frustrated with the game and lack of longevity behind the new zones and getting up from 80 to 85 that they just left WoW behind for other games. A third group, which might actually be a minority actually one I belong to, thought that Cataclysm started out well, had a horrible middle where we left the game completely for months, but returned when all the things we wanted were introduced with the 4.3 patch.

Overall, World of WarCraft definitely remains alive and well, with the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion promising to offer much more to the casual folks which gets us excited about the future of the game. If you quit WoW when you dinged 85 and we’re frustrated beyond belief, it’s actually a great time to revisit the game, kill Deathwing and prep for the upcoming expansion. While Cataclysm was been widely panned, I look back and feel that Blizzard took some risks and learned a lot about what makes WoW great and how they can keep it on top for a few more years to come.

Sean W. Gibson

Sean W. Gibson

Founder, Featured Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Sean Gibson has been the owner and Executive Editor of Gaming Illustrated for over eleven years. His roles include acting as CEO and President of Gaming Illustrated, LLC and also includes being a reviewer, previewer and interviewer. Sean's opinions on this site do not reflect those of his full-time employer.
Sean W. Gibson
Sean W. Gibson

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