UPDATE: Posted Blizzard's official "World of WarCraft: Cataclysm" FAQ at the end of the post, since their sites have had some trouble staying up. Also trailer added!
ORIGINAL STORY At BlizzCon 2009, Blizzard has officially announced the next expansion pack for "World of WarCraft." "World of WarCraft: Cataclysm" has been rumored for the past couple of weeks, and it turns out the rumors were legit.
The trailer shown at BlizzCon detailed new playable characters. The Worgen (a wolf-like race) will be playable for the Alliance, while the Goblins (a goblin-like race) will be playable for the Horde. Apparently it'll also open up certain classes which were previously locked to certain races. For example, humans will be able to be hunters, night elves will be able to be mages, so on and so forth.
The expansion will also increase the level cap to 85 and the Azeroth landscape will be dramatically different, making the experience of leveling up the new races basically brand new.
Still waiting on the official trailer link, I'll post it the second it goes up!
OFFICIAL BLIZZARD "World of WarCraft: Cataclysm" FAQ
What is the story of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm?
While the attention of the Horde and Alliance remained fixed upon Northrend, an ancient evil has been lying dormant within Deepholm, the domain of earth in the Elemental Plane. Hidden away in a secluded sanctuary, the corrupted Dragon Aspect Deathwing has waited, recovering from the wounds of his last battle against Azeroth, nursing his hatred for the inferior creatures that infest the surface realm...and biding his time until he can reforge the world in molten fire.
Soon, Deathwing the Destroyer will return to Azeroth, and his eruption from Deepholm will sunder the world, leaving a festering wound across the continents. As the Horde and Alliance race to the epicenter of the cataclysm, the kingdoms of Azeroth will witness seismic shifts in power, the kindling of a war of the elements, and the emergence of unlikely heroes who will rise up to protect their scarred and broken world from utter devastation.
The face of Azeroth is altered forever as the destruction left in Deathwing's wake reshapes the land and reveals secrets long sealed away. Players will be able to re-experience familiar zones across Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, rewrought by the cataclysm and filled with new opportunities for adventure.
What are the features of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm?
Some of the new features of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm include:
* Two New Playable Races: Adventure as one of two new races--the cursed worgen with the Alliance or the resourceful goblins with the Horde.
* Level Cap Increased to 85: Earn new abilities, tap into new talents, and progress through the path system, a new way for players to improve characters.
* Classic Zones Remade: Familiar zones across the original continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms have been altered forever and updated with new content, from the devastated Badlands to the broken Barrens, which has been sundered in two.
* New High-Level Zones: Explore newly opened parts of the world, including Uldum, Grim Batol, and the great Sunken City of Vashj'ir beneath the sea.
* More Raid Content than Ever Before: Enjoy more high-level raid content than previous expansions, with optional more challenging versions of all encounters.
* New Race and Class Combinations: Explore Azeroth as a gnome priest, blood elf warrior, or one of the other never-before-available race and class combinations.
* Guild Advancement: Progress as a guild to earn guild levels and guild achievements.
* New PvP Zone & Rated Battlegrounds: Take on PvP objectives and daily quests on Tol Barad Island, a new Wintergrasp-like zone, and wage war in all-new rated Battlegrounds.
* Archaeology: Master a new secondary profession to unearth valuable artifacts and earn unique rewards.
* Flying Mounts in Azeroth: Explore Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms like never before.
Why are you revisiting the continents of Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor?
As we developed new content and expansions, we learned a lot of techniques to provide players with a better game experience--but the majority of the new content we were creating was for high-level characters only. We felt we could apply the lessons of Outland and Northrend to improve the gameplay experience while leveling in the original two continents. Imagine revisiting a familiar zone like Darkshore only to find Auberdine destroyed by the cataclysm--and then discovering entirely new towns and quests in other parts of the zone.
Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms are central to World of Warcraft lore, and we want those areas to remain an important part of the game, not just a place to train or auction. Our goal is to make questing, leveling, and the overall story more fun for new, returning, and existing players. By redesigning areas of the original continents and introducing new content that matches or exceeds the quality of Wrath of the Lich King, we can revitalize the nostalgia and coolness of Azeroth.
How did you decide upon the two new playable races, worgen and goblin?
The community has been requesting to play as the goblins for quite some time now, and we wanted to stick with at least one race that players were very familiar with. This expansion was the perfect time to bring the goblins to the forefront and offer more insight into their past, since the catastrophic events of the expansion really hit close to home.
As for the worgen, players have been hoping to be able to learn more about them since Silverpine Forest. This is a great opportunity to explore their lore and the mysteries of the Greymane Wall. The worgen are an aggressive and beastly race, which is something you see often among the Horde races, but is unique among the Alliance races.
Will the two new races have all-new starting experiences?
Yes, we are creating all-new level 1 to 15 starting zones for both races. Players will start their adventures with the worgen in Gilneas, which was sealed off behind the Greymane Wall. Goblin players will start on the Isle of Kezan and then head to the Lost Isles in the South Seas before joining the mainland. Each starting experience will be presented in a fashion similar to the death knight starting area in Wrath of the Lich King, and these starting zones will make extensive use of our new phased-terrain technology.
Which classic zones have been overhauled? What are some examples of changes?
Nearly all of the game’s original zones are being altered to some degree, but the extent of the changes varies by zone. For example, Darkshore is flooded and has been completely redesigned with all new quest hubs. The Barrens have been split in two; one half is for low-level players and the other is for higher-level players. Azshara is now a low-level zone for Horde players and connects directly to Orgrimmar.
Is another Hero class being added to the game?
We are not planning to add a new Hero class in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. For this expansion, it was more appropriate to focus on the two new races, the goblins and worgen. We never intended to include a Hero class in every expansion. As you saw with death knights, adding a new class changes the dynamics of the game dramatically, which is not something we want to do in every expansion. We still have plans to introduce new Hero classes in the future.
Will I will be able to use my flying mount in the redesigned Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor?
Yes. While the original Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor weren’t designed for flying mounts, we’re redesigning the continents with flying mounts in mind. However, we’re still determining whether there will be any restrictions on where you will be able to fly, at what level flying will become available, or whether you’ll need to do anything to unlock it. We’ll share more details about this in the future.
Will I need the expansion to be able to experience the Cataclysm changes?
When the Cataclysm occurs, it will occur for all players, whether they have purchased the expansion or not--you will no longer be to play in the original version of Kalimdor or the Eastern Kingdoms. However, certain features such as the new zones, new races, and new level cap will only be accessible to players who purchase the expansion.
Will “phasing” be used more extensively in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm?
Yes. We’ve come up with a number of new, cool ways to using phasing since we introduced it in Wrath of the Lich King, and plan to use it more extensively to change the world as players progress. We are also now able to phase terrain, which players will see in the starting areas for the goblins and worgen. We’re also adding some UI improvements to help determine when another player is in a different “phase” from you.
Will there be any updates to the graphics and changes to the minimum system requirements?
Yes, there will be incremental tweaks and updates to the graphics engine in this expansion. For example, we’ve made improvements to the way that water is rendered. We’ll announce the exact system requirements closer to the expansion’s release.