WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Cataclysm, the upcoming expansion to World of Warcraft. If you'd like to keep everything a surprise, don't read any further. If you'd like to know more about the upcoming content, read away!
Issue 212 of PC Gamer UK has hit the stands, and includes a fascinating six-page article with fifty reasons why lapsed subscribers should probably return to Azeroth. Forget the lapsed subscribers, there's enough information in here for current subscribers to drool over with unbridled glee. For those of you on this side of the pond, some highlights from the article. We requested comment from PC Gamer as to whether this information came directly from Blizzard, but we haven't yet received a response, so keep that in mind as we cover the highlights:
Reason number twelve: Cataclysm chooses fun over efficiency. The talent trees will be completely redone, something we've covered a little with previous posts on the new mastery system that will be made available. A quote from Tom Chilton states "I'd expect to see a further pruning of critical class buffs and debuffs, because it's still a little more restrictive than what we'd like to see. A lot of what Mastery and the talent changes are about is making sure that the choices players make about their character are interesting. Hopefully that will add character depth without making the game more complex."
Reason number twenty: It's going to tell better stories. Through the use of phasing technology that was introduced in Wrath, zones will change according to the progress characters have made. For example, the goblin and worgen starting zones will make heavy use of this as you level towards the Cataclysm event itself. The article also states that the narrative of Cataclysm is going to be even more heavy embedded in the quest chains that it was in Wrath of the Lich King. "We don't really approach any quest line or story with the idea that we need to use phasing here," Chilton explains. "We approach it based off the needs of what it is that we're trying to achieve. So if we're talking about the Barrens, we'll try to identify the most core thing to do with what's going on with the story of the Barren and we'll try to focus more on those than we ever did before. And if in the process of doing that we have an idea that's awesome and will be supported really well by phasing, then we decide whether or not to use it."
Reason number twenty seven: Thrall is off. According to the article, Warchief Thrall will leave Orgrimmar to take up a 'meta-position' as Guardian of Tirisfal, a position currently held in the comics by Med'an, the son of Garona Halforcen and the former Guardian Medivh. His replacement? Overseer Garrosh Hellscream, leader of the Horde expedition in Northrend.
Reason number thirty: The Horde are getting political. This is a given, if Hellscream is taking over, but the article has some shocking information -- Garrosh is going to execute Cairne Bloodhoof for treason, and throw the forsaken and blood elf forces out of Orgrimmar. If this information is correct, it really won't be the Alliance the Horde has to worry about so much as other branches of the Horde wanting to politely remove Garrosh Hellscream's head and use it for a rousing game of kickball.
Reason number thirty-one: There's a new emphasis on raiding. The reason the new level cap is only five levels is so that designers could concentrate on getting more endgame content ready for the launch. According to the article, there will be four new raid dungeons and eight heroics open from the start.
Reason number forty-two: You'll be going to Egypt... ish. Remember Uldum? According to the article, it's home to a lost Titan city and a race of 'giant stone cats', the Tol'vir. PC Gamer thinks that the final Uldum dungeon will be patched in as a later raid. The real question is, will Brann Bronzebeard be running around to angrily shriek at Uldum's programming?
Reason number forty-three: You'll be back at Blackrock. In Cataclysm, Deathwing's return as the head of the Black Dragonflight will stir up more trouble under the mountain. According to the article, the new raid dungeon Blackwing Descent will see you face off against Nefarian, alongside a new five-man instance, Blackrock Caverns. Nefarian? Apparently that whole bit with his head on a pike was... merely a setback.
Reason number forty-six: Wintergrasp's getting a sequel. The new world PvP zone in Cataclysm is the Isle of Tol'Barad, an off-shore prison policed by mages from Dalaran and Stormwind, but its main purpose is to host faction level battles between Alliance and Horde. When the battle for control of Tol'Barad is over, it will become a daily quest hub similar to the Isle of Quel'Danas, which the designers are hoping will encourage yet more fighting. "We thought that when the battle wasn't going on in Wintergrasp, it would be a good environment for spontaneous world PvP," Chilton explains, "But the way the Lich King economy developed players didn't stay after the battles to farm for primals. What we're trying to do is meld the idea of Wintergrasp with the Isle of Quel'Danas. That felt like that players were naturally there and had activities they wanted to do, and PvP spontaneously happened without us needing to force it."
There are plenty more reasons, and a lot more information in the article -- Issue 212 is currently available on newstands in the UK, or if you don't happen to be on that side of the ocean, they've made issues available online for purchase.