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WoW Rookie: Cataclysm changes to early and middle levels

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If you're not a leveling player -- and sorry, but that does not include you wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am types zipping up your latest alts -- then as I tell my family when they're hovering around me when I'm trying to write, "I love you; now go away." Today's WoW Rookie is all about stuff that matters to players who focus on WoW's leveling game. If you've got the whole leveling thing down pat ... if leveling is just a chore to get to the end game, where "the game begins at 80" ... if your pre-80 character is just one among your entire stable of toons ... then move along, big guy. Your secret handshake didn't pass muster at this clubhouse.

For those of us gleefully picking our way through the levels, we're going to take another look this week at what's ahead for us in the expansion. First, I've got a lead to share on a friendly place to tuck into for companionable leveling. Then we'll round up a whole collection of facts and developments on how Cataclysm will change the game for players in the 1-60ish range. If you're an assiduous reader of The Queue, none of this will be new news; we've cherry-picked some recent goodies that apply to players in the early to middle levels.

A place to call home

As the latest WoW.com staff member to join the Choose My Adventure gang, I simply must begin here with a rave about the wonderful, wonderful folks in <It came from the Blog>. <IcftB> is the Zangarmarsh (US-H-PvE) guild created by WoW.com staffers as a way to get together with readers for meet-and-greets and in-game events for players of all levels. Despite its gargantuan size (hey, we're WoW.com – there are a lot of readers out there!) and a lack of forums or any formal organization, the guild has become a friendly, supportive home for growing a casual WoW character.

Day or night, there's someone playing in <IcftB>. The activity and chatter sprawls across all level ranges; when I was on late one afternoon to get my Choose My Adventure druid started, there were a handful of 80s puttering about, a group chuckling its way through BRD achievements, a whole handful of 30s and 40s dinging and achieving and chatting with the rest of the gang, and even a small handful of new players joining the guild. There literally is something for everybody.

End-game raiding is a budding effort, but there's a small knot of puggers-to-be who would welcome more casual raiders with open arms. Interest is high in building up enough steam to attack the level 60 4-man raids before Cataclysm arrives; who knows if the movement will reach critical mass in time, but the potential for fun is hot, hot, hot. Intrigued? Check out the <IcftB> FAQ, and see how the WoW.com crew is coming along on Choose My Adventure.

Construction ahead

And now, the meat of this week's post: a roundup of snippets specific to pre-80s content that we've pulled from our Q&A slush pot, The Queue. Spoiler alert: If you don't want to hear about Cataclysm content yet, we'll see you next week!

dawn asked: What's going on with the Argent Crusade in Cataclysm?

They're taking names and kicking ass in the Plaguelands. They've taken over most of the Scarlet Crusade's territory and made it their own. They've also taken over those silly PvP towers that the Alliance and the Horde have been bickering over for years now. Tirion Fordring is still kicking around and calls Hearthglen home, which is the place where you used to be able to find his son Taelen. He has also constructed another statue of himself. Stupid Tirion.

Sharvis asked: Are the towns in the revamped vanilla zones more lively and believable? I recently trekked an alt from dear old Azeroth to Outland and noticed how there are guards walking around Thrallmar and just NPC's doing stuff in general. It reminded me of how boring most of the towns are before then where nothing interesting is going on.

I've noticed a lot more random NPCs doing things about the cities in Cataclysm. Most of it is just jumping out at me because things are so different, but there is overall a lot more interaction and "busyness" to the world. This isn't a dig on Blizzard's previous design as much as it is just an observation about how MMOs have changed in the near six years WoW has been released. Back in 2005, it was quite normal to see mainly static towns with only a few dynamic elements. Today? Take a look at Dalaran; there's always something going on. Blizzard has grown along with the rest of the industry.

Thatacus asked: Since in Cataclysm we will have a lot more underwater fighting and stuff, will we be able to eat while in the water or anything? It would be kind of lame to surface and have to swim to land just to eat every time. Maybe they could have it where you can eat when you surface or something.

Yes, there's special underwater food available for Vashj'ir.

Chillypally asked: Is there any point farming for Frost badges anymore? Tier 10 is iLevel 251 and the first quests rewards are iLevel 272. Looks like we're in for a vanilla to BC transition and not a BC to WotLK one.

Most, if not all, of your 251 gear (which is epic) will not be replaced by Cataclysm's 272 gear (which is green). You will likely replace some of it with dungeon blues, but that's to be expected. Then there are things like trinkets, which are going to last you quite a while.

So is there a point? It's going to make leveling a lot easier. Think if you can kill a mob 10% faster, which might mean (overall) completing quests 5% faster ... That starts to add up. You'll kill stuff faster, die a lot less and generally have a better time. My personal goal is to get my healer alt geared in 251 gear by the time Cataclysm comes out, at which point I'll be able to quickly chain dungeons to level her.

Boom asked: So, if Death Knights start at 55 still - are worgen and goblins going to be available immediately as a death knight? Wouldn't that unbalance world and realm firsts for these two races? If not, I predict a large number of death knights in our future in a race for the 'first' achievements on those two races.

I would be very surprised if worgen and goblin death knights were allowed to get the realm first achievements or if they were allowed to be created on the first day. I'm sure Blizzard has a plan for this. It's a pretty glaring issue.

Shizzle asked: Has there been a definitive list compiled detailing which pre-Cataclysm achievements will be achieveable once the expansion hits and which ones will move into the realm of Feats of Strength?

No, not at all. It's probable that not even Blizzard truly knows that for certain yet. This kind of thing is a pretty big deal, since content changes will happen even after the expansion releases. It's just way too early to even guess.

TAD asked: Have the level 20-60 quests in the newly-revamped Old World been updated with the newer mechanics brought in with BC and WotLK? Bombing missions, vehicles, etc. I know there's some of that in the new starting zones, but I wonder if it's been extended to the rest of the game up to Outland.

Those mechanics aren't used as heavily as they are in Northrend, but they most certainly are there in the old world. Every single zone has received some sort of attention in Cataclysm, and many zones have received complete rebuilds from the ground up. Every zone is much closer to being in line with Blizzard's quest design of 2010 rather than the design of 2004.

TAD also asked: What's the story impetus now for players to even bother going to Outland or WotLK?

Outland and Northrend are in very strange places now that they've revamped the "old" world in Cataclysm. There's an immense disconnect in the story between levels 58 and 78 now. The quests you do in those areas technically take place in the past as far as the story goes, and you just have to roll with it and pretend it's perfectly normal. There's very little story impetus. None at all, really. It's just a victim of the fact that Blizzard is already rebuilding most of the world, they can't rebuild another at the same time. Maybe next expansion will see an Outland revamp that sets the story right. I won't lie, I loved Outland. Most people didn't, but I did. Zangarmarsh remains my favorite zone in the game even after seeing the Cataclysm beta. I'd love a reason to go back there.

tgrhawke asked: With Darkshore and Auberdine destroyed in Cataclysm, how do the draenei and the night elves get from their islands to Kalimdor?

The night elves still have an encampment in Darkshore. After Auberdine's destruction, they moved further north. To actually answer your question though, you sail into Rut'Theran now, off the coast of Darnassus. Then you take a flight down to Darkshore.

Rezai asked: You know the thing where you complete a quest, and you can turn it in right there and get the next quest instead of going back to the quest giver? Does anyone know if that has been implemented for BC and Wrath content?

I think people are misunderstanding this feature. Not every quest gets that treatment. Not every single quest completes automatically in the field and lets you pick up the new one in the middle of nowhere. This is only for specific quests and quest chains. The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King's content has been touched very little, so you most likely will not be seeing that in any quests in those areas. Only very specific parts of the new Cataclysm content have received it.

Alex asked: Regarding the Pirates rep grind (killing Booty Bay guards): I plan to be exalted with Pirates AND Booty Bay at the same time (by freeing Knot in Dire Maul countless of times). Will new Goblin quests in Cata will hurt my Pirates rep?

The playable goblins are their own faction, not the Steamwheedle Cartel. Their quests shouldn't affect your rep with either the Bloodsail Buccaneers or the Steamwheedle Cartel. But changes to Stranglethorn Vale and the rest of the world might. I'd get your kicks in now.

Transrelativity asked: What's the status of Rivendare's deathcharger, the Wintersaber/Venomhide, the ZG mounts, and the Argent Tourney in the beta? Has anything changed with them? I imagine there've been changes to Stratholme at least...

I can't say what's up with the ZG, Wintersaber or Argent Tournament mounts just yet, but I know for a fact that Baron Rivendare is gone from Stratholme as of this latest beta build. Whether this means his deathcharger is gone forever still remains to be seen. He does have a replacement ...

Mixer asks: Have they made any mention of how they will handle people that do not purchase Cata interacting with people that own Cata in the old world?

Yes. Repeatedly. If you do not purchase the Cataclysm expansion, you will still see all of the old world changes. You simply won't be able to play goblins or worgen, or access any areas that are higher than the expansion you have purchased. So if you're still playing vanilla, you're going to be restricted to level 60 content. The Burning Crusade, level 70. Wrath, level 80. You'll see the world change around you, the leveling quests will change for you, but you won't be able to go any higher than whatever expansion you're currently playing.

Dexter asked: Can non-goblins get into the goblin starting area where you drive around on a hot rod?

Nope. That area is a specific zone/phased location, much like the death knight area is. It might be possible for a person to summon another player there via the Recruit-A-Friend summons, but we don't know about that yet. Pretty much, it's goblin-only.

tnrtbone13 asked: Have the plague-affected zones become less ... plague-like? Also is there a time gap between the two expansions?

The plague isn't completely gone from Azeroth, but in some of the places it affected the most, it's been more or less neutralized. Western Plaguelands especially is an incredibly different place after Arthas' death.

There does appear to be a time leap after Wrath, but we're not sure exactly how long it's been yet; an NPC in Hyjal claims that it's been 10 years since your exploits in Outland, which is a pretty big leap, but given how much has changed, that's not very surprising.

promisha asked: What are the starter pets for each hunter race going to be?

  • Worgen: Mastiff
  • Goblin: Crab
  • Human: Wolf
  • Forsaken: Bat
  • Orc: Boar
  • Dwarf: Bear
  • Troll: Raptor
  • Draenei: Moth
  • Night elf: Nightsaber
  • Tauren: Plainstrider
  • Blood elf: Dragonhawk

You start with your pet at level 1, which acts as a guardian of sorts, attacking whatever you attack. Later on, you gain the ability to control it.

justinhross asked: How does the Worgen transformation work? Is your character wolflike all the time or do you get to choose when to be human or...?

You can choose to be in human form out of combat if you so desire, but you're forced into worgen form in combat. If you never want to be in human form, you never have to be.

RossGallacher asked: Will we need to pay for flying in Azeroth?

Doesn't look that way. You have the ability to fly in Azeroth if you have the ability to fly, period.
Reader tip of the week

Psst. Help a rookie brother or sister out; send us your hard-earned wisdom at lisa@wow.com.

This week's tip is the classic admonishment that will go further toward creating successful instance and raid runs than perhaps any other single piece of advice.
  • Don't stand in the fire. If a mob (usually an instance or raid boss) is laying down any effect on the ground -- flames and fire ... swirling, black blobs ... green oogly-moogly ... a hailstorm of ice or fire -- move out of the effect immediately. Don't do it after your cast finishes; don't wait until you get off one last ability. Move now. As you progress into more complex instances and environments, this one, single principle will become a baseline for acceptable player performance.

Salerina of Exodar (US) adds:

Make sure to have Projected Textures turned on! Many players turn it off to improve performance but leave it on! It lets you see important things on the ground like fire, death and decay, and all sorts of bad stuff you have to stay away from in order to stay alive.
Words of wisdom, indeed.

An authentic conclusion

You guys all have authenticators on your accounts, right? So hackers can't snag your account and then slap an authenticator on in order to slow down your account retrieval efforts, right? And you realize that now, the process is more secure than ever? Right!

Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from game lingo for the beginner, to joining your first guild as a mid-level player, all the way up through what to do when you finally hit level 80.

Filed under: WoW Rookie, Cataclysm

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