Every Thursday, The Overachiever shows you how to work toward those sweet achievement points. This week, we discuss the achievements most likely to drive you crazy in Cataclysm.
"Wait a minute," you say, in your continuing quest to point out that I am one card shy of a flush. "We've already covered feats of strength."
True. But we covered the ones that are becoming feats, most likely in patch 4.0.3. Are you still waiting for the Zulian Tiger to drop? Of course you are. I can't do anything to help you with that right now, so I figured I'd add to your misery by covering all the maddening stuff you'll find in the game later.
New feats of strength
Bloom and Doom I confess; I was completely new to the whole Plants vs. Zombies phenomenon and thought Blizzard's addition of a Peacebloom vs. Ghouls minigame in Hillsbrad was a little on the bizarre side. Then I saw the music video posted here, liked it, thought for a bit ("How can you cover the new minigame if you didn't play the original?"), caved, got Plants vs Zombies, and ... and I have no recollection of the week that followed. I'm pretty sure I ate and slept (or else I wouldn't be here), but my time disappeared into a relentlessly cheerful battle against hordes of undead, and I've developed a genuine intellectual interest in arguments over the viability of a no-corncob strategy on endless mode. So yes, I can see why Blizzard had some fun programming a version of the game into Hillsbrad, although I question its apparent certainty that WoW hasn't sucked up enough of our free time already.
Totalbiscuit ran a nifty video on how the new minigame in Hillsbrad works, and he mentions that the folks from PopCap may have had a hand in it. Laura Shigihara, PvZ's composer and the singer of the addictive music video above, also voices this new noncombat pet. To stave off questions on how you'll get it, it's a reward for defeating Warden Stillwater at the end of the quest series.
The game's bugged on the beta currently (the ghouls aren't spawning, which makes defending the farm very easy indeed) so I can't speak to the ultimate difficulty of the feat, but if it's anything like the corresponding endless mode in PvZ, it'll be a tough nut to crack. I guess someone (or many someones) at Blizzard must be fond of Plants vs. Zombies. Then again, a game company being full of gamers is perhaps not the world's biggest surprise.
Collector's Edition: Lil' Deathwing As with previous expansions and WoW classic, there's a feat of strength associated with the pet/s present in collector's edition.
Realm First! Level 85 As expected.
Realm First! (Class) or (Profession) Consider this a generalized heading for all the new maxed-out profession and class feats like Realm First! Illustrious Leatherworker and Realm First! Level 85 Priest. Those are pretty routine, given their level 80 counterparts from Wrath of the Lich King. I did want to single out two particular feats, however:
EDIT: Our commenter Qot has also pointed out that these achievements might exist to keep the first level 85 goblin or worgen from being a death knight (starting at 55, they'd have an insurmountable advantage). So the question of whether you'll be able to race-change to a goblin or worgen when Cataclysm begins is still up in the air, but needless to say that you won't have a shot at the achievement if you can.
Realm First! Illustrious Archaeologist This falls under the more generalized heading above, but I did want to draw particular attention to it. Since archaeology is new, anyone angling for this achievement is going to be in a race from the moment they train it up. There's an element of RNG to how quickly you level archaeology -- you can't control for how many fragments of a particular artifact you'll dig up at each site -- and you'll wear out a lot of digital shoe leather trekking from one site to another. Archaeology's fun as hell and I'm positive it'll be among the most enthusiastically greeted of Cataclysm additions, but if you're interested in this feat, plan on a lot of travel and a little luck.
Realm First! Al'akir, Realm First! Nefarian and Realm First! Sinestra These are technically guild feats of strength, and it occurs to me that we haven't really surveyed guild achievements yet. They've been changing a lot, and I expect even more tinkering before they're ready to go, but we'll take a look at guild achievements and their rewards next week while we're none-too-patiently waiting for BlizzCon to start.
Otherwise, I wanted to note them here because they're somewhat different from their Wrath counterparts Realm First! Magic Seeker, Realm First! Obsidian Slayer and Realm First! Conqueror of Naxxramas. They don't reward a title and they can be accomplished on either 10- or 25-man difficulty, as Mumper (lead content designer) states below:
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I think it's ultimately a good thing. Realm First! titles actually made number four on my 25 most evil achievements series. I loved the idea of them before Wrath started -- they were all really neat titles, and who's going to turn down the chance to sport the Lovecraftian "Death's Demise?" -- but I grew more and more antsy about them as the expansion progressed. I was enormously fortunate to be part of three raids that gained realm-first titles, but each time saw otherwise deserving people left out due to raid constraints, bad timing or simply bad luck. It also never felt right that 10-man raiders were excluded from these titles entirely.
I think the Cataclysm model is a better system, although there's been some back room discussion here at WoW Insider over whether realm firsts are more likely to happen on 10-man or 25-man. Personally, my money's on 10-mans. Unless Blizzard's willing to create two different-sized raid environments to give 25-man raiders the same amount of space typically enjoyed by their 10-man counterparts, 25-mans are always going to be a tighter (and tougher) squeeze for any "Spread the hell out!" or raid AoE damage mechanics. Blizzard also can't program 10-mans around comprehensive class coverage, whereas it's acknowledged it expects you to have good class representation on 25-mans. Once you add it all up, the situation starts to look pretty grim for 25-man raiders, and I'll probably revisit the subject in another article soon.
Otherwise, none of the respective raids (Blackwing Descent, Throne of the Four Winds and the Bastion of Twilight) are active on the beta, so we have no real idea what to expect in terms of difficulty.
WoW's 6th Anniversary As expected. No reward's been announced for this yet, but we'll probably see a unique noncombat pet à la Baby Blizzard Bear and Onyxian Whelpling.
Working on achievements? The Overachiever is here to help! We cover everything from Glory of the Hero and Insane in the Membrane to Master of Alterac Valley and Lil' Game Hunter, and you can count on us to guide you through Azeroth's holidays and special events.