Thoughts on the Cataclysm Beta: Lost Isles
I got extremely impatient with the beta download and accidentally canceled it at 99%. It was taking so long to re-download I finally just went to sleep, woke up in the late morning to find it…still not finished. But at last, after bouncing around in my seat for most of a day, I’m in the Cataclysm beta.
I have an odd attitude about spoilers. I don’t mind hearing about the talent tree overhauls or the new features and spells, but I dislike having anything lore-related blabbed about. So I am going to avoid doing that here. I have also been planning on rolling a worgen druid (or perhaps priest) when the expansion actually launches, so I was wary of rolling them in beta and then having nothing new to look forward to later on. I rolled a goblin instead.
My first impression was that goblins are kinda ugly. The women have a sort of strange beauty that works for them, but the males just don’t appeal to me. There were a few hairstyles to choose from, a few hair colors, etc. I don’t know if more will be added later, or what is available through the barber shop, but eh. They could use a little more variety, in my opinion. I decided to roll a hunter because I would like to test out a few hunter pets.
Enter the goblin starting area. Wow! Talk about a dingy, grimy city. You really get a sense of atmosphere (you know, aside from the smog that shrouds the place). The starting quests are all about greed, extravagance, and money. You get a sport’s car right off the bat to drive around the city on these terrifying roads. I have no idea what the traffic laws are in goblin-land, but I’m pretty sure plowing into pedestrians and bashing in to other drivers is not allowed. I really got the feeling that I was actually a member of goblin society, not just another grunt wandering in for training. It’s a very industrialized society with a lot of emphasis on getting ahead and getting rich. Too bad it gets blown to hell.
After escaping you find yourself, along with the survivors of the escape, washing up on the beaches of the Lost Isles. This is where you meet the Horde, do some work with them, and ultimately escape yet again. The quests were really unique. Most had to do with blowing something to bits. You battle a host of brand new mobs in the game, including a race of indigenous pygmies who have the most hilarious vocalizations I have yet to encounter in-game. As a hunter I was scoping out the new beasts in the zone. I started with a crab pet (hunters start with pets at level 1 now) but I wanted something different. There were Outland-model raptors in all colors and black cats roaming the jungle. I tamed a cat, but sadly I didn’t get a chance to tame a raptor. If they are tamable, then your only chance to get one is if you roll a goblin character and tame one then and there. The Lost Isles are a beautiful zone…until they get blown to hell.
The phasing system is absolutely phenomenal. It’s also quite seamless, even in beta. The entire goblin starting zone is phased. Almost every quest you complete changes the zone somehow, and really makes you feel like you’re interacting with the environment instead of just passing through. I was very impressed with the implementation, and it’s everything I hoped it would be. It also helped cut down on competition between players. I encountered only a few people, and never had much trouble finding mobs to kill. That, or there really are only five people in the beta right now.
Considering it is the beta, I thought things went fairly smoothly. There weren’t a lot of glitches that I saw. A few quests “bugged” for me, but after some experimentation I was able to work around it. I reported them anyway, since I don’t think they were intended to work that way. I am fully aware that this is an ever-changing process, and things will continue to be improved and polished until Cataclysm launches. There were a few things, however, that stood out to me while leveling my goblin.
As a hunter, I needed to feed my pet. The starter pet doesn’t appear to lose any happiness from level 1 to 9. You cannot control it. It attacks when you attack until level 10, when you gain access to all of the spells needed to tame, feed, control, and train your pet. At level 10 I chose to tame a black jungle cat, who started out unhappy (75% of damage done). Up until this point I had not encountered a single meat drop in the game. Not off of any mob, and not sold by any vendor. I was unable to feed my cat. Hopefully this will be addressed during the development process. Perhaps not all the mobs have their full loot tables yet? I was also unable to learn fishing as a profession, which cut me off from a supply of fish to feed my cat.
When I tried to rename my cat, it glitched, and somehow renamed my crab. I dismissed the crab, tamed the cat, and then right-clicked the cat’s portrait and selected rename. I named it Naobi, but it never showed up. Her name said Unknown until I dismissed her, and brought out my crab…who was now named Naobi. Odd.
The last thing I noticed was the pacing of the phasing sometimes cuts you off from your class trainers, vendors, etc. There were times when I needed to learn new skills or empty my bags, but was in the middle of an “event” portion of the phasing that had none of these facilities available. Most of your time on the Lost Isles is spent in a hectic scramble to save your goblin friends and get the heck out of there. At times you find your base camp under seige and your class trainer has vacated with others to another key spot. There was a period of about 4 levels when I just flat could not find my hunter trainer. I eventually wound up in Orgrimmar and trained there. This isn’t something I think will be fixed as the beta progresses. It’s not a bugged quest, it’s just an awkward timing issue. It isn’t a big deal, but I would be curious to see if they will smooth it out a bit so you can access your trainers and vendors when you need to, not at random times.
Lastly, the new 31-point talent trees are available. You gain access to them at level 10, as always, but you no longer receive a talent point every level. I saw some issues where the leveling text was telling me I had a new talent point to spend, but I actually hadn’t earned one yet. I’m not big on talents, honestly. I tend to research what a spec before I do it and not panic too much over what is THE best spec or whatever. I’m not going to say too much on whether or not I like the new talent tree set-up mostly because I have barely used it yet. Whether or not it’s good or bad remains to be determined, but I think it’s interesting and I do like how we are given a new skill just for picking a talent tree to begin with.
So far it’s been a ton of fun. I think I will roll a worgen after all, because if their starting zone is anything like the goblins’…it’s going to rock.