First Impressions of “WoW: Cataclysm:” Beyond Patch 4.0.3

World of Warcraft’s newest and highly anticipated expansion, Cataclysm just released at 12:01a.m. today, December 7, 2010. With it, comes the rest of the content we did not get with previous 4.0 patches and many players scrambling to be the first of their server to the new level cap of 85. Blizz is on Pacific time which means it was 2am for me but this didn’t stop me or others from staying up for the midnight release. On my horde server, players were lined up at the flight trainer with minutes still to go before the release, awaiting their Flight Master’s License.
4.0 patches brought us the removal of portals in Dalaran and the addition of class trainers, new race/class combinations (hello Troll Druids and Undead Hunters!), new gnome and troll starting areas (no more sharing with dwarves and orcs), new Cataclysm load screens, login screen and intro cinematic, new music, city quartermasters with new rep tabards and more. We got a steam powered auctioneer in Dalaran and a reduction in experience from 71-80 to help you prep for Cata release even quicker.

Even those without the expansion can see many of the city and zone changes but you will need to purchase Cata to get access to creating Worgen and Goblin characters and their corresponding start zones, professions past 450, new dungeons, new 80+ zones, guild leveling and guild achievements and more. I struggled deciding who to level first- my troll druid from 80 to 85 or my new goblin priest (so I’m going for both to break the “grind”.)

As for the new profession, Archeology, I like it so far. Early impressions are that it’s easy but time-consuming and I’m betting the market for it will be destroyed by the fact that everyone wants to try it. Once the newness settles down a bit, it will likely be a profitable profession as well.

Flight in Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor is great but requires some thought for the veteran player who’s used to portalling around (and probably had your hearth set in Dalaran, too) and taking the flight masters. You will need to visit the flight trainer to learn your Flight Master’s License to allow you to fly in these older zones and if you’re having trouble finding it, look for the huddle of people gathered around!

The only downsides so far- random dungeon queues can get you in with any old Yahoo looking for an easy leveling experience. No one really knows what they are doing so expect that you might wipe more. Also, chat channel spam is at an all-time high while people try to find answers to their questions and trolls prey on the opportunity to annoy and mislead. But all in all, it’s a small price to pay for the many great new features in this xpac.

There are some bugs here and there as is typical in an expansion but overall, Cata is holding strong with its smooth release, only a few hours in as of now. I was also happy to see that wait times on BGs and dungeons are fairly low to average for my servers anyway.