World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Previews

Blizzard's Cataclysm expansion pack is only a couple of weeks away now, so if you'd like to brush up on everything the World of Warcraft addon has to offer, we have a few more previews to point out.

Cataclysm completely overhauls WoW's fundamental game mechanics. A number of once-vital statistics such as Defense, MP5, Spellpower, and Attack Power, are gone. Other stats, like Armor Penetration, have been wrapped into the game's new concept of "Mastery." These changes make it much easier for a player to understand which stats he should focus on acquiring. The game's UI has been restructured and simplified, as have many of the helpful tool tips.

These changes haven't gone over well with everyone. Certain current players have claimed that the new mechanics are meant to "dumb down" WoW and reduce the amount of skill/coordination needed to clear high-end content. This was initially a concern of ours as well, but it vanished within a few hours of actual gameplay. Cataclysm doesn't dumb down World of Warcraft, it removes layers of obfuscating game design that prevented more casual (or simply less mathematical) players from enjoying the game. Gamers who enjoy complex theory-crafting may not like how the game is evolving, but those who stick around and try it will find there's still plenty of depth to explore

Brash Games:
Level 80 players needn't feel neglected though, there's still enough content being provided for those who've already dispensed with the slow grind to the top tier even if the level increase this time is only half of what's been expected. The new level 85 cap is said to take as long to climb as it would if it where 90, though clearly new spells won't be as numerous as they have been in the past. Still, new raid content, new zones to explore and an huge under water city with underwater mounts certainly do sound like they'll keep the hardcore busy for a good few months, the fact you'll also be able to take flying mounts through the rest of Azeroth merely sweetens the deal.

Player versus Player encounters are also benefiting from a wave of changes and improvements. Having taken what they learnt from Wintergrasp a huge PvP only zone in Lich King Blizzard will once again be designing an entire island suited specifically to watching both the Alliance and Horde paint the surface with each others innards. The difference here will be that where Wintergrasp remains largely inactive every few hours until it's main fortress can be fought over, Tol Barad will have a cavalcade of daily quests and NPC factions who will reward special loot for your actions in helping them.

And then Ten Ton Hammer tells us about the Halls of Origination:
The Halls of Origination are one of the level 85 endgame five player instances in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. This instance, while not large in size, is huge in scope for a five player instance. It is located in a pyramid in the eastern edge of Uldum and contains a total of seven different bosses. Only the oldest instances that were shipped with vanilla WoW contained more bosses than this one does.

While the instance contains many bosses, they are very well spread out in the instance and are arranged in a very non-linear manner. In fact you don't even really need to fight them all if you don't want to, you can pick and chose many of them. This is due to the way the instance is arranged. The instance is divided between a lower level that has both indoor and outdoor elements and an upper level that is all inside.