World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Reviews and Impressions

A selection of reviews and other post-release articles for Blizzard's World of Warcraft: Cataclysm are in, and the general consensus seems to be that it's pretty good.

GamePro gives it a 4/5:
Cataclysm is another solid release, and one that will only get better. And while it might not be the best WoW expansion, what it has done is helped make World of Warcraft a much better experience for beginners, while providing more than enough to keep its hardcore fans happy. And I really can't complain too much about that.

Cheat Code Central gives it a 4.3/5:
To be sure, I've only scratched the surface of what Cataclysm (not to mention World of Warcraft in general) has to offer. I haven't even explored a dungeon or conducted a multiplayer raid yet. Based on my hours with the game, though, I feel confident saying that now is a good time to try out World of Warcraft if you've been thinking about it. Not only has Blizzard created the most user-friendly MMO experience to date (however confusing it may still be to true n00bs), but lots of other players -- including yours truly -- will be starting from Level 1 right alongside you.

Daxgamer gives it a 9/10:
This is a rather fine expansion and will definitely have current players, new players, as well as returning players wanting to try out the new races, see the changes in the environment, engaging in new quests, as well as checking out the new race/class combination's. Players will spend most their time exploring the shattered areas as well as the new areas, as well as conquering new challenges with their guilds and friends.

DamnLag doesn't score it :
Look people, I don't condone addiction. I don't want to be the guy who's passing out needles at the playground, but to old junkies and those who've considered signing on; this is the perfect time to get into World of Warcraft. It's as if the game has risen from the grave and become something new again. Trust me when I say that you guys got it good. This game just got a whole lot more interesting.

Player Affinity gives it a 7.5/10:
While the expansion brings with it a multitude of material, ranging from new enemies to zones to races, Cataclysm is a continuation of changes that Wrath of the Lich King brought to the series. It basically disallows grouping outside of PvP and instances as well as rendering the new zones sterile rail shooters of quest chains that make them otherwise uninteresting after you've cleared them. Enemies are easy to defeat and pose no challenge to a soloing player: what fun are new areas if they pose no threat or feeling of danger? Instances are becoming the main focus of the game, with most of the obvious creativity being poured into their construction to make them more fun, which they do successfully. The new guild systems are long wanted and definitely add a level of complexity to the simple guild roster; the new possibilities that may emerge will surely be interesting. Overall, the expansion is above average, if simply due to the massive increase in content, but I'm not sure if continually streamlining the game is the right choice.

Ars Technica pre-empts their review with a short article:
As far as getting back to the level cap, I found myself dreading having to return to being a FedEx/contract killer slave to quest givers, not least because the Dungeon Finder added in a Wrath patch has made gearing and instances downright enjoyable. But the new Vashj'ir zone has turned out to be pretty absorbing so far I mowed through one subzone over a few hours without getting frustrated or fed up, despite dying several sudden deaths due to PvP skirmishes and outright ganking. Extrapolating the time logged versus experience gained so far, it may turn out that Cataclysm's high-level questing areas may match Northrend in quantity of content, despite only raising the level cap half as much.

PC Gamer does the first impressions thing:
I was baffled by the lack of changes to the early Orc starting area Durotar is still too big, and still too empty. Queues for dungeons are long, and the groups you meet via the dungeon finder are of very variable quality. It may be that the game is just too scripted now: thanks to clear signposting and a re-worked levelling map, you'll rarely, if ever, have to make those epic journeys through places you shouldn't really be. You'll explore, but I doubt you'll go off the beaten track. And finally, it may be that the levelling is just too fast. There are bonkers numbers of ways to boost your levelling speed now, through rest XP (stay offline for a bit, and Blizzard will double your levelling speed), recruit a friend mechanics (if you can get a friend to join you, Blizzard will give you triple XP), heirloom items (items that can be posted between characters that can help you level alts) and the new guild mechanics (those in a guild can earn an extra 10% levelling speed). I found myself outlevelling content before I'd finished a zone. Which was a shame: I really wanted to finish the storylines.

Roboawesome takes a similar route:
After getting to level 81 I decided to try out the two new races. I started with the Goblin and I was blown away. The Goblin starter zone was like a theme park! You get a pimped out hot rod with a radio and everything. You drive around with your homies and beat up on rival gang bangers and eventually rob a bank! Goblins have some of the best voice emotes I have ever heard as well. With /chicken, you get them flapping their arms and saying (We got a frickin chicken over here.) With /flirt, you get a lot of questionable material. One of my favorites was (I like my women like I like my fuses: short, fast, and ready to blow.) Funny stuff Blizzard! These little buggers are filled with personality and are just downright fun to play.

VideoGamer comes in with a late lore-induced preview:
Two Forms, one of your racial abilities, is functionally useless outside of its application for role-playing, letting you transform in and out of your Human and Worgen forms. At the very least, it shows off the effort you put into your character models. WoW's character creator for the race has you simultaneously changing the characteristics for both Human and Worgen counterparts. In other words, you can't choose either of the model's characteristics independently of one another. An angry human face is interpreted as a snarling wolf face, a human female hairstyle is interpreted as a specific mane shape on a Worgen female, and so on.

As does GameCrashers:
More importantly, perhaps, this will be the first instance where a game gets the chance to evolve beyond its original design. After Cataclysm launches, WoW will no longer be the game that came out in 2004. That game is gone. This is not the WoW we knew. It's something different. This is WoW version 2010 and it's going to bring new players and old veterans, place them on the same page at the beginning of not just one new chapter, but a whole new book, and say (explore). And it's something that Blizzard has proven, time and time again, that they are the best at doing.

And then G4's The MMO Report provides us with this launch special.