World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Previews

If you're searching for any and all information about Blizzard's World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion pack, have a look at these latest hands-on previews.

To start things off, GameSpy gives us an in-depth look at the Worgen...
The first thing I took stock of was Oz's racial abilities: Aberration, which imparts a 15 percent reduction on disease and curse durations; Flayer, shorthand for "you can skin dead animals really fast and without a knife, since you have giant claws"; Two Forms, which transformed Oz between human and wolf-man forms (with no mechanical bonuses -- I assume these will be added later); Darkflight, a 10-second, 70-percent movement speed buff usable every three minutes (that's a pretty long cooldown, if you ask me); and Viciousness, which increased Oz's physical damage by a whopping one percent (watch out, Horde!). Pretty so-so stuff at this point, as racial perks go (although the Worgen are Alliance, so that probably explains it). Beyond that, Oz had all the usual Hunter abilities, which basically made him invincible, because everyone knows the Hunter is the best class in the game at low levels.

...and Goblin races:
Azeroth's goblins have traditionally been neutral by nature -- Horde or Alliance, they'll work with anyone as long as there's coin to be earned. The playable goblins introduced in the Cataclysm are part of the Bilgewater Cartel, hailing from the isle of Kezan. These playable goblins have slightly different character models from the goblins you're used to: they look somewhat more physically capable, though they still bear the exaggerated features and comical look of their neutral brethren.

Then we head over to Eurogamer for a smattering of developer commentary:
One aspect of Cataclysm that Blizzard didn't mention at the first unveiling ended up causing the greatest uproar at BlizzCon. There's going to be a sweeping change to the way stats on items work, aimed at eradicating many lesser stats - mana regeneration, spell power, attack power, armour penetration and even defence will all be binned - and reassigning their benefits to core stats like spirit, intellect and agility, or to the talent trees. "We want to be able to add more depth and add more stuff to World of Warcraft, but it's really difficult to do that without at the same time removing some of the needless complexity," Chilton explains.

"So what we've done is we've taken a look at the game and decided what's working and what's not really working, like we're doing all the time, but we're doing it very aggressively. And we've come away with things like - do we really need the two-hand sword skill, for example? The actual skilling-up process of just hitting a mob over and over, it doesn't seem very interesting. If it's not adding much to the game then it's just making the game needlessly complex. Or we have Spirit and mana [regeneration], and they're both kind of doing the same thing, but you sort of have to be a mathematician to know which one you should have for your character."

A little more generalized approach from
Finally, Flying mounts in Azeroth. Boy, this has been a touchy subject over the last few months. The arguments were (Why should Blizzard spend time remaking Azeroth just so people can use their flying mounts there, why waste the time there instead of new content?) Well, here's Blizzard's answer. They've killed two birds with one stone. We have a brand new Azeroth, almost, AND we'll be able to use our flying mounts there. At last! I'm happy about it, but are there concerns? Someone asked in the earlier Q&A panel if there will be a way to prevent high level characters of opposite factions swooping in to attack lowbies. Tom Chilton pretty much said (Yeah, roll on a PvE realm). I'm so glad I'm on one already, it's going to be hell. And in future there will probably be passenger flying mounts too, according to Blizzard yesterday, so you just know groups of Horde will be showing up in Duskwood one one of these as soon as they're released.

And four separate articles on WarCry (here, here, here, and here):
As far as the existing zones go, every single zone will be getting a revamp from Elywnn Forest to the Eastern Plaguelands - updated quests, art, and items, using what the designers learned in TBC and WotLK - "We're only getting better." It will be a lot more fun to go through the old world with a new character, said Afrasiabi, and Chilton quipped that they would be "ditching Agility/Spirit boots as quest rewards - or there will be hell to play."

Every classic zone will be getting a revamp, with some more than others. The "Phasing" mechanic from Wrath of the Lich King will be heavily used throughout Cataclysm, even phasing entire terrain - we saw an entire coastline sink below the sea over the course of three phases. Not every zone will change hugely, while some will look entirely different: Elwynn Forest might only receive new quests and some minor changes, but the Barrens, for instance, are completely split in half - one half filled with cracks and crevasses, one half regrown and lush thanks to the efforts of the Druid Naralax.