Cataclysm: It’s Here!

For at least the last six months I’ve been waiting for Cataclysm.  The wait is finally over, folks, so the obvious question is: was it worth it?

Funnily enough, for all the anticipation I’ve had, I had all but forgotten about Cataclysm over the last month.  There was the annual Thanksgiving hullabaloo; there was a laptop with a terminal diagnosis.  There were minor illnesses.  Suddenly, it was Monday and people were talking about staying up until midnight for the Cataclysm launch and I’m thinking, Oh, right.  That’s tomorrow.

I even made a weak attempt at staying up myself, but my heart wasn’t in it.  You see, midnight actually means midnight, Pacific time; 3 in the morning for me.  And it’s really only immediately playable then if you’ve got a digital download, whereas I had opted to pre-order the Collector’s Edition for all the geeky extras (more on that in a bit).

I really didn’t need to stay up late, but I wanted to see the excitement, and I have friends with digital downloads, too, that I could observe.  Thus, I got a cup of Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi and gamely set about burning the midnight oil.

I lasted until 2:30.  Whoops.

Tuesday was an entirely new day, though.  You see, my Collector’s Edition actually arrived when it said it would!  And since I had pre-ordered long, long ago in a galaxy far away, I had actually forgotten what would be in it.

In a giant, heavy, pretty box, I received a hardbound book of Cataclysm art, a deck of cards including one with downloadable loot, a mousepad, a behind-the-scenes DVD, a soundtrack CD, an in-game pet, and, oh yeah, the game itself.  Phew.

Now, some of it, like the mousepad, may not have been absolutely needed, but personally I geeked out over the DVD (which I still need to watch), the soundtrack (already ripped onto my computer), and the in-game stuff.  Yes, I like collecting pets and mounts.  No, I don’t have a sparkle pony… yet.

So was the Collector’s Edition worth it?  For me, absolutely.  No, I didn’t get to start playing at the absolute first available minute, but I still got in on the first day… and the server wasn’t crashing for me, either.

Onto the first impressions of Cataclysm: once I got a mage to teleport me from Dalaran to Stormwind, the first thing I did was train up my flying and check out the city from above.  It is indescribably freeing to be able to fly in the old world.   And everything looks… better in the expansion. Even familiar, unchanged sections look like they have been given a fresh coat of paint.

Since I had already checked out the Worgen and Goblin starting areas on the beta, and I assumed they would be a zoo, I decided to head for the new level 80+ content.  I hopped a boat from Stormwind Harbor and headed out.

…Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that the storyline and quests are, for me, far more cohesive, engaging, and entertaining than any of the old world stuff.  While navigating the “starting zone” for the new territory can be a bit crowded (it is week one, after all), and some item respawns a bit slow, the quests themselves feel far less “grindy.”

If anything, I would say my problem is not that the quest chains aren’t entertaining enough to hold my attention – because they are – it’s that there’s just so much new stuff to do or just plain look at that I’ve acquired an attention deficit disorder.  I’m like a kid on Christmas who can’t settle on one new toy to play with.

…And speaking of, I should get back to playing!  Because, after all, I still need to make a Worgen eventually, and I hear that Thousand Needles is pretty cool, and oh, I still need to try Archaeology…

Now how about you?  Have your servers been running smoothly, or like LA rush hour?  Did you opt for any special editions, or the super-efficient digital download?  And what are your first thoughts about the game?

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