World of Warcraft (WoW 4.0.1): Cataclysm
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is the third expansion set for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft, following Wrath of the Lich King. It was officially announced at BlizzCon on August 21, 2009, although dataminers and researchers discovered details before it was officially announced by Blizzard. The expansion was officially released on December 7, 2010.
Shortly after the announcement of the release date, on October 12, 2010, Blizzard implemented patch 4.0.1, which included the overhaul of the game's playing systems.
Plot and setting
The central plot of the expansion is the return of the evil dragon aspect Deathwing the Destroyer (originally Neltharion the Earth Warder). Last seen in Warcraft II, which took place more than two decades earlier, Deathwing has spent that time healing himself, and plotting his fiery return from the elemental plane of Deepholm. His return tears through the dimensional barrier within Azeroth, causing a sweeping cataclysm that reshapes much of the world's surface. In the midst of the worldwide disaster comes renewed conflict between the Alliance and the Horde, which is now under the rule of Garrosh Hellscream. With the elemental realms now open to the world, chaotic elemental spirits and their tyrannical lords emerged to help the Destroyer and the nihilistic Twilight's Hammer cult bring about the Hour of Twilight: the end of all life on Azeroth.
The Cataclysm is responsible for a number of political changes within the Horde and Alliance. With the wake of the cataclysm, the Horde's leader, the orc shaman Thrall, stepped down from his duty as Warchief of the Horde to better help the world of Azeroth as a whole. This duty was relinquished to the former overlord of the Warsong Offensive, the Mag'har orc warrior Garrosh Hellscream. Looking for ways to gather more resources and new territory for his people, Hellscream has initiated several brutal strikes against the Alliance, using the cataclysm to the Horde's advantage. The human king Varian Wrynn deployed many of his forces to fight against Garrosh's aggression, storming the Southern Barrens and Stonetalon Mountains, while Garrosh, unlike Thrall, embraced war with the Alliance.
There are several new areas that players can explore, along with new quests and end-scenes that players can participate in.
Rise of the Zandalari
Alarmed by the terrible losses of life among all trolls, the Zandalari tribe traveled around the world to reunite their race and rebuild their once-powerful empire. The Zandalari restored the fallen cities of Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman, and begun to conduct bloody raids on territories that had once been "theirs." The burgeoning troll force hoped to lead a great war against the other races of Azeroth, but the honorable Vol'jin of the Darkspear tribe stood against their murderous agenda, and recruited champions from both the Horde and the Alliance to invade the ancient cities and stop the onslaught.
Rage of the Firelands
After a ferocious series of battles, Azeroth's heroes banished Ragnaros the Firelord and his elemental minions from Mount Hyjal. Yet, threats to Hyjal persisted, including traitorous druids who had abandoned their allies and joined forces with the elementals. Fearing another elemental invasion, the defenders of Azeroth made a daring assault into Ragnaros' blazing realm: the Firelands. Among the seething flames of this elemental domain, Ragnaros was at his most powerful; only the greatest champions of the Horde and the Alliance, aided by druidic champions like Malfurion Stormrage, could dare hope to defeat the Firelord.
Hour of Twilight
At the peak of his insanity, Deathwing the Destroyer fought to drive the world into twilight—a devastated future bereft of all life. The Dragon Soul, a powerful artifact lost in the past, was the only weapon capable of truly stopping Deathwing, and so the guardians of Azeroth—the Dragon Aspects—sent a number of valiant heroes racing through time to retrieve it. Despite being attacked by the mysterious Infinite Dragonflight as they travelled the timeways, the champions returned the artifact to the present and delivered it to the wise shaman Thrall. With his aid, the Dragon Soul was deployed against the Destroyer during a brutal battle that began in Azeroth's skies and continued into the roiling heart of the Maelstrom at the center of the world. Through the combined efforts of the Aspects and their allies, the madness of Deathwing was finally brought to an end. However, the remaining Aspects are forced to sacrifice their immortality to power the Dragon Soul, but feel that their time as guardians of Azeroth has passed and that the heroes of the Alliance and the Horde have proved themselves ready and capable of protecting Azeroth.
One of the primary features of Cataclysm is the redesign of the continents of Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor introduced with the launch of World of Warcraft in 2004. While the initial game design did not allow for the use of flying mounts in 'old-world' zones, those zones have been completely redesigned with flight in mind for Cataclysm. Flight is still unavailable for Burning Crusade starting zones for the blood elves and the draenei.
Major changes were brought to these zones. Each faction has a smoother leveling process, as many of the old quests are scrapped and replaced with new ones that incorporate updated gameplay and mechanics that have been changed or redesigned since the game's initial release. Each zone has its own storyline which can be explored through a series of quests. Each of the zones that are faction specific, however, cater only to those of the faction that controls that zone. Neutral, or 'Contested' zones, feature a PvP (Player-versus-Player) based quest line, making the player compete against the opposing faction (Horde against Alliance, and vice versa) to achieve the desired goal of their faction. This feature makes heavy usage of phasing, which was first seen in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.