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Kezan (9/7/10)

I thought it might be a good idea at this point to go over the new levelling system itself, as it’s vastly different.

In order to make levelling a seemingly less daunting process, Blizzard has made multiple changes to point players in the right direction.

Gone is the every-even-level-means-training-time system of old. Now it seems almost random as you get new abilities at level 2, 3, 5, 7, 10 and 12, and while this may seem confusing Blizzard has taken any guess work out with multiple changes.

Open your spell book and you can see most spells that will be available as you level; ones you can currently use are there, and ones you’re not yet able to learn are greyed out. Written beneath these buttons-to-be is the level at which you attain them.

Similarly, there’s a new levelling animation. Once you reach a new level a small banner pops up announcing your achievement and listing what new abilities you can now train. As if that isn’t enough, after levelling - and receiving those messages – you can open your spell book and any new abilities will be decked out with a gold trim and a message suggesting you visit your trainer.

Also gone is the need to train higher levels of a spell you know. Now your spells will automatically level up with you.

Right, on to Goblins.

You’ll begin your adventure in the employ of the Bilgewater Cartel on the Isle of Kezan, a kind of tropical paradise turned industrial monstrosity, dissected with paved highways.

The first few quests are alarmingly “brown box”. In the service of the cartel, you’ll be tasked with getting lazy troll slaves back to work and clearing the local mines of dangerous creatures. I was slightly concerned that all thought had gone into the Worgen zone but you’ll quickly be thrown into what is the mainstay of the Goblin levelling experience: Vehicles.

In a very early quest ‘Cruising’ you will be handed the keys to a Goblin Hotrod and everything changes. In parody of the Grand Theft Auto series, I found myself racing across the city running down pedestrians and looters alike, breaking into bank vaults, mansions and pimping my outfit to impress other goblins at a party. It’s unlike anything you’ve seen or done in World of Warcraft.

While phasing tech isn’t deployed as quickly as in the Worgen starting zone, Mount Kajaro – the volcano Kezan is built around – starts erupting and hot lava rains down. Drawn to the chaos, looters start burning down the city causing the locals to panic. It’s all a bit “Titanic” until it becomes obvious everyone must be evacuated from the island.

After earning a place on a refugee ship, you’re cast into bondage. The slave ship wrecks and you wash up on the next questing zone, the Lost Isles. The gist is volcanic Hawaiian island with aggressive local fauna and flora and a group of pygmies turning the washed up Goblins into zombies.

This zone is peppered with highly entertaining vehicle-orientated quests and it’s here that the background as to how the Goblins aligned with the Horde is told. Your character plays a pivotal role in developing the relationship.

An interesting note on the racial abilities: Goblins have more than any other race. The active racials are Rocket Barrage and Rocket Jump. Sharing a cool down, these abilities launch a damaging rocket at your target or boost you forward (like a hunter’s disengage in reverse), respectively. Passive racials include always receiving the best gold discount regardless of faction, an increase in Alchemy skill, and a 1% increase in casting or melee speed.

Add to that the ability you receive – once you reach Orgrimmar – to summon a banker anywhere and that tallies goblin racial abilities at six. Go figure.

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Click through the pages below to find earlier entries in Gameplanet's Cataclysm beta Diary.

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