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Deepholm (13/8/10)

Deepholm, known alias: The Elemental Plane of Earth, is where Deathwing was nursed back to health after he went postal on Azeroth. Having regained his strength, Deathwing has breached the spherical realm right above the Temple of Earth, home to the World Pillar (a Titan-made stone). The pillar, which bears the weight of all elemental and magnetic forces within Deepholm, was shattered during Deathwing’s ascent. If it’s not pieced back together Deepholm will collapse into Azeroth.

Yes, you’re about to fix another load-bearing flaw with in Azeroth’s design.

This time it is Thrall himself who requires your assistance (for the Horde!) and when you meet up with him, he is struggling to contain the massive energies being unleashed by the Maelstrom. He explains that Deathwing’s return to this world left a rift open between Azeroth and Deepholm and if “we” (read: you) don’t mend the breach this land will be torn asunder.

A side note here - it was brought up in the community that the Maelstrom was not – even with its monstrous whirlpool, free flowing energies and weather effects - epic enough. Blizzard, in their wisdom, has decided to plus it out. At first I had no idea what I was looking at as something circled the Maelstrom. As it got closer I realised I was watching an undead thrashing out on his axe, riding atop a T-Rex – itself sitting on a large shark with lasers and large missiles attached – that was flying through the sky. It doesn’t really come more epic than that, bravo Blizz.

Distractions aside, you are sent upon a gryphon named Stormbeak into the Maelstrom and onwards to Deepholm.

As you fly in, bathed in the empyreal radiance of the Skywall, you get a fine panoramic view of both the area and the devastated rocky column (she’s a fixer-upper) that you’ll be getting very acquainted with.

Razor sharp rock teeth erupt from the earth in the rugged fields that surround the Temple of Earth - at home in the base of the pillar - and in the distance sheer cliff face in every direction leading to massive cave structures replete with beautiful gleaming crystal formations. The land, such as it is, is lined with rivulets of lava that have forced their way up from the Plane of Fire below.

Deepholm itself is currently set as a level 82 to 83 zone so it is not quite as expansive as the earlier zones of Mount Hyjal or Vashj’ir. Here players will encounter a variety of stone and crystalline creatures, including the familiar drakes, spiders and worms composed entirely of stone and minerals and a five-player dungeon – not yet ready for testing – The Stonecore.

The Temple of Earth is your initial questing hub. Once the main base of operations for the Twilight's Hammer cult, the Earthen Ring took control of the temple after the rupture in an attempt to stabilise the fractured World Pillar.

With Earthen Ring focusing all their energies on keeping the World Pillar stable it is up to you to fight your way through Deepholm and recover the scattered fragments of the World Pillar in the hopes that uniting them will end this current threat.

From saving Oremantle the Earthen King, who has been taken prisoner by the Stone Trogg, to discovering the secret behind the Horde Gunship Down and the flying Alliance ghost ship, helping to reunite all the pieces has the air of an epic experience - perhaps par with the undead-rocking, T-Rex-riding laser shark.

If there’s anything you’d like to hear about, just let us know in the comments and we’ll bring back whatever information we can, testing conditions pending, obviously!

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

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