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Darkshore (15/7/10)

With the ascent of Deathwing and scarring destruction across the world you could be forgiven for thinking that Blizzard would simply pepper a few new quests to get you understanding that “things have changed, see?” and then throw you back into the same salt mine you’ve been grinding for the past five years.

So as soon as I got a familiar quest in Darkshore I instantly poo-pood the new levelling alterations and departed in search of wholly new thrills. My bad.

My first taste of the new expanded levelling experience has been moving on with my Worgen. This isn’t out of preference but necessity: The new Barrens levelling experience for Horde is not currently available for testing.

When you finish the Worgen starting zone (and when I say finish I mean “finish what is available to play” as Gilneas is not yet completed) you’ll be teleported to Darnassus by a lovely NPC explaining that there will be more to this transfer later but right now it is not quite ready. Presumably it has something to do with the fact that the Worgen curse has Druidic origins.

It’s by no means a requirement but most new Worgen players can expect the same level 12+ areas as their Night Elf cohorts.

So I headed over to Darkshore and on the flight in saw first-hand the damage done. The once gentle coastline has been torn asunder and white water courses down new channels. An unchecked forest fire burns in the background as presently the Night Elves of Auberdine are scrambling to rescue the many washed out to sea by this cataclysmic event (get used to that phrase).

Here, as you can imagine, is where I step up. Among the many floating corpses are people important to the cause. So off I go down the coast, clearing away dangerous coast dwelling elementals and pantomime Hasselhoff, recuing those few that can be saved from the surf. (Slow motion Not Yet Implemented?)

It was after these first few the-world-has-changed tasks that I received the first quest with a name that sounded all too familiar. With a knowing smile and an “I know your tricks!” roll of the eyes I set off down the road. The game offered me a ride that would get me some of the way there but I declined – my masculinity secure after the complete rejection of a stranger’s directions.

But pride comes before the fall and I shrank somewhat when I reached a great fissure that had appeared right across the map, swallowing the road with it. I briefly reconnoitred either side of the road to see if there was any route back to this side of the map and, as I was doing that, it hit me just how much things have changed.

Here’s a game I have been playing for five years and change, in an area I had traversed countless times and I had to grasp in the dark, unsure if I was going to plummet to my death or move on through the zone too early and miss something vital.

So it is with renewed vitality, a new kind of awe that I can move on through the new levelling experience. The Horde has a new Azshara, Barrens and Silverpine forest, to name a few, and the Alliance has Darkshore, and the brand new Westfall – presumably something’s afoot in Dun Morogh, too.

Henceforth we’ll be skipping forward and back between 80-85 zones and dungeons as they become available for testing and the new levelling experiences. First up, we’re going to do a quick rundown on the very early experiences of the “traditional” races to see what, if anything, has changed.

Also: 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!

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

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