Cataclysm Beta Impressions: The Lost Isles

The beta for Blizzard’s next expansion to World of Warcraft, Cataclysm, has started and we’ve got ourselves an invite.   While the beta will most likely be continuing over the next few months, we’ll be providing in-depth hands-on previews of the features as Blizzard opens them up for test. Let this be a caution: All content below will contain spoilers and is from a beta release of a future title. If you’re cool with that, continue reading to find out what the future holds for Azeroth.

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In our last post on Cataclysm beta impressions, I created a new Goblin Rogue and leveled him up through Kezan, the Goblin’s home island.  I was really impressed by the variety of quests available in this starting area and was hopeful that the next chapter in Rowzdower’s adventures would be equally as interesting.  I mean, going from top-Goblin to lowly pauper all in an effort to get off of your island before its volcano erupted was quite an adventure.  Now with Rowzdower stranded on an uncharted island miles away from civilization with the rest of his Goblin cartel, would Blizzard be able to keep me interested?

[singlepic id=19081 w=320 h=240 float=left]Things started off slow in my new surroundings.  Being on a seemingly deserted island is a far cry from the bustling city that was Kezan.  For example, after arriving on the beach and meeting up with the rest of your group, your first task is to rid the surrounding jungle of some troublesome monkeys.  This had me concerned as I thought that Blizzard had gone back to their standard “kill X number of Y and while you’re out there you might as well pick up some Z” formula.  My fears were unfounded though as these simpler quests were just a segue into another interesting questline.  It so happened that the firefight that occurred between the Horde and Alliance which initially wrecked your ship also stranded Orcs on the island, and they also have lost some precious cargo and want your to help retrieve it.

This leads you on a mission to fight the Alliance forces still in pursuit of the shipwrecked Orcs.  Upon defeating them, you’re given access to a larger part of the island where the Goblins are able to setup their own small town.  Unfortunately, this peaceful moment doesn’t last long as a local tribe of Pygmies attacks, kidnapping your friends and turning them into zombies.  Upon assaulting the Pygmy stronghold, you cause this island’s volcano to erupt.  This leads into the third act of The Lost Isles.  While you were away from the town dealing with the Pygmy threat, the old Trade Prince kidnapped the surviving townsfolk and started using them as slaves.  With the help of the Orcs, you once again have to find a way off the island before it’s destroyed by lava while also saving your kidnapped friends and dealing with the Trade Prince once and for all.

[singlepic id=19087 w=320 h=240 float=right]What impressed me about this area was how each questline led right into the next quest hub.  While this resulted in a few more “go talk to that guy over there” type of missions, it made the flow of this area much nicer than previous starting zones.  Blizzard also liberally uses phasing content, altering the landscape upon nearly every completion of an area of quests.  Towns sprouted up out of boxes, the island’s volcano erupted and started shooting fireballs around the area while causing earthquakes.  Even though I was only level 7 to 13 while in this area, it actually felt like my actions were having an effect.  The only other zone I’ve played in World of Warcraft that had a similar feeling was Icecrown from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, but its phased content took dozens of quests to activate instead of four or five.  The sense of accomplishment I got from the Goblin’s starting zone was much greater.

Something else I loved about this area was the number of unique quests available.  In my travels through The Lost Isles, I piloted a robot shark (with “freakin’ laser beams”), an airplane, a giant mech, and a pool pony (basically a workable example of underwater mounts).  There were a variety of quests where a special item was used to complete whatever the objective was.  For example, my Goblin Rogue had to take out a giant tortoise that the Pygmies worshiped.  This turtle was huge, but luckily the quest giver just happened to have a large batch of heat seeking missiles at the ready.  In another quest I was able to use thermal goggles to snuff out Alliance scouts sneaking about in the jungle.  The Lost Isles was full of quests like this which made me want to keep playing just to see what was around the corner.

[singlepic id=19100 w=320 h=240 float=left]Once you’ve exhausted the quests that The Lost Isles has to offer, your cartel of Goblins is accepted into the Horde and you’re given a free trip to Orgrimmar to introduce yourself to the new Warchief: Garrosh Hellscream.  While it was at this point that I stopped adventuring on Rowzdower, from what I could tell the next step in my journey would have been to rejoin the other Goblins in Azhara to help build a new home.

So far, if you couldn’t already tell, I’m really impressed by this new starting area.  I’m not sure how much of the new content, or even the reworked older zones, will have quests that flow from one into the next so well and have exciting things to do instead of simply killing 10 monsters and collecting an item and some experience.  If they are anything like Kezan and The Lost Isles, though, you can expect World of Warcraft to remain king of the MMOs for years to come.

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About the Author

Having over 25 years of gaming experience, Zach knows a thing or two when it comes to one of his favorite entertainment activities. Additionally, he has also written many articles previewing and reviewing titles which can be found in various places around the net, including