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The Cataclysm Bucket List

This post will discuss details of the recently-announced WoW expansion. If you are avoiding spoilers, stop reading now.

This weekend, Blizzard announced details of the next World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm. From rated battlegrounds and the return of PvP rank titles, to major overhauls of gear itemization, to major reworking of Warlock class mechanics, there’s been a lot of great news to absorb and get excited about.

I may have some things to say about the battleground and Warlock changes later, once the dust has settled. But while most of the changes affect how we’ll play in the future, one change affects how we play now.

And that change is the Cataclysm itself.

The fundamental premise of the expansion is that the face of Azeroth is irrevocably altered by the return of Deathwing. All of the old zones are getting revamped and updated: some completely redesigned, others just getting reworked. Empty zones like Azshara will be populated, hated zones like Desolace will be given a makeover, and established zones like Elwynn Forest will get an update. Furthermore, the phasing engine deployed in Wrath that alters the landscape and opens up quest hubs will see a lot of use. So things are going to be very, very different in Azeroth and Kalimdor, which is going to be great! I am so glad that the Old World is going to get some attention.

But it also means that the current content has an expiration date. If you don’t experience it soon, you won’t experience it at all. The clock is ticking. Cataclysm may not be out for a year or more, but it will come. The old world’s days are numbered.

So a lot of my thought this weekend has dwelt on what things I would like to accomplish before the Azeroth I’ve come to know kicks the bucket. A Cataclysm Bucket List, if you will.

Here’s what I’ve got so far.

1. Tour all the zones that are going to radically change, taking pictures and fishing in each one. I love how each zone has a distinct feeling to it. That feeling stocks with you as you adventure through it, and I will miss many of these zones — the quiet beauty of Azshara, the pastoral hominess of Southshore, the purple docks of Auberdine. I already have the Explorer title, but a nostalgia fishing tour is in order.

2. Visit all the dungeons that are going to change. Onyxia’s Lair will be updated before the Cataclysm, so that’s on the list, but other classic dungeons like Shadowfang Keep are also going to get updated. Time to solo them while I can.

3. Go through all the different racial starting zones. I’ve played all of the classes to level 10, but not all of the races, and the starting areas are going to be updated. In Durotar’s case, the update could be quite substantial, so I should level out an Orc or Troll to see what it’s like. I assume that, aside from the opening cinematic, the two races share the same quests, much like the Dwarves and Gnomes do. If that’s the case I can just do Durotar once.

The only other race I haven’t played is the Forsaken, and while I’m not really looking forward to it, I should see what it’s like growing up undead.

4. See the old world (10-60) from the other faction’s perspective. This one is more daunting, because I am a slow, slow leveler. I have enough trouble leveling my Alliance alts, and they’re decked out in the finest heirloom gear I can get! Some of it is time; I really enjoy playing my main, so I spend a lot of my limited playtime playing her. But even on my main, leveling was a slow process for me. After months of play, my baby Druid is only level 41. So rolling Horde, and sticking with it to level 60, is going to be a real challenge.

There are several achievements I considered adding to this list but did not; Loremaster and Classic Dungeonmaster, for example, or completing my Dreadmist set. I’m already trying to do too much by even considering leveling a Horde alt past the starting zone. But I also have to be honest with myself — those things don’t matter as much to me. I don’t have the desire to seek out every last quest, or level one of every race and class to 80. None of us have unlimited playtime, and managing the time we do have playing this game is essential. We make choices every time we log in about what we are going to do next, be it raiding end-game content, collecting pets or mounts, leveling an alt, grinding a rep, or even just fishing. These choices define our game, and us.

While I’m sad to see the old world go, I’m glad I got to experience one side of it once all the way through, and will love to see the other side before the Cataclysm takes it away.

So . What’s on your list? Anything else I should consider?

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