I am constantly awed by the large leap forward Blizzard is taking with the upcoming Cataclysm expansion for World of Warcraft. Not only are they redesigning the entire world of Azeroth (sans Northrend), they are completely reimagining the level 1-60 experience. On top of that they have worked painstakingly on giving many races a fresh new starting experience. Finally, they’re giving us two new races altogether.
One of those new races are the goblins. Goblins have been around World of Warcraft as long as the game has existed, but now you can finally play as one, albeit only if you want to be horde-aligned.
Right off the bat the goblin starting experience is downright fun, in all aspects. The quests are interesting, the lore is great and the hot rod you get to ride around Kezan the first few levels is a blast. I found myself just riding around town enjoying the technologically-kissed view. Your goblin is a pretty big name around town, and during the first few levels your empire sees its inception…or so you think. Odd things start happening with the nearby mountain which, ultimately, culminates in you having to leave the island. This deposits you unceremoniously on The Lost Isles, where a large part of your first dozen levels takes place.
Your once-bright future seems to be in shambles as the survivors of the Bildgewater Cartel work to pull together their civilization. You, of course, are instrumental in helping this take place.
One of the most amazing things about this area is the phasing. What started in Wrath of the Lich King in a somewhat subtle manner becomes a full-blown, in-your-face hurricane of content changing before your eyes as you complete quests, finish story lines and perform various actions.
The lore junkies among you will enjoy this area because it introduces a possible story line that will carry through the events of Cataclysm, which heavily features everyone’s favorite horde leader, Thrall. You learn bits and pieces about what he’s doing on the island with you and find out just how the goblins come to be an integral part the horde infrastructure.
By the time you leave The Lost Isles, you should be well equipped to be let loose in The Barrens. Wait, what? No, you say? Well, I’m sure you could go to Northern Barrens at this point, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen how Azshara has basically been rebuilt from the ground up and retuned for levels 12-20, or thereabouts. I find Azshara to be very, very sad, in a humorous sort of way. Why? Because only the goblins could change such a beautiful and rustic zone into the technological atrocity to nature it has become. There’s a highway that encircles the entire zone, a huge goblin stronghold in the middle of the Bay of Storms, strip mining operations and all sorts of very wrong experiments and projects going on all over the place. They’re firing rockets every which way, badgering the stone giants, killing the hippogrph population, deforesting the majestic trees and polluting the raging tides with their oil platforms. All in the name of the horde.
It’s a good thing my druid won’t be leveling through there in any way, shape or form. He might have a heart attack, considering I role-play him as a, well, druid. A tree-hugger, animal-loving, nature enthusiast, to say the least.
Anyway, moving on. Near the end of my trip through Azshara I was pleasantly surprised with a series of quests that were completely and utterly awesome. You’re given a goblin goon squad to trample through the groups of naga packed in the Ruins of Elderath in the middle of the zone. Many of these quests revolve around pre-existing features, such as the glowing pylons and the runic tablets scattered throughout the area. The fun is that you have this goon squad following you around. The naga are packed in pretty tightly here, and come in groups, so they’re required for you to complete the five or so quests you have here. This all culminates in a fight against an elite that is just plain, simple, soloable fun. I applaud Blizzard for this quest chain and hope to see more of the same in the future. It’s just great fun. I can’t say that enough, apparently.
Overall, the goblin starting experience is definitely something to take in. Along with that, the goblins have some pretty fun racial abilities that add to the engineering theme-park mood of these zones – shoot rockets at enemies, use a rocket to propel yourself forward, summon a bank – they’re all lots of fun, and useful too. Although, how well the abilities with damage output scale is another matter entirely.
Back when The Burning Crusade released, and we got our last two new races, those starting zones were great for the time. But now Blizzard has kicked it up a notch with phasing, more diverse questing and a richer experience overall. My only disappointment comes from the fact that, while you do have Bildgewater Cartel reputation, you don’t have a smaller rep “grind” for some nifty starting gear like they did with Tranquillen rep back in the day. I liked that idea and wish it stuck around. Other than that, though, this is a masterfully designed experience that is sure to please anyone who wants to run with a goblin character when Cataclysm launches.
“Time is money, my friend!”