Thoughts on the Worgen Starting Experience

I had a chance to login to the Cataclysm beta early this morning. Since a reader asked to see the Worgen Rogue stealth animation, I decided to go that route and roll alliance. I’m most of the way through it and I’m very impressed. Here are some of the things that stood out to me:

Phasing, right off the bat

From the second you turn in your first quest, you’re being phased ahead in the story. You leave a character standing resolutely one moment to find them fighting off hordes of Worgen the next. That’s right, fighting off Worgen, but I won’t say anything more to save from spoiling it for you.

As you move ahead, it’s easy to spot when you’ve changed phases. It’s not uncommon for new players to pop into existence right after a turn in. It’s a little strange, lag-like, but I didn’t find it immersion breaking at all.

Tailored Armor

The quest rewards no longer give you clown wear! By level four, I had a matching set of armor, albiet statless – but, what can you expect at level 4? Every quest reward seemed designed for my class, too. Only leather items were available initially. I hope the rest of the races got the same treatment.

Applying the lessons

It’s obvious that Blizzard has taken the lessons they’ve learned in innovative quest design and applied them to the Worgen newbie experience. You’re not blowing up Worgen with landmines, sadly, but you do get to sniff some out with a companion. You’re also going to get kicked around (10+ foot knockback) a bit for cinematic effect. It’s very atmospheric.

Feeling overpowered

If Blizzard wants every player to feel like they’re OP, I think they’ve done that with the Worgen. It’s hard to say much more without being spoilerish, but you feel powerful – a hero in the making.

Narrative and atmosphere

Quests are short and sweet and can (should) be done in groups for quick XP.

I have to be honest about the narrative though, it’s good but, by itself, it’s not amazing quest writing. Still, whatever is lacking in text is made up for in atmosphere. The introduction is legitimately surprising (if you haven’t read about it beforehand) and does a great job of drawing you in. The colors, sounds, and visual effects all come together to make for a really compelling place to experience the story.

The most disruptive part of playing through it is the other players. There seemed to be a lot of kill stealing going on. Players handled it well, though, as I didn’t see any arguments break out.

Thoughts at this point

I’m very impressed so far. I’ve played through all of the starting experiences so far, and I’d say this one is the best. The first few levels of Death Knightdom come close, but I think they’re beat.

If this is what we have to look forward to in Cataclysm, it will be a blast to level up again.

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