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MMO Weekly 25/08/09

Hello there, fellow avatar pilots, and welcome to this week’s lupine edition of MMO Weekly.  In this week’s edition, we’ll discuss what everyone else seems to be discussing.  Of course, I’m referring to the details that were revealed this last week at BlizzCon about the upcoming WoW expansion, Cataclysm.

Let’s cut right to the chase.  Amid all the hullabaloo about Deathwing, revisiting/redesigning old zones,  the “Path of the Titans” progression system, and what the new 85 level cap might mean for the game, there was one bit of news that had people nearly breathless.  It seemed, by my admittedly unscientific and subjective perspective, to outweigh most of the other Cataclysm news.  I’m referring to the announcement of a new Alliance race, the worgen.

I have to say, this caught me a bit off guard.  However, it was right there in front of me, and it was undeniable.  Most of the people I talked to at BlizzCon about the expansion mentioned the worgen right off.  It didn’t matter if it was during a formal interview, or during an informal conversation.  The worgen just kept coming up, again and again.  Sure, there was a bit of excitement about the new race for the horde – the goblins – but the worgen really stole the show.  

I can only surmise why.  First of all, the worgen have an intrinsic coolness.  They’re large wolf-people, and their look is, by universal agreement, excellent.  (Personally, I may be the one person who thinks they look a wee bit like cats, but that’s just me).  Big claws for hands, big paws for feet, and a huge canine (or, if you’re me, feline) head.  The color schemes give them a variety of cool variations, as do some of the individual features.  Ok, some of the hairstyles look dumb (like someone made a wig from some anime character, then slapped in onto a lycanthrope’s head), and a few of the customisable options need a bit of work, but that’s just quibbling.  The worgen look great.

Speaking of lycanthropy, I learned, after BlizzCon had come to a close, that the worgen actually have an intrinsic shape-shifting ability.  Sure, I ran around as a worgen for a nice while, testing out this and that, playing around with the various classes, etc.  Further, Blizzard discussed it during one of its panels.  Yet somehow, true to my unique genius, I completely missed one of the coolest things about the worgen, their ability to shape shift.

By all accounts, their shape-shifting ability is a real attention grabber.  A worgen can choose to appear as a human, but upon entering combat he/she reverts to their “true” lupine form.  I’m sure this will be useful in some quests down the line, but even if it’s just a quirk with no real value, it’s certainly fun.  The worgen also get a great racial, in that they can sprint like a wolf for six seconds.  It’s called Darkflight, and it gives worgen a 70% speed boost.  It seems like an extremely useful tool for pulling mobs, escaping bad situations, and for PvP.  As it stands it’s on a three minute cool-down timer.  Of course, that’s subject to change.

The worgen get a few other intriguing race advantages.  There is an overall 1% damage increase modifier, which min-maxers and the super hardcore will no doubt love.  There’s also a 15% duration reduction to curses and diseases cast on worgen characters, again giving them an advantage in some encounters.  They also get a 15% bonus to skinning because, as everyone knows, wolves are excellent at, um, neatly removing the hides from animals (and taxidermy in general.)

For all of our BlizzCon coverage from across our network, make sure you click here.
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I think the real reason the worgen are so fascinating is that they’re very different from anything else the Alliance has at the moment.  They’re downright *edgy*.  I mean, the humans are irritatingly happy, the dwarves are funny, the gnomes are cute, the elves are wise, and the draenai are noble (and hard to spell.)  But the worgen?  They’re mean.  They’re nasty.  They’re downright evil.

It all boils down to edge.  The Horde thrive on it, and they have since the beginning.  Now the Alliance finally have some of their own, and it’s way frekkin’ cool.

Let’s compare them to the goblins for a moment.  The goblins aren’t anything new.  They’re a smaller, somewhat more disgusting version of the orc, and I think that’s why people just aren’t that excited about them.  In addition, they’re everywhere, so they seem fairly bland at this point.  While some Hordies are certain to be excited by them, it’s just not the kind of thing that seemed to get everyone fired up. 

A couple of the goblin race attributes are undeniably cool.  Specifically, they have two rocket-based racials, but they are on a shared timer.  This means that goblins have a choice.  They can either use their rockets to jump 20 yards away, or to fire a barrage of rockets at enemies up to 30 yards distant.  I honestly have my doubts that these will make it into the final release of Cataclysm, especially since Blizz has had great difficulty working out a similar ability (Heroic Leap) in the past. 

The other goblin racials had me scratching my head.  They get “Time is Money”, a passive 1% boost to casting/attack speed.  They also get “Best Deals Anywhere”, a passive ability that guarantees they get the best price from NPC vendors regardless of their reputation.  They also get a personal servant (on a 30 minute timer) giving them bank access anywhere.  Another racial ability, “Better Living Through Chemistry” gives goblins, a +15 to their ***alchemy*** skill (feel free to utter a nice loud WTF), and a boost to the effectiveness of health and mana potions. 

If you’re getting the impression that the goblin racials were thrown together at the last minute, join the club.  The rocket racials make sense, the others struck me as, well, shoe-horned in there.  I’m betting they’ll undergo substantial changes prior to release. 

As an odd side note, there’s this:  Blizzard set up some survey kiosks near the front doors of BlizzCon.  The survey was short – I think about 15 questions or so – and it asked questions about Cataclysm and BlizzCon in general.  Curiously, it also asked a series of questions about the goblins.  Something to the effect of, “Would you play a goblin in the upcoming expansion?” was one of the questions.  They didn’t ask a single question about the worgen.  I kind of got the impression that Blizzard wasn’t super confident about the goblins as a race choice…and might be considering changing it.  Unlikely, but you never know.

Of the two, clearly the worgen come out ahead.  They just ooze coolness, while the goblin seem to ooze something a little more “meh”.  Of course, opinions vary. 

And with that last little tidbit, my fellow gamers, we have to wrap up this week’s edition of MMO Weekly.  If you found this entertaining, please feel free to visit us over at WanderingGoblin.com, where we cover this kind of nonsense every single day.  For now, ciao!

For all of our BlizzCon coverage from across our network, make sure you click here.

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