With Cataclysm now in the Beta and the release to soon follow (hey I can hope), we are bound to be seeing a lot of fun in the foreseeable future. New Quests, New Raids, New Battlegrounds, New Factions to grind .. the list goes on. I found myself wondering though what was the single things people were most looking forward to with the release of Cataclysm, and I bet it would be different for everyone.

While I am looking forward to more non-raid content (I do enjoy questing so shoot me), I realised that that wasn’t exactly why I was looking forward to Cataclysm. Right now when I think about Cataclysm I am not thinking about completing quests or running new dungeons, hell, I’m not even thinking about the new races .. I find myself mostly thinking about the atmosphere the game has in those first few days after an expansion is released.

There are of course a few downsides to the days just after release, soooo many people come back to WoW and of course everyone is trying to play every spare minute they have. This means that queue to get online start developing and you may have a half our que to log on, or it may mean when you start hunting down that one named mob you need you find a line of people waiting for it outside its cave. General is filled with questions, some reasonable, some just too stupid to bear repeating, everything is very very busy.

That though is what makes the start of an expansion so very involving though, especially in the first zone or two. The sheer industry of it all boggles the mind. Thousands of players from both factions are cramming themselves into one or two zones, and unlike Dalaran they are not just hanging around, they are actively exploring, hunting and questing, and as a result NPC’s and Mobs start spawning like crazy. Until in the end there is just so much going on it feels like you really have stepped out of the safe environs of your home town and into the battlefield.

Lets think back to the launch of Wrath, now that was something pretty spectacular, I mean everyone was rushing to the new zones, because the Horde and the Alliance had started the fight against the Lich King. From My perspective as a Horde Player it was incredible. First you find yourself with dozens of others crowded at a Zepplin dock in Orgrimmar, then after a short loading screen you get your first glimpses of the Borean Tundra and then Warsong Hold comes into view. Then as you disembark you already have new trainers there to get the goods at, more there are important Lore figures (Saurfang and Garrosh) arguing with each other while they are barking out orders to every mercenary and hero arriving in their fortress. You haven’t even left the main staging point from the zone and already things are bustling.

Almost immediately you are asked to go and help clear out nerubians who are attacking from the quarry surrounding the hold .. and that folks is where it really started. With half of the Horde players just arriving these quests were what everyone is doing .. so you had dozens and dozens of players running around these trenches killing nerubians, bashing eggs, blowing up stuff and fighting off arial attacks. As a result so many mobs were spawning you could almost stand in one spot continually spamming wrath to get 20 kills .. So you have arrived in Northrend and stepped out into a real live battlefield. The good thing was this continued across the whole first zone as you battled Kvaldir at Kaskala and ships were continually arriving and disgorging your enemies, or as you tackled the blue dragonflight at Coldarra.

It was immensely immersive, and for the first week or two lasted past that initial zone right through to the endzone, Icecrown, where although there were fewer players questing at that time, there was still enough to make it almost feel as good as it did on that first day.

Yes, it has its downsides, but what I am most looking forward to is those first few heady days when everyone is crowded together fighting their way through new content, because those are the days the game feels most alive. Having recently had an alt pass through Borean Tundra I can tell you with so few people actively questing there the feel of the entire zone has changed .. and to me it no longer feels as epic.

So there you have it, that, at least initially is what I am looking forward to the most in Cataclysm .. what is it that you are looking forward to?