Ok I’ve had roughly three weeks of playing the beta between trying to raid on live and other commitments, and after spending a decent chunk of Saturday on Beta I think I can say I am looking forward to the expansion based on what I am seeing. There are some gripes but overall it looks good.

Changed Zones: For those of us who are currently level capped and don’t spend a great deal of time levelling alts the old world changes will be particularly jarring, more so then for the new characters or those currently levelling. Why? because we don’t see it, we don’t experience it and we are not part of it – unless you go back and do all the new quests later but its still not a smooth transition. As a level capped character you retirn to Orgrimmar from Northrend and a quest pops up that send you to Hyjal or optionally to Vashjir, in the meantime you are wandering around a newly designed city wondering what is going on, and as the game progresses and you fly over the world wondering why certain things are happening it all feels sort of out of place that you are flying up to help druids in Hyjal while Alliance are attacking the Horde on all fronts that you fly over. Granted you know that the changes are coming but at 80 you feel really distanced from it all when you start levelling again.

New Zones: When your next questgiver hasn’t run off to slay some beast a mile away .. these are great. The breadcrumb quests to each zone are really well delivered and the storyline progression well integrated. They may not make you like or hate certain characters more then you do now but it does build storyline to each zone in a way that even the into quests to head to Northrend didn’t. With in-game sequences, heavy phasing and story driven questing these zones appear and progress smoothly. Having said that when the way to progress past a certain point is a quest from 1 single NPC who has run off and you don’t know she/he was supposed to give you next quest is a PIA.

Goblin, Worgen and other Start Zones: So far these are great. The Goblins are unrepentantly amoral in virtually all their quests which suit their nature and the quests themselves are in general, fun. The Worgens storyline is very good, and the zone dark and foreboding which suits the mood, but there is the sheer ‘fun’ element that is missing when compared to te Goblin zone which is I suppose a good reflection on the racial stereotypes. I haven’t had a chance to test out other start zones barring the first five levels of being a troll, but so far .. they look good. My only gripe here especially over the new areas (Goblin/Worgen) is that there is so much phasing and changes going on that the feel of exploration and discovery that many new players (and old) go through when starting a character in a new zone is totally gone. Basically if you don’t stop to look you won’t get the chance, and the quests are usually all in such close proximity to the giver that there is no real feel for exploration.

New Dungeons: I think the entire population is in for a shock here. Starting with dps who will need to learn to CC all over again, Tanks who will need to learn how to los pull or not to tank amongst cc’d mobs (yes running n and tanking on top of cc’d mobs is bad) and healers will have to get ready to be blamed for everything while others adjust ad as you try to figure where you may need to concentrate on one or multiple targets to the exclusion of others. Eventually you will get through it and become comfortable, and then heroics will hit you like a ton of bricks and you will need to start over!

There is sooo much in Cataclysm to see and do. Having had some experience on Beta I won’t be running round like a headless chicken when it launches on live trying to figure out what marvel I want to see first (I hope) and I will be ready to commit to levelling my main. But to those who havn’t had the opportunity to boggle their minds over the changes or looks at the new races I say do what you want when you want when live launches ..its a whole new world and you don’t rush to 85, the raids are not going away anytime soon!