WITH 12M registered players worldwide, World of Warcraft has become a colossal franchise since it launched six years ago – far eclipsing the Warcraft strategy titles that came before it.
Others have tried – and failed – to match its success in recent years. Today the world’s most popular subscription-based online PC RPG is bigger than ever, and Blizzard Entertainment is whetting fans’ appetites with new additions in the third expansion, Cataclysm.
The level cap has been raised from 80 to 85, giving players hundreds of hours of extra gameplay. Ten new dungeons have been introduced including The Firelands, where previous end-boss Ragnaros returns.
Two new playable races have been introduced – Goblins for gamers who belong to the Horde faction, and werewolf-like Worgen for members of the Alliance.
For more competitive users, the ‘Battlegrounds’ system has been upgraded, making it easier for gamers to jump straight into a match. Players can even level up as a ‘guild’ and unlock team achievements.
But perhaps the most striking of changes Cataclysm brings is the altered landscape, with Deathwing the dragon causing destruction across in-game world Azeroth.
As players return to where they first started the game, villages have been destroyed, earthquakes have split areas apart and mountains have formed, providing new challenges. Cataclysm also allows gamers to use flying mounts in Azeroth for the first time.
All of this is sure to give World of Warcraft players a real treat come December 7th. If sales of previous add-on packs are anything to go by (see ‘Crafting Masterpieces’), it wouldn’t be a surprise for Cataclysm to top the charts this Christmas.
Gamers who pre-order Cataclysm can opt for a £59.99 special edition which comes with an art book, DVD, CD soundtrack, mouse pad, a Lil’ Deathwing in-game pet and a range of World of Warcraft trading cards.
World of Warcraft
The original RPG released in North America in 2004 and Europe in 2005 to rave reviews. Users are still charged £8.99 per month and there are now 12m subscribers playing it.
The Burning Crusade
This add-on introduced new quests, creatures and a raised level cap from 60 to 70. It was released in January 2007 and sold 2.4m copies within its 24 hours on sale, making it the best-selling PC game of the time.
Wrath of the Lich King
The second expansion went on sale in November 2008 and sold 2.8m copies within its first 24 hours on sale, beating The Burning Crusade’s record by 400,000 units. Over 15,000 stores held midnight openings worldwide.