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‘World of Warcraft: Cataclysm’ a refreshingly challenging expansion

With their world facing complete annihilation from the newest in a series of mounting threats, Azeroth’s heroes must again rally to thwart the forces of boundless destruction.

Welcome to “World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.”

Having spent countless hours in Blizzard Entertainment’s latest expansion to the popular “World of Warcraft” massive multiplayer online game, this addition is easily best-foot-forward in the series so far.

"World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (PC/Mac)" •Massively-multiplayer online role-playing game •T for Teen •Online multiplayer
“Cataclysm” does a fantastic job of making the game more accessible than ever.

Aside from a level cap increase from 80 to 85 and a simplification of character stats and talent trees, “Cataclysm” sports lush, new environments, archaeology as a new secondary profession and two new races: the cunning Goblins for the Horde and savage Worgen for the Alliance.

The starting zones for both races are something every WoW player should experience. The Worgen area does a great job of setting up the race's lore, while the Goblin zone provides a wacky, unusual ride — everything you’d expect from the little green guys.

Azeroth’s classic locations have been drastically altered after main-villain Deathwing’s escape, which means players won’t have to trudge through the same content once more when leveling multiple characters.

Questing in the new high-level zones is an absolute joy. The questing experience has been revamped and set up more as a long chain of adventures injected with cut scenes and lore instead of series of small quest hubs.

You can also check out the new archaeology profession while in the field which is used to obtain vanity items, such as pets and mounts.

WoW veterans will find the increase in dungeon difficulty a pleasing change of pace. Gone are the days of clearing a heroic dungeon in 10 minutes and killing bosses by bashing your face against a keyboard. Crowd control is almost a necessity, and end bosses don’t drop epic loot anymore — you actually have to work for your shiny new purples again.

Both 10- and 25-man raids now drop the same quality of loot, allowing smaller raiding guilds a shot at desirable gear.

Huge strides have been made in gear itemization with a new tool called reforging, which converts excess stats on a piece of gear into more desirable ones.

New raid content is challenging and enjoyable. Guilds will surely experience a huge sense of accomplishment when a boss is finally downed.

For those whose interest is player-versus-player combat, new arena and battlegrounds have been added. Additionally, rated battlegrounds offer points akin to the previous expansion’s arena points. If you hate arenas but love battlegrounds, you can finally get the same high-quality PvP rewards.

“Cataclysm” is an accessible, fun and refreshingly challenging step forward in the “World of Warcraft” saga.

Put down your books and pick up your sword.

You’ve got a world to save.