They say “be careful what you wish for, you might get it.” If I asked for a show of hands from everyone who wished that the Old World zones looked half as polished as the Burning Crusade or Lich King zones, there’d probably be an awful lot of hands on display. I love Nagrand and Zangarmarsh, although I accept that the bluesey Zangarmarsh isn’t to everyone’s taste, but to this day the view as you fly from Terrokar to Zangarmarsh at sunset is one of the prettiest views in game I can recall. There’s a split second as you round the corner of the bluff outside Shattrath City and just as the light changes… there. Awesome. Nagrand is like a grown up Mulgore, which is itself probably the prettiest of the Old World zones in my opinion. Then we have Sholozar Basin in Northrend, which has a level of detail I sorely wished could be lavished on one of my other favourite Old World zones, Stranglethorn Vale.
Another ever popular request is that we should be able to use our flying mounts in the Old World too. Again, this is predictably popular, but just not possible at the moment due to the way the Old World was built. Blizzard employed a lot of clever tricks with forced perspective and false horizons to make Azeroth look bigger and deeper than it really is, and being able to fly around it would destroy the illusion. Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms were just never designed to be seen from the air, except on very carefully staged flight paths.
Well, we’re getting what we asked for. We’re going to be able to fly around the Old World and it’s getting the graphical makeover we’ve seen given to Northrend and Outland. There’s just one slight fly in the ointment.
It’s not going to be the Old World we all know anymore.
Times, They Are A Changing
The thing is, and the clue’s in the title, Cataclysm brings with it… well.. cataclysmic changes to the Old World I know and love. Oh I’m sure Blizzard are going to do it all with their customary style and polish, and I’m equally sure that the new zones and new versions of the old zones are going to look suitably amazing. But I’m going to miss those old zones. I’m not sure at this point exactly what the full list of zone makeovers are, but stop and think for a second. We’ve all had one of those “ooooh” moments at some point or another, whether it be waiting for the zeppellin at Thunder Bluff at Sunset, fishing off the lighthouse in Westfall, waiting for the boat at Menethil Harbour or whatever, when the camera angle and the light are just right, and it suddenly hits us what an incredibly good-looking game Blizzard have created. Well come the expansion, that special place may not be there anymore.
And with the speed that people zip through levels on the route to 80 these days there are HUGE tracts of land that a lot of people have just never seen, and they’re never going to get the chance to see them unless they get out and sniff the daisies now, before it’s too late. Sure, they’re going to be replaced with something bigger, shinier and more impressive, but the original landscape won’t be there anymore!
There has simply never been a better time to go out and get that World Explorer achievement. Heck, Brann Bronzebeard will even throw in a shiny new tabard for you if you do it. So go on, you really owe it to yourself to go out and see what an amazing world Blizzard created before it gets changed completely.
Just to start you off, I went out and captured some of it for you.