Cataclysm

Cataclysm
Gnomeward Bound

Brendan Main | 17 Aug 2010 13:09
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Until now. Blizzard's pre-expansion quest campaign to retake Gnomeregan casts the much-maligned capital in a different light. It proves that, even in the midst of world-changing crisis, Blizzard has time for a little bit of love for the little guys. Past expansions have pushed onward and outward, advancing decades-long plot points while allowing players to push towards far-flung vistas - the otherworldly Outlands, or the vast expanses of the North. But in a lot of ways, the thematic experience of Cataclysm isn't about heading outward, but coming home ... and now, finally, the Gnomes will have a home to come back to.

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As simply an under visited and buggy instance, Gnomer relegates the gnomes to joke status - a one-note bit, buried under the steady swell of pretty races on prettier mounts, those fancy flip-when-you-jumpers with palatial hometowns that scan neutral on the Geiger counters. Blizzard has indicated that this scrimmage will only concern the top ground of Gnomeregan, and that the instance, in all its noob-crushing hopelessness, will remain as it is. Somehow, I'm comforted by this fact. Every generation of WoW players deserve a chance to learn for themselves what a hot mess Gnomer is, scampering around in circles with their bags full of grime-encrusted objects. But in pushing to take back what's theirs, even if it is just a scrap of a scrap, the Gnomeregan Exiles become something different - something with poise, and purpose, and a shot at redemption.

Cataclysm is poised to offer WoW its biggest upset, a colossal conflict that will move mountains and crack continents asunder. So why, with all the large events afoot, am I most excited by one of the smallest? It might have something to do with how I process a game as large as World of Warcraft - for its entire geographical sprawl, spanning continents and worlds, the hilly backwoods of Dun Murogh still matter to me. I haven't forgotten the very first quests I undertook, dreaming of mounts, raids, and epic loot. Dun Murogh might just be a few acres of snow to nearly everybody else, but it's something, and it counts.

All of this has ended up with me standing abreast with the amassed gnomish forces and their mechanical monstrosities, waiting for the call to battle. Ahead of us, beyond the cannon emplacements and fortified walls, and enshrouded in a perpetual green miasma of radiation, sits Gnomeregan: A city that's lured me to Warcraft not once, but twice now, a city I'll always remember as a place of frustration, dashed hopes and wasted afternoons - a city I secretly kind of hate. But sometimes, even the things you hate are worth fighting for. In an instant, we receive the call to /charge, and a mob of robots, spider tanks and heavily-armed gnomes stream towards their home city with a righteous fury. For Gnomeregan!

You can have your earthquakes, and your primal gods, and giant ebon death doom dragons. I'll stick to the small stuff. Unabashedly and unashamedly, this is my kind of scene - glorious, ridiculous, and with plenty of gratuitous Gs to go around. Who says you can gnever go home?

Brendan Main hails from the frosty reaches of Canada, where people are still a little sensitive about the whole "few acres of snow" thing. He lives in a palatial hometown, and flips when he jumps.

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