Chronicles of Cataclysm: Off the Deep End

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Chronicles of Cataclysm: Off the Deep End

The Whale Shark will murder you. Seriously.
The Whale Shark will murder you. Seriously.

With Cataclysm, Blizzard has done the unthinkable: It has created an underwater level in a game that not only isn't awful, but is actually pretty fun.

So, in case you missed it, last week Blizzard officially kicked off the beta for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and brought a few of us along for the ride. Later on, Features Editor Greg Tito will be taking a look at the new Goblin race, and Managing Editor Steve Butts will be rolling a Worgen - and I, as the office's resident WoWhead, will be looking at the new max-level stuff.

One of the first new places I checked out was one of the two new starting zones for level 80 characters, the sunken city of Vashj'ir. Now, with a few exceptions here and there, it's a well-known fact that underwater levels in videogames tend to suck, and suck hard. In fact, most of the underwater quests in WoW itself were pretty awful - with that in mind, I was prepared for Vashj'ir to be one of the worst experiences I've ever had in all of Azeroth.

As it turns out, it's not. Actually, it's kind of awesome.

The reason why many underwater zones tend to suck in games is twofold: First, your movement is restricted - sure, you can theoretically move anywhere in all three dimensions, but you're so much slower compared to how you move on land. Second, there's the pesky problem of often needing to breathe. It's no fun to be chained to an area that you have to constantly return to in order to survive - and I'm sure we all have horrible memories of the Sonic the Hedgehog drowning music.

image

Vashj'ir does away with both of those right off the bat. After a (completely awesome) introduction to the zone which sees you abandoning ship, you just have to do one short little quest, and then get a buff called "Sea Legs." The buff increases your speed underwater by a good amount and gives you infinite breath, essentially just making it like the world above - only with free swimming, where you can be running along the ground and then just jump off and start swimming around.

The zone is gorgeous from what I've seen of it - the Kelp Forest seen here is wonderful to look at - though the full-3D exploration can make it harder to orient oneself in finding quests at first. Vashj'ir uses the phasing technology introduced in Wrath to great effect as you battle evil naga and help set up underwater outposts. Of particular note is a quest chain that has you searching for an underwater mount: Nagas are too hard to break (and sentient albeit evil, so there's a bit of an ethical dilemma there), and sea turtles are too slow. What's next? Who knows, I haven't gotten that far yet.

There's also the enemy you see above: The Whale Shark. He swims along the edge to the deeper ocean, has 8 million hit points, and has an absolutely mammoth hit-box. If you right-click him even anywhere in his remote vicinity (as in, much farther than the screenshot above), you will attack him. He will come find you, slowly but surely. And he will hit you for 200,000 damage - and you will die.

So yeah, be careful around the Whale Shark.

I took a break from swimming around Vashj'ir to go run some dungeons, which we'll cover later - but until then, just look at the pretty Kelp Forest above.

(Seriously guys, I'm not joking about how awesome the intro to Vashj'ir was. Without spoiling anything, it may have been the single coolest moment I've seen in WoW in a very long time. Also, the new water effects make the water actually look like water and not like tiles someone pasted onto the ground.)

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Oh yeah. Whale sharks can kick your ass. If you're plankton.

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OT: It looks like quite a bit of fun. Finally you can live the dream of a life under the sea.

http://www.youtube.com/user/TotalHalibut

^That guy has guided tours of most of the areas up.

deth2munkies:
http://www.youtube.com/user/TotalHalibut

^That guy has guided tours of most of the areas up.

Great, we're not him and will be doing our own thing :)

How does the swimming buff in that zone compare to the druid aquatic form? Will the aquatic form finally be useful?

i adore enemies like whale shark. especially since im a rogue. hate being able to oneshot stuff, i love to feel the adrenaline when something that isnt supposed to see me is! best feeling ever (especially if you survive)

I always come back for new stuff in this game because i appreciate what Blizzard does, and the quality with which it does it so I'm super fucking pumped about Cataclysm.

But a few months after it comes out I'll probably cancel again :P

AfterAscon:
How does the swimming buff in that zone compare to the druid aquatic form? Will the aquatic form finally be useful?

this, cause wonder if my turtle mount will be OP in this zone. would love that... would make the effort getting it so much more satisfying.

I look forward to eventually soloing the whale shark at level 100.

Thats pretty cool, good to know Blizzard finally realized their underwater zones were lacking... (although I never complained Undead or a Druid :P) Edit: Wait, my aquatic form and turtlemount will mean something now? FUCK YEAH!

Oh yeah, and I'm disappointed with the lack of cupcakes in this thread.

John Funk:
Snip

You know of anybody that actual has tried to kill the gentle homicidal monster? That sounds like it would be an interesting thing to see what raiding party manages to kill it first.

John Funk:
Without spoiling anything, it may have been the single coolest moment I've seen in WoW in a very long time.

That definitely piques my interest. Though, that makes me wonder what the last single coolest WoW moment was for you -- perhaps we have different criteria for such things.

Also, is "sea legs" a permanent or zone-only thing, or does it need re-applied?

Thanks for the info; all the more eager for Cataclysm.

I don't belive in Whale Sharks.

Looks good. I generally disliked the underwater segments so it would be lovely to see some fun ones.

Not G. Ivingname:

John Funk:
Snip

You know of anybody that actual has tried to kill the gentle homicidal monster? That sounds like it would be an interesting thing to see what raiding party manages to kill it first.

Get two 40 man raids filled with 20s together. Hogger the whale shark!

AfterAscon:
How does the swimming buff in that zone compare to the druid aquatic form? Will the aquatic form finally be useful?

No idea if it stacks with Aqua form, though it seems to be pretty much the same thing.

Not G. Ivingname:

John Funk:
Snip

You know of anybody that actual has tried to kill the gentle homicidal monster? That sounds like it would be an interesting thing to see what raiding party manages to kill it first.

It hits ICC-geared tanks for 100,000. 8 million HP. Not killable yet.

Stilt-Man:

John Funk:
Without spoiling anything, it may have been the single coolest moment I've seen in WoW in a very long time.

That definitely piques my interest. Though, that makes me wonder what the last single coolest WoW moment was for you -- perhaps we have different criteria for such things.

Also, is "sea legs" a permanent or zone-only thing, or does it need re-applied?

Thanks for the info; all the more eager for Cataclysm.

Sea Legs seems to be permanent as long as you're in Vashj'ir, even if you leave to go somewhere else.

That whale shark just looks wayyyy too unfrienly for me to even want to contemplate what it might do to you x.x

John Funk:

deth2munkies:
http://www.youtube.com/user/TotalHalibut

^That guy has guided tours of most of the areas up.

Great, we're not him and will be doing our own thing :)

Just plugging a friend, can't get too much of it, now can we? :)

Those kelp-forests are mind-blowing! I've been resisting WoW for years now... but I'm finally giving into the madness. And this is just the incentive to join.

Water graphics aren't even finished yet.

The dungeon in that area has some freaking awesome walls. Riven style sentient water. It'd be even cooler if the player, rather than just the mobs, cvould jump in and out of them.

I have faith in Blizzard and it hasn't been abused. Apparently they dodged that critical mistake right away. Good job, now they have something diverse!

Seeing as haven't gotten in to the beta (yet, still praying!) I'm hoping that you'll hook us up with more WoW goodness.

deth2munkies:
http://www.youtube.com/user/TotalHalibut

^That guy has guided tours of most of the areas up.

I've seen most of his Cataclysm videos and yeah, jealous. Very much so.

I need to spend more time in the beta!

Stilt-Man:

John Funk:
Without spoiling anything, it may have been the single coolest moment I've seen in WoW in a very long time.

That definitely piques my interest. Though, that makes me wonder what the last single coolest WoW moment was for you -- perhaps we have different criteria for such things.

Also, is "sea legs" a permanent or zone-only thing, or does it need re-applied?

Thanks for the info; all the more eager for Cataclysm.

Can I just say that I love you very, very much for using "piques" properly?

Being underwater in games scares me. Scary monsters underwater in games scares me even more. Gigantic shark that would kill my poor priestess underwater would really make me sad. Still, this does look pretty cool... :o

Susan Arendt:

Can I just say that I love you very, very much for using "piques" properly?

I can't say I've ever seen it mis-used...

I want to say that I loved the underwater level in KoTOR @_@

That is all.

Susan Arendt:

Stilt-Man:

John Funk:
Without spoiling anything, it may have been the single coolest moment I've seen in WoW in a very long time.

That definitely piques my interest. Though, that makes me wonder what the last single coolest WoW moment was for you -- perhaps we have different criteria for such things.

Also, is "sea legs" a permanent or zone-only thing, or does it need re-applied?

Thanks for the info; all the more eager for Cataclysm.

Can I just say that I love you very, very much for using "piques" properly?

Wait, people have forgotten how to use the word "piques"? Say it isn't so! Surely it can't be that people don't know how to use it properly? What has the world come to? Why world why? What have you do-Hold on a minute. That is not a whale shark. That is a freaking Megalodon.

Susan Arendt:

Can I just say that I love you very, very much for using "piques" properly?

Aw, shucks. Also, yes, it would appear that you can! :-)

I now forsee raids dedicated to slaying the whale shark.

This shark is the best thing that has happened to any game. Ever.

Glad to see Blizzard continuing the tradition of giant, unkillable monsters in the starter zones. It wouldn't be a WoW expansion without near random deaths to creatures dozens of times bigger than you (or hundreds for the anklebiters).

of all the sharks, they chose a whale shark? lol i dont play WOW but thats funny as hell.

chaos order:
of all the sharks, they chose a whale shark? lol i dont play WOW but thats funny as hell.

They probably decided this on the following formula:

Big Thing + Jaws = New Levelers Piss Pants
Big Thing = Whale
Jaws = Shark

Seriously, though, I feverently await Cataclysm's release. I don't think I'm going to last that long, the anticipation is killing me.

I can't wait to have some serious bubble fun with Mr. shark on my pally.

From what I understand it's not aggressive however?

The Great JT:

chaos order:
of all the sharks, they chose a whale shark? lol i dont play WOW but thats funny as hell.

They probably decided this on the following formula:

Big Thing + Jaws = New Levelers Piss Pants
Big Thing = Whale
Jaws = Shark

Seriously, though, I feverently await Cataclysm's release. I don't think I'm going to last that long, the anticipation is killing me.

well jaws r really nothing unless they have teeth, whale sharks really dont

chaos order:
well jaws r really nothing unless they have teeth, whale sharks really dont

I meant the shark from the movie. No one messes with Jaws. Not even Kung-Fu Donkey Kong Jesus Riding A Puff Of Smoke.

The Great JT:

chaos order:
well jaws r really nothing unless they have teeth, whale sharks really dont

I meant the shark from the movie. No one messes with Jaws. Not even Kung-Fu Donkey Kong Jesus Riding A Puff Of Smoke.

true true but i mean there is always u know the great white shark.

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