What will happen to one of the most infamous zones in all of World of Warcraft once the Cataclysm hits? Blizzard spills the beans to us on the fate of the Barrens.

Let’s be honest here: Everybody who plays World of Warcraft as the Horde loves the Barrens, and everybody who plays World of Warcraft as the Horde hates the Barrens. It’s a huge zone in which you’ll spend a good ten levels (if not more), it’s dry and flat and devoid of greenery, and you’ve probably done all the quests there at least five times on separate characters. But as much as there is to dislike about the Barrens, there’s also a strange nostalgia that comes with the place – “Barrens Chat,” Mankrik’s wife, Chuck Norris … it’s a rite of passage, in a way.

It’s also getting blown the hell up come the Cataclysm. Blizzard sent an exclusive Q&A to our sister site WarCry all about what’s happening to the Barrens – more specifically, the southern half of the Barrens (now its own zone) – in WoW: Cataclysm.

According to Blizzard, the Barrens is one of the areas in the world “hardest-hit” by the Cataclysm. While the northern half of the Barrens will “[retain] much of the feel of the original zone,” the southern half is drastically changed. The Alliance is pushing into Horde territory up from the East coast of the continent – likely in response to Horde aggression in places like Ashenvale – and the tension between the two factions will be at the core of the storyline in the zone, meant for players of both factions from levels 30 to 35.

“We tried to give players the feeling of participating in large PvP-style conflicts, even if they’re playing solo. Alliance and Horde members will struggle to capture and defend key points of the battlefield against waves of enemy troops,” said Cataclysm game designers Dave Kosak and Roman Marotte. “To accentuate the conflict, battles continually rage in hot spots around the zone. Finally, we put together a quest structure that throws players into the thick of those engagements.”

It seems that Blizzard is relying on players’ nostalgia for the old Barrens to elicit the desired emotional response. “We invested a lot of effort into infusing the right emotions into the zone. If you’re a Horde player, for instance, we want you to be completely outraged by what happened at [Camp] Taurajo!”

Seeing as how players are still arguing over whether or not the battle in Alterac Valley is justified – and AV has been in the game for pretty much half a decade at this point – I have no doubt that there will be plenty of message-board debates on the conflicts here in the Barrens for years to come. It’s what WoW players love to do, after all. That, and crack jokes about Chuck Norris.

To read more about the state of the Southern Barrens in Cataclysm – from the unnaturally lush Overgrowth to the strategically crucial Battlescar – head over to WarCry!

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