Alex: TOP HATS
Daniel: FREAKING AWESOME TOP HATS
But for completeness' sake, the rest of the team's thoughts are below.
Here's how I can sum up the first levels of the Worgen starting area:
THERE ARE VEHICLES YOU USE TO LAUNCH YOURSELF PLACES.
Putting vehicles in as low as level 5, they're clearly working to get new game mechanics in the hands of lowbies as quickly as possible.
Both races are incredibly fluid and beautifully animated. I am incredibly pleased. They keep the feel of the old NPC skins but are much more beautifully detailed, and at first glance do not appear to suffer any of the glitches and clipping issues that plague most PC races.
Class option wise, I can dig it, but I am a bit disappointed. No Worgen Paladins? The Gilneans are devoted followers of the Light. Even the Cataclysm starting movie showed a cathedral in Gilneas. I really wanted to see some genuine pissed off angry retributers of the Light ready to bring Holy Vengeance on the Defilers. If you can let Worgen and Goblins be Death Knights, let 'em be Paladins!
These new races really show how much Blizzard has learned since the game first launched -- and even since we last had new races in Burning Crusade. While original WoW starting zones drop you, one of many of your kind, into a chain of fairly non-descript quests of the kill ten rats variety, both Goblin and Worgen starting zones throw you into the middle of an epic story-line in which you're the hero. Much like the Death Knight "starting experience," the point of the Goblin and Worgen starting zones isn't just to give new characters enough levels and experience to join the larger world of Azeroth -- it's to tell a story. Here's to hoping the rest of Azeroth, post-Cataclysm, will feel less grindy and more epic, like these new starting zones!
I made a mistake when I created a Goblin. So what was the mistake?
I created a Hunter.
I have never played a Hunter before and I had no idea what to do. I just mashed buttons and prayed that I'd connect with my shots. One of the quests involved rescuing other goblins. I liked the idea of being created as the savior of the goblin people. The Goblin racials are great! Now I can sort of say that I can truly do some rocket jumping in the game. I picked a bad time to pick a class that I honestly didn't know how to play. I died a lot because I'd run into multiple mobs and I was unable to get range and shoot them.
The starting area looked great. It was very vibrant and tropical. Whatever detail they added in Wrath, they amped it up even more in the beta. And this is pre-beta.
I've learned my lesson. Look at the class selection closely before hitting the create character button.
I think the new races seem a little bit like fan service. They'll be extremely popular, and they are cool, but it does seem like they're tweaking the lore a bit to get them in there. The racials are very flashy, but the racials I'm most interested in -- the Goblin money discounts -- didn't come into play in the demo. The class options also seem a little like fan service, but I think that's only because the lore hasn't been explained yet: the Goblin's Injured Colleague quests seem like they're going a long way towards telling an epic story and making the new options make sense.
I like the Worgen starting area better than the Goblins, though the Goblins area seems like it could be a jungle-style Stranglethorn that people actually like, which is excellent. Haven't had much experience with the starting experiences yet -- it seems a little less epic than the Death Knight experience, though remember we're comparing a Hero Class to a character someone might be picking up for the first time.
I think both Worgen and Goblins will be super popular as races, and I think the combination of completely revamping the old world will mean that everyone and their mother will be rerolling on the exact same day. Fun? We'll see.
I was able to play both races and while I completely agree with all of the geeking out about the Worgen, I had more fun playing a Goblin. Both back-stories are delightfully dire, but the Goblins have a better sense of humor about their fate. I also love that gadgets play an intimate part of the Goblin existence -- as it should be. The rocket belt racials are powerful and fun, but gadgets are also played with for many of the quests. I was not able to play enough of either to really compare to the DK starting experience, but I predict I'll be rolling one of each character to experience both.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In WoW.com's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgen to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.