At the WoW Insider reader meetup we threw at BlizzCon 2010, I was asked a simple question. "Mike," an eager attendee asked me, "what the best way to get caught up on the information for Cataclysm?" I was obviously a bit surprised, but the question resonated for me. After all, in a lot of ways, Cataclysm is completely rewriting the world as we know it. Classes are changing, talent trees are changing, and there will be a whole series of new raid bosses. Of course, none of these are things that we haven't encountered before in previous expansions.
But then again, even the landscape of Azeroth is going to be irrevocably changed, scarred by the passage of Deathwing. Things will never be the same again. So if you're new to the game or even returning from a hiatus, it must feel like an immense amount of information to try and understand. Even more, once you've logged into the game and started playing, you need resources at your fingertips to understand what's happening around you.
So this week in WoW Rookie, we're going to take the time to talk about where you can go to get information.
How do I find Mankrik's wife?
There is a legend in The Barrens of Kalmidor. An orc stands, lonely, consumed by fear for his loved one. This orc is Mankrik and he has a simple request: Find his wife. The problem with this simple gesture, however, is that many people find Mankrik's wife really, really difficult to ... ahem ... find.
The general answer for many players had been to ask in the zone chat channel. But there are a few simple tools to help you locate quest objects. We'll talk about Wowhead first, because it's an incredibly versatile tool. If you punch in the name of the NPC, quest, or item you're trying to find, the simple search results will help you navigate to your goal. Wowhead isn't the only database, of course, but it's one of most popular. That's significant because the comment sections are full of great information about how to defeat bad guys and navigate treacherous landscapes. The comments section usually ends up acting like a mini-guide and will help you figure out things you might have overlooked.
Are there any in-game options?
Of course, Blizzard does its best to make sure that you can use in-game tools to get the job done. First, there's the quest text itself that will help you find your way, with directions like "north of the old mill." The text uses familiar landmarks to help navigate you to your goal.
But what about the expansion?
Of course, the bigger question is, "How do I keep up with the changes?" If you're just now coming back to the game, check out WoW Insider's basic answer to What is Cataclysm? Once you've gotten caught up on the basic ideas of the expansion, then take some time to check out our Rookie's Guide to 4.0.1. Patch 4.0.1 carried an immense amount of the mechanical changes for Cataclysm and resources about that patch will help get you caught up on game alterations.
That probably won't be enough to make you feel like you're living in the now, though. Keep an eye on WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, where we'll be rounding up even more information as the expansion gets even closer. While we're reviewing great summaries of the expansion, though, we can't leave out that master of data, MMO-Champion. Additionally, MMO-Champion's talent builder, Wowtal, is a great resource for playing with new talent builds. It will even allow you port that information straight into the game.
What if I want to ask questions?
I'd suggest your first resource should be The Queue. Not only does WoW Insider's intrepid staff of journalists and experts do its best to answer reader questions, but the commenters tend to be equally helpful. With this kind of resource at your fingertips, if there's an answer to your question, chances are someone knows it.
But if that doesn't get it done, there are always the official forums. Answers can be tough to come by on the official forums, but they're a good place to go for information you can't find elsewhere.
Again, what about in-game options?
One of the best reasons to join a guild is to help you through challenging quests and answer questions about the game. These are your friends and compatriots in battle, and they are often one of your best resources for a little assistance in game. That might manifest as having someone show up to help you kill the monster, or even just friendly words to explain a great technique.
Of course, you need to find a guild. But The Classifieds are a great resource for that, and it seems like there's always someone advertising in trade chat. Take your time and find a good home, because they're going to be some of your best allies in game.
Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from how to control your character and camera angles when you're just starting out, to pulling together enough cash for mid-level expenses such as mounts and dual specialization, to what to do when you finally hit level 80.