The expansion itself was different than I'd expected, to be perfectly honest. Cataclysm wasn't exactly a bad expansion, really, and the old world quest revamp as well as flight being added were both welcome additions. But Cataclysm lacked the spark previous expansions had, and I can't quite put my finger on why, exactly. Despite the fact that it didn't knock The Burning Crusade out of first place on my list of favorite expansions, there's still something I'm going to miss about Cataclysm once we're wandering Pandaria.
Aldous over at Boozekin really got me thinking on this topic after writing up a list of five bits of Cataclysm content he'll miss when Mists comes out. Oddly enough, only one thing on his list really involved Cataclysm content at all (although using Icecrown to farm for Darkmoon Faire content counts equally toward Wrath and Cataclysm content, I'll give him that). But his number one spot was reserved for a Wrath-era boss, with Aldous wistfully mentioning that attempting said boss at level 90 just wouldn't have the same impact at level 85, which wasn't quite far enough removed from 80 to make the boss a complete joke.
So I started thinking about it myself. What purely Cataclysm content will I miss once Mists goes live? I could say I'd miss the new Orgrimmar, but it'll still be there when we're roaming Pandaria, and a quick leap through a portal will send me there at a moment's notice. I could say I'll miss the new-old world, but I'll be leveling a pandaren monk at some point, so I'll get to experience that content again. I could say I'll miss old-world flying, but again, these are all things that I'll have just as readily available in Mists as I do right now.
Thinking on it, I suppose what I'll miss is having a really unique zone like Vashj'ir in the mix of leveling experiences. I know there are plenty of people out there who didn't care for the underwater zone, but I really loved the story behind Vashj'ir. It was incredibly fascinating, and the interplay between naga, kvaldir and Old Gods kept me enthralled all the way to the end of the zone. Yes, the conclusion of Vashj'ir's story in Throne of the Tides was unsatisfactory. But the whole zone was filled with riddles and questions that were never answered.
Beyond the story, which I dearly hope is revisited some day, there was just the experience of Vashj'ir itself. Being underwater for the entirety of an entire leveling zone was new, bizarre, and oddly entertaining. There was something about hitting the space bar to jump and suddenly finding myself floating midair, then realizing yes, I was absolutely underwater. And when I finally broke the ocean's surface near the end of the zone, there was an odd moment of disorientation that I really liked.
Mists of Pandaria features a whole host of new zones, but none of them have quite that alien and unfamiliar feel that Vashj'ir had. That said, I do really like the new zones, and I like the quests in them. And the feeling of being stranded in Vashj'ir is mimicked in Pandaria as well. But I'm still going to miss Vashj'ir, because despite the questions it raised and never answered, it was still a really unique visual take on a leveling zone.
It's odd, but that's the only thing that really sticks out in my mind as something I'm really going to miss from Cataclysm, and I'm not quite sure why. I think it has something to do with how Cataclysm tied directly into the old world, rather than introducing a new continent or a new planet to explore. I'm not really saddened that I won't have a reason to visit Cataclysm zones again, because those zones are still relevant -- they're old world Azeroth.
And maybe that's the crux of it, really. With each of the other expansions, we were forging our way into new territory and fighting dangers both old and new. In The Burning Crusade, there was an overwhelming feeling of goodbye to Outland. We'd finished cleaning up the shattered world, and now it was time to return home. In Wrath, we traveled to the icy peaks of Northrend in a concentrated effort to defeat the Lich King. Once he was gone, it was time to pack up and return home.
In Cataclysm ... Well, we're home already. We don't have to pack up our bags and head back anywhere, because we're already there. So there isn't really the inherent goodbye feeling that was felt with the other two expansions, and I just don't feel like there's anything I'm going to miss as a result.
Regardless, I do find myself wondering if anyone else has any experiences or Cataclysm content that they're really going to miss. Aldous' list seemed to involve prior expansions more than Cataclysm itself, so I'm curious. What are you going to regret having to say goodbye to in Cataclysm? Is there a particular dungeon or zone you're going to miss seeing?
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has destroyed Azeroth as we know it; nothing is the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion, from leveling up a new goblin or worgen to breaking news and strategies on endgame play.