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Massively's World of Warcraft Cataclysm launch day round-up


In any discussion on MMOs, industry titan World of Warcraft always makes an appearance. Despite being in operation for over six years now, WoW still manages to maintain an unfathomably large lead in the MMO market. After all this time, however, the original content the game shipped with was beginning to look a little dated. In developing the game's two major expansions, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard has refined its winning game design formula and improved the quality of new content being released. Until now, the old game world that came with the original game in 2004 has been largely unchanged. With the release of WoW's third major expansion, Cataclysm, all that has finally changed.

In addition to new endgame content and the usual new areas expected with every expansion, Cataclysm contains a complete revamp of the entire old game world. Old quests and zones have been changed to bring them up to Blizzard's new design standards and hopefully breathe new life into the early game experience. The opportunity to replay the low levels in a changed world has attracted a great number of previous players who had previously become bored with the game. The expansion officially released today, with servers being unlocked this morning. If you've ever played World of Warcraft or are thinking of giving Cataclysm a try, take a peek at our launch day round-up to see what's new in Cataclysm.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Collector's Edition, unboxed
We're still some hours away from the midnight launch of the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm. It won't be long before Deathwing wrecks shop, so we thought we'd take some of this downtime to share pics of the Collector's Edition which recently made its way to our doorstep. Peruse the gallery below, and stick around for a giveaway later today.
WoW Rookie: What is Cataclysm?
Sites like WoW Insider have been absolutely buzzing with information about the new expansion to the World of Warcraft. While we bloggers, journalists and fans are so accustomed to hearing about the upcoming Cataclysm that we don't think twice about it, a brand new player probably has no clue what the heck is going on. So with that being said, let's take a week and catch up our rookie brother and sisters by answering, "What exactly is Cataclysm?"

Official Cataclysm trailer
The Cataclysm cinematic, as first shown this afternoon at the BlizzCon 2009 opening ceremonies, is pretty darn epic (as all of Blizz's cinematics have been, really). If you haven't gotten a chance to watch it yet, fear not - there are options. You can watch it embedded above in this post, or you can head on over to Blizzard's official site and watch it streaming or download a high-quality version.
Official Cataclysm cinematic
The Cataclysm cinematic has just become available, and -- words fail me -- it's amazing. Some folks behind the scene here think it's Blizzard's best yet, but personally, I think it's a dead heat between this and the Wrath of the Lich King cinematic. Interestingly, there are no NPCs or characters of any kind visible in the cinematic apart from Deathwing himself (apart from a quick glimpse of what are probably a few goblin or human-looking armorers).
Cataclysm 101: What to do first in Cataclysm
Cataclysm has already gone live in Europe, and it's only hours away now for those of us in North America. Are you prepared for it? Do you know what you need to know to hit the ground running when Cataclysm content becomes active on live realms? If you don't, we're here to help. Below are answers to some of the most common questions that have been asked about starting the Cataclysm experience.
Cataclysm raid progression refinements
Today Blizzard released some stunning new standards for raids in the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. Chief amongst these changes, which every WoW player should be aware of, is the combining of 10- and 25-man loot tables, 10- and 25-man raid lockouts, and the continuation of gated content. No longer will 25-man raids provide better gear than 10-man raids ...
Cataclysm annotated map adventure
Jesse Cox created this amazing guided tour of the changes Cataclysm has laid upon Azeroth. You can navigate the entire map by clicking the annotated box. Not only do you get to see the zones through this map, but Jesse has done some great commentary along the way. My hat is off to Mr. Cox for this work. He's really knocked the ball out of the park with this interactive guide, and I hope it gets lots of attention. He's provided not only some great views of the area, but he also does some narration of the critical stories that take place in the zones.
Azeroth In Pictures: Before The Shattering
The Shattering has torn Azeroth asunder, and the world has broken under Deathwing's mighty power. However, your intrepid WoW Insider team has saved the old world for you in gallery form! Kalimdor, the Eastern Kingdoms, the capital cities and more are all going to be preserved forever, thanks to our galleries. Take time to see your favorite places and reminisce, because when the servers are back up, there's no going back.
Cataclysm to include outdoor heroic 5-man bosses
In vanilla and BC, there were world bosses like Azuregos and Doomwalker that spawned out in the open world and could be taken down by a raid. While these bosses were often farmed by the highest progression guilds on the servers, they were often so quickly killed and so long in respawning that not many players got to see them. Now, in Cataclysm, a new take on this idea is being implemented.
Cataclysm 101: Zone and instance progression
If you're sitting there at your keyboard right now violently coveting your upcoming Cataclysm experience and daydreaming of all the places you'll go, we here at WoW Insider would like nothing better than to aid and abet you in your wacky escapades. And since Cataclysm is launching on International Matthew Rossi's Birthday, who better to help you figure out where you intend to stream like an unstoppable torrent of locusts? Well, there may be lots of better options, but I'm doing it anyway.
Countdown to Cataclysm: Guild leveling and progression
One of the coolest new features of Cataclysm is the ability for guilds to level up, unlocking all sorts of cool items, mounts, heirlooms and much more. Also new to Cataclysm are guild achievements that groups of players can work for that open up even more rewards. Blizzard has crafted a really awesome guild reputation system, so get your buddies together to hit the ground running when Cataclysm launches. Guild advancement requires players to earn experience for their guild by ...

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