Big stakes and the end of an expansion

Guys, I don't know if you know this, but we have just pried the elementium plates off of the back of a dragon so big 25 people can stand on him. After that, we killed the mutant kaiju version of him, who was so big his head alone was bigger than us and four other giant dragons.

I'm sorry, but you have to be 50 kinds of jaded to not enjoy this. One of the things I've really enjoyed about patch 4.3 and the Dragon Soul raid is how it unabashedly throws massive, crazy, world-ending doomsday events at you. Between fending off not one but two faceless ones from within bloated abominations, balking an ancient earth elemental giant at the base of Wyrmrest Temple, and defeating Ultraxion and then taking on Deathwing himself, the fights feel enormous. The stakes are huge, and while the supposed saviors of Azeroth spend a lot of time thinking really hard at a McGuffin, we step the heck up.

Whether you are hitting it via Raid Finder, attending your weekly 10-man hardcore raid, or participating as a member of a casual 25-man raid alliance (or anything in between), in terms of pure aesthetics, Dragon Soul is a very satisfying raid in terms of pure scope and sweep.

No better than this bitter end

To be honest, I sincerely hope Blizzard doesn't try to Sunwell this expansion. Cataclysm must go out on Deathwing's demise. He was the villain all expansion long, and we put him in the ground. There's no better end for this expansion than to see the Age of Mortals come rolling around and for us to be the mortals that make that happen. Après Neltharion, le guerre, if you'll permit me to horribly butcher the helpless French language for a moment.

The Hour of Twilight heroics and the Dragon Soul raid do exactly what they should do and provide us with the end of Deathwing's story and his attempt to remake the world to his own twisted desires. I've never run a set of 5-man instances that so perfectly dovetailed with the raid they were intended to complement, not even the ICC 5s. (Those were admittedly close, however.) Perhaps it's as simple as finally getting made into another race than a human in a CoT or getting to see the biggest event in the Warcraft setting's history up close, but I'm in love with these instances.

Combine that with the fun I'm having with transmogrification, a feature I stoutly denied needing for six years, and I honestly haven't had this much fun in WoW since Ulduar. I don't know if I'd say Dragon Soul is as well designed as Ulduar was, but I'm on record as finding Ulduar to be one of the most well-done raids in WoW's history, better than anything before it. But I will say this: Kicking the ever-loving drek out of the last of Deathwing's forces, then taking the fight to him felt incredibly satisfying. I enjoyed killing Deathwing more than I enjoyed killing Arthas, more than Illidan, more than either time I killed Nefarian or Ragnaros.

Out with a bang

This is a seven-year-old game. The fact that it can contain a fight like Madness of Deathwing, that a raid like Dragon Soul can be this big in terms of pure engagement, that in eight fights we get to save the bloody world and everyone in it is pretty dang awesome. This isn't If we don't stop Arthas, he'll eventually destroy us all; this is Stop Deathwing right now or the planet blows up -- stakes we haven't seen since Algalon. And it was a blast to do it, too.

This is fairly awesome. I can only hope Mists can take this energy and run with it. Whatever your feelings about Cataclysm (I had some serious issues with it at start), no one can deny it went out big.

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.