BlizzCon 2010: Hands-on with Cataclysm’s Worgen

I only got a small taste of what it’ll be like to start World of Warcraft: Cataclysm as a Worgen, the werewolf-like new Alliance race and one of two additions in the upcoming expansion.

But as the city of Gilneas was quickly populated by other players attending BlizzCon 2010 last weekend, it was only moments before the game took on something of a hellish bent and the human city came under intense attack by hulking wolf-men and women.

Upon starting the Worgen race’s first quest, in which humans in Gilneas are preparing for some kind of unknown onslaught, players return to the market square after a short trip elsewhere and the discovery of murdered guards to find the entire walled city filled with vicious Worgen. These monstrosities are essentially werewolves — they’re humans infected with a disease that turns them into murderous monsters with no control and no memory of who they once were.

Town guards are already embroiled in fighting off hordes of Worgen beasts, and they keep coming endlessly from the walls and rooftops of the city. The first time back into the market square, with all the other players from the convention joining in, the place had become a huge battle. It wasn’t long before the guard captain and Gilneas’ king made the decision to evacuate and pull back into the center of the city.

It’s striking even early on how much there seems to be to do as far as quests for a starting Worgen player. In an interview with FileFront on Saturday at BlizzCon, WoW Lead Game Designer Greg Street said one of the goals of Cataclysm and the recent 4.0 patch was to make the low-level experience in WoW more interesting and dynamic.

That’s certainly the case in Gilneas, and even as the city could be facing utter destruction, there seems to be a wealth of quests. My Rogue trucks around the market district, helping in the evacuation, slaying any Worgen that gets in his path, and aiding merchants and survivors save their lives and livelihoods.

It’s not long before, in attempting to find and help a nobleman at the behest of someone more important than I, that I’m bitten by a Worgen. No time to worry about that now — the city’s under siege. I’m needed.

Over the course the next hour (or maybe two), I’m constantly relaying messages, fulfilling quests, and helping organize survivors and the fight to save Gilneas. And despite the city being inundated with other players, Blizzard has done a nice job of making you feel fairly important in the process. One mission has you riding a horse through courtyards teeming with snarling Worgen, using torches like molotov cocktails — not to kill them, for there are too many, but to draw them toward the chapel and the last of the military holdouts, and away from fleeing survivors.

And once the courtyard in front of the church is filled with monsters who keep throwing themselves at the defenses, you’re needed to man a cannon and start thinning out their number. Eventually you help repel the attack and save a ravaged Gilneas; and you awaken in the stockade after having transformed, another victim of the Worgen pestilence.

Luckily for my Rogue and all the other Worgen at BlizzCon, the Gilneans have come up with a stopgap treatment for Worgenism. It’s not a cure — you don’t revert to being a straight human — but you do maintain your human mind within the Worgen body. So begins a story of discrimination and identity. One of the cinematic trailers for the race suggests the other humans are distrustful of the Worgen, seeing as they still outwardly look like monstrous killing machines, despite wearing cool armor or mage’s robes.

Hopefully it’s a dark and murderous story of deceit. I was definitely drawn in for the couple of hours I was able to spare at BlizzCon up in the press room, standing in front of a monitor. And to the credit of Street and everyone else at Blizzard, the low-level new-player experience in the Worgen campaign was pretty great. I had ramped up close to eight levels just in the little time I got with the game. I hadn’t even left Gilneas yet.

So to new players considering getting on the WoW bandwagon — check out Worgen. They’re dark and wolf-like and seem to have a great story brewing.

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1 Comment on BlizzCon 2010: Hands-on with Cataclysm’s Worgen

kamel

On December 9, 2010 at 2:58 am

i woud like to downald this game