World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Classic – 13 Things You Should Know Before Buying

The "newest" expansion for World of Warcraft Classic is now available, as players battle against Deathwing in a shattered Azeroth.

Posted By | On 22nd, May. 2024

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Classic – 13 Things You Should Know Before Buying

Blizzard Entertainment is prepping The War Within for World of Warcraft, but for those who still enjoy the Classic experience, WoW Classic will receive its third major expansion, Cataclysm.

As one of the more controversial expansions at the time, it’s centered on the return of Deathwing, the Worldbreaker and Aspect of Death, whose fracturing of the World Pillar completely changes Azeroth. In a way, it also marked a shift in almost every aspect of the game, with various systems and mechanics changed in many ways that would resonate with fans (for better or worse) for years.

What should new players (who don’t know there’s a completely different World of Warcraft experience) expect? What are some of the new features and macro-transactions that veterans can look forward to? Here’s what you should know before picking up World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Classic when it launches on May 20th.

Changes to Existing Continents

Deathwing’s arrival meant a complete reshaping of the world players knew and loved (to the chagrin of some players, who saw favored locations wiped out or completely changed). Several existing quests from the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor are gone; both continents now sport new areas and quests along with new storylines, and they now allow for flying with mounts, which previously wasn’t possible. It was somewhat unheard of to see major continents changed in such a fashion, but it’s become one of the defining features of Cataclysm.

New Zones

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With such massive environmental changes come new zones, and Cataclysm offers several for players at level 80 to grind through to the new level cap (or from level 1 – more on that shortly). The new zones in question are Mount Hyjal and Uldum in Kalimdor; Vashj’ir and the Twilight Highlands in the Eastern Kingdoms; Tol Barad in Lordaeron; and Deepholm in the Elemental Planes. Some zones consist of smaller sub-zones, like Tol Barad and Vashj’ir, with the former being instanced and sporting some PvP.

Elemental Planes

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Another big change wrought by Deathwing’s arrival is the appearance of elemental rifts leading to the Elemental Planes, specifically the Abyssal Maw, the Firelands, Deepholm and Skywall. They host various new dungeons and sub-zones (including four within the Firelands alone) while also being connected to new Elemental threats that players will have to battle.

Increased Level Cap

A new expansion means a new level cap, and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm allows players to go from level 80 to 85, with the new zones in the same range. It also meant five new Talent Points to improve or unlock new abilities. Unfortunately, this also marked one of the more controversial changes to Talents. Specialization was introduced, and Talent Trees became smaller. The total number of Talent Points also dropped to 41, essentially ruining hybrid builds for longtime players. If that’s you, then, well, prepare in advance.

Smoother Leveling Experience

Of course, this is Cataclysm Classic and not quite the same leveling experience as when the expansion first launched. Players can expect a “smoother” and accelerated experience, to get them to the end game faster, or at least make it easier to level up existing alts. This will be even more essential for new characters, especially when choosing the new races.

Two New Races

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Cataclysm adds two new races to the mix – the Worgen and Goblins – the former for the Alliance and the latter for the Horde. They each get unique starting zones – Gilneas for the Worgen and the Isle of Kezan and the Lost Isles for the Goblins. The Worgen can shift between their human and worgen forms, gaining increased movement speed in their “true form” for a period and even running at the same speed as a mount during travel.

Goblins get a rocket belt for jumping forward, firing a barrage of rockets, and accessing amazing discounts regardless of their relationship with a faction. The number of available classes for races would also get expanded, though, unfortunately, Cataclysm wouldn’t introduce a new class for players to mess around with.

Revamped Questing Experience

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Cataclysm added a lot of new quests to the game, with even more arriving in subsequent patches and offering even more routes for leveling. However, these marked a shift in quest design towards a more linear cinematic experience with excessive phasing (which changed surroundings depending on your progress, resulting in some players not seeing each other out in the open).

It meant less freedom in how you progress through a zone, though it did offer some good story-telling. Unfortunately (again), there’s also a good chunk of optional quests that try a little too hard with the humor and references, so be prepared.

Multiple New Dungeons

There are seven new dungeons to experience, starting with Blackrock Caverns and Throne of the Tides for level 80 to 81 players. The Vortex Pinnacle and The Stonecore are for level 82-84 players, while the Lost City of the Tol’vir, the Halls of Origination and Grim Batol are for level 85. Finally, there’s the level 85 heroic dungeon, Caverns of Time, consisting of trips to the past, present and potential future. Each was fairly challenging for its time, especially with all of the changes, but there seems to be a…

New Dungeon Difficulty System

On its official website for Cataclysm Classic, Blizzard notes that players can earn “powerful rewards” in a “new dungeon difficulty system that will be added after launch.” What this means is unknown, but it remains to be seen if it will retain the same infamous difficulty for its dungeons at launch.


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One confirmed feature is transmogrification or Transmog, which is essential for those wanting to optimise their fashion game. It allows your armor and weapons to maintain their stats while taking on the appearance of other equipment. You must visit a Transmogrifier and spend Gold, though none is required when reverting to your gear’s true appearance. Along with Mounts and Pets, Transmogs are account-wide, making them available for any alts you choose to cultivate.

New Raids

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Three raids are available in Cataclysm – Blackwing Descent, Bastion of Twilight and Throne of the Four Winds. There’s also the raid dungeon Baradin Hold, which becomes available after a PvP battle. All are playable for 10-player and 25-player groups and offer heroic options once cleared for more challenging encounters.

“Streamlined” Auction House

You can’t have World of Warcraft without the Auction House, and while it’s not all that great in WoW Classic, the release of Cataclysm provides an “updated version.” It will provide a “streamlined experience” for those who want to “buy and sell the latest and greatest supplies and gear,” per Blizzard’s official spiel. What does any of this mean? Your guess is as good as ours – it hasn’t provided any details or even any updates in the Cataclysm Classic beta. As always, time will tell.

Character Boosts and Transfer Packs

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Don’t want to level a character from scratch like the good ol’ days? You’re in luck because Blizzard provides an option to boost your character to level 80 – for $60. It’s included in the Blazing Epic Upgrade for Cataclysm Classic, which costs $80 and offers 30 days of game time with other in-game goodies. There will also be packs for Character Transfer, and changes to your race, name and Faction, much like with Wrath of the Lich King Classic and the base WoW Classic.

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