World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. An expansion that showed so much promise but which, eventually, would become something of a disappointment even to devoted fanboys.

Cataclysm was the first expansion I got to experience from Day 1. The changes it brought were, at first, something to get used – including the (now seemingly) minor change to the talent trees and spell abilities. The revamped 1-60 content, and being able to fricken’ FLY in Azeroth, was amazingly-well done and much-needed.

And that first tier – the new, hard heroic-mode dungeons; the 3-dungeon raids; the whole race to world and server first that I was able to follow was brilliant. Seeing the realm-first achievements popping up, and throwing a random strange a ‘GRATS!!’ really seemed to give the entire thing a huge buzz.

Then, we waited for the next content patch. And it had 2 dungeons, and no extra raid. And the sense of disapointment was astounding. I wasn’t even PROPERLY raiding at this point. I found the trollroics difficult but, in time, fun to run – but it was hardly enough to last us through to 4.2.

The Firelands patch was much-anticipated. Not only a new raid tier, but a whole slew of new dailies which opened up gradually, revealing more story as you progressed. Sounds fun, don’t it? And it definitely sounded fun when pitched to us, but getting into it and finding out what a charmless grind it was… ugh. I still haven’t opened the second tier yet on my main. It was ruthless.

And the raid, by all accounts at the time (my guild at the time were still chipping away at T11 normal modes) was difficult, painful at times, and… red. Ragnaros not only wiped many raids, but also seemed to have killed a number of guilds through the sheer difficulty.

Dragon Soul
By the time DS came out, we knew we’d be having Pandaren in the next expansion; this was the end tier, and it needed to carry Cataclysm out with a bang. Instead… it whimpered.

The new 5-mans were fun, fast, and full of story (however subtle, and missed by some). The raid, now available to everyone via LFR, was OK. It had the amazing Spine of Deathwing encounter (another guild breaker), the fun BUTTON OF DOOM Ultraxion fight (“JUST PRESS THE FUCKING BUTTON”), and the platform-oops-you-fell fun of Madness. But it was all a bit… meh.

I enjoyed Cataclysm. But I didn’t love it. I loved Wrath – the entire continent to explore, the gorgeous art throughout – but Cataclysm was like little weekend getaways to various zones that are just next to ones you go to all the time. It lacked the sense of adventure and travel that Northrend and Outland gave.

The renewed 1-60 content is great, but unless you want to level alts for a living then there’s not much to offer. And, with the general lack of end-game – especially for non-raiders – there wasn’t much else to do than level alts or unsubscribe. Guess what many people chose to do?

Tonight, we get Mists of Pandaria.

It’s needed. It’s wanted. And it looks gorgeous. This will be the make-or-break of WoW for many players. The game needs to have substantial end-game, or replayability, to retain people in the long run. We’ll soon see if this will offer it (personally, I think it will, but then I’m unlike the majority of players it seems).

I’m going to be diving into it, wringing as much as I can out of it.

The differences for me, on a personal level, are that:

1. I am in the guild I always dreamed of being in
2. The scenery in MoP is breathtaking
3. There just seems to be so much to do: raiding, 5-mans, challenge modes, scenarios, farms, pet battles, OH MY.

This blog will hopefully be updated a little more regularly now that I’m not just spinning my wheels in WoW. If I get time to post — I’m off to adventure through Pandaland, dontchaknow?