Post by TheOnyx
As you probably know by now, patch 4.0.3a includes a complete restructuring of old-world content
. This ranges from cosmetic changes
to modifications to the leveling flow throughout both continents
. These changes have been documented in our handy-dandy Cataclysm Guide
, but since we're all waiting for the servers to come up, we figured a primer might be appreciated.
Check out the information after the break, complete with some entertaining videos covering the new race starting zones
courtesy of The BFF Report.
Leveling Flow Changes
Starting Zone Changes
Zone Changes by Continent
Arathi Highlands has only undergone minor changes - a new Forsaken camp next to Thoradin's Wall, some new NPCs here and there, a few visual changes. Other than that, the only other "big" addition is a tunnel that will allow you to travel to The Hinterlands
The Badlands, originally announced to be one of the most dramatically changed zones, turns out to be modified about as much as, say Darkshore. The Horde settlement of Kargath has been completely destroyed and almost completely burrowed under sand, dirt, and rocks by Deathwing's rending of the earth. To maintain its position in the Badlands, the Horde as raised a new encampment - Apocryphan's Rest. There is a massive fissure splitting the Badlands roughly across the middle (leaving "east half" and "west half"). However unlike the Barrens, this is still a single zone. Its best feature is probably the three-quests chain The Day that Deathwing Came
, which gives you the (hilarious) stories of three NPCs about how they defeated Deathwing when he sundered the world.
This is one of the zones Blizzard is most excited about. The level range of the zone is being completely changed, and the newly exposed coastline to the east allows for a brand new play zone. In addition to these, the Tainted Scar (sub-zone in the south-western parts of the Blasted Lands, currently populated by elite demons) is now a large forest, dark, misty, and gloomy, with exposure to the ocean. At the southern tip of the Tainted Scar is Surwich, a worgen town and a quest hub for Alliance players. Dreadmaul Hold is no longer an ogre settlement, but a Horde town. The Nethergarde Mines have also been taken by the Horde.
Dun Morogh has some rather interesting areas that have changed. One major change is to the Ironforge Airport, never before available, which now has the denizens of Ironforge fight against Dark Iron insurgents. In addition to that some tribe movements has happened lately - troggs are resurfacing after the Shattering, ice trolls are being chased away from their homes, and gnomes have finally made Gnomeregan safe enough to become their new starting zone! New Tinkertown, as the area just outside the halls of Gnomeregan is called, is the new starting area for gnomes who come to Azeroth after 4.0.3a. The questing experience throughout the new subzone of Dun Morogh will take through the process of slaughtering a bunch of leper gnomes and destroying a bunch of mechanical units - all in the name of Mekkatorque, of course!
Two of the most requested things grace the small list of changes for this zone - Abercrombie can now be found in Begger's Haunt, much closed to Darkshire; and there is a flight path Raven Hill. Also, Sven has won his eternal battle against the wolves around the Hushed Bank, which is now populated by owls and bears.
With the Lich King's demise, the Scourge forces in both Eastern and Western Plaguelands are finding themselves unable to withstand the might of the Argent Crusade, the Alliance, and the Horde. Although the undead in the WPL were the ones almost completely eradicated, their allies to the east have suffered major casualties as well. The Argent Crusade has taken over several former Scourge bases (e.g. the Infectis Scar, which is now flooded and equipped with a massive bridge). Light Hope's Chapel has grown significantly, turning into a fine small town. All of the ghost-haunted towers now belong to the Crusade as well and feature much-wanted flight paths. Tirion Fordring, arguably the new Ashbringer, can be found in Tyr's Hand, former Scarlet Crusade stronghold.
Elwynn has only receieved a few minor changes. One of the more noticible changes is the field in Northshire Valley where the Defias were located is now burnt to a crisp. Blackrock orcs are to be blamed for this invasion - the Cataclysm has opened a passage from the barren Burning Steppes to the lush Elwynn Forest, and the clans want to pillage. The "Hogger experience" has been changed to reflect His proper level of epicness too. Other than that one change everything is mostly the same.
This is one of the zones that felt the raging war between the Horde and the Alliance very strongly - and as a result of this it is now a Horde zone instead of Contested. Southshore, originally announced to have been destroyed by tidal waves, has actually fallen victim to the Forsaken and their Blight. Players passing by can still see the lingering green liquids and fumes. To secure the Forsaken's domination in the zone, Blizzard has given the undead a few new quest hubs. Some of the most memorable quests are the ones where you play the questgiver and send three "NPC players" - Dumass, Kingslayer Orkus, and Jonny "Awesome" on quests of their own. You encounter them later on, their quests failed, their egos - crushed. The other cool element is the "Peaceblooms vs. Ghouls" mini-game quests, modelled after the Pop Cap game Plants vs. Zombies
The Hinterlands haven't seen any major terrain changes with the recent cataclysm, but several new Horde and Alliance bases have been created throughout the inner-areas of the zone. The various trolls camps, towns, and ancients cities scattered throughout the zone have almost exclusively changed owners - taken by other troll tribes, by the Horde, or by the Alliance. Horde players can finally enjoy a more convenient path to the Revantusk Village. Along with this a much needed tunnel has been carved out in the mountains between The Hinterlands and Arathi Highlands
Loch Modan has undergone some major changes! One of those changes is the dam has finally been broken (by the Dark Irons) and almost all the water in the loch has flown out into the Wetlands. All the areas once occupied by the water now have the evil murlocs lurking on the shores. Dark Iron dwarves can be seen in several places throughout the zone, but that's not the worst - the Twilight Hammer has moved in as well! There is a massive chasm that serves as a border between Loch Modan and the Badlands.
The haunted forest is yet another one of the zones that didn't suffer major changes in its landscape, but was changed a lot nonetheless. Almost the entire zone has a strong "Forsaken-ish" feel to it - the modern Forsaken architecture, eerie music, poor visibility. Plaguespreaders (Blightspreaders, I guess), as well as other, ettin-powered, machinery can be seen throughout the zone. The Dalaran forces who previously almost controlled the south are now all bottled up in Amber Mill. Part of the questing experience actually includes the invasion on Gilneas (which Worgen players also experience firsthand, only from the other side). New Forsaken players entering the zone can observe Sylvanas expanding the ranks of her undead, causing Garrosh's strong disapproval and mistrust to fall upon her.
Stranglethorn Vale has been changed drastically as developers felt the zone spanned far too wide of a level range and thus has been split into two seperate zones. Nesingwary's Expedition has grown a little and no longer looks like bare two tents and a campfire. A new alliance quest hub has appeared south of Zlata'jai Ruins, and a new Horde one - close to Zul'Gurub. The gulf between Grom'Gol and the Gurubashi Arena has collapsed into a large whirlpool below sea level, surrounded by rocks and waterfalls.
Redridge has seen several changes, but all of them are minor - orcs, gnolls, and various animals have relocated to new areas. Orc dragon riders can be found in Render's Valley, as well as a new named elite orc in the Blackrock Pass. A new highway runs from the Burning Steppes, through Redridge, and goes into the Swamp of Sorrows. And the biggest change of them all - the Everstill bridge has been repaired!
The new southern section of Stranglethorn Vale covers everything south of the newly-spawned whirlpool just below Grom'Gol. Goblins of the Bligewater Cartel have built their machines and oil plantations, and have raised a settlement to the south. Even more shockingly, the Southern Savage Coast offers the first fast food restaurant in Azeroth - again, owned by goblins. The Gurubashi Arena is about to see some life added to it, with a new PvP quest, and possibly an event. The Yojamba Isle seems to be deserted, the trolls there maybe finally moving back to their home in Zul'Gurub (not confirmed)
. Zul'Gurub itself, as a raid, is going away.
The Swamp of Sorrows has not been too drastically changed, though there are a few new additions. Some of the Horde forces there seem to be under siege from Alliance attackers, who have also built a fortified camp next to the lake in the center of the zone. The Misty Reed Strand is now home to a new neutral goblin town with a flight path and a port - possibly leading to the new port in Gadgetzan. The Pool of Tears is now directly connected to the ocean to the east, due to a flood.
Overall Tirisfal has seen very minor changes. All of the Forsaken architecture throughout the zone has been updated to look more like what we are familiar with in Northrend. The quests have been modified a little, and there is a pseudo quest-chain that deals with Lillian Voss, a new and powerful female Forsaken who is not quite happy with her fate.
With the Lich King no more, the Scourge forces in the Western Plaguelands could no longer hold against the combined forces of the Alliance and the Horde. The zone is now (almost) free of Scourge and Scarlet Crusade taint, and sees life returning to it (as well as more players, due to its level range being lowered). The zone is split between the Forsaken and the humans. Felstone Field, Dalson's Tears (now Dalson's Farm, tended to by the Cenarion Circle), and the Writhing Haunt are quickly becoming lush with plants. The Ruins of Andhoral seem to be turning into a contested area, with both Alliance and Horde forces trying to settle in, while the last Scourge forces outside Scholomance are trying to hold their ground there. Sorrow's Hill has become completely friendly with ghosts roaming the former grave site. Uther's Tomb is finally getting the love it deserves, and is growing not only bigger, but more beautiful. Vegetation covers almost the entire zone. Scholomance is still a strong Scourge stronghold.
The Cataclysm did not leave even the peaceful Westfall alone. In anticipation of the incoming war, the Alliance has fortified Sentinel Hill and has taken over Moonbrook. Sections of the zone are beginning to see vegetation. The biggest change awaits by the Gold Coast Quarry and Alexton Farmstead. Both subzones have been hit by something, and now in their places any passerby can see pillars of energy (or possibly merely wind) ripping chunks of ground and rock in the air, uprooting trees, and forming a strange vortex that doesn't seem to go anywhere. The Defias Brotherhood seems completely removed from the area, and their only stronghold left is the Deadmines, where a new leader has risen.
The Wetlands are changed both drastically and minimally. The majority of the zone remains mostly the same. Few exceptions are Menethil's Harbor being mildly flooded, but still inhabited and used - by the Dark Irons. The Green Belt, formerly an area populated with Fen Creepers and guarded by Rethiel the Greenwarden
, is now a small night elven settlement - Greenwarden's Grove. On the other side of the Wetlands, things are a little different. Everything beyond the Dragonmaw Gates is now part of the Twilight Highlands, including the area where Grim Batol used to be.
The Horde have finally moved beyond simply harvesting lumber in Ashenvale (although the Alliance has conquered about half of the Warsong Lumber Camp) as Garrosh Hellscream pushes the Horde's presence in Ashenvale further. Zoram'gor Outpost has been majorly revamped and now serves as a heavily armored Horde outpost rather than a simple troll village. Most of the other night elven settlements in the area have also been either attacked, taken over, or outright destroyed. In addition, the village of Astranaar has been greatly ravaged by constant Horde air raids, but still controlled by the Alliance. A small volcano has been raised between Ashenvale and Felwood.
For the Horde! The Bilgewater Cartel Goblins have taken over Azshara as their home away from home, and to celebrate their allegiance to the Horde have managed to reshape the zone to resemble a Horde symbol! Expect to see a massive dig site in the heart of the zone, intelligent raptors, many destroyed sites, many more unearthed, the massive harbor-city of Bligewater Harbor, the brand new goblin rocketway, and the trade prince's pleasure palace!
The Alliance port town of Auberdine has been destroyed to ruins by terrible tidal waves and storms created by Deathwing's return. As a result, the Alliance have been forced to move their settlements - Lor'danel namely - further north, allowing Hellscream's Horde to push further from Ashenvale into Darkshore, setting up encampments at the southern part of the zone. The Twilight Hammer has become more active, and so have the natural elementals in the area. The Master's Glaive has apparently seen some activity as well - the thing buried there has been mostly unearthed and it s now known that is one of the most powerful servants of the Old Gods. The cataclysm also caused some major weather disturbances in Darkshore.
Desolace is no longer desolate! That's right, Deathwing's little redecorating plan has resulted in chasms being opened up which allowed water to flow to the previously dry and dead areas of Desolace, causing great growth throughout the zone. The previously dreary Desolace is now green and rich with new life - perhaps the residents may consider a name change! Both the Kolkar and the Magram villages have been taken by their enemies, the Kodo Graveyard has been half destroyed by the Cataclysm, half engulfed in plants, and the naga have completely taken over the isles to the west.
Durotar has recieved some pretty massive changes. A lot of the ravines have been filled in with water and the coast has been hit with a massive tidal wave almost reaching all the way to Razor Hill itself. The orcs of Orgrimmar have build a port directly east of their city in the Bladefist Bay. Alliance soldiers from Northwatch have taken over several of their neighboring areas, expanding their influence, but they are not the only ones who have acquired new lands in Durotar. The Darkspear tribe has finally moved in the Echo Isles. After the recent conflict between the Darkspears and Zelazane's followers, Vol'jin and his subjects have taken the time to make their home islands home again. New trolls will use the Echo Isles as their starting zone and will no longer share the same beginner's quests with the orcs. The new story line for fresh troll characters will take you through some training, clearing up annoying naga, and learning about why is it that Garrosh Hellscream is mad at your entire tribe.
The minor changes to Dustwallow Marsh seem to be more convenience-based than Cataclysm-based. With the split of the Barrens, the Alliance have constructed a new highway which leads from Theramore Isle straight west and all the way into the Southern Barrens. At the south, the goblins have set a winding, uphill path that leads directly into Thousand Needles.
Felwood has undergone some changes, one of the most notable is the inclusion of several Goblin camps specifically the one located in Irontree Woods in northern Felwood. Most of the other camps have stayed pretty much the same except more fortified and updated buildings. The entrance to the Timbermaw Hold now looks more impressive, and several quest hubs and flight paths have been added throughout the zone.
Feralas was altered by the Cataclysm mostly in its oceanic parts, both Feathermoon Stronghold and Thalanaar having been destroyed and the Isle of Dread - sunk back into the ocean. A new, bigger, and majorly fortified version of Feathermoon Stronghold has been rebuilt along the west coast of Feralas and New Thalanaar has been established to replace the old one. The Horde has settled in the newly-built Stonewatch Hold, near the Dire Maul.
While virtually ignored by the Cataclysm's destruction, the peaceful plains of Mulgore are hardly peaceful in the new Azeroth. Quilboars have become especially violent and arrogant. The very spirits of the earth are raging. The Grimtotem, having poisoned the wise Cairne Bloodhoof, have been exiled from Thunder Bluff, and now roam, poison and torment the lands of Mulgore. The path leading into the Southern Barrens is now under the protection of the Great Gate, and a new, small tauren settlement can now be found northeast of Thunder Bluff.
Barrens Chat has been permanently removed - just kidding
! The Barrens have been hit significantly hard by Deathwing's return, and the zone has been sundered into two smaller zones, divided by newly formed deep and luscious waterways and chasms of smoldering lava (the Great Divide). The efforts of the druid Naralex
to regrow the Barrens (remember Wailing Caverns?) have been mostly successful, as the lush growth found areas such as the Lushwater Oasis has spread throughout the rest of the Barrens. The Horde remain dominant in the Northern Barrens, but the Alliance controls the south.
Unlike its northern counterpart, the Southern Barrens have suffered some major faction control changes. The Alliance has destroyed Camp Taurajo, resulting in tauren heavily fortifying the path between the Barrens and Mulgore. The western side of the Field of Giants has become a field of constant struggle between the Horde's Desolation Hold and the Alliance's Fort Victory. Parts of the Field of Blood has also fallen under Horde control - Vendetta Point marks that victory. The Great Lift and the path leading to it have been swarmed by the thorns previously restricted to the Razorfen dungeons. You can find Mankrik
around that area, fighting Quilboars - quite viciously and mercilessly too! The Overgrowth, the areas south of the Lushwater Oasis, is no longer barren land, but one lush with flora and fauna. Northwatch Hold is now an Alliance quest hub, and so is the newly-constructed Honor's Stand, close to the path to Stonetalon Mountains.
The Horde, with the help of goblin mechanics, have tunneled a path from Stonetalon Mountains directly into Ashenvale. In addition to many Cataclysm-incurred landscape changes, lava has poured out from the earth and filled most of Stonetalon Mountains' Charred Vale - expect fire and brimstone galore! The Horde's war with the Grimtotem tauren rages on in full force in the most southern region of Stonetalon, while the Alliance and Horde battle to no end for dominance over Stonetalon's rich resources, with many new warcamps being set up throughout the zone! Not to be left out, the Horde's goblins have taken over Mirkfallon Lake as the site of a new oil pumping operation.
Tanaris has seen massive changes brought on by the Cataclysm. Steamwheedle Port along the east coast has been completely destroyed and water stretches all the way to the east side of Gadgetzan, where the goblins have built a new port. Several new quest hubs for both Horde and Alliance have been added throughout the zone. Perhaps the biggest and most important change of them all - the gates of
Uldum are now open!
The deep canyons of Thousand Needles are now flooded with water
! The entire zone you used to know is completely under water, including the former speedway. A giant "speedbarge" now is floating in the Shimmering Deeps where races were held. In the "needles" part of the zone, you will find a patch of land that leads to the Razorfen Downs. Freewind Post has been conquered by the Grimtotem, but a small group of taurens and night elves (!) seem to be working together to retake it. The Twilight Hammer has a couple of camps around the Shimmering Deeps, formerly - the Shimmering Flats.
Not a whole lot has changed visually in Un'goro, but the zone has been completely revamped with tons of great new quests and a few new camps. Marshal's Refuge has been overrun by Stone Guardians, and the handful survivors have relocated to a camp south-east of Fire Plume Ridge, Marhal's Stand. A new area, the Shaper's Terrace has been added above the Ironstone Plateau, and is guarded by a level 85 elite Titanic Watcher called Nablya. Also new path called Terror Run now leads to your worst nightmare... The Devilsaur Queen.
Orgrimmar has seen a drastic visual update, which many Horde players should be thankful for. However, these changes come through the newly appointed leadership of the brash Garrosh Hellscream as Warchief of the Horde. Garrosh has selectively evicted most all non-Orcs NPCs from the center of the city. He will be occupying the center of Orgrimmar now. The city walls have been reinforced with heavy iron portcullis and other such refined features, bringing its appearance closer to that of Hellscream's Warsong Hold.
With such a large change to the city itself, many of the districts inside of Orgrimmar are being changed as well. The Valley of Honor will become Orgrimmar's second trade district, holding the second Auction House & Bank. Garrosh is not particiularly fond of Goblins, and thus created a Goblin Slum for them in the Valley of Spirits. Their presence in Orgrimmar resulted in the creation of a gate leading directly to Azshara, as that is the primary leveling zone for Goblins levels 10-20. Since Garrosh claimed the center of Orgrimmar, the Valley of Wisdom will become a district for Tauren. The Drag is getting a nice roof. Amongst all these changes, one thing will stay very similar to the old Orgrimmar: The Cleft of Shadow (it gets a map of its own though).
Stormwind has been redesigned to support flying mounts. Portions of the city are completely demolished by Deathwing's emergence from the ground, as seen in the Cataclysm cinematic. The Stormwind Park has been destroyed and now offers an eerie but amazing new view. The city itself has received many graphical updates and just generally looks a lot better. Stormwind has also received an additional Auction House and Bank in the Dwarven District. The Stormwind Keep has been remodeled, and a statue of King Wrynn greets newcomers.
Undercity has been strongly redesigned from the ground up (literally!) as the exterior city has been restructured to allow for flying mount access. Blizzard has not yet announced any significant changes to the zone, though after patch 3.3's introduction of the Kor'kron Guard in place of the Undercity Guardian abominations, there may be other changes in store for the Forsaken city.