Deathwing is the best thing to happen to World of Warcraft since sliced Stormwind Brie. His eruption has given the developers at Blizzard the chance to refocus and rebuild their world, improving everything. He's now so close, we can feel it. We can feel the tremors in Orgrimmar. We've seen gnomes wearing sandwich boards proclaiming the end of the world, dark fires in the sky, even plots to plant homing beacons in our capital cities. Nowhere is safe. And it's brilliant.
Here are the 15 most important changes Deathwing and the Cataclysm expansion will bring to World of Warcraft.
15) New Race Pride
Goblins! Werewolves! Come Cataclysm, you'll be able to create a short, stumpy green dude, or a furry in a top hat. We suggest trying the Goblin starting area first – it's a hilarious parody of Grand Theft Auto, with you driving around in the back of a Goblin pimp wagon, beating up debtors and playing American Football in shredder suits. Forget the Worgen, for now. You'll only end up hanging around with Twilight fans.
14) Better Quests
All right, we'll admit it. The opening hours of World of Warcraft are pretty tedious. Beating up ten boars isn't exactly number one in our list of 'things that make us feel heroic'. Alongside the Cataclysm comes a complete re-questing of the old World of Warcraft continents, with better stories, more interesting mechanics, and less scrumping around in Gnoll corpses for teeth. It's not perfect: you'll still come across the odd throwback to old WoW, but you'll never be forced to grind for grinding's sake.
13) More Reasons To Battle
Two new battlegrounds are being added, and they're remixes of old favourites. Twin Peaks is a twist on the Capture the Flag battles of Warsong Gulch, with Alliance and Horde raiding two towers separated by a stream. The Battle For Gilneas is a port of Arathi Basin – teams must hold points and accumulate resources to win. Even better, battlegrounds are a surefire route to better loot: you can join in 'rated battlegrounds', where teams of ten fight in an e-sports setting, earning ratings and unique armour.
12) Vast New Zones
Players at the level cap will cruise through new zones as Vashj'ir and Mount Hyjal – with good reason. They're heavy on the story, light on the grind. In Vashj'ir, you'll meet underwater gods and fight angry Naga. In Mount Hyjal, you'll act as a warrior firefighter, extinguishing the fires surrounding the most important tree on the planet. In Deepholm you'll... oh, spoiler warning.
World of Warcraft is an old, old place. There's a history that stretches back millennia, involving old gods, Titans, giant space aliens, and, inevitably, orcs. Now players have the chance to explore that history. Archeology is a skill that all players can use: you travel around the world, surveying dig sites, searching for artifacts. Combine them, and you'll learn a little bit about the world, and earn funky non-combat items like disembodied pet hands.