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I decided to grab Cataclysm and play for the first time since 2006. back then, I played for a few months, enjoyed it, but the interest just teetered off.
Pretty impressed with the changes to the starting areas since then. Much more of a feeling of being on a battlefield. NPC's fighting NPC's all around with soldiers running to and fro, as opposed to, for example, mobs(that are supposedly trying to take over the countryside) standing around picking their nose. These dynamics are pretty much illusory, though, as when they engage each other, they do little to no damage. But still, it's a far cry better than what it used to be.
Also started up a new Worgen, and fell in love with the Worgen starting area. It's everything WAR's Witch Hunter area should have been: Dark, rainy, supernatural... Transylvaniesque. I swear they included a "knock on doors, get people to evacuate" quest as a light jab in the nuts to Mythic, who has an almost identical quest in the Witch Hunter starter area...
The Worgen area is extremely linear, though. It does alot of "no LS", real-time phasing, so if you don't take the quests, you cannot continue. It really is seamless, though. You wouldn't even know it was happening until you go to the quest giver, watch another player disappear, accept the quest then watch them fade in, again. It gives me a better idea of what's in store in SWTOR...
Also, I can see where people say Cat is going back to Warcrafts roots, as there are quests where you operate cannons and siege weaponry, and the battlefield starts to look more like the old rts games as you decimate a dozen mobs in one flamberge shot.
Standard gameplay in the older areas(to be specific, the burning crusade content, levels 13-16) feels about the same as it's always been, not surprisingly. Polished, but grindy. Drop rates for quest items are annoyingly low. Kill/get/use quests are obnoxious enough; to have to kill 30-40 mobs to get 10 "rat tails" is flat out tedious. I prefer a system like LotRO's, where the drop rate is almost 100%, but the experience and reward are less. The result is that you're less compelled to actively take on the quest; rather, you'll take it to see if it "does itself" on the way to more interesting quests. The synergy is just much better in LotRO, IMO. It certainly should be noted, though, that in the Worgen starter area, drops were hardly used, and did seem to be about 40-70% when used at all.
I'm gonna start a Goblin one of these days when I have a few hours to stitch together. Should be an interesting treat.
Can't comment on the higher level stuff, as, well... I don't have a higher level character. But I'd say, even if I don't spend more than a few months playing(the most likely possibility), the experience was pretty cool for the most part and worth the money. But I'll be sticking to LotRO. I've never really been heavy into high fantasy, and I just like the LotRO lore, look, and gameplay much more. Nunstheless, I continue to be amazed at how much Blizzard has been able to do with this venerable old game.