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07 Dec 2010

World of Warcraft (WoW) is about to undergo one of the biggest changes in its six-year history.

The third expansion for the game, called Cataclysm, will be available from 7 December.

As its name implies the expansion re-makes the world in which the game is set and rips up the geography of many familiar places.

It also introduces two new races to the game, increases the level cap and makes many other changes.

Shops around the world were planning to stay open at midnight on 6 December to let eager players get their hands on Cataclysm. Blizzard had also set up a system that allowed people to pre-load the expansion pack by downloading it so they can play it as soon as possible on 7 December.

The Cataclysm expansion revolves around the emergence into Azeroth, the world in which WoW is set, of Deathwing the dragon. The seismic activity accompanying his emergence causes changes to almost every part of the game world.

Many of the geographical changes to Azeroth have already been applied to the game via a patch applied in late November. Prior to the application of this patch, in-game events involved players in quests to thwart cults predicting the end of the world or battling elementals released by Deathwing's struggle to get free.

The Cataclysm expansion will mean that subscribers can run worgen (wolfmen) and goblin characters in the game. The level cap for players is also increased to 85 from 80.

Alongside the geographic changes go many alterations to the quests players must do to progress to higher levels. Many are themed around helping regions recover from the devastation wrought by Deathwing.

Game industry watchers said Cataclysm was a way for WoW creator Blizzard to remake the world that does not annoy existing players but that could also tempt lapsed or new players into giving it a try.

In the UK Cataclysm is expected to go on sale for £24.99 (30 euros).


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