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Cataclysm: Low Level Dungeons

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November 10 2010

Cataclysm: Low Level Dungeons
by Psynister

Instances have always been one of my favorite parts of the World of Warcraft game, and the changes that are coming forth in Cataclysm only serve to enhance those feelings.

We’re going to take a look today at the first few instances that your characters will be able to run through in their leveling process. We’ll look at the changes to quests, maps, bosses, and rewards.

On of the changes you’re going to see is the maps. First off, maps actually exist for dungeons outside of Northrend now. They work basically the same way as Northrend dungeon maps do though, showing the location of bosses, dungeon layout, and so forth. This is a big change, but it’s not huge. It would be more important if they weren’t also changing dungeon layouts (like chopping off parts of Wailing Caverns and Sunken Temple for example), but still it’s a very welcome addition to low level dungeons.

You’ll also find that the rewards for doing dungeon quests have been greatly improved. Most items can actually contend with the boss drops for power, and they’re items you’ll actually want to use while you’re leveling. In dungeons where changes have been made to bosses you’ll also often find that items that used to drop off of one boss now drop off of another. Bosses that used to only have one or two items in their loot tables now have more, and all of those types of bosses that I can think of have actually been replaced.

The most significant change (in my opinion) to dungeons is that all of the quests for those dungeons can be found inside the dungeon itself. Quests that take place outside of the actual dungeon, that were still listed as beings quests for those dungeons, are still found outside of the instance…if they still exist at all. You can see examples of how this works in many of the screenshots that I have below. The one exception to that is Ragefire Chasm which had no quests for me as an Alliance character, though the quests and their respective quest-givers are there for Horde toons.

Some bosses change in Cataclysm, and some of them do not. In RFC for example, you’ll see all of the same bosses with basically all of the same stats and abilities, but you’ll find them either in different locations on the map or you’ll find that some of them which were “quest ‘bosses’” are now real bosses (like the Satyr showing in the green section of the map). If you take a look at a dungeon like Shadowfang Keep (SFK) or Deadmines (VC) though, you’ll find that some of the bosses have changed completely, have gotten seven-times as much health, have new abilities, or changed in very unexpected ways.

Details by Dungeon
I’m not going to talk about every single thing that changes in these dungeons, as I think I’m already spoiling enough as it is, but I do want to go over some of them. You’ll find more spoilers in the screenshots than you will in the text here, but be warned ahead of time that you read further at your own risk.

Ragefire Chasm (RFC)
Ragefire Chasm has the fewest changes of all of those that we’re looking at right now. The layout remains the same, the bosses remain (mostly) the same, and there isn’t much new in the way of loot either. All of the changes I mentioned above did take place, and the quest rewards are actually really good as well, but there’s not a whole lot that’s new here.

The first change you’ll notice is the Oggleflint is now an actual boss instead of just a quest mob, and he’s now larger in size than the other troggs that are around him so that he’s distinct. From there you’ll find business as usual until you make your way up to the Satyr, Bazzalan who is also now an actual boss in the instance. The new loot from Oggleflint and Bazzalan are a welcome addition to a dungeon that currently serves the sole purpose of rushing to the “final” boss (who is actually the first boss you see), followed by the group breaking apart immediately after. Be prepared to see full clears of RFC once Cataclysm is launched.

The Deadmines (VC)
Definitely one of the most profoundly altered instances and surrounding areas so far, The Deadmines have definitely changed. The first thing you’ll notice is that the caves outside of the instance portal are now filled with refugees rather than mobs, save for a couple of rarespawns. Once you get inside the instance you’ll see yet another change - Stormwind guards now hold the entry way and apparently there’s a crime scene being investigated. As you progress you’ll see that there are now slave-monkeys being forced to work the mines by their goblin overseers. Some of the mobs have new abilities and new buffs that make the others stronger. You’ll even find some stealthed mobs here (note: there are Mining Powder “mobs” spread throughout that explode when you attack them, and chances are good that a stealthed mob is near it.  Remember those parrots near the ship? You might want to keep your head up when you go there now because someone taught them how to fly.

VC also has a large number of bosses that have been changed. And when I say large, I mean…well, all of them. The first boss has been replaced with a two-headed ogre we’ve never seen before (that I know of). The second boss has been replaced by a goblin riding an Oaf rather than a goblin riding a shredder, and he just loves jumping on someone’s head and going for a ride. The next boss has been replaced by a giant machination that slowly comes to life as you kill the mechanical mobs in the room. Mr. Smite decided to take a vacation it seems, and apparently they didn’t bother replacing him. Greenskin found a good replacement though, a Worgen with some crazy new mechanics you wouldn’t expect in a level 15 dungeon. And who’s the top dog now that Vancleef isn’t around? Why, “Captain” Cookie, of course!

Another cool change with VC is that the quests are done in a detective style, meaning that you don’t get them all up front. Instead you’ll get a quest to kill a boss, and once you do you’ll get a “call” from Lieutenant Horatio Laine telling you about the next boss. It’s an interesting little story and you can see it all in the screenshots if you care to spoil it for yourself.

Shadowfang Keep (SFK)
Shadowfang Keep is one of my all time favorite instances that the game has to offer. Unfortunately, the instance still isn’t complete in the beta and you can’t go beyond the third boss. Because I love SFK so much, I’m not going to do only a partial post on it covering what’s already there, instead I’m going to wait for the whole thing. What I will tell you is this:

The first boss has been replaced with one who will test your healer’s abilities. The second boss has the ability to summon bosses from the current version that do not exist in the beta version. The third boss has over 30,000 hit points, and he’s not afraid to use them…

Wailing Caverns (WC)
Wailing Caverns is another one of my favorites. I got lost in that place so many times while leveling my first toon that I was determined to go in and learn every square inch of the place and I did just that. I really enjoy going there. BlizzCon 2010 showed us that they’re chopping part of WC off, but I didn’t see that when I cleared it in the beta so I guess it’s a change they just haven’t bothered with yet. If you go to the actual instance location you’ll find that the current quest givers that are located in the right eye socket of the skull that serves as an entrance are no longer there (nor are the trainers/vendors for you gold freaks that collect profession patterns). You can still find the quests inside the instance though, so don’t worry too much.

You’ll find that bosses drop a little bit different loot here. Some of them drop items that were found on other bosses before, and some drop new items all together.

The biggest, most AMAZING change in the whole instance is that the stupid tauren for the final event finally learned how to RUN. No longer do you have to spend just under 5 minutes waiting for him to walk, as he actually moves at full run speed. He doesn’t give you Gift of the Wild anymore, but his running is well worth that change. With the current beta setup, the rest of this instance is pretty much the same as it is in live.

Blackfathom Depths (BFD)
BFD is one of the first instances where you’ll see a significant change in the maps. Not because it’s been changed, but because there are three maps for the instance instead of only one. Bosses remain basically the same, save for a few minor changes to looks. Again, you’ll find your quest givers right inside the entrance, and you can track those quests on the maps as well. I found a fire elemental encased in ice, but I have no idea what purpose he serves save that he may be a Horde quest.

It was pretty inconvenient that you have to go all the way back to the entrance of the dungeon in order to turn in your quests. With VC allowing you to turn them all in as you go (SFK does as well), it kind of sucks that this one works like it does. Wailing Caverns also has you return to the entrance to turn them in, but you’re doing that anyway to trigger the tauren’s event for the final boss so it’s not quite as big of a deal. The quest rewards are definitely worth picking up though, so I definitely suggest you pick up the quests and then either run back to the entrance or requeue for it.

Razorfen Kraul (RFK)
RFK doesn’t change a whole lot, it’s about the same as BFD as far as changes go. You will find that there’s a big spirit pig near the final boss that gives you a quest, but that’s about as big as the changes get. One thing I’ll warn you about in RFK is that there’s a big pot in one section of the instance that I used to run on top of and dance in the “open” space above it while I nuked mobs down below - that pot works like a real pot rather than one with an invisible lid now, so if you decide to jump in there prepare to use your Hearthstone, because there’s no way out of it.  (Editor’s note: hilarious… and only you would discover that.)

You do have to return to the entrance to turn in some of your quests here, but since there’s an escort quest right after the final boss that takes you back to the entrance, it’s not that big of a deal.

Stormwind Stockades (Stocks/SS)
Stockades is the last one we’re going to cover today. Stocks actually got quite a few changes to it. You’ll see guards occupy the entrance where your quest givers are, and you’ll see a LOT more mobs wandering around the halls as well. There are actually bosses inside this instance now instead of just named mobs, and they all drop loot that is actually really good.

Another big change you’ll find here is that the infamous Gnoll King, Hogger, is now behind bars and waiting for you to kill him. There’s also a fire elemental boss here as oddly enough half of the instance is occupied by elementals.


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Psynister's avatar
Psynister 09:08am, 11/10/2010

I like to nuke things from interesting locations. It’s not my fault Bliz decided to take the invisible lid off the pot…

Good thing the hearth was up and I had already cleared the instance, though. The mobs over there used to be quest mobs, but I don’t think they are anymore. I wanted to see if they were still around (they are) just for completion’s sake. Luckily I got the info I needed before I decided to get into the pot.

Buddha's avatar
Buddha 03:12pm, 11/10/2010

Brother, you are one of the only people that I know who would get stuck in a pot in an instance.

Having run through several with you, watching you bounce around like a cracked up jack-rabbit, I can easily see it though.  I just wish I could have been there to laugh my ass off at you.

Psynister's avatar
Psynister 05:08pm, 11/10/2010

Blame the cracked up jack-rabbit business on my love for PvP and doing so as squishy classes. Either I keep moving, or I keep watching that timer at the spirit healer. But yeah, you’d have had a blast I assure you. I was freaking out when I first fell in there and spent about 5 minutes trying to figure out a way to jump out, hoping for a glitch I could stand on or something but clearly the pot had been smoothed and waxed before hand.

The changes to the instances really did make them a lot more enjoyable though. I really like VC how it is right now, but with these changes it’s quite possible it will move up to one of the top dungeons on my list of favorites. Shadowfang Keep still holds the #1 slot even though I haven’t seen all of it in beta yet, and the changes there are exceptionally cool.

I still need to take a trip to several more instances, but so far I’m *thrilled*.

Buddha's avatar
Buddha 07:32pm, 11/10/2010

Yeah, Deadmines is also one of my favorite low level dungeons.

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