Blizzcon 2009: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Zones and Dungeons

The World of Warcraft Preview Panel held at Blizzcon was presented by Chris Metzen, Alex Afrasiabi, Tom Chilton and Cory Stockton.

New Features:

Classic world revamp of every zone with updated quests, art and items.
Guild Advancement System.  Everything the players do will contribute to the advancement of their guild. There will be 20 guild levels.  All you do from arena, battlegrounds, quests, raids, daily quests and other aspects of the game will contribute to adding up points toward your guild level advancement.

What this does is that your guild will have its own talent tree, and as you unlock points for your guild, your guild master will be able to get cheaper repairs, mass-resurrection,

Blizzard will increase the notch up with the use of phased terrain to change the world around you as you progress through quests making the old world of Azeroth much more dynamic than ever before, making the stories more compelling and interesting.

The example given by Tom Chilton during the panel shows a coastline (before and after).  The phased terrain shows the coastline normal and later half of it is underwater.

The new secondary profession: Archaeology, is leveled up by exploring ancient ruins and caves for artifacts. As you progress discoveries and those lead directly to unlocking access to the Path of the Titans character progression.

There are no longer changes to your talent trees. You will keep your 51 points in the expansion. Blizzard is going a different way from this point forth with character progression. In Cataclysm, you must choose any of the Path of the Titans: Aman’thul, Eonar, Khaz’Goroth, Norgannon or Golganneth.

These paths can be chosen by any class.  It adds another dimension to your character’s customization. In addition there is the Mastery System, which allows Blizzard to prune some of the complexity of the talent trees allowing them to be more like passive bonuses such as crit chance, more damage, increase poison damage and that sort of thing.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm adds many new dungeons, creatures, quests and items.


Cataclysm on Azeroth reveals new lands and it has dramatically altered classic world zones. Blizzard is revamping all zones. However, there are five adventure zones for level 78-85 and two starting zones for levels 1-15. You can also fly anywhere in this new revamped Azeroth. No restrictions like the ones over Wintergrasp. You can fly wherever you want. Beneath is a video we got from Blizzard’s Press Kit CD.  It is a B-roll of the new zones in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

There are multiple scales of change, and some zones have been drastically affected by the cataclysm just based on where they are.  Elwynn Forest isn’t so affected, but there are new quests. On the other hand, we have the Barrens which has been hit hard by the Cataclysm.  It has been split in two: Northrend Barrens and Southern Barrens.  Blizzard is changing the level flow from 1-60.

Cataclysm introduces seven new zones never accessed before by players:

  • Mount Hyjal (Present)
  • Uldum
  • The Lost Isles (Goblin Starting Location)
  • Gilneas (Worgent Starting Location)
  • Isle of Kezan
  • The Sunken City of Vashj’ir
  • Twilight Highlands

Uldum is not just an instance past the gates at the Valley of Watchers, it is a whole new Zone.  The Sunken City of Vashj’ir is a new type of zone, it is an underwater zone.  Blizzard will make sure it is not annoying to play underwater.

The Twilight Highlands is a new zone located to the east of Wetlands.  This zone was known previously as Grim Batol, east of the Grim Batol fortress. The Grim Batol dungeon will be playable in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.


These are the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm dungeons:


Grim Batol
The Firelands
Blackwing Descent


Grim Batol: lvl 85 5-man
Uldum: two 5-man dungeons (lvl 84-85 and 85)
Deephome: 5-man dungeon (lvl 81-83)
Skywall: 5-man dungeon (lvl 80-82)
Abyssal Maw: 5-man dungeon (lvl 81-83 and lvl 82-84)
Blackrock Caverns: 5-man dungeon (lvl 85)

The Deadmines: One level 85 heroic 5-players dungeon
Shadowfang Keep: One lvl 85 heroic 5-players dungeon

Deephome is the elemental plane of earth in Azeroth.  The warped entrance to Deephome is located within Deathwing Scar—west of Burning Steppes.  There you can level up from lvl 80-85.  It’s like the Dragonblight of Cataclysm leveling-wise.  It is not connected physically to Azeroth, but this is the point of entry to the place where Deathwing has awakened from his slumber, and that’s the cause of the rupture of reality that originated the cataclysm.

Skywall, Abyssal Maw, Deephome and Firelands were mentioned to be among the dungeons to be expected in Cataclysm—this is interesting because those are locations within the Elemental Plane created by the Titans to imprison the Lieutenants of the Old gods.  This means that Deathwing has done something unimaginable.  He is sorta broken the barriers of reality and the Elemental Plane has sort of merged, or better said, warped onto Azeroth.


Abyssal Maw is one of the two 5-player dungeons located in the underwater zone named the Sunken City of Vashjir. The Abyssal Maw is sort of the Elemental Plane of Water.  It is a giant vortex in the center of the zone. Getting near the vortex will pull you in into the Elemental Plane of Water.

From there you can enter any of the two dungeons of the Abyssal Maw.  The Sunken City of Vashjir was created by the Titans for water elementals.  However, the Naga has come in, and we will learn some new storylines there that will let us know why the Naga are there and how are they tied to Deathwing and the Cataclysm.

The Abyssal Maw is a non-linear dungeon. You choose where to go. It’s a lvl 78-82 dungeon.  This is one of the first dungeons you will see in the expansion.

Uldum is an entire new zone where you will find the Hall of Origination which is composed of two 5-player dungeon wings.

You will experience the ultimate Titan dungeon. It’s non-linear, so you take the choice of what to do first. We will find Prospector Brann Bronzebeard here. There are seven bosses here.


Some fans are confused with the rumors going around the net.  Yes, we are going back to Blackrock Mountain, but this is a completely new dungeon separate from Blackrock Depths and Blackrock Spire.  This new dungeon is occupied by the Twilight’s Hammer. Deathwing basically dug a hole from beneath Blackrock Mountain to Grim Batol connecting both mountains through a huge tunnel. An underground freeway that he uses to transport supplies back and forth and anywhere in Azeroth.


Scott Mercer (Lead Encounter Designer) showcased the Icecrown Citadel dungeon. He played a joke mentioning there would be 31 bosses—then stopped and said did Ghostcrawler play with the powerpoint slides? Then rectified. There are twelve epic bosses in Icecrown Citadel.

It will have a 10-player and a 25-player raid dungeon. Teleporters will be available to get straight to bosses.  A successful formula widely welcomed by players in Ulduar. Sindragosa will be the ultimate frost wyrm. This is the former consort of Malygos, not a wannabe drake or young dragon.

Icecrown Citadel is plain crazy.  Once you reach the second floor, you will board an airship.  If you are Alliance you will find King Varian Wrynn. If you are Horde, there will be Thrall.  Basically, the opposite faction leaders and their troops will aboard your airship. You have to fend them off. Then you have to board their airship and take down the mages and stuff. You fight all the way till the airship reaches the top of Icecrown Citadel.

Once you reach the third floor, there are three wings with different sets of bosses. You will find Sindragosa the Frost Wyrm here. You need to clear all three wings to get access to the fourth floor: The Frozen Throne.

That’s eight bosses across three separate dungeon wings that interact with the Lich King. Something interesting in this patch 3.3 dungeon is that there are epic quest lines to unlock access to the second and third wings.

You fight alongside Alliance/Horde heroes.  Among them are Jaina Proudmoore or Lady Sylvanas.

One little spoiler about the Arthas the Lich King encounter that was revealed is that part of the floor will break, and if you fall that’s bad.


Ragnaros has sent his fire elementals to burn the World Tree in Mount Hyjal (Present), a new zone.  This time the players will have the chance to enter from Mount Hyjal—apparently—the warp-gate to the Firelands in the Elemental Plane. What this means is that you will take the fight to Ragnaros own backyard, to his domain …. where he is at full strength.  You will find him at Sulfuron Keep. You will find several fire elemental bosses in the outdoors.

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