We know that the upcoming Cataclysm expansion is going to literally tear our virtual world apart. What we don’t know yet — and what many of us are worried about — is how the changes to the world will affect the existing wildlife, namely the beasts that we can tame.
But I thought it might be fun to speculate a bit. In this post I’ll make some guesses about what pets may be in peril in Kalimdor. Later I’ll take a poke at the Eastern Kingdoms as well.
My speculation is loosely based off the color-coding in a map that was seen at BlizzCon, which seems to indicate the intensity of landscape changes in various zone. (WoW Insider posted about this recently, which brought it back to mind. It’s also been on a number of other news sites and blogs since BlizzCon.)
Now I’m going to make an unsupported assumption and guess that, for our purposes, major landscape changes are more disruptive to wildlife than level changes alone will be. In my experience with MMOs, a major landscape change will require the content people to re-place any spawners in that area — a tedious chore which also gives them a great opportunity to change around the enemies in an area.
Just changing the level of an area, on the other hand, can often be accomplished with a simple data tweak to the spawners, or at worst a search-and-replace operation on the data tree. Of course, revamping the quest flow through an area will also likely change what creatures are where, but often this will be handled as an addition in a small area rather than a wholesale replacement.
… Which is just a lengthy justification for why I think basing my speculation on what appears to be a landscape map may be useful. I could be utterly wrong, of course.
So let’s take a look at the red zones from that map — presumably the most disturbed zones — one by one. (I’m starting at the northwest and zig-zagging down.)
We’ve heard a bit about the changes coming to Darkshore. Auberdine will be destroyed and the night elves will relocate to the northern end of the zone. (This will help the quest flow immensely, especially if they add a second flight point at the southern end.) Apparently the Horde is encroaching from the south, as well.
Now Darkshore contains a lot of pretty common pet looks, plus two very special beasts: the transparent Ghost Saber and the turquoise Strider Clutchmother. Unfortunately for us, the Ghost Saber spawns in the very north of the zone — where the night elves are relocating their town — and the Strider Clutchmother spawns in the far south — where the Horde are encroaching.
If we are lucky, the Horde won’t disturb the southern part of the zone too much and the Strider Clutchmother will remain there. If we are very lucky, Blizzard will relocate the naga ruins in the north to someplace further south and we’ll get to keep taming Ghost Sabers. But I am rather worried about both of these creatures.
From all indications, Azshara is going to get a major make-over. The goblins are reshaping the entire zone more to their liking, and who knows what — if anything — will survive.
Fortunately, Azshara is not a very pet-dense zone. It’s main claim to fame is some chimaeras, some turtles, and way too many taratulas. There are two rare beasts — the Evalcharr and Scalebeard — but neither has a really uncommon appearance. So while I will miss it as a handy place to grab a chimaera, I am much more excited about what new creatures the goblins may import from their islands.
I admit it: Stonetalon Mountains is one of my least favorite zones ever. There’s that long boring run from Crossroads to the tiny Horde settlement, then another incredibly long and annoying run down through the Charred Vale to Desolace. The Alliance don’t have it much better, coming down from Ashenvale through all the goblins.
So I am completely ready for Stonetalon to get blown away. I haven’t heard much about specific changes, other than a canyon to Ashenvale rather than a tunnel, and the Charred Vale opened up to the sea on one side.
I’m rather hoping that Stonetalon Peak (the green valley to the north that contains the Alliance flightpoint) is relatively unaffected, because I tamed my Twilight Runner there. But otherwise this zone only boasts the same ubiquitous brown chimaeras and green taratulas, and we’re not in danger of running out of those!
The Barrens is, famously, being split into two zones divided by a lava-filled chasm. I don’t know if we have official names for these areas yet, so I’ll just call them Barrens North and Barrens South.
According to the color-coded map we have, the Barrens North will see moderate changes to landscape. I have no idea what that means at this point, but it seems reasonable to expect that we will not lose our lions and lionesses, our violet raptors, or our tallstriders.
Similarly, Echeyakee is probably safe, as is Snort the Heckler and Takk the Leaper. (Have you ever noticed that the Barrens rares have very Mafia-like names?) In fact, Takk is probably extra-safe since he is now related to the Leaping Hatchling mini-pet.
The Barrens South, however, seems to be up for some more severe landscape changes. Which means that, depending on exactly where the lava-filled chasm goes, we may have some special pets in danger.
Humar the Pridelord currently spawns just outside Ratchet, which hopefully means he’s safe. I’d also hate to lose Azzere the Skyblade, since the only other places to find this particular color windserpent right now are in instances. But my top concern for the Barrens South are the vibrant green scorpids in the Field of Giants. That’s the only place we’ve ever seen these scorpids, and they are by far my favorite color.
Apparently, the Cataclysm is going to flood Thousand Needles. I imagine the ‘needles’ will still be above water, but the Salt Flats definitely won’t be … and that really doesn’t seem like it leaves us much of a zone to work with.
Unfortunately, while I have never really thought of Thousand Needles as a bustling hive of beasts to tame, it actually houses quite a lot of interesting options — most of which probably don’t breathe underwater so well. So there are some worries in this zone.
Most notable is the rare Silithid Ravager, the only tan silithid you’ll find outside of Ahn’Qiraj. But Thousand Needles also contains the only non-instance red scorpid, the Scorpid Reaver. And Vile Sting, of course — although you can now find silver scorpids in Silithus, at least.
This zone is also currently the easiest place to tame low-level white wind serpents, which from what I see in game are a very popular choice. At least there are other options for the white wind serpents, though — getting another tan silithid is a bit harder.
Speculation is Fun!
At this point, all we have is speculation. As we get closer to Cataclysm, I am sure we’ll learn more about what will be changing and in what ways.
I’ve only touched what we assume will be the most affected zones here. There are plenty of pets in other Kalimdor zones that we could conceivably lose. But I have a certain level of faith in Blizzard — they know that some of us are crazy about pets, even if they don’t really understand it. *grin* So if we get to beta and we find out that they’ve removed, say, Echeyakee … well, we can let them know that we don’t think that’s such a good idea.
Next time: the Eastern Kingdoms!