Big Mac wrote:It is very clever, because the old MMO players need new stuff to keep them interested, but yet, if everything is different it would not feel like Azeroth.
The biggest reason to do this is because most of the 1-60 experience is really, really showing its age. The beginner areas were some of the earliest completed, so the quest technologies are way, way behind. Honestly, the dwarf/gnome and human areas aren't as fun or organized as the others, and none of them really do a good job of leading a new player around and introducing them to the game.
This is a chance to reboot the initial experience with the game and make it much, much better. (The Worgen and Goblin areas are as good as if not better than any Northrend questline, and the reboot of the beginner areas I've tried so far are very, very much worth the effort and the replay.)
Big Mac wrote:This seems to be a lot more obstrusive than the Lich King changes, as it hits the low level areas. Does anyone know how it is going to kick in? Are they going to reboot the entire world overnight, roll the changes out server, by server, or keep old-school servers going until their natural conclusion and start up all new servers with the Cataclysm game.
At a guess, reboot the entire world overnight.
However, they will roll out parts of the story along the way. Specifically, the upcoming 3.3.5 patch adds a raid instance and some story related to the return of Deathwing. (The new raid boss is effectively a herald for his return. They'd already hinted that he was still around and active in one of the questlines added to Burning Crusade -- the Netherwing Ledge quests hinted that he was rebuilding elsewhere after his earlier defeat. There was also some speculation that Deathwing was behind the Infinite Dragonflight (Caverns of Time enemy) as well, although I don't think that's supported by any real lore.)
There is also an announced and planned event to cover the retaking of Gnomeregan and the Echo Isles (Gnomes and Trolls, respectively) so that there are no shared starting areas anymore (1-5). The event is expected to go live with the last content patch before the expansion (believed to be either 3.9.0 or 3.9.9, but obviously that's just speculation at this point).
The new troll/gnome starting areas still feed into the same 6-10 zones that they always did, although the zones have been revamped. Tirisfal, for instance, looks to have about 50% old quests marginally (at most) re-tolled, and about 50% new storylines woven around the changes. In all, I'd say Tirisfal has about half again as much quest content, and the story is a lot more focused and better communicated. They've also linked it to the Worgen re-emergence from Gilneas. I haven't had time to try the others yet.
My guess is they'll do a week-long event similar to the previous two expansions, with earthquakes, some scripted events taking place, and special NPCs just for the events.
For Burning Crusade, they had an on-going battle with demons around the Dark Portal. For Wrath, they had Scourge invasions at various points in the world, and assaults on the capitals. They also had a zombie plague and a launch-specific questline to cover the story side.
Those were never live on the alpha/beta servers for those expansions, and I haven't data-mined the client for hints myself. So, that's just speculation on my part. At a guess, it'll be announced a little before it begins.