- Author: Luxrah
- Date: November 3, 2023
- Updated: November 3, 2023
- Expansion: Cataclysm
With Cataclysm Classic officially on its way, there are a lot of big changes coming to Azeroth. Cataclysm is the only expansion that drastically altered existing content in the game, changing much of the World of Warcraft as we knew it to make way for some new features. So let’s get down to it, we have a lot to cover!
The Cataclysm expansion brings several new features to the game, including the ability to customize your gear and level up your guild.
Reforging, Transmogrification, & Void Storage
At some point during Cataclysm, a few ethereals will set up shop in Orgimmar and Stormwind. These NPCs will offer three new services to players.
The Arcane Reforger will offer the ability to change the stats on your high level equipment items. You’ll be able to swap out 40% of one secondary stat for another secondary stat that isn’t present on the item. See our Reforging Guide for a detailed look at this new system.
The Transmogrifier will allow you to change the appearance of your equipment to look like another item. You’ll be able to use one set of gear for its stats and bonuses and an entirely different set for looks. Check out our Transmogrification Guide for an in-depth look at this system.
Finally, Void Storage will give your character an extra 80 slots of bank storage. This system is also covered in our Transmogrification Guide.
Cataclysm adds a new system to the game for leveling up your guild, with its own achievement system and perks. There are 25 levels for guilds to progress through, each offering a new perk as a reward to all members of the guild. These perks include a number of passive bonuses as well as some very useful abilities, culminating in the Mass Resurrection ability, which allows any character to resurrect their entire party or raid outside of combat.
Guild members will also be able to earn reputation with the guild, which will allow them to purchase several useful items at the guild vendor, including an upgraded guild tabard, some high-end food recipes, a cloak that can teleport you to your faction’s capital city, a summonable pet that works as a vendor, several heirloom gear items, and some unique pets and mounts.
Cataclysm brings some changes to the game’s existing races as well as adding two new playable races to the game.
Two new playable races will be added in Cataclysm, one for each faction.
Exclusive to the Alliance, Worgen are the werewolf people of Gilneas, which is their starting zone. These characters come with two forms: a human form, which looks very similar to the standard humans, and a worgen form, which is more wolf-like.
- Death Knight
- Aberration: Increases your resistance to harmful Nature and Shadow effects by 1.
- Darkflight: Activates your true form, increasing current movement speed by an additional 40% for 10 sec. (Instant, 2 min cooldown)
- Flayer: Skinning skill increased by 15 and allows you to skin faster.
- Running Wild: Drop to all fours to run as fast as a wild animal. (1.5 sec cast)
- Two Forms: Turn into your currently inactive form. (Instant, 1.5 sec cooldown)
- Viciousness: Increases critical strike chance by 1%.
Exclusive to the Horde, Goblins are members of the Bilgewater Cartel who get their start in two new island zones, Kezan and the Lost Isles. These characters are experts in engineering and commerce.
- Death Knight
- Best Deals Anywhere: Always receive the best possible gold discount, regardless of faction.
- Better Living Through Chemistry: Alchemy skill increased by 15.
- Rocket Barrage: Launches your belt rockets at an enemy, dealing 13 fire damage. (Instant, 30 yd range, 2 min cooldown)
- Rocket Jump: Activates your rocket belt to jump forward. Other effects which slow the rate of falling cannot be used within 10 sec after using this ability. (Instant, 2 min cooldown)
- Time is Money: Cash in on a 1% increase to attack and casting speed.
Racial Ability Changes
There are a few minor adjustments to various racial abilities in Cataclysm. There are also a handful of more significant ones:
- Draenei: Heroic Presence will will no longer increase the Hit of the character’s entire group, only their own.
- Dwarves: The Find Treasure ability will be replaced by Explorer, giving them a bonus to the new Archaeology profession.
- Gnomes: The new Shortblade Specialization ability increases their expertise with daggers and one-handed swords.
- Night Elves: Elusiveness also increases their movement speed by 5% when in stealth.
New Race/Class Combos
Cataclysm adds some new race and class combinations to the game. To see all available options, check out our Race Class Combinations guide. Below is a list of the new combinations that are available in Cataclysm.
Many secondary stats have been removed entirely from the game, while a new stat, Mastery, has been added. The simplification of secondary stats is connected to Reforging, which allows players to customize the stats on their gear to a degree. It also allows for more overlap between specializations for characters that play more than one role.
Tank stats in particular are greatly simplified in Cataclysm, reducing the amount of math that you must keep track of and putting it more on par with other roles in terms of gear management.
Weapon skills are being removed from the game. Characters will automatically be fully proficient in any weapons they can use.
Resilience will only affect damage done by players, and will no longer be useful in PVE content.
The new Reforging feature allows you to change some of the secondary stats on each piece of gear you acquire. More information can be found in our Reforging Guide.
The following stats will be completely removed from gear in the game:
- Attack Power
- Spell Power
- Armor Penetration
Characters will now get their Attack Power or Spell Power through their specialization’s primary stat (Strength, Agility, or Intellect) at a rate of 2 power per stat point.
Healers will get all of their mana regeneration from Spirit instead of MP5. Caster DPS won’t need either stat. Shadow Priests, Balance Druids, and Elemental Shamans will have talents that convert Spirit to Hit, making it easier to use the same gear for both roles.
Armor Penetration and Block will be partially replaced by the new Mastery stat for classes that used them.
Tank specializations will now have built-in crit immunity and won’t need to worry about the Defense cap anymore.
Mastery is a new secondary stat in Cataclysm, and what it does depends upon your specialization. For most DPS specializations, it will increased damage in some way; for healers, it will increase healing done; and for tanks, it will increase the character’s defenses. The specifics are unique to each talent specialization, and you will learn these abilities as you level like any other class-based ability.
All classes will see a major revamp in Cataclysm, with new talent trees and abilities, and new resource bars for some.
Talent Tree Overhaul
All talent trees are being completely rebuilt in Cataclysm, eliminating some of the bloat that had accumulated over the last 3 expansions. Talents that offer generic passive stat bonuses have largely been removed and each tree has been reduced to 7 tiers of talents. Characters will no longer be able to spread their points across different talent trees without first committing many points to their main spec, effectively eliminating hybrid specs. Additionally, characters will no longer earn a talent point every level, reducing the total number of talents available at level cap.
You can read more about the new talent trees in our Talent System Overhaul guide.
Spell Ranks Removed
Cataclysm completely eliminates spell ranks, so you will only have one version of each spell in your Spellbook, and won’t be able to have different ranks on your bars.
There are a ton of class changes coming in Cataclysm. We won’t cover them all here, but we’ll list off a few of the most noteworthy ones. Look for our class guides for more specifics as we get closer to launch!
- Death Knight: Blood will now be the dedicated tanking tree, with no tanking talents in the other trees.
- Druid: Balance will gain the Eclipse mechanic, causing their Nature spells to buff their Arcane spells and vice versa. For Resoration, Tree Form will become a cooldown.
- Hunter: Focus will replace mana as the hunter’s resource, functioning a lot like a rogue’s energy bar. Ammo is being completely removed from the game and will no longer be required to use a ranged weapon. As a result, hunters will also be able to trade in their quivers for a regular bag. You’ll also be able to collect a lot more pets by storing them at a Stable Master.
- Mage: All mages will get the Time Warp ability, which works the same as Bloodlust/Heroism.
- Paladin: In addition to mana, paladins will have a new resource, Holy Power, that they will expend to use certain abilities.
- Priest: Priests will get Leap of Faith, an ability that functions as a friendly Death Grip.
- Rogue: Your Lockpicking skill will automatically level with you. Abilities such as Backstab will no longer require you to have a specific weapon equipped.
- Shaman: The Spiritwalker’s Grace cooldown will allow shamans to move while casting.
- Warlock: Soul Shards will no longer be an inventory item, but a resource much like a death knight’s Runic Power. They will be used to empower your spells in combat, and won’t be required anymore for summoning, healthstones, or soul stones.
- Warrior: There will be a lot of changes to the ways that Rage is generated, evening out the experience at all levels and gear levels.
The glyph system will see some big changes in Cataclysm, including the addition of Prime Glyphs, a third set that are added on top of the current Major and Minor Glyphs for a total of nine possible glyphs. You can read more about these changes in our Glyph System Overhaul guide.
The level cap for all professions goes up to 525 in Cataclysm with the addition of the Illustrious Grand Master rank. Many new recipes and rewards will be available, as well as some new profession bonuses and a new secondary profession, Archaeology. There will also be new materials to gather to craft with. Specializations are going away for Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, and Tailoring, with their recipes becoming baseline for the profession.
For a deep dive into Cataclysm’s profession changes, see our Professions Overview & Bonuses guide.
New Profession: Archaeology
Cataclysm brings a new secondary profession to the game, Archaeology. Like Cooking, Fishing, and First Aid, Archaeology can be learned by every character in addition to their other professions.
Archaeology offers some unique rewards, including toys, pets, mounts, and even valuable endgame gear, all of which is account-bound and can be shared across your characters. For a closer look at this new profession, check out our Archaeology Guide.
Cataclysm overhauls all of the original vanilla World of Warcraft zones and adds in several new ones across the map. Along with this overhaul comes new portals, flight paths, zeppelins, and boats to get around. But the biggest result of the changes is that characters above level 60 will now be able to fly in Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor.
Every vanilla zone the game has been redesigned with new quests and quest hubs. In some cases, faction control may have shifted, such as Hillsbrad Foothills, which becomes a Horde zone. Level ranges have also been adjusted. Stranglethorn Vale and The Barrens have both been split into two zones. The landscape in some areas has been drastically changed, such as Thousand Needles being flooded with water.
The two faction capitals, Stormwind and Orgrimmar, have both seen some major changes as well.
Flying is now possible in all Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms zones except those added by The Burning Crusade (Azuremyst Isle and Eversong Woods).
Starting zones have been added to the game for the new races as well as for gnomes and trolls, who previously shared their starting experiences with dwarves and orcs, respectively.
- New Tinkertown: A subzone of Dun Morogh and the new starting zone for gnomes.
- Echo Isles: A subzone of Durotar and the new starting zone for trolls.
- Gilneas: Worgen starting zone.
- Kezan: Goblin starting zone.
- Lost Isles: Goblin low level zone.
The expansion also adds several high level zones to Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms:
- Deepholm, a zone inside the Elemental Plane of Earth that is accessed through the Maelstrom at the center of the world map.
- Mount Hyjal, the mountain in Kalimdor that houses Nordrassil, the World Tree.
- Twilight Highlands, a zone in Eastern Kingdoms that is dominated by the Twilight Dragonflight.
- Uldum, an desert in Kalimdor that is home to the ancient Tol’vir people.
- Vashj’ir, an ocean region that is made up of three underwater zones:
- Abyssal Depths
- Kelp’thar Forest
- Shimmering Expanse
- Tol Barad, an island prison off the coast of Eastern Kingdoms that functions as a PVP zone similar to Wintergrasp.
- Molten Front, a zone inside the Firelands that is added alongside that raid and functions as a daily quest hub.
Dungeons & Raids
Along with the vanilla zones, there are also many changes to vanilla dungeons and raids. Several dungeons have been redesigned or split into smaller instances. Dungeon quests are now found inside the instances themselves, making them easier to access, especially when using the Group Finder.
The Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj raid will change from a 20-player to a 10-player raid. Several new dungeons and raids are also being added to the game.
A few vanilla dungeons have been overhauled, split into separate instances, or reduced in size to make them more manageable:
- Maraudon: Divided into Wicked Grotto, Foulspore Cavern, and Earth Song Falls
- Stratholme: Divided into Main Gate and Service Gate
- Temple of Atal’Hakkar (AKA Sunken Temple): Lower floors removed
- The Stockade: Completely overhauled with new bosses, including the famous Hogger
- Shadowfang Keep: Completely overhauled with a Heroic version added
- The Deadmines: Completely overhauled with a Heroic version added
Several new endgame dungeons were also added in the new zones, with both Normal and Heroic versions:
- Blackrock Caverns
- Grim Batol
- Halls of Origination
- Lost City of Tol’vir
- Throne of Tides
- Vortex Pinnacle
In later phases, some Heroic-only dungeons will be added:
- Zandalari dungeons:
- Caverns of Time dungeons:
- End Time
- Well of Eternity
- Hour of Twilight
In addition to 5-man dungeons, Cataclysm also adds several raids to the game, all with Normal and Heroic 10- and 25-man versions.
Here are all of the Cataclysm raids in the order they were released:
- Baradin Hold
- Bastion of Twilight
- Blackwing Descent
- Throne of the Four Winds
- Dragon Soul
Flexible Raid Locks
The Cataclysm expansion adds the Flexible Raid Lock feature, which allows players to move freely between 10- and 25-man, Normal and Heroic, and even different groups. 10- and 25-man raids will share an ID and give the same loot, with 25-man raids dropping more of it. That means each character will only be able to complete each raid once per week on any difficulty.
Cataclysm brings some new battlegrounds to the game as well as adding the rated battleground system.
A new rated battleground system allows players to compete in battlegrounds for a rating, much like arenas. These are 10v10 matches on standard battleground maps, including the two new maps added with the expansion.
To compete in rated battlegrounds, you’ll need to form a 10-player raid group. There is no matchmaking queue.
Cataclysm adds two new battleground maps to the game and a new PVP zone similar to Wintergrasp.
- Battle for Gilneas is a point control battleground much like Arathi Basin, except with 3 control points instead of 5.
- Twin Peaks is a capture-the-flag battleground similar to Warsong Gulch.
- Tol Barad is a new world PVP zone similar to Wintergrasp, with regular battles that happen on a timer.
The Cataclysm expansion adds new factions for the two new races as well as several new factions that are tied to the new endgame zones.
- Gilneas: Worgen
- Bilgewater Cartel: Goblins
- Earthen Ring: Vashj’ir
- Guardians of Hyjal: Mount Hyjal
- Ramkahen: Uldum
- Therazane: Deepholm
- Wildhammer Clan/Dragonmaw Clan: Twilight Highlands
- Avengers of Hyjal: Molten Front
- Baradin’s Wardens/Hellscream’s Reach: Tol Barad
Future raid tiers of Cataclysm will bring two new legendary items to be obtained.
Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa’s Rest
The Firelands raid brings a lengthy questline to obtain a caster DPS staff: Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa’s Rest. This weapon has a proc that can duplicate a harmful spell. It also has an on-use ability that allows you to transform into a flying dragon. It can be used by Druids, Mages, Priests, and Warlocks.
Fangs of the Father
The Dragon Soul raid brings its own lengthy questline that rewards a pair of daggers: Golad, Twilight of the Aspects (main-hand) and Tiriosh, Nightmare of Ages (off-hand). These daggers each have an on-use ability that slows your falling speed for 15 seconds. They also come with a set bonus that allows you to proc a stacking Agility buff and extra combo points. These daggers are only usable by Rogues.
Along with all of the new and revamped content that is being added in Cataclysm, there’s also a lot of stuff that will be going away. Check out our Removed Content Guide for a complete detailing of all of it.