WoW Cataclysm Guide

05.08.2022 - 12:01:51
Game Guides , World Of Warcraft , WOW Gameplay Guides

WoW Cataclysm Guide

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (2010)

"I am... Deathwing, the Destroyer, the end of all things! Inevitable. Indomitable. I. AM. THE CATACLYSM." - Dragon Aspect Deathwing the Destroyer

Cataclysm, also known as World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, is the third expansion for the game. The expansion set follows the evil Dragon Aspect Deathwing the Destroyer, formerly known as the ancient guardian Neltharion the Earth Warder, as he makes his cataclysmic re-entrance into the world from Deepholm, the elemental plane of earth. It is primarily set in a dramatically reforged Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms on the world of Azeroth.

After spending years in Outland and Northrend, Cataclysm brings players back to the two continents of Azeroth for the majority of their campaigning while also introducing new areas like Mount Hyjal, the sunken world of Vashj'ir, Deepholm, Uldum, and the Twilight Highlands. It adds two new playable races: the goblins of the Bilgewater Cartel from the island of Kezan for the Horde and the Worgen from the fabled kingdom of Gilneas for the Alliance.

The level cap was raised to 85 in the expansion, flying mounts could be used in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, archaeology was added as a secondary profession, player classes were updated, new race-class combinations were added, and the world itself underwent a significant reorganization (with major revisions to existing content from the original release of the game).

The Lore of WoW: Cataclysm

The victorious Northrend expeditions returned home to find all of Azeroth shaken by erratic elemental forces. This unrest preceded the return of the maddened Dragon Aspect Deathwing the Destroyer, who erupted from his lair in the bowels of the Elemental Plane, shattering Azeroth in the process. With the elemental realms now open to the world, chaotic elemental spirits and their tyrannical lords emerged to help the Destroyer and the nihilistic Twilight's Hammer cult bring about the Hour of Twilight: the end of all life on Azeroth.

Rise of Zandalari (Patch 4.1)

Alarmed by the terrible losses of life among all trolls, the Zandalari tribe traveled around the world to reunite their race and rebuild their once-powerful empire. The Zandalari restored the fallen cities of Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman, and began to conduct bloody raids on territories that had once been "theirs." The burgeoning troll force hoped to lead a great war against the other races of Azeroth, but the honorable Vol'jin of the Darkspear tribe stood against their murderous agenda and recruited champions from both the Horde and the Alliance to invade the ancient cities and stop the onslaught.

Rage of The Firelands (Patch 4.2)

After a ferocious series of battles, Azeroth's heroes banished Ragnaros the Firelord and his elemental minions from Mount Hyjal. Yet, threats to Hyjal persisted, including traitorous druids who had abandoned their allies and joined forces with the elementals. Fearing another elemental invasion, the defenders of Azeroth made a daring assault into Ragnaros' blazing realm: the Firelands. Among the seething flames of this elemental domain, Ragnaros was at his most powerful; only the greatest champions of the Horde and the Alliance, aided by druidic champions like Malfurion Stormrage, could dare hope to defeat the Firelord.

Hour of Twilight (Patch 4.3)

At the peak of his insanity, Deathwing the Destroyer fought to drive the world into twilight - a devastating future bereft of all life. The Dragon Soul, a powerful artifact lost in the past, was the only weapon capable of truly stopping Deathwing, and so the guardians of Azeroth - the Dragon Aspects - sent several valiant heroes racing through time to retrieve it. Despite being attacked by the mysterious Infinite Dragonflight as they traveled the time ways, the champions returned the artifact to the present and delivered it to the wise shaman Thrall. With his aid, the Dragon Soul was deployed against the Destroyer during a brutal battle that began in Azeroth's skies and continued into the roiling heart of the Maelstrom at the center of the world. Through the combined efforts of the Aspects and their allies, the madness of Deathwing was finally brought to an end.

Character Updates

Here are the character, skills, professions, and race/class changes and updates implemented on Cataclysm:

  • Player level cap increased to 85.

  • The Worgen of Gilneas for the Alliance and the Goblins of the Bilgewater Cartel for the Horde are two new player races. Gilneas, the Isle of Kezan, and the Lost Isles are new leveling areas for these two races.

  • Class redesign, including new spells and talents, talent tree simplification, and rearranging of class buffs.

  • Reforging has been added to the game, allowing players to add specific stats to gear in exchange for the removal of others. This includes the overhaul of character and gear stats, which includes the elimination of some stats and significant changes to base stat operability (such as intellect creating spell power, strength and agility affecting attack power, etc.).

  • New Archaeology profession.

  • All primary and secondary professions now have a 525 level cap, along with many new items, patterns, and rewards.

  • A new guild advancement system with rewards, guild levels, and accomplishments.

  • Combining the currency systems from previous expansion sets; rewards included two PvE currencies, Justice Points and Valor Points, as well as two PvP currencies, Honor and Conquest Points.

Factions & Organizations

The expansion features a large number of new factions, many of which have quartermasters who sell gear and other faction perks. The following new factions have been added for end-game and leveling content:

  • Armies of Firelord Ragnaros besiege the Guardians of Hyjal, a group tasked with protecting Mount Hyjal. The majority of Guardians are druids, much like the Cenarion Circle. The lodge at the enormous tree Nordrassil is where the quartermaster is situated.

  • Players who have completed the entire primary quest zone in Mount Hyjal can access the Avengers of Hyjal faction, which was added in patch 4.2. They have been given the mission of confronting Firelord Ragnaros in his domain, the Firelands.

  • Cat-people known as Ramkahen are distant but actual ancestors of the Tol'vir, Uldum's protectors. Even though they no longer possess their stone bodies, they continue to adhere to their strict tradition of keeping the Titans' mysteries secret. They have a hub and quartermaster in the Ramkahen settlement, which is in the middle of the zone.

  • From her throne, the elemental guardian Therazane the Stonemother watches over Deepholm, the elemental plane of earth. Players are initially despised and must earn a reputation by completing quests (like the Sons of Hodir in Northrend). The center of this faction, which also includes the quartermaster, is Therazane's Throne.

  • After making an appearance in earlier game versions, the Earthen Ring is now a faction that players can build a reputation with. The Quartermaster of the Earthen Ring is located inside the Silver Tide Hollow of the Shimmering Expanse of Vashj'ir, though they can be found throughout Cataclysm-level content.

  • The Alliance and Horde factions are engaged in a conflict over control of the Twin Peaks and Twilight Highlands. Their names are Wildhammer Clan and Horde Dragonmaw Clan.

  • On Tol Barad, the opposing factions Baradin's Wardens and Horde Hellscream's Reach are present. Through island control (PvP) and daily questing, players can build their reputations.

New Racial Factions

  • The Worgen racial faction is called Gilneas. Gilneans are a nation of survivors; having cut themselves off from the rest of humanity, they now have to deal with internal threats.

  • The goblin racial faction is known as the Bilgewater Cartel. The Bilgewater Cartel is the most influential trading organization on the Isle of Kezan, and it is led by the ruthless Trade Prince Gallywix. The cartel controls trade throughout the South Seas from its base at Bilgewater Port.


  • Cap on profession levels have been raised to 525, and the title Illustrious Grand Master was given.

  • Through specific NPCs, reforging enabled the conversion of a portion of one item's secondary stat into another secondary stat.

  • There were three glyph tiers in an inscription: Prime, Major, and Minor glyphs (with primes being the old majors, and the new majors being a brand new tier of glyphs).

  • The specializations in tailoring, leathercrafting, and blacksmithing were eliminated, and associated recipes became standard.

  • For professions, a ton of new materials are necessary:

    • Herbs - Cinderbloom, Stormvine, Heartblossom, Whiptail, Azshara's Veil, and Twilight Jasmine.

    • Jewels - Uncommon:  Alicite, Nightstone, Zephyrite, Carnelian, Hessonite, Jasper; Rare: Amberjewel,  Demonseye, Ocean Sapphire, Inferno Ruby, Ember Topaz, Dream Emerald, and Shadowspirit Diamond (meta).

    • Metals - Obsidium and  Folded Obsidium, Elementium and Hardened Elementium, Pyrium, Truegold

    • Cloth - Embersilk Cloth (drop),  Dreamcloth (crafted)

    • Skins - Savage Leather and Heavy Savage Leather, Blackened Dragonscale, Pristine Hide

    • Inks - Blackfallow Ink, Inferno Ink

    • Enchanting Items - Hypnotic Dust, Greater Celestial Essence/Lesser Celestial Essence, Heavenly Shard (rare crystal), Maelstrom Crystal (epic crystal)

    • Other Materials - Volatile Life/Volatile Earth/Volatile Air/Volatile Fire/Volatile Water (elemental motes), Deepstone Oil (created from  Albino Cavefish, Chaos Orb (first tier orb

New Profession

The World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion introduced the secondary profession of Archaeology. It cannot be learned until level 20, in contrast to other professions. The player gains the skill Survey after learning archaeology. Players can choose from twelve different research areas, each of which is related to a different game race, such as the troll, night elf, dwarf, or tol'vir. Players can gather specific Archaeology Fragments from specific Archaeology Finds by using the surveying skill (for example, a dwarf archaeology fragment). They can then finish the current phase of this race's research, and doing so will earn them an item.


  • The talent system has undergone extensive revisions, with talent trees reduced to 31-point talents (7 tiers for each tree). At level 85, players will have a total of 41 talent points after gaining one talent point every two levels up to 80 instead of every level (vs. 71 points at level 80 in WotLK)

  • At level 10, choosing a primary talent tree becomes available, and before talent points can be invested in it, a tree must be selected. Both passive benefits and a special active ability will result from this. Before investing 31 points in your primary tree, players must first spend talent points in a secondary tree (at roughly level 70).

  • A lot of passive talents that provide bonuses to buffs and possibly debuffs, as well as those that increase critical strike chance, damage reduction, or healing, are being removed.

Stat Changes

  • Attack power is being removed from gear. All druids, hunters, shamans, and rogues received 2 attack power per point of agility and no attack power from strength, except druids in bear form or dire bear form, who may receive attack power from strength to share tanking cloaks, necklaces, and rings with death knights, paladins, and warriors. Death knights, paladins, and warriors will still gain 2 attack power per point of strength.

  • Equipment no longer contains spell power, except caster weapons. Similar to how they currently gain attack power from strength and agility, characters will gain spell power from intellect.

  • All healing spectra no longer used MP5 and instead will rely solely on the spirit to regenerate mana, with the rate being influenced by the Meditation passive talent tree bonus. The 5-second rule might be dropped, and characters would regenerate mana differently depending on whether they were in or out of combat. Spirit will no longer be present on cloth spell DPS gear, and spell DPS classes will no longer rely on it for mana regeneration. Balance of Power and Elemental Precision talents were given to balance druids and elemental shamans so they can share equipment with healers. Caster gear made of leather and mail no longer had a hit rating. To facilitate their ability to level up through a wider range of options, Shadow Priests also had hit conversion on one of their talents (Twisted Faith).

  • The removal of armor penetration from gear, however, through talents and/or mastery bonuses, some physical damage specs might still be able to gain armor penetration.

  • The rate at which energy, rage, focus, and runes are gained will be impacted by haste for melee and physical ranged DPS classes. Retribution paladins and enhancement shamans will acquire talents that give them access to similar haste advantages. For these classes, it will keep granting weapon speed increases. Casters continue to have haste.

  • With the removal of block value from the game, blocking will now reduce damage by 30%; this reduction can be increased through talent trees and mastery bonuses.

  • Defense, including the defense rating and the defense skill, is being taken out of the game. Anti-critical hit talents akin to Survival of the Fittest will be given to all tanking specs.

  • Weapon proficiency is being eliminated. A character doesn't need to develop their proficiency with any of the weapons that their class can use because they already do.

  • Only player-inflicted damage and critical damage are impacted by Resilience.

  • Rating for mastery is being added. Around level 75, the mastery bonuses will become trainable passive bonuses. Characters will have a different Mastery available on the trainer with a base potency and a 0 Mastery Rating depending on their primary talent tree.

Major Expansion Location Updates

Cataclysm returns players primarily to Azeroth itself, with seven new high-level (80-85) zones, unlike the previous two expansions, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, which added new continents and worlds. Each of the five leveling areas has a distinct breadcrumb (introductory) quest and cutscene, and each can be quickly accessed through a portal in Stormwind City or Orgrimmar after that. These portals also lead to Tol Barad at level 85.

Environmental Redesign

The redesign of the continents of the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor, which were introduced with the release of World of Warcraft in 2004, is one of the main characteristics of Cataclysm. 'Old-world' zones were initially not designed to support the use of flying mounts, but for Cataclysm, those zones have undergone a complete redesign with flight in mind. Flight is still not available for blood elves and draenei starting areas in the Burning Crusade.

These zones underwent substantial changes. Each faction's leveling process is more streamlined because many of the outdated quests have been replaced with fresh ones that feature new gameplay and mechanics that have been added or changed since the game's original release. Each zone has a unique storyline that can be discovered through a series of quests.[6] Faction-specific zones, however, are only accessible to members of the faction that controls that zone.Players must compete against the opposing faction (Horde versus Alliance, and vice versa) in PvP-based quest lines in neutral or "Contested" zones in order to advance their faction's objectives. Phasing, which was introduced in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, is heavily utilized in this feature.

New Level 80-85 Zones

  • Northern Kalimdor's Mount Hyjal is in the level 80–82 zone. Mount Hyjal, which was initially intended for the game's initial release but is now used as a Caverns of Time raid instance, focuses on the druids' defense of the world tree against the Twilight's Hammer and Ragnaros's forces.

  • Vashj'ir is the water area between levels 80 and 82 off the coast of the Eastern Kingdoms. The Kelp'thar Forest, Shimmering Expanse, and Abyssal Depths are the three principal subzones that make up this zone. Adventurers must battle the naga forces out to enslave Neptulon for their lives after being shipwrecked by the tendrils of an Old God.

  • Deepholm is the earth's elemental level 82–83 plane. Deathwing's entrance into the world through the Maelstrom has provided access to Deepholm. Therazane's forces initially resisted the Earthen Ring's efforts to recover the World Pillar fragments that the Twilight's Hammer had stolen, but they eventually came to their aid.

  • Level 83–84 zone in southern Kalimdor is called Uldum. This vast desert, which was a Titan refuge concealed by ancient technology for millennia and is now fought over by the invading elemental forces of Al'Akir and Uldum's native inhabitants, the Ramkahen.

  • The Twilight Highlands is a level 84–85 region in Khaz Modan of the Eastern Kingdoms that is being contested by settlers from the Alliance and Horde (the Wildhammer clan and Dragonmaw clan, respectively), and is being troubled by Twilight's Hammer agents.

  • Tol Barad is a level 85 end-game area in the Eastern Kingdoms, off the coast of Lordaeron. It is divided into two subzones: the Tol Barad Peninsula, a daily quest hub akin to the Isle of Quel'Danas, and an outdoor PvP zone in the style of Wintergrasp. Since the two areas are instanced, players cannot access them through the open world but rather through portals or the battleground queuing system.

  • Molten Front is an end-game level 85 area. The Molten Front, which was added in patch 4.2, is situated in the Firelands and is reachable via a portal next to the Sanctuary of Malorne by completing daily quests that begin in the Mount Hyjal zone (players must complete zone quests up to a point). The zone has "mini-bosses," daily quests, and two faction-like paths: Druids of the Flame and Shadow Wardens.

Neutral Ahn'Qiraj: The Fallen Kingdom, which houses the above-ground level 60 raid dungeons Temple of Ahn'Qiraj and Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj, is also included as a new zone, despite being unpopulated. On player maps, the Maelstrom also appears as a region; on the Maelstrom region map, Deepholm, Kezan, and the Lost Isles appear as separate zones.

New Starting Areas

  • Gilneas is the Worgen's level 1–12 starting zone. The Gilneas City subzone (1–5) is where players begin their journey, eventually moving on to the larger zone (5–12) to level up, before being redirected to Darkshore. Gilneas is available (in the form of the "Ruins of Gilneas") as a general, albeit unpopulated, world zone used only for a few phased Undead quests from Silverpine Forest, in contrast to the Horde counterpart starter zones.

  • The Bilgewater Cartel goblins' level 1–5 starting zone is the Isle of Kezan, a seedy, wild port city beneath Mount Kajaro. Goblins can access Kezan right away; players cannot go back because the isle is instanced.

  • The Lost Isles, a lush tropical island outpost off the eastern coast of Kalimdor, is a Level 5–12 goblin-only zone. Following the completion of the Kezan starter area, the goblin storyline continues here and moves on to Azshara. The Lost Isles are instanced, just like Kezan, and players who leave them cannot come back.

PvP & PvE Changes

With Cataclysm, there are several new options for player-versus-player gameplay, including:

  • Tol Barad is an island fortress that combines the main daily quest hub of the expansion (like the Isle of Quel'Danas) with outdoor PvP gameplay (like Wintergrasp). The PvP area and the Tol Barad Peninsula divide the zone in half. Players will always have access to six daily quests from their respective factions on the Peninsula; gaining control of the PvP area of Tol Barad will unlock three additional daily quests inside Baradin Hold and three more outside (a raid instance that unlocks with each win like Vault of Archavon.)

  • The northwest region of Gilneas (instanced), which is very similar to Arathi Basin, is controlled by players in the new battleground known as "The Battle for Gilneas." The Battle for Gilneas City, which would have taken place inside the city map itself, was the original name for this battleground. However, it was later decided that this was not feasible.

  • Similar to Warsong Gulch, Twin Peaks is a CTF battleground in Twilight Highlands.

Here are more PvE and PvP changes that came with the expansion:

  • The raid can be divided into a maximum of three 10-player raids by the 25-player raid leader. This enables players to carry on with a raid even if a group member leaves. However, 10-player raids cannot be expanded to a 25-player raid.

  • In Cataclysm, raids with 10 and 25 players will share the same ID. As long as they don't kill the same boss twice in a single lockout, players can still join any raid. As long as the new group is at the same level as or higher than the invited player, players will be able to continue a raid in this way.

  • While Cataclysm's 10- and 25-player raids both yield the same amount of loot, the 25-player mode yields more loot per character.

  • In Cataclysm, only four distinct "badges"—now all referred to as Points—will be available: two PvE (Justice & Valor Points) and two PvP. (Honor & Conquest Points).

    • Justice Points and Honor Points will only have a cap on the total number of points that can be accumulated.

    • PvE Valor Points and PvP Conquest Points will have a cap on the total number of points, as well as a cap on the maximum amount of points earned in a week.

  • With the new "auto-quest" mechanic in Cataclysm, players will be able to begin quests by simply entering an area or eliminating particular enemies, as well as pick up the following quest in a chain without having to return to the original quest giver.

Dungeons & Raids


The Cataclysm general release included seven new dungeons, each of which had both heroic and regular difficulty content that could be found at level 85. The levels of each are listed below:

  • Near the entrance to Blackrock Spire in Blackrock Mountain are the level 80–81 Blackrock Caverns, which contain Twilight's Hammer agents.

  • The Abyssal Depths of Vashj'ir, deep within the Abyssal Maw, are home to the level 80–81 Throne of the Tides.

  • The Vortex Pinnacle, level 82–84, is perched on platforms above the southern sea of Uldum in the Skywall.

  • The Stonecore, located in Deepholm above the Throne of Earth, is level 82–84.

  • The central dungeon of Uldum, The Lost City of the Tol'vir, is a level 85 outdoor dungeon.

  • The Halls of Origination, a brand-new Titan-themed dungeon with Brann Bronzebeard, is located at level 85 in Uldum's large eastern temple.

  • Grim Batol, level 85, a former Dwarven city used by Deathwing, is situated on a hilltop in Twilight Highlands overlooking the Wetlands.

  • Adventurers can travel to the final stages of the battle against Deathwing through the Caverns of Time, where new timeways have been created.

  • End Time, a heroic level 85 quest that continues the story of Infinite Dragonflight, is set in a potential future with the ruins of Azeroth.

  • A heroic level 85 quest called "Well of Eternity" that takes place in the distant past revolves around obtaining Dragon Soul before it is destroyed.

  • Hour of Twilight, level 85 heroic, set in modern-day Dragonblight under massive assault by the Twilight's Hammer.

Level 85 heroic 5-man versions of four additional dungeons from the classic World of Warcraft, both low-level instances, and former raids, have been added with new content:

  • The Deadmines in Westfall

  • Shadowfang Keep in Silverpine Forest

  • Zul'Gurub in Stranglethorn Vale, added in patch 4.1

  • Zul'Aman in Ghostlands, added in patch 4.1


With both 10 and 25-man settings, Cataclysm shipped with three end-game raid dungeons and one PvP-unlocked raid dungeon; patches 4.2 and 4.3 each added a fourth raid. Players can switch each boss to heroic mode after defeating the final boss of each (as in Icecrown Citadel).

  • Located in Blackrock Mountain and only reachable by flight via Nefarian's ledge high up on the mountain, Blackwing Descent is a raid inspired by Blackwing Lair that features the return of Nefarian, Deathwing's son and the end boss of the earlier raid.

  • Players will battle Cho'gall, the leader of the Twilight's Hammer, as well as Lady Sinestra in the raid instance Bastion of Twilight, located in the Twilight Highlands atop the Twilight Citadel (who appears in heroic mode only).

  • Al'Akir, the Wind God of the Elemental Plane of Air, serves as the final boss in the raid instance Throne of the Four Winds in the Skywall, whose portal can be seen above Uldum.

  • Winning the PvP battle unlocks Baradin Hold, a raid dungeon on the islands of Tol Barad, which has two bosses (as of patch 4.2), with the addition of more bosses in later patches, such as Vault of Archavon.

  • Players battle it out against the resurrected molten lord Ragnaros in the Firelands, a seven-boss raid dungeon in Mount Hyjal at the Sulfuron Spire, which was added in patch 4.2.

  • Dragon Soul, a new outdoor raid dungeon in Caverns of Time introduced in patch 4.3, takes players to several locations, beginning in Dragonblight, moving on to the abandoned Eye of Eternity, flying back from Northrend to the middle of the Great Sea, and ending with a confrontation with Deathwing's fractured, twisted essence at the Maelstrom.

Additional Changes

  • Instead of 20 players, Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj now only allows 10 players.

  • Bosses and other enemies almost universally change to match the WotLK progression and the new level band that the dungeons are found in. For Dungeon Finder players, quests for the dungeons can now be found inside the instances themselves.

  • Similar to the "wings" (living and dead) mentioned in earlier iterations, Stratholme has been divided into two distinct dungeons, Stratholme - Main Gate and Stratholme - Service Gate.

  • In patch 4.1, several expansive dungeons, such as Maraudon and Uldaman, were divided into two distinct dungeons each (dungeon "wings"), and large and cumbersome sections of other expansive dungeons, like the Sunken Temple, will be completely removed. This is done to make character leveling more efficient. Quest givers will also be relocated inside, and a new dynamic map system with information on bosses and their skills will be implemented.

  • In patch 4.3, a War of the Ancients raid instance inside the Caverns of Time was replaced with a 5-man dungeon.

  • According to the Blizzard developers at the Dungeons & Raids panel at the 2010 Blizzcon, an Abyssal Maw 5-man dungeon was initially planned to be released as part of 4.1, the first significant post-release content patch. Eventually, for unknown reasons, this dungeon, an "outdoor" instance at the bottom of the Abyssal Depths in Vashj'ir (as opposed to the "indoor" Throne of the Tides dungeon), was scrapped.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm remained true to its name and provided players with new experiences. From game-breaking nerfing to immersive environmental events, WoW’s fourth expansion was considered a tipping point for new and veteran players alike.

What are your thoughts on the changes you experienced when the expansion hit back in 2010? Did you enjoy all the changes the developers implemented? What were the things you wished they added, taken away, or kept the same? Share your inputs with a comment below or share this article with your friends to reminisce about what you did to embrace or fight the changes the Dragon Aspect Deathwing the Destroyer brought to Azeroth!

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