World of Warcraft's Cataclysm expansion is in beta test and there's no NDA! What does that mean, you ask? It means that those of us who were lucky enough to be invited, get to play a game that's still a work-in-progress and we get to talk and write about it because they waived the usual non-disclosure agreement. While that's a little unusual as far as beta tests go, that's the way Blizzard has always gone with the previous WoW expansions so it's really no surprise.
Not all of the content is out there yet. New zones and dungeons are being rolled out in stages and they have "transportation specialist" NPCs temporarily handling travel to these areas. So although my pre-made mage is all ready to wade into the fray, I thought it best to wait a little bit to see the high-end content, and to concentrate for now on the two new races.
First of all, there's no pretty race this time around. Alliance gets the Worgen, and the Horde gets Goblins. Secondly, the female worgen isn't even in beta yet, which left me with one choice: starting out with a goblin character. It's not that I have anything against the male worgen. It's just that I've never been comfortable playing any male character, so I thought it best to wait until they put the females in before testing out the worgen starting experience.
That said, I set out to create my first goblin character. There weren't too many choices of face and hair styles, and of course, only a few different shades of green for skin color, but then again, WoW was never big on character customization and it never bothered me before. I think I still managed to create a rather good-looking goblin chick. Not wanting to agonize over a suitable name, I used the random name generator, which came up with "Quin." Hey, isn't that the name of the blonde girl who got knocked up in Glee? Perfect! Oh, but it tells me the name is taken. Several iterations later, the game and I compromise on "Quinnie". Maybe it's for the best. This way blonde-girl-from-Glee won't be too upset at having a goblin namesake, if she ever found out about it.
Now, in WoW, we only know the goblins as those ubiquitous little buggers who will sell you anything and everything under the sun, and who occasionally send you out to fetch stuff for them to use in their strange experiments. In the latter sense, they are not unlike the gnomes, except that the gnomes are cuter. In any case, just to give you a little background on these strange and oftentimes funny creatures, here's what the game says about the goblin race.
"Originally the slaves of jungle trolls on the Isle of Kezan, the goblin race was forced to mine Kaja'mite ore out of the Undermine, deep in the bowels of Mount Kajaro. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, the mineral had magical properties that caused the goblins to rapidly increase in both cunning and intelligence. Tinkering their own powerful artifacts of engineering and alchemy in secret, the goblins overthrew their troll oppressors, taking over the island that they now call home. Quickly rising to prominence as masters of mercantilism, goblins and their global trade conglomerates dominate all commerce across Azeroth."
As Quinnie, my story starts in Kezan, where I wake up to find out that I've just been promoted. Yay! Although it's never made clear what it was I used to do or what I've been promoted to, it seems that I'm quite the big-shot, rumored to be the next Trade Princess. It's a bit of a departure from the usual MMORPG formula where you start out weak and inexperienced and rise up to be a hero, vanquisher of rodents and whatnot. My Executive Assistant, Sassy Hardwrench, informs me that we have much to do and very little time in which to do it, after which she proceeds to give me my first quest. Three questions run through my mind almost simultaneously: 1) What's the rush? 2) Who are those two scantily-clad goblins standing next to Sassy? and 3) If I'm the executive and she's my assistant, how come she gets to order me around? Unfortunately, Sassy has no interest in answering questions so off I go to do her bidding.
I would have been terribly disappointed if the first few quests didn't involve killing some sort of lowly creature, so I think Blizzard threw in the kill-8-worms quest to satisfy people like me. Well let's face it, we play these games to kill stuff so we have to learn how to use our killing powers somehow. But other than that, most of the beginning quests involved some other form of amusement like setting off a bomb on an unsuspecting foreman, tasing defiant trolls, unlocking a safe (yes, robbery), and my favorite one - picking up friends from all over town for a joyride in my hotrod. Yes, you get to drive a car right off the bat and you get to keep it even after you complete the quest! In fact, you get to use it again on a later quest, running down hired looters causing mayhem in the streets. Of course if you've been playing WoW for the last six years or so, surely you realize that you won't get to keep it forever, but putting the hotrod into the goblin starting experience was a touch of genius!
Oh, and by the way, I later found out who Sassy's flunkies were. It turns out Chip Endale is my paramour, although the way he talks to me makes my green skin crawl and convinces me he's just after my money and that he's secretly having an affair with Candy Cane. I can only assume that Candy is his female counterpart for male player characters.
I don't want to spoil things too much, although I'm sure other beta testers are already writing guides-for-dummies out there, so let me just say that the whole Kezan experience is a blast and that it has gotten me quite fond of Quinnie. I can honestly say that this is the first time I've become so emotionally attached to a WoW character so early in the game (and I've started dozens). I think it's because there's a big shift in story focus. Rather than making you, the player, part of the whole race's story, now the story is all about you.
My name is Quinnie and once upon a time, I was a big-shot trade-princess-to-be...