Bad Doggie: Getting Worgenised in Cataclysm

Our guest Azerothian Al ‘Bickers’ Bickham returns with more dispatches from WoW’s front-lines. Here’s the first chunk, in case you missed it.

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t give a fig for most of the races in World of WarCraft. Apart from the big, Navajo-tromping, cow-faced Taurens. I kind of dig them. And the Trolls. They’ve a little Ska in their blood.

But give me an Orc, a Dwarf, a Night Elf, a Blood Elf, a Human… yawn. Terribly hard to get excited about. Which is why the hairier half of Cataclysm’s two new races, the werewolfey Worgen, has come as such a pleasant surprise.

I haven’t played the other new race, the Goblins, as they just seem like smaller Orcs to my mind (see above: Orcs), although I hear entertaining things about their starting quests. And given the way that WoW sometimes packs excitingly creative or interesting content into parts of the game you never explore simply because there’s so much to explore, that does make me want to give the Goblin gubbins a crack.

The Worgen plug right into the kind of fictions that I enjoy, and I won’t bang on about this because it’ll bore you to tears, but suffice it to say, top hats, frock coats and a sense of the macabre are nailed quite nicely, thank you, in the early, level-one-plus Worgen quests, and breathe a sense of identity into the wolf-folk which I feel is kind of forced in many of the previous races.

You start out life a simple human, your town under attack by werewolves. You know full well what’s in store for your character, but not the manner of its coming, and by the time you receive the fateful bite, you’re so engrossed with levelling your class and beating off the attack, you’re not really expecting it.

Waking up with hair sprouting from your ears and a fearfully lupine aspect, it’s no surprise to find yourself in the stocks. The people don’t trust you – you’re one of the enemy, after all – but an old ally takes pity on you and gives you a chance. The show must go on, after all.

What follows is basically your redemption: a series of quests in which you prove yourself a friend of Gilneas, your homeland. Highlights include firing yourself through the air, via military catapult, to board enemy ships and slay their captains, barrelling along in an appreciably Dickensian horse-and-cart to warn others of the impending evacuation, and the final, desperate, and deceptively fated battle to save Gilneas from the Forsaken invaders.

The latter begins just when you want it to. After around three hours of early-game levelling masked beautifully by a concerted series of narrative quests, you’re just wondering what happened to the storyline when you’re thrust back to the city where you first began in human form. Its former residents are gathered outside in force, sabres and muskets in hand, to retake the city. And you know what? They’re all perfectly human. Unlike you, you big wolf-man. But you’re accepted, and welcomed into the fight, and that places emphasis on the greater narrative for the whole Worgen experience: you’re no simple animal. You’re an animal with a brain.

The fight begins, as every epic fight should, with an energising speech from the city’s lord and master. It’s an emotional moment, and one that beats the shit out of Gladiator’s pre-charge rouser. You’re soon piling through the streets of your hometown with an army of citizens, beating back the evil invaders, and attempting to restore control of the city to its rightful heirs.

The only criticism I have of the experience is that, at the end of the Worgen starting quests, an existing race comes to the rescue of the survivors, and it’s with a lack of ceremony that you’re dumped into their hometown, and left to bugger off and make your way in the world.

In the greater scheme of things, I’m not too fussed by it as the quests that are being placed before me are nudging me into areas that have been completely reconfigured in the great Cataclysm shake-up, and that’s cause for excitement. But I’ve grown quite fond of my Worgen heritage, and I sincerely hope the new world order resonates with that.

Thanks, Bickers. Thickers.


  1. Tom says:

    First night on the game level 84 worgen runs past me in the new zone. My face was not impressed. Enjoying it though.

    • Flint says:

      Could just be someone who paid for a race change for their level 80 character. I was one of the people who found themselves changing from one race to a worgen within minutes after completing Cataclysm’s installation.

      Sufficed to say, worgen are amazing. So far I’ve only been playing with my newly-wolfed up hunter but I’ll be making a brand new worgen soon to experience the beginning of their story and go on from there.

  2. Maxheadroom says:

    I burned out on WoW over a year ago and still have no real desire to go back

    I admit my memories of it are a bit jaded but just once I’d like to read an editorial or review that, rather than gushing with praise says something like “You know what? it’s a bit shit really”

    it would just make me feel… better

    • Alec Meer says:

      Half an hour ago, someone was accusing us of only ever slagging off WoW. We can’t win.

    • AndrewC says:

      Don’t be too mean on Maxheadroom, he just needs some emotional support after his terrible experience.

      It’s OK, Maxheadroom, we all secretly hate WoW, and we won’t invite WoW to any of our parties. We won’t let anyone be mean to you like that again. There, there.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      hehe, sorry.

      I accept that it’s technically very good and does a lot of things ‘right’, but much like getting dumped by a supermodel you just want someone to come along and say “ah well, she was a crap shag anyway. You’re better off without her”

      or something

    • BobDicks says:

      but then the super-model comes back to you and is better then ever before and she’s remade her landscape and quests and raised her level cap and you just gotta catch that wave man.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      “but then the super-model comes back to you and is better then ever before and she’s remade her landscape and quests”

      Bravo sir! +1 point

    • bob_d says:

      @Alec Meer: I’m tired of RPS’s love-hate relationship with WoW. Can’t you talk about it without actually having any sort of opinion or conveying any information about it whatsoever?* Sheesh.

      *I think the article should read: “World of Warcraft. It is a game that may or may not be worth playing. There is some new content, but we’re not going to talk about it.”

    • MrPyro says:

      I think if I got dumped by a supermodel and one of my mates said “she was a crap shag anyway” my first response would be “How do you know?”

    • Anonymousity says:

      I don’t know how anyone can get excited about this game anymore, I went back and tried again recently, buying expansion packs and paying a few months subscription in advance but played for just a few days and got bored and stopped playing.

  3. Rinox says:

    Sounds nice.

    I would have preferred to have lycantrophy/vampirism to be in the game as a ‘condition’ with its advantages and disadvantages (a little like in TES games) than as a separate race though, what with a Worgen essentially being a human and all. Well, at least originally.

    It could add a lot of spice to class/race variation…rolling in a raid party with a lycanthropic/vampiric character could be cool too. As long as

    – it’s very rare to contract it
    – there is a difficult and good quest to cure it
    – the advantages are good enough to make it a useful/impressive aspect, and the disadvantages great enough that it is a pain to live with them.

    Some neat special abilities countered by some serious restrictions (travel, equipment, trade, whatever) or specific conditions (a lycantrophic character automatically going into a werewolf form berserk frenzy against everyone around him/her when taking massive damage), etc.

    …yeah I don’t have a lot of work today. Can you tell?

    • FuryOfTheAxe says:

      “- it’s very rare to contract it”
      Ha ha

      “a lycantrophic character automatically going into a werewolf form berserk frenzy against everyone around him/her when taking massive damage”
      Well, technically, you could walk around in human form as Worgen if you wish, but the moment you engage in battle you turn into werewolf. Thats how its working ingame.

    • Rinox says:

      Oh, I didn’t know that. Still, would be cooler if every race could become a lycantrophe of sorts (possibly not the undead). :-)

      What was funny about the rare to contract it thing? If you make it a really small chance of becoming afflicted in every battle with a wolf-like being or something and cap the amount of people who can have the disease at any given point on a server it surely could be made rare?

    • FuryOfTheAxe says:

      The funny part, my dear friend is what every god damn Alliance player and their mom are rerolling Worgen.
      TBH, I saw tons of them.
      Both in leveling and endgame(80+) zones.

      Lorewise, Worgens are druids. But instead of bears and huge lazer owls, they turn into werewolves.
      There are plenty of good reading about that.
      Like link to

    • bill says:

      you’d probably run into the same problem as TES though – everyone intentionally trying to get infected. It’s be like being a Jedi.
      You’d have people running around trying to get bitten by vampires, and with it being an MMO you’d have guides and wikis about how to become a vamp/werewolf. Soon the whole server would be some kind of were-vamp.

    • malkav11 says:

      Well, no, the worgen originated from a group of druids that were shifting into wolves instead of other things, but had a tendency to go berserk when they did. Their leader, with some help, made a powerful artifact that was supposed to give him control over that tendency, but instead turned him into a werewolf full time and made his bite infectious. Player worgen have caught this infection.

      I’m pretty sure I had a quest to transport said original worgen through the Emerald Dream to get him away from the Twilight’s Hammer cultists in the new Mt. Hyjal zone, which strongly implied this was going to lead to him taking a more…active, and not necessarily positive… role in later Cata zones. Or heck, maybe just in the 30-ish quests I still haven’t done in Hyjal.

    • Rinox says:

      @ bill

      Yeah, probably. Still, that’s why the number of people who can be one at the same time should be capped and why it should come with some really serious disadvantages. In the TES you could circumvent many of them pretty easily, but if you can make them really crippling it could actually ‘work’ I think. Make the disadvantages so severe that you wouldn’t actually want to be a vamp/werewolf for an extended period of time.

      An easy way would be to grant them bonuses in certain situations but crippling penalties in others. Having a vampire on a squad would clearly be beneficial in a dark and cold place, but not in a place with a lot of fire where he or she would be extremely vulnerable. Etc. A simple thing like that would make the game as a whole nigh unplayable for ‘intentional vampires’ since they won’t be allowed in many parties for their obvious weaknesses.

      Anyway, just a stupid idea I suppose.

    • bob_d says:

      If there’s a cap, then that means the hardcore players who want it will immediately play until they’re infected and no one else in the game will ever get it. That sort of dynamic is just one of those things that MMOs can’t do, unfortunately.

  4. clownst0pper says:

    When im actually able to upgrade to Cat, im looking forward to an Goblin Shaman or Wargen Druid :)

  5. skalpadda says:

    You really should make a goblin, even if all you do is the starting areas of Kezan and The Lost Isles and Azshara. It can be done in a couple of evenings and it’s a blast all the way through. They may be green like the orcs but they are very different.

    My only problem so far is that I’m rapidly out-leveling the content. My goblin is level 20 after having done about half of Azshara, which is geared for levels 10-20. That’s without using any of the +experience heirlooms and only a quick dungeon run through Ragefire Chasm, so with heirlooms you would level much faster.

    • Al Bickham says:

      Well that seals it, I’m definitely giving Goblins a crack now;) I actually did the early Worgen stuff clad in Heirloom gear, and it wasn’t too challenging. I did every quest I could find in Gilneas, but even with the gear, I still seemed to level at a natural pace until the quest-chains concluded and spat me out into Azeroth proper, so the Worgen stuff does seem balanced in that regard.

    • cs says:

      Green is about the only thing goblins have in common with the orcs. Goblins are purely about getting rich and big explosions, with the two goals hopefully combined in some way. Their starting island is an Ayn Rand dystopia, vaguely reminiscent of Singapore, if Singapore was powered by steam and had a somewhat more relaxed attitude towards litter and robotic football teams.

      I spent my first hour as a goblin just exploring Kezan which is possibly the art team’s best work. In a more serious comparison, it reminded me a lot of the great city in Jak II.

      I liked the worgen storyline, but, good god, the casting animations are terrible. Felt terribly exhausted watching my poor wolf flail his arms wildly just to cast some poor frostbolt.

  6. Carra says:

    Blizzard must make millions with all the people race changing to Worgen.

    There already tons of level 80+ walking on my server.

  7. Jolly Teaparty says:

    Looks like fun, but I can’t be bothered with the rest of the game anymore, I’d just like to try the Worgen starter area out. Ain’t worth the subscription to me though. Maybe I’ll see a trial drop into my inbox once it’s been out a while.

  8. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    I like werewolves, something about being a big, walking, talking badass dog that eats peoples faces for lunch is just so.. appealing =)

  9. utharda says:

    So…. how long have you been a furry?


    Actually, I was trying to get the little woman to try worgen with me. But I was soundly denied. For the reason stated above, she feared the yiffy roleplay.

    (We met about 5 and half years ago… raiding mc.. as undead priests… I’m still a little stunned at how that worked out.)

  10. The Great Wayne says:

    Dickwolves finally made it ingame.

    link to

  11. RQH says:

    Played through the Worgen starting zone Tuesday night and I’ve just started the Goblin one. My general problem with WoW is that they can’t maintain a consistent tone throughout their leveling experience; they follow-up some epic quest chain with another dig-through-piles of poop quest. But (and this was true of the Death Knight starting area too), when they get a chance to say “hey, this area is all about this” and really focus in on it, they produce some pretty engaging (and tonally consistent) stuff. There were lighter moments in the Worgen plot, but they all seemed to fit within that world. Basically, I left the Worgen zone thinking “Damn, I wish I was playing that game” for 100+ hours. Partly through the Goblin zone, it feels like an entirely different game and world from the Worgen, but again is internally consistent with itself, and quite fun and imaginative. By personal taste I prefer the Worgen area, but I think the feeling will be the same when I leave the Goblins: “Damn, I wish I could play /that/ game.” Which is to say, any game with a consistent vision and narrative, rather than the soulless hodgepodge of poop jokes and pop culture references that makes up the rest of the game world.

    So far, I seem to be in the minority, but I’m not terribly impressed with what I’ve seen of the zone re-factoring. But then, I haven’t seen many of the new zones, so I’m willing to grant that I may have only seen the poorer ones. Northern Barrens, where I have a troll, has some nicer quest flow, but I remember doing many of the quests here before the cataclysm, and they haven’t done much to impose epic narrative, which for me was what made the best quest chains in Wrath so exciting. And before anyone says “Well no one reads the quest text,” that was what I felt was the brilliant thing about Wrath. I barely read any quest text, and I didn’t need to–the size and scale of what you were doing was apparent in the quests themselves, and the little scenes (like the one in the worgen area where the guy is giving the speech) tell much of the story without relying on quest text at all. Also, if they can make the worgen area feel exciting from level 1, then a level 10-20 zone can feel that way too.

  12. Jake says:

    Orcs are the only proper race. Tauren are hippy cows, and goblins are just green gnome type things – disgusting. All humans have a Nigel Mansell moustache and worgen are just Nigel Mansells crossed with Twilight. Not even going to mention Elves or Draenei. Dwarfs and Trolls are alright I suppose and the Forsaken are quite cool but too scrawny really.

    Thrall was boring, but Garrosh has the right of it. Orcs vs Humans, proper old school.

  13. Pijama says:

    Not a WoW player, but that race was BUILT for cash-grabbing.


  14. Flint says:

    Generally the zone revamp can be grouped into three categories: the big revamps that turn the zones into Wrath-like plot experiences, clean-ups that keep the old ideas but retune the mechanics and Arathi & Silithus which time forgot. Northern Barrens is one of the zones that have mainly been streamlined and improved in mechanics rather than upgraded as a whole. There was a lovely description of it that said that Northern Barrens is like a bit of a nostalgia trip for old-school Hordies, it feels a bit shiny and new but in spirit it’s the same area most Horde characters passed through on their early journey.

    For a more massive revamp, on Horde-side you have Hillsbrad Foothills (with Tirisfal and Silverpine giving the backstory for full enjoyment, as it acts like a continuous chain; and Worgen fans should also roll undeads to go through these zones as the Worgen story is continued) and Thousand Needles that’s now all waterified. On Alliance Darkshore and Westfall have become big plot-centric areas. For both you have Stonetalon Mountains and Southern Barrens where in both you participate in an epic battle between the two sides, Badlands which has gone through a major quest revamp, Eastern Plaguelands and its story of a caravan rider and her friends that you follow throughout the zone, and the now-split Stranglethorn.

  15. Bill says:

    Worgen start zone left me fairly cold, and they look awful. The jokes aren’t remotely funny either. Call me fickle but generally it’s felt to me like blizzard spent about twice as long on the Goblins as they did the Worgen.

  16. RQH says:

    Thanks for the tips on the improved zones, Flint! Sounds like it’s worth pushing forward on my troll and perhaps making an undead as well.

  17. Wulf says:

    How does it not drive people crazy?

    I think the thing that breaks my suspension of belief with the worgen the most is that they have no counter-balance. They’re top heavy, they lurch, they have no counter-balance, and a gust of wind would push them over! Pick a raptor, any kind of raptor, and chop its tail off. Now imagine a raptor running without a tail. This is what I see when I see a worgen, a raptor running without a tail.

    And now you’ve seen it you can’t unsee it.

    This is perhaps the thing that drives me the most completely bonkers with the worgen. That and perhaps that sexual dimorphism seems to be handled by hanging a pair of jugs to an hourglass figure for the women, and not doing that with the males. There are better ways to do sexual dimorphism, the Charr prove this! So that’s another thing about them that I find so very, very, very jarring.

    I’m sorry, they just drive me crazy. I wouldn’t have written about them again, but there’s a post talking all about the worgen, those crazy creatures that would fall flat on their muzzles if they were given a friendly tap on the back! >:C So much about them rubs me the wrong way, even that they tried to do a maned wolf appearance but they got it so incredibly wrong, it’s too far up the neck and they ended up looking like lion-wolves. Blargh. x_x

    Is it so bad to want believable werewolves? Is it? If they had believable werewolves, I might have actually been interested in this game. But the worgen make me twitchy.

    Of course, the cartoon nature drives me crazy as well, so it looks like they have next to no power in their legs, that’s crazy because that worsens the problem that’s created by not having a counterbalance. Again the raptor example comes to mind. It’s like they did everything they could in the most wrong way possible, just to make people like myself insane. They’re the most shitty werewolves I’ve ever seen! And that’s saying something considering the horror films that I’ve seen. Even Silver Bullet did werewolves better.

    As I pointed out before, this is how you do it right: link to

    There you have this massively big, heavy doombeast, but all the proportions are correct, the counterbalance is there, and when it pulls out for a full body view you can see just how muscular and powerful the legs are. It looks right in every way, and therefore I find it quite believable. I like that Blizzard did something like adding werewolves to their game, but they did it soooo badly that they might as well not have bothered in the first place.

    *twitches.* Did they mangle a werewolf so badly because they were afraid that if they added believable animal elements, it might look ‘furry’? Well that’s why you don’t give the females perky jugs, an hourglass figure, and make-up, Blizzard!

    • Handsome Dead says:

      My demands for realistic fantasy werewolves were not met.

      M-m-my immersion

      And now here’s 20 paragraphs of stuff you aren’t going to read.

    • Solcry says:

      “M-m-my immersion”

      +! :D

      But pretty much, WoW is already a stylized game – why would they suddenly break from that for new characters?

    • alm says:

      You’re never going to please everyone. I quite like the worgen look actually and I like the transform graphical effect. Speaking of graphics, I think expecting non-cartoony graphics from WoW is like expecting realistic spidermen from Marvel.

    • RQH says:

      Plus, you know, top hats.

    • Joof says:

      I only read this post to see if there was going to be a Guild Wars reference. I was not disappointed.

    • GHudston says:

      I was disappointed by the worgen, mainly due to their females. Their faces look like someone has tried to insert something into a chihuahua.

  18. DraconianOne says:

    Kezan (the Goblin level 1-5 zone) is just one big homage/rip-off to the later Grand Theft Auto games, even down to the little bouncing triangle above the targets. As with most WoW stuff, it’ll either make you smile or make you facepalm.

    I will concur that the undead starting zones are splendid – Silverpine Forest is now a great story-driven zone that actually makes it feel more like a war between Horde and Alliance than anything in the pre-Cata game. (I gather also that there are quests in Stonetalon which do the same but have players from both factions involved.) The first quest in Hillsbrad Foothills, however, is absolute genius and very, very funny.

  19. Roguemonkey says:

    If you only do one thing in Cata, it should be taking a character through the Silverpine/Gilneas UD quest chain. By far the best quest series in the game.

  20. Lucas Says says:

    I need to stop reading articles about cataclysm. The mind is unwilling but the flesh is weak and spongy and wants to play happy Blizzard game.

    • GHudston says:

      Just do it already. You don’t need to stay sober; you’re a gamer, not an alcoholic. It’s bloody good, just play it until you get bored and then stop like you would any other game.

  21. malkav11 says:

    You’ve missed out Azshara, which is site of a lot of crazy goblin questing with a rocketway around the zone, runaway shredders, secret labs on fire, super-intelligent raptors, etc, as well as a lengthy quest chain involving the fate of a couple of remaining blue dragons, and a lot of fighting naga and night elves and a little bit of ancient history. It’s an amazingly fun zone, and while I can’t recall ever having gone there pre-Shattering (to quest, at least – I did go to kill Azuregos once), I’m told for Horde it used to be pretty boring and very light on quests. It leads into Ashenvale afterwards, which I’m hoping will be at least as fun.

  22. RQH says:

    Yeah, I’m planning to do Azshara on my Goblin, that’s the only reason why when given the choice between Northern Barrens and Azshara at level 11ish on my troll I decided to see what N. Barrens had in store.

  23. skalpadda says:

    Beware though, there are some poop jokes in Silverpine.

    As for consistency, I’d recommend you keep playing your goblin. After Kezan and The Lost Isles you’ll keep following the goblin story through to Azshara, where the goblins establish their new base of operations and become a proper part of the horde. There they run into the night elves which starts a story arc which then moves on into Ashenvale and on to a huge war campaign that spans that entire zone and then carries on to its conclusion in Stonetalon Mountains where you’re introduced to the terrible things that have been happening to the Tauren which is a story that continues through southern Barrens and down to Thousand Needles, and so on.

    It may not be one giant campaign, but there are wide story arcs that go through Kalimdor from the first level until you reach around 50. I can’t speak for Eastern Kingdoms since I haven’t played through it all, but I imagine it’s a little more disjointed after you finish the undead campaigns in Tirisfal, Silverpine and Hillsbrad Foothills, but what I’ve seen so far has been rather good. The 80-85 zones also share the huge campaign design of Northrend even though the zones are in different ends of the game world.