Monday, July 20, 2009

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm: Worgen and Goblins?

Yet more news pours forth from Blizzard's best marketing outlet: datafile updates. In this week's data-leak extravaganza two new masks for the Halloween event were put into the datafiles. For those who don't know, every Halloween, World of Warcraft holds an in-game event known as Hallow's End. One of the items that players can randomly get from participating is a mask that they can place over their faces in order to disguise themselves as another race (the masks look like masks, they don't transform your character or anything). These come in flavors of each of the playable races, one male and one female. In the recent update, two new races were added: Goblin and Worgen (werewolves). I've touched on the reasons that Goblins will likely be a playable race in a previous post on Cataclysm. However, Worgen are a bit of a surprise.

If true, this would throw current speculation about factions into question. If Goblins were going to be the only new race, then it was clear that they would be able to choose which side they'd play on. However, with two races, they could choose a faction for each race or proceed with two neutral races. There's no way to be sure, so we'll just have to await the Blizzcon announcement.

Worgen male model from the original game

A Worgen as they appeared in the original game. Image from WoWWiki

Again, for those who don't know: Worgen are imports to Azeroth from another world, summoned to Azeroth by a mage who wished to use them as an army to fight the undead Scourge. It's not clear what their society is like or if more of them are coming to Azeroth. They cannot transform into humans by default, though some were cursed with such transformation by Arugal, the mage who summoned them. Their natural form is that of a large, humanoid wolf with a muscled, but gangly appearance. In the masks that have been datamined, it's clear that Blizzard has come up with a much softer appearance for the female version. So far, only male Worgen have appeared in Azeroth.

One other hint that suggests that Worgen are being added as a playable race would be the interview given by one of Blizzard's designers, in which he said that prior experience had shown that players need to be eased into new races and given an attachment to them in the game before they appear. Note that Worgen appeared in Northrend for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion for what appeared to be a throw-away return of the arch-mage Arugal as a servant of the Lich King. Certainly if they were being "seeded" as a playable race, then this sub-plot makes more sense.