Preparing For The Cataclysm
It is once again almost time - World of Warcraft is about to be transformed with the launch of the new expansion, Cataclysm. On the evening of Monday, 6th of December, as the clock hits midnight (PST or CET) and the day turns to Tuesday, 7th, the expansion will finally launch and the new zones will be available. Cue mad dash to level 85 and epic battle over world and server firsts. Sleep strictly optional. For those who haven't spent the past few months preparing in the closed beta, here are some first-hand tips for the first few days!
Note that some bits of this article can be considered as spoilers. While pretty much every bit of information about the expansion is widely available due to the open beta, if you want to avoid knowing anything, you should be warned that from page 2 onwards there will be details about the expansion content.
Actual shattering of the world will happen before the expansion. All preparations are already made and the recently released 4.0.3 patch contains all data that will be available to everyone, even those who do not buy the expansion. Official date was confirmed just as this story was published and the world-shattering 4.0.3a patch is happening on November 23rd/24th (US/EU). It is only fitting - November 23rd being the 6th anniversary of World of Warcraft.
The Shattering will bring large parts of the expansion live, including...
Yes, that means as soon as Deathwing is out and the world is trashed, there is a massive pile of new 1-60 content already open for everyone. Expect a lot of new alts to spring up instantly...
There are also some minor bits that change
On December 7th, the actual Cataclysm game box and 80+ content becomes available. EU and Russia will get the expansion first with the servers switching to Cataclysm at 00.01 CET on Tuesday December 7th. US servers get theirs at 00.01 PST and yes, that means that due to time zones, East Coast players have to wait until the wee hours of the morning. As to Korea and Taiwan, reportedly they will get the expansion December 9th while Oceanic servers (hosted in the US) will most likely switch over with the rest of the US at midnight PST.
Physical boxes go on sale at midnight local time at participating retailers. Depending on where you live, that may actually be after the servers switch. However, reportedly UK stores are opening at 11pm local time to ensure that boxes are available at the same time with the mainland Europe. For those of us going for the midnight leveling rush, there is only one way; Digital download. Unlike Wrath of the Lich King at launch, Cataclysm is available digitally directly from Blizzard (pre-purchase here: US, EU). Simply pay & download and you'll be all set when the servers switch to Cataclysm.
If you insist on a physical box or want the collectors edition, stores are the only way - US East Coast will have plenty of time for a trip to a midnight launch and installation but in most cases if you want to play on that very instant when the servers say "go", digital download is the way to go.