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Cataclysm – Uldum Zone Preview

Posted Sun, Sep 26, 2010 by Messiah


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One of the many Egyptian inspired temples found in the zone

Uldum is a new overland zone that will be introduced in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.  It can be found at the far south of Kalimdor surrounded by Silithus, Un’Goro Crater, and Tanaris.  Being located at the far southern tip of the continent, you can expect that the zone will be hot, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The zone is made up of mainly desert, and while that may sound bleak, there is a lot going on there.

Once you start exploring, the zone appears to be based off of storybook-like images of ancient Egypt.  There are cities and towns along a great river that runs through the zone much like there are along the Nile, and the largest settlement can be found at the river delta along the coast much like Alexandria in ancient Egypt. Throughout the zone you can also find desert oases, ancient tombs and statues, and desert creatures.

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The Lost City of the Tol'vir

Access to the zone of Uldum has long been sought after by explorers due to its relationship to the Titans.  Past hints in quests have suggested that there is a Titan city buried in the desert to the south of Tanaris, and now that access to the zone has opened many of Azeroth’s key explorers can be found there looking for it.

The main population of Uldam is the Tol’vir and the Ramkahen.  The Tol’vir are living stone cat-like centaur creatures created by the titans. The Ramkahen are a direct descendant of the Tol’vir but have succumbed to the Curse of Flesh and become mortal.  This is much the same as Dwarves are a mortal version of the Earthen. Many of your quests in the zone will have to do with these two races.

Storyline

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The Prince of the Ramkahen

When you first reach the zone two main storylines become apparent early on.  The first is the story of the battle between the Tol’vir and their flesh based counterparts the Ramkahen.  You are flung into this story right away with your capture and escape from the Tol’vir. The second early story line is one of exploration as you follow Harrison Jones through several tombs in the zone looking for clues of the zone’s past.

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Hmmm, Harrison Jones and explosives, this can't end well

Later on part of the storyline involves dealing with the Al’Akirt, or Air Elementals, that have taken over much of the western part of the zone.  These elementals also hold control over an instance and raid in the zone.

Blizzard has hinted in the past about the Titan origins of the zone and a Titan city located in the sands.  This will obviously be part of the overarching storyline in the zone especially since one of the prime participants in the zone is the Titan created Tol’vir. However, it is not found early on in the zone’s quest chains. 

How to Get There

Access to the zone is through a passageway found at the far south of Tanaris.  Once there you can join a caravan into the zone of Uldum.  However, once the caravan enters the zone you are taken captive as explained in a cut scene and wake up in the Lost City of The Tol’vir.

From there you need to complete a few quests to make good your escape.  While doing this you make friends with the captive Prince Nadum of the Ramkahen.  In aiding his escape you open up access to his race and their quests. 

Regions and Micro-Zones

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The first subzone you explore in Uldum is the Lost City far to the south.  This is due to your capture upon entering the zone (assuming you follow the quest chains and don’t simply blunder around into the zone), but while there you learn a little about the zone and its history.  From there you are led to the city of Ramkahen to the north.  This is the capital city of the Ramkahen people and home to King Phaoris. 

Scattered throughout the zone are several great temples and sights to see.  In the north there is the gigantic Khartut’s Tomb.  Then there are the three great obelisks, just south of the Khartut’s Tomb is the Obelisk of the Stars, along the western edge of the zone you can find the Obelisk of the Moon, and lastly in the central area you can find the Obelisk of the Sun.

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Towers floating the the sky

There are also three five player instances to explore in the zone.  The Halls of Origination can be found in the eastern half of the zone, and are meant for level 85 players.  In them you get to explore with Brann Bronzebeard and search out the Titan’s secrets buried there.  Next up is the Skywall which can be found to the far south floating in the sky in a tower in the clouds.  In this instance you need to fight the Al’Akir to try and stop the elemental invasion. Lastly there you can find the Lost City instance here as well.

Also located in the zone is the Throne of the Four Winds raid instance.  Not much is known about the instance yet other than it will form part of the first tier of raiding in Cataclysm and that it is located in the floating towers in the sky at the south end of the zone.

Quest Hubs / Quests

The first quests in the zone start out in the Lost City far to the south with you as a prisoner.  Once you escape you will start several quest chains based on Ramkahen helping King Phaoris.  These quest chains have you travel around the zone helping several of his advisors and seeking aid. These chains provide a solid understanding of the Ramkahen people and help get some reputation with them.

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One of the Dr. Jones quests has you tossing meteors back at a titan construct

While questing in the desert you will also come across Harrison Jones at an ancient temple.  As with many of the previous quests involving Dr. Jones you will end up helping out a lot as he bumbles his way through misadventure in the tombs he is exploring.  Many of the names of the quests and actions that you perform are once again “borrowed” from the movies that spawned the character.  For example in one quest you must locate a staff and the disc that sits on top of it, then use it to direct light through to point the way to the dig site, sound familiar?  The chains are exceptionally fun though and bring back moments of joy from watching the movies as a child.

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A great visual of a port city in the zone

Another great quest chain appears to be based off of the Mummy movies.  It involves a city called Orsis being buried by the sands.  The character involved in getting you to assist is called Ammontep, a little too similar to the Mummy’s Imhotep to be coincidence.  I like it even if it isn’t meant to be related and is just a result of my overactive imagination.

In this zone more than other zones in Cataclysm there are more quests available at any given time, in more areas.  Unlike the other zones it felt a little more free form than ordered.  You can work on several different quest chains all at once, helping out the Ramkahen in several areas while also adventuring with Dr. Jones.  After all the strict ordering of quests in other zones, it was nice to just wander.

Messiah’s Take on the Zone

More than any other zone in the expansion I really enjoyed Uldum.  Having played through all of them, I have to say I enjoyed every zone a lot, but there was just something about Uldum that appealed to me. 

center-of-deepholm A giant sphinx-like statue sits atop a mountain in the zone

Being a history buff, and loving Egypt probably helped.  Loving the Indiana Jones movies probably helped even more.  Throughout this zone I kept feeling pulled into the story, wanting to know more about what was going on and what trouble Harrison Jones was going to get into next.  I also really enjoyed getting to know the new races in the zone and exploring all the tombs and temples.

Better yet there is a solid sense of humour in the zone.  This starts very early on when you are escaping from the Lost City.  Part of Budd’s brilliant escape plan is to dress up in the Tol’vir’s armour and escape while it’s smoky.  However, being centaur-like creatures you need to hold a person between two others to have the proper silhouette, and one of the NPCs says something along the lines of “you want me to put my hands where?”, it’s a very comical scene.

There are also all the implied mummy and Egypt references. And of course all the funny, quirky, and pun inspired quest names.  Quest names like Shark Weak, Premature Explosionation, Missed me by Zhat Much, Eastern Hospitality, and the Element of Supplies are all puns for different types of players. I love it, and it’s things like this that add depth for players, through simple puns that people try to figure out where they came from.

One of my favourites is the quest Ploughshares to Swords which is an obvious reference to a Magic the Gathering card called Swords to Ploughshares which has you convert an opponent’s creature into a non-combatant farmer.  In this quest you do the exact opposite by recruiting farmers to become soldiers. 

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The ongoing war in the zone

Throughout the zone you are also brought into the story through extensive use of cut scenes.  There were at least a dozen that I saw and I didn’t finish every quest in the zone.  This really added a lot to the story line. While some players will complain that it slows down the game play, I found it very much improved the flavour provided by the game and the zone.

While this isn’t the end-game zone in the game, it almost could be.  There is a lot of storyline here, a lot of quests, and tons to do.  I’ve said it a few times while reviewing the new zones, but I have to say it again, Blizzard really outdid itself this time around.  The zones are extremely well thought out, organized, and are each very different from one another in theme and scenery. 

My only issue with the zones is that there are only five of them.  I mean, really Blizzard, give us at least 50 zones like this!  Better yet, give them too us by next year and call it WoW2!


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