The introduction of the new races is more important to me for what I hope it portends about other changes to the game not because I possess an overwhelming enthusiasm for specific new races introduced. Playing Alliance, I honestly don't have much interest in playing a Worgen. They are not visually appealing and when you have to look at a toon for hours at a time visual appeal is important. There will need to be enticing racial benefits in order to over come that visual barrier.
On the other hand, I'm going to play a goblin. If there is one thing that will entice me over to the Horde side it's playing a goblin. Which, I suspect, is one of Blizzard's goals; to get more people to play Horde. I definitely have an impish and rapscallion part to my character and the way goblins are portrayed in Azeroth has always appealed to that aspect of my personality. A goblin Rogue is a little creature after my own heart (and certainly after my pocketbook!)
My problem is that I don't really think goblins should be a playable class at all. I understand the lore argument but it's based on the false assumption that Azeroth as implemented in the game is a perfect reflection of lore and it's not. All the other three races introduced to the game were races that, up until their introduction, played on a small part in the life of the game. Goblins are different; they have a significant role in the game as NPCs. The major neutral cities of Taranis, Stranglethorn Vale, and the Barrens are all goblin cities. In terms of sheer numbers, there are probably more Goblin NPCs in the world than any other race except human. This will certainly be true after they get their own starting area. Maybe because I've only played Alliance, but I'm acculturated to looking at Goblins (which are everywhere) and thinking "friend" or at least, "not enemy." Changing that mindset will be difficult I think. More than anything else, I think the game will look unbalanced with so many Goblins (both PC and NPC) running about.
The introduction of Goblins, the Argent tournament, the ability to change factions, these three things make me wonder if the new expansion features a much reduced emphasis on the Horde vs Alliance conflict. Perhaps in the future the world will split up into competing home cities (much like feudal warlords). The only thing that actually still requires Horde vs Alliance is battlegrounds, and the Argent Tournament offers a model where even that could be displaced. I think that if the new classes are the major development in terms of game play mechanics in the next expansion I will be disappointed. So I'm curious to see what else Blizzard has in store.
Was I really tickled by the news about the new races? Yes and no. To be honest I found the way that they first were broken – the discovery of the masks in the database and the following efforts to cover it up – much more interesting than the actual content of the news.
As a former journalist I kind of enjoy watching the race between the search dogs of the community, constantly browsing forums, putting clues together, and the public relations staff who try to keep some kind of control over the information that goes out.
The community obviously won this one, since someone had been careless. Or maybe the policies have changed a bit and they just don’t care that much anymore about what comes out in which order? Anyway – seeing it happen makes me giggle. I’m definitely tickled.
On the other hand, like Elnia, I’m not overly excited about the outlook of having access to two more races. Unlike a new class it doesn’t bring in any new aspect to the game – it’s just two new furs to put on and not a big deal. Surely they’ll come with new questing areas, but is that enough to make me roll another alt, just to get the privilege to watch the furry back of a worgen instead of a nightelf or a dwarf? I doubt it. Hey, I haven’t even come around to roll my new DK, which seems like a far more exciting thing to do, since it’s also a new class.
Besides – is it just me, but do you really think that a werewolf looking character really fits into the Alliance team? I’m sceptic. To me it has much more of horde connotations. Without having any deeper knowledge in the worgen lore, the looks of them makes me think of them as another people of outcasts – misunderstood and not considered “beautiful” in the normal sense, unless you get to know them a bit better.
And then we have the goblins. I don’t quite get it. Why would they suddenly go all-out horde? I’ve always seen them as mercenaries, - the Ferengies of Azeroth, loayal to nothing but their gold. It would have been natural if they had become the first flexible race that could go either horde or alliance, as you prefer. It doesn’t make sense to me that they suddenly would swear a permanent oath of faith to the horde. This said I would like to have a goblin of my own – in the only natural role I can see for it – as a banker. But that little pleasure will only be given to the horde players as it looks with the information we have at the moment.
All in all – I hope that the next piece of leaked news about Cataclysm will be more exciting than the one about races. When I’ll take the decision if I’ll stay for the next round, it won’t depend on the availability of another furry skin. There are other aspects that matter more: the amount of new content such as instances, cool questlines and a new hero class. It’s about overall feeling of the game, the look, quality and finish in the design of the new areas. It’s about how much effort they put into the development of game mechanisms and the features yet-to-be invented the equivalences of the phasing, the vehicle fights and the integrated short movies that came with WotLK. It’s about the general feeling that the game is still alive and breathing, that Blizzard cares about it and not only are cashing in the gold, while their heart and focus is turned somewhere else.
But what matters most of all is as always the players. For in the end it’s the players that build this game more than anything else. If there’s a mass exodus from the community, if my guildies move over to other games and I find myself all alone in the new Cataclysm world, there’s no worgen or goblin suit in the world that can make me want to stay there.