It's been 13 years since the original World of Warcraft: Cataclysm trailer dropped and somehow WoW Classic has already caught back up to it. But instead of re-releasing the original video, Blizzard has commissioned a team of visual effects artists, led by a well known community member, to create their own trailer for one of WoW's most pivotal expansions.
Old WoW players might recognize Hurricane, or Hurricane046 on YouTube, as the person behind the unofficial trailers for WoW that racked up more views than Blizzard's own work, and the lead on the Wrath of the Lich King Classic trailer. Now they're back with a team of animators to create a new Cataclysm Classic trailer where you see Deathwing destroying Azeroth from the eyes of the people on the ground—a perspective the original cinematic trailer didn't capture.
It's full-on machinima with character models ripped right from the game, polished and animated at a level that mirrors some of Blizzard's recent in-game cinematics. The whole thing has a sort of Avengers feel to it with the major factions of Azeroth gearing up to face an apocalyptic threat.
Until Cataclysm, WoW had never had a villain so bad that the opposing factions of the Horde and Alliance had to team up. You don't see Orcs and Humans literally fight together in the new trailer, but it's clear that everyone is preparing to defend the planet in their own way. Goblins bolt together mechs, Gilneans burst into their werewolf forms, and there's a slow-mo shot of a Paladin slamming a hammer down on an enemy. It's the kind of thing I would've thought was totally epic at 17, and it's surprisingly endearing now.
Since it can't spoil a decade-old expansion, the trailer also teases the raids and bosses that will be available once you hit the new max level of 85. One of those battles will be against a new version of the hulking firelord Ragnaros, who was the final boss of one of WoW's first 40-player raids. Whether any of these fights will actually hold up in-game is something we'll have to wait and see.
I'm still partial to the original Cataclysm cinematic for how audacious it was at the time but I'm glad this new one takes a different approach. WoW Classic has always been about returning to a version of the game players had been begging to come back to for years. Hurricane and their team found a way to take what is a pretty terrifying moment in the fiction of WoW and turn it into what feels like a celebration of the players who worked together to save it and will be ready to do it all over again next year.