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The New Cataclysm Gear
If you purchase World of Warcraft Cataclysm you'll be able to level up to 85. This means that you'll also be able to get a hold of new gear that is even more powerful than what was available before.
However, it isn't just high-level players that have the chance to experience new gear. The re-imagining of the old zones means that low-level characters also have a lot of new gear to look forward to.
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The new Cataclysm gear for low-level players can be found in many places. All of the starting zones have been revised to some degree, and some substantially. There are also, of course, two entirely new starting experiences for Goblin and Worgen characters.
Low-level gear is never going to be powerful, and that remains true. Most of the low-level gear consists of green items that provide a handful of stat bonuses that, overall, don't make much difference. There are, however, a few quests that give a blue reward. These quests are usually the end of a large quest chain.
The main difference that low-level players will notice is that low-level armor is less terrible to look at than before. World of Warcraft's armor at low levels has usually consisted of a patchwork of off-colored items. By the time you leave your starting area, however, you should have a pretty decent looking robe (if you're a caster) or set of armor (if you're a melee class).
Don't expect this to last forever. As you outgrow the revised areas you will eventually return to the patchwork look. Items from Burning Crusade content is likely to make you look like a clown.
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The new high-level Cataclysm gear is where the real action is at. The relative value of any piece of gear is generally judged by two things. First is the item's color, and there are no changes to that system in Cataclysm. The second is item level. That's where the major changes are happening.
The best gear in World of Warcraft used to be level 284. The new gear in Cataclysm, at the start of the expansion, goes as high as level 372. Gear with an even higher item level may become available as new content patches are released over the next year or two. Characters currently clad in great gear from Wrath of the Lich King can expect to acquire better gear by questing in the new Cataclysm zones.
Because of the new gear, the old gear is effectively obsolete - and makes the old gear is effectively obsolete, the quests and encounters that provided the gear will now become largely ignored. Some might consider this unfortunate - and others might jump for joy - but this certainly is not unexpected. The Burning Crusade made normal World of Warcraft gear outdated, and effectively killed level 60 raiding. Wrath of the Lich King did the same to The Burning Crusade.
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It will be interesting to see how the new gear in Cataclysm plays out over time. Item levels have jumped substantially in this expansion, at least relative to the mere 5-level jump in maximum character level. What will characters be wearing at level 90? Or 100? Will item levels ever reach 1000 or more?
That's hard to say. Right now, 372 is the max, and we have at least eighteen months until the next expansion.
A closer look at the new World of Warcraft Cataclysm gear and mounts.