Cataclysm: I Dig Archaeology

To wrap up my first day in Cataclysm, I finished Hyjal, ported back to Stormwind and decided to play around with the new Archaeology profession. After a half an hour, I had to force myself to stop, or I would have stayed up all night flying around the world digging stuff up.

The concept isn’t that complicated. When you pull up your world map, you’ll see little shovel icons showing the locations of dig sites. When you arrive at a dig site, you place down survey equipment, which points you in the direction of an artifact, with a little light flashing red, yellow or green, telling you how close you are. So it’s a game of hot-and-cold, where you keep placing survey equipment down until you locate the artifact.

As far as I can tell, each dig site is phased, so you don’t have to worry about other players racing against you to steal artifacts, which is awesome. It’s pretty much a solo activity, and one that’s easy to get absorbed in. You even get XP at each dig site, equivalent to completing a few quests, so while there’s obviously travel time involved in going from one dig site to another, it’s not a completely frivolous activity that will keep you from leveling.

The artifacts are divided into various categories, from races like trolls and dwarves to other categories like fossils. When you’ve collected enough artifacts in a category, you “solve” that group, which … well, I’m not entirely sure what happens then. I’m pretty sure there are little bonuses you get from completing categories, but I’m a ways off from seeing any of them.