This Tuesday was practically a holiday for many players of World of Warcraft. The 4th major patch date since its release more than 5 years ago, World of Warcraft has made a few more drastic changes. While Cataclysm is not yet released (and its release date, December 7th practically will be a holiday for many players), the patch that contains many of the upcoming Cataclysm changes has already been implemented, and players can begin seeing some of the changes before the new expansion, for free.
There have been several changes to current raiding content. Icecrown Citadel has been made even easier (as if it were possible), with the chill of the throne effect removed. This will make keeping tanks alive through the content much easier. With the new raid lock out system implemented, players may more casually engage in both 10 and 25 man raids without worrying as much about lockouts as well. The various currencies have all been merged into one – Justice points, making future gear purchases much easier. Various emblems that were out of date were exchanged into gold and put into players’ mailboxes.
Reforging has been implemented in the most recent patch as well. Through this, players can visit NPC’s in major cities and essentially change the stats on the gear they are wearing. While there are limited stat changes that can occur, and you cannot add a stat to the item if that stat already exists on the item, this may make some noticeably different changes to the way players choose their gear in the future, since it can be customized to some extent after it is earned.
One of the biggest changes of this patch would be that many of the classes were changed. Abilities have been altered, removed, and added. Many of these ability changes will dramatically affect the rate at which one levels. Leveling is becoming much easier as the shift towards Cataclysm occurs, and I think Blizzard has a few reasons for doing this. For example, warriors now have some self-healing abilities much earlier on, such as victory rush being obtainable at level 4 now rather than much later on. Another great feature that has been put into place is that mana regeneration, as well as health regeneration while out of combat is dramatically increased in the early levels – where players typically experience lots of down time in between killing monsters to regain health and mana. Lastly, the quest manager is easier to work with now, and it is far from necessary to install secondary quest addons like Questhelper or Carbonite Quest, the built-in Blizzard “questhelper” works just fine.
There are many new graphical user interface (GUI) changes as well. Before, many active raiders had to go and install add-ons like grid, pitbull, and xperl for raid unit frames. These display all of the members of your party or raid, and will show you their health as well as buffs, debuffs, and incoming heals. Blizzard has integrated a built-in “grid” if you will, that will have most of the same functions as one of these other add-ons that people would have been required to download before. This is fully functional with Clique and similar add-ons, too, so that you may click on the unit frames to cast a spell, use an item, or trigger a macro. The spell book (and spell tooltips) have also changed, making them easier and more basic to read. They are not as mathematical and seem to be geared towards younger players (good or bad, your decision) while I find it annoying, others may not.
There are many other changes in 4.0 as well, and there will probably be many more changes even before the release of Cataclysm. Once Cataclysm is released early December, the most notable changes will be new zones, 2 new races, and a warping of the zones that already exist. Have fun leveling to 85!