[Update: Servers still aren’t up, so why not freshen up on those stat changes?]
Whether through the internet or the game client itself, you’re probably aware by now that the massive Patch 4.0.1 for World of Warcraft is set to hit live servers today. While it needs to be reiterated that this is not the patch that forever changes the world, it will change yours. And by that, I mean everything you know about how the game, and your class, should work.
There’s simply so much to consider that it would be a waste of space to reproduce the entirety of the changes here (though we may post official patch notes when they’re up). Instead, we’re going to run down the litany of new features and, if applicable, let you know where you can find out more about them. Look ’em over while you wait for the servers to come back up:
- Major Classes Changes: In an official Blue post, Bashiok clues us in to the most critical, paradigm-shifting class changes such as Eclipse for Balance Druids, Soul Shards for Warlocks, and switches to alternate power sources for Hunter and Paladin.
- Minor Class Changes: As the bulk of the update, individual changes to spells and whatnot are hard to track down. Chances are, if you play World of Warcraft, it’s safe to say Blizzard changed something critical about your class! The link provided will take you to Elitist Jerks. If you can parse the theorycrafting jargon, check your class forum, as they’re already diving deep into the tweaks.
- Talent Changes: This one’s huge, too! Remember that Blizzard has actually shrunk the talent tree, changed the way in which you spec into multiple trees, and added Mastery! Most of the “useless” talents have been removed, changed, or replaced. The EJ link above probably has a lot of information, but if you’d like to play around with the new system in a sandbox, this WoWTal link has you covered.
- Glyph Changes: As skills and talents shift, so must Glyphs. Prime glyphs have been added and you now only have to use a glyph once to “learn” it, after which it can be switched in and out when not in combat. Blue Lylirra gives us the lowdown.
- Currency Changes: Badges are out, points are in. Any Honor or high-tier badges will be immediately converted to the new system. Low-tier badges and other non-monetary currency will be converted to gold. The system applies to current raiding and battleground content, but will come into its own with Cataclysm.
- User Interface Changes: Improvements are coming to just about every aspect of the UI, which is great but means that you’ll probably have to reorient yourself over the next few days. Check out many of them in the linked video, put together by our very own Mordil. It’s worth taking a look at the one he produced for the Druid UI, as well.
- Flexible Raid Lockouts: Bashiok comes at us again with more learnin’. Flexible raid lockouts mean that even if you missed some days in your raiding week, you’re not completely out of the game. It’s being put into the game now, but will make even more sense when the Cataclysm comes.
- Stat Changes: Don’t fret if you log in and all your gear has changed. Some stats have been changed, converted, or removed in order to simplify the system a little bit. Remind yourself what’s been done to your precious gear by following this link.
- Reforging: NPCs in major cities can swap secondary stats with other secondary stats on your equipment. See if you can squeeze a few more points of awesome out of your gear.
- Power Auras: The popular third-party mod has been co-oped (read: copied) by Blizzard. The basic idea is that custom graphical effects will pop up around your character when it’s kosher to activate an ability or when it comes off cooldown. While some may still opt to use the original, the rest of us will get the functionality built in.
- Socketed Relics: Relics now have stats and sockets for gems. Rejoice, relic-using classes!
- New Water Engine: Those shiny, new water settings we’ve seen in previews for the expansion are coming in 4.0.1, but make sure your rig can handle it first.
- New Guild Member Cap: Mega-guilds, beware! If you’ve already listened to our most recent podcast, then you’ll know we look like fools talking about the 600-member cap. Bashiok followed up the initial announcement stating that feedback had caused them to “re-evaluate” the decision and bump it all the way up to a cool 1000. This is now a had cap and necessary to accomodate all the new new guild features.
Can’t wait to check out of this stuff, myself, but I still don’t expect to be playing hardcore until 4.0.3, myself. While all the new changes are cool, there still isn’t any new content (well, beyond the impending pre-Cataclysm events which should be a part of this patch, as well). Tell us what has you pumped (or disappointed), and if I’ve missed anything, please let me know.