Tomorrow marks, to the day, the sixth anniversary of World of Warcraft, and Blizzard is going to celebrate Azeroth’s birthday by completely destroying it. The moment we’ve all been waiting for — the Shattering, the moment at which Deathwing is figuratively reborn into the world by making a literal hole in it — is nigh. I recommend looping the following for effect as we briefly discuss which changes you can expect in 4.0.3a (sorry internet parodies, the original is still the best):
The Shattering — Patch 4.0.3a
Even with the normally well-informed folks on the PTR, I noticed this week that many were baffled about what they could and could not access. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re juggling live, test, and beta versions of content at the same time, causing anyone who isn’t following the proceedings that closely to become easily confused.
To clarify, here are the new features you can expect when 4.0.3a goes live:
- Major Zone Changes — All changes to existing zones will be available to everybody. This includes the revamped Troll and Gnome starting areas, but not any other brand new zones/subzones.
- New Class/Race Combinations — Feel free to start up that new alt, as long as it isn’t a Worgen or a Goblin! Holy Cows (Tauren Paladins), Dwarven Shamans, and Troll Druids will no doubt be amongst the most popular choices. Expect starting areas to be crowded all over again.
- Universal Cataclysm Content — This is media essential to the game whether or not you plan on purchasing the expansion (though, why wouldn’t you?). It encompasses things like the new log-in screen and cinematic, as well as updated music for some existing zones.
- City Changes — Despite the bleedingly obvious ones (a complete, but badass revision of Orgrimmar, for instance), there are a few smaller tweaks you should be aware of. Portal Masters in Shattrath City and Dalaran have been removed and replaced with Class Trainers. There are also City Quartermasters who you can purchase new Tabards from if/when you have the appropriate level of Reputation.
- Dungeon Changes — At BlizzCon, it was revealed that some old-world dungeons would be significantly streamlined, so you should be able to experience the new versions of any instances you could access previously.
- Class Balance — Most of the class balance changes were added in 4.0.3, but there are still a few more to be added, which you’ll find in the patch notes after the break. In addition, Hunters will have access to new tamable pets, and the following classes will have their Talent Points reset: Druid, Paladin, Priest, and Shaman.
- Leveling Experience — It was recently announced that getting through Northrend would be a lot easier. Treat yourself to a 20% reduction in required XP from Levels 71-80.
- Bug Fixes — Self-explanatory.
Cataclysm — The Purchased Expansion
Of course, Blizzard ain’t just giving away everything for free. The following content will require a retail purchase of the expansion, which arrives in two weeks (Dec. 7), so don’t expect any of it with tomorrow’s patch:
- New Races — Cataclysm gives you access to the new Goblin and Worgen races, as well as areas specific to them. That means — if you’re a Horde player, for instance — that the Lost Isles are off limits in 4.0.3a, but you can level up in Azshara, which has been greatly transformed by the presence of Goblins.
- New Zones/Dungeons/Raids — Speaking of zones, here are the ones you will not able to get to without the expansion (so don’t bother people in General/Trade by asking about it): Kezan, Gilneas, Lost Isles, Mount Hyjal, Vashj’ir, Uldum, Maelstrom/Deepholm, Twilight Highlands. Likewise, the dungeons and raids associated with them will be locked out.
- New Profession: Archaeology — Can’t touch it unless you buy the expansion. You won’t see any artifacts in the wild, either, since being able to do so requires that you’ve learned the profession.
- Level Cap: 85 — You’ll be stuck at 80 until you get Cataclysm.
- Illustrious Grand Master — Likewise, since you can’t level up any further, you won’t have access to professions past 450 until the expansion.
- Guild Leveling/Achievements — While The Shattering will get people excited and bring lapsed guildies back to the game, don’t expect things to get truly exciting until after Dec. 7th, when Guild Leveling and Achievements are available.
So, hopefully things are a bit easier to understand now. Don’t forget to read up on the patch notes after the jump!
The Shattering of Azeroth
In the frigid wastes of Northrend, the final battle against the merciless Lich King ended in victory for Azeroth’s defenders. Upon returning home, veterans of the unforgiving conflict against the Scourge were showered with praise for their valiant sacrifices, while the honorable dead were mourned. Yet as hope flared anew in the wake of the Lich King’s fall, Azeroth’s native elemental spirits grew confused and erratic, setting off a series of deadly natural disasters. Horde and Alliance leaders scrambled for clues about the troubling state of the world, but nothing could have prepared them for what was to come.
Without warning, the corrupted Dragon Aspect, Deathwing, erupted from the stone heart of Deepholm, the domain of earth within the Elemental Plane. Jagged fissures were torn across the earth, and monstrous waves pummeled coastal regions. From Thousand Needles to the Blasted Lands, the surface of Azeroth was reforged through violent upheavals. Now, the Horde and the Alliance must defend their homes against Deathwing and his minions, burdened by the unsettling fact that the world as they know it has changed… forever.
- Deathwing’s return has had an immeasurable impact throughout the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. Players will notice drastically altered terrain, thousands of new quests from levels 1-55, and updated level ranges for some zones to improve the questing flow.
New Race/Class Combinations
- In the wake of a world on the brink of destruction, members of the Horde and Alliance have taken to new cultures and studies, mastering crafts previously foreign to them. Many existing playable races now have new class combinations. Check the official World of Warcraft: Cataclysm website for a breakdown of the new combinations.
- The World of Warcraft: Cataclysm cinematic trailer and login screen have been added to the game.
- Experience required to gain levels 71 through 80 has been reduced by 20%, which increases leveling rate by 25%.
- Due to several talent revisions for select classes, druids, paladins, priests, and shaman have had their talent trees reset.
- The damage and healing done by players from levels 1-79 has been retuned, with the base points of almost all spells and abilities reduced. This was done to bring combat times at low levels to a more reasonable length. For most abilities that deal weapon damage, the weapon damage percent now rises per level until level 80, and starts at a lower percent.
- Healing Rain, Efflorescence, Holy Radiance, Holy Word: Sanctuary now have a diminished effect when healing more than 6 players at once.
- Mortal Strike, Furious Attacks, Wound Poison, Widow Venom, Permafrost, Improved Mind Blast, Monstrous Bite, and Legion Strike now reduce healing by 10%, down from 25%.
- Effects which are broken from taking too much damage (Fear, Frost Nova, Entangling Roots, etc.) now break automatically from about half as much damage taken as before.
- Death Pact now heals for 25% of maximum health, down from 40%.
- Death Strike now heals for 25% of damage taken in the last 5 seconds, down from 30%, and will heal for a minimum of 7% of maximum health, down from 10%. The tooltip may not yet be updated to reflect this change.
- Icebound Fortitude now provides 20% damage reduction, down from 30% (now 50%, down from 60% when talented), and has a 3-minute cooldown, up from 2 minutes.
- Rune Tap now heals for 10% of maximum health, down from 15%. The tooltip may not yet be updated to reflect this change.
- Glyph of Rune Tap now heals for 5% of maximum health, down from 10%.
- Frost Fever critical strikes now apply the correct amount of bonus damage.
- Bear Form now provides 10% bonus health, down from 20%.
- Nourish no longer consumes Omen of Clarity.
- Rejuvenation has had its mana cost increased by 30%.
- Soothe now has a 1.5-second cast time.
- Swipe (Cat Form) can now be used even if the druid does not have a primary target selected.
- Thorns: beginner tooltip revised to no longer imply the spell could be kept up at all times. In addition, Thorns damage has been reduced by 60%.
- PvP set bonus redesigned. While not in an Eclipse state, critical attacks against the druid restore 5 Solar or 7 Lunar energy, whichever is more beneficial. This effect can only occur once every 6 seconds.
- Brutal Impact now increases the mana cost of spells on the victim by 5/10% for 10 seconds, down from 15/30%.
- Leader of the Pack now heals for 4%, down from 8%.
- Survival Instincts now provides 50% damage reduction, down from 60%, and its cooldown has been lowered from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.
- Swipe (Bear Form) damage has been reduced by 20%.
- Vengeance is no longer cleared on exiting Bear Form, and instead is cleared upon entering Cat Form.
- Empowered Touch now procs from Healing Touch as well as Nourish.
- Heart of the Wild: the Bear Form Stamina bonus from this talent is now 2/4/6%, down from 3/7/10%.
- Malfurion’s Gift no longer has Fury of Stormrage as a prerequisite talent.
- Natural Shapeshifter now also increases Tree of Life duration by 5/10 seconds.
- Revitalize is now a 2-point talent, down from 3. It provides a 20% chance to return 1/2% of the druid’s total mana on periodic heals from Lifebloom or Rejuvenation. This effect cannot occur more than once every 12 seconds.
- Swift Rejuvenation is now a 1-point talent, down from 2. The global cooldown reduction this talent provides to Rejuvenation remains 0.5 seconds.
- Symbiosis: heal-over-time spells (Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Lifebloom) can no longer benefit from this Mastery merely by refreshing themselves. A different heal-over-time spell must be present.
- Glyph of Healing Touch now reduces the cooldown on Nature’s Swiftness by 10 seconds after using Healing Touch, up from 5 seconds.
- Glyph of the Treant (new) allows druids to keep the original treant Tree of Life look… if they must. Must they?
- Blood in the Water now refreshes Rip to the correct value.
- Flight Form now properly appears in the trainer window before Expert Riding is learned.
- All special attacks based on weapon damage (except Scattershot) are now normalized.
- Scare Beast is now available at level 36, up from level 14, and has had its training cost updated.
- Deterrence is now available at level 78, up from level 36, and has had its training cost updated.
- Disengage is now available at level 14, down from level 78, and has had its training cost updated.
- The level requirements for glyphs that affect Scare Beast, Deterrence, and Disengage have been altered to correspond with the level changes of these abilities.
- The Core Hound pet ability Ancient Hysteria now places its own unique debuff on affected players that has the same effect as Sated and Exhaustion.
- Certain pets should no longer forget how to Dash.
- Arcane Blast now increases damage of the next Arcane Blast by 10% per stack, down from 20%, reduces cast time by 0.1 seconds per stack, and increases the mana cost by 150%, down from 175%. In addition, the base cast time of Arcane Blast has been lowered to 2.35 seconds.
- Arcane Explosion now costs 15% of base mana, down from 18%.
- Arcane Missiles damage has been increased by 5%.
- PvP set 4-piece bonus changed to increase damage by 5% instead of providing 5% Haste.
- Arcane Barrage damage has been increased by 5% and its cooldown is now 4 seconds, down from 5 seconds.
- Arcane Concentration: Now has a much higher chance (13/27/40%) of entering a Clearcasting state. This effect cannot occur more than once every 15 seconds. The tooltip still states that there is a 3/6/10% chance, as it averages out to approximately the same chance with the internal cooldown applied.
- Arcane Specialization again increases arcane damage by 25%.
- Blazing Speed no longer dispels movement slowing effects (it still dispels effects that totally stop movement).
- Fire Specialization again increases periodic fire damage effects by 25%.
- Molten Shields now also causes Blazing Speed to dispel movement slowing effects in addition to its current functionality.
- Pyroblast base mana cost is now 17%, down from 22%.
- Deep Freeze: the cooldown on this ability is no longer reduced by Haste.
- Early Frost now reduces Frostbolt cast time by 0.3/0.6 seconds, down from 0.35/0.70 seconds.
- Fingers of Frost proc chance is now 7/14/20%, down from 10/20/30%.
- Frost Specialization again increases all damage against frozen target by 25%.
- Reactive Barrier is now triggered by any damage which causes the mage’s health to be below 50%, even if the mage was already below 50%.
- Shatter now also increases Frostbolt damage by 10/20% against frozen targets.
- Shattered Barrier duration is now 2/4 seconds, down from 3/6 seconds.
- Glyph of Evocation now heals for 40%, down from 60%.
- Glyph of Deep Freeze now increases damage done by Deep Freeze by 20% (no longer increases Frostbolt damage against Deep Frozen targets).
- Improved Polymorph now correctly shares diminishing returns with controlled stuns.
- Exorcism damage has been increased by approximately 50%.
- Holy Radiance now has reduced effectiveness on targets over 8 yards away from the paladin.
- Seal of Truth: periodic damage from Censure reduced by 25%.
- Beacon of Light now lasts 5 minutes, up from 60 seconds.
- Blessed Life: the effects of this talent cannot occur more than once every 8 seconds, up from every 2 seconds.
- Illuminated Healing absorb shield now absorbs 10% of the total amount healed, up from 8%. Each point of Mastery increases the effect by an additional 1.25%, up from 1%.
- Light of dawn has been redesigned. It no longer has an enforced cooldown, now costs Holy Power instead of mana, and scale in direct proportion to the amount of Holy Power used. In addition it now heals the 5 most injured group targets (including self) in a 30-yard frontal cone.
- Protector of the Innocent no longer triggers from self-heals.
- Divine Bulwark now grants 2.25% less block chance per point of Mastery, up from 2%.
- Holy shield no longer increases chance to block. Instead, it increases the amount blocked by an additional 10%, for a total of 40% damage blocked.
- Shield of the Righteous: Contribution of attack power halved (now 60% with full Holy Power) and base damage brought up so that a level 85 paladin in Heroic dungeon gear deals the same damage with no Vengeance, but Vengeance has less impact.
- Shield of the Templar now reduces the cooldown of Guardian of Ancient Kings by 40/80/120 seconds, down from 1/2/3 minutes.
- Wrath of the Lightbringer now increases Crusader Strike and Judgement damage by 50/100%, up from 30/60%.
- Crusade now also has a proc on kill to increase the healing done by the paladin’s next Holy Light by 100/200/300% for 15 seconds, in addition to its current effects.
- Divine Storm: This ability has been redesigned. It no longer consumes Holy Power and instead costs 5% of base mana. It shares a cooldown with Crusader Strike and hits all nearby enemies for 60% weapon damage.
- Pursuit of Justice now has an 8-second internal cooldown, shared with Blessed Life.
- Rebuke no longer initiates Auto Attack.
- Sanctity of Battle now also causes Divine Storm’s cooldown to be reduced by Haste effects.
- Zealotry no longer consumes 3 Holy Power, but still requires 3 Holy Power to use.
- Glyph of Beacon of Light now makes Beacon of Light free, instead of increasing the duration by 30 seconds.
- Glyph of Divinity has been redesigned. It now grants the paladin 10% of maximum mana upon use.
- Glyph of Light of Dawn now increases the total number of most injured targets healed by 1.
- Binding Heal now provides roughly double the amount of healing.
- Prayer of Healing has had its mana cost reduced by nearly 30% and its base points and Spell Power coefficient increased by 20%.
- Divine Aegis is now always triggered by Prayer of Healing in addition to critical heals from all other spells.
- Grace has been increased to 4/8% stacking 3 times, up from 2/4% stacking.
- Inner Focus now works with Binding Heal, but no longer works with Heal.
- Power Word: Barrier has been redesigned. It no longer acts as a shared absorb shield. Instead, all affected friendly targets take 30% reduced damage for the duration of the shield, which is now 10 seconds, down from 25 seconds.
- Shadow Orbs: redesigned slightly. The Shadow Orbs continue to increase damage done by Mind Blast and Mind Spike and stack up to 3 times, but now when the priest casts Mind Blast or Mind Spike (consuming the orbs), the priest gains a 15-second duration buff (Empowered Shadow), which increases the damage done by all Shadow periodic spells. Empowered Shadow does not stack. Mastery increases the damage bonus of Shadow Orbs and Empowered Shadow by the same amount, 10% with the base 8 Mastery, and an additional 1.25% per Mastery.
- Vampiric Embrace healing to the caster has been reduced to 6%, down from 12% (there was a tooltip error which stated that the self-healing amount was 15%). Party members still receive 3% healing.
- Dark Archangel now correctly increases the damage done of certain abilities by 4%.
- Deadly Poison base damage and attack power coefficient have been increased by 30%.
- Recuperate now restores 2% of maximum health, down from 3%.
- Venomous Wounds base damage and attack power coefficient have been increased by 30%.
- Aggression now increases damage of Sinister Strike, Backstab, and Eviscerate by 7/14/20%, up from 5/10/15%.
- Bandit’s Guile now gives 10/20/30% increased damage as the rogue gains greater insight, up from 5/10/15%.
- Executioner no longer affects Recuperate.
- Bandit’s Guile now applies more consistently to all of the abilities it’s supposed to modify.
- Player guardians and temporary pets now stop attacking when a rogue uses Vanish, but city guards will not.
- Chain Heal mana cost increased from 17% to 20% of base mana.
- Earthliving Weapon now only has 25% of its full chance to proc from a single hop of Chain Heal.
- Elemental Reach now also increases Searing Totem range by 7/15 yards.
- Fulmination now has a Spell Alert visual associated with it, which appears when the shaman gets to 9 Lightning Shield charges.
- Bane of Agony damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Bane of Doom damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Corruption damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Death Coil damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Drain Life damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Drain Soul damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Immolate damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Incinerate damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Rain of Fire damage has been increased to be more comparable to other area-of-effect abilities.
- Searing Pain damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Seed of Corruption damage has been reduced to be more comparable to other area-of-effect abilities.
- Shadowbolt damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Soul Fire damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Hand of Gul’dan damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Chaos Bolt damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Conflagrate damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Shadowburn damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
- Drain Life: The Soulburn version of this was charging 17% of base mana instead of 12% like the normal version. This has been corrected.
- Cleave damage has been reduced by approximately 17%.
- Execute damage has been reduced by approximately 17%.
- Heroic Strike damage has been reduced by approximately 17%.
- Overpower now does 125% weapon damage, down from 150%.
- Rend base damage has been reduced by approximately 17% and percent of weapon damage per tick lowered to 25%, from 30%.
- Shield Block now only increases block chance by 25%, but excess block that pushes avoidance plus block to over 100% is now converted to critical block chance.
- Slam now costs 15 rage, down from 20, and now does 125% weapon damage, down from 150%.
- Victory Rush damage has been reduced by approximately 17%.
- Whirlwind now does 65% weapon damage, down from 75%.
- Mortal Strike now does 150% weapon damage, down from 185%.
- Second Wind now heals for 2/5% of total health, down from 5/10%.
- Strikes of Opportunity now does 100% weapon damage, down from 115%.
- Blood Craze now heals for 1/2/3% of total health, down from 2.5/5/7.5%.
- Bloodthirst damage has been reduced by approximately 17%.
- Raging Blow now does 110% weapon damage, down from 150%.
- Unshackled Fury now gains approximately 50% more benefit per point of Mastery.
- Critical Block now grants an equal amount of block chance and critical block chance (1.5% each per point of Mastery).
- Devastate no longer provides bonus threat.
- Shield Slam: Contribution of attack power reduced to 60%, down from 75%, and base damage brought up so that a level 85 warrior in Heroic dungeon gear deals the same damage with no Vengeance, but Vengeance has less impact. In addition, Shield Slam no longer generates 30% bonus threat from its damage.
- Vigilance no longer provides 3% damage reduction, but still refreshes Taunt and provides Vengeance.
- Glyph of Bloody Healing increases the healing received from Bloodthirst by 40%, down from 100%.
- Glyph of Intimidating Shout no longer causes targets to flee slowly, but roots them instead.
- Glyph of Shield Wall increases damage reduction to 60%, but increases the cooldown from 2 minutes to 4 minutes (talented).
- Taste for Blood should once again proc on every other tick of Rend.
- The Gladiator reward mounts now award Master Riding.
- What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been now awards Master Riding.
- Mysterious Egg now takes only 3 days to turn into a Cracked Egg and has a slightly greater chance of awarding the Reins of the Green Proto-Drake.
- PvP set bonuses now provide 70 of stats such as Agility, Intellect, and Strength (down from 100) at 2 pieces, and 180 of these stats (down from 300) at 4 pieces.
- Perfect Gem Cutting and Mixology have been removed as trainable skills and are instead passives profession abilities. When players reach the appropriate skill levels, they will start getting bonuses from Mixology (they must know the recipe to gain the benefit) and/or cutting perfect gems (depending on their profession, of course).
- Alchemy recipes now require Crystal Vials. Deathwing broke all the others because he’s mean (or because he didn’t want alchemists to carry 5 different vials around with them).
- The Engineering Tinkering enchants will no longer provide their bonus stats, but the activated effects will stack with other enchants. In 4.0.1 the stats were there (but hidden) and are now removed.
- Several epic gem transmutes that were missing from the trainer have been added back.
Bug Fixes: General
- Certain area-of-effect abilities are no longer ignoring the area-of-effect damage cap.
- Mobs and NPCs should no longer appear to randomly gain or lose health during combat.
- Re-summoning pets in Battlegrounds should no longer count towards a player’s total healing done.
- Some tooltips may not reflect the most recent changes to certain abilities.
- Worgen hunters are currently unable to learn Dual Wield.
- The achievement Explore Tol Barad will not be possible to complete upon release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.