Why is this such a big deal? If you don’t play World of Warcraft, you probably don’t care. But, to that game’s fans, patch 4.0.1 represents the first major patch of the Cataclysm expansion cycle. Up until now we were on patch 3.x.x, which signified Wrath of the Lich King content. That is all past us now. So, let’s take a bit of a look at what to expect and what not to expect today when you can log back into your character after the extended server maintenance.
First of all, the “bad” news. This patch will not be changing anything about the world around you, that patch will come much later, possibly on Cataclysm release day. You will also not see anything specifically requiring the expansion disc to be installed, such as the new zones, new races, new profession tiers, new battlegrounds, archeology or just generally any level 81+ content. Finally, you will not be able to fly in old Azeroth in this patch.
Now that we got that out of the way, what this patch focuses on is changes to your character and character-based mechanics such as guilds, talents, abilities, gear, etc. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect.
- Item stats and their values have undergone a complete overhaul. The closest thing to this that has happened before is the major stat changes at the launch of The Burning Crusade.
- Reforging will be implemented, which allows you to customize some gear stats.
- Talent trees will be completely overhauled, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re in for quite a shock. The current 51-point trees are a thing of the past, being replaced by new 31-point trees. These come with new abilities, new specialization requirements and the mastery system.
- Spell ranks are completely gone. You only need to learn the spell once and they will automatically get more powerful as you level up.
Those are the big changes to your characters themselves, and I really hope you’ve been following all the updates as far as these adjustments go on the WoW forums, otherwise you will probably have a larger acclimation time than others. Aside from your character, there are some other general updates that will be going live in this patch that deal with character-related systems. Here’s a list:
- The new streaming updater/launcher will be active (probably the first thing to update when you start to patch).
- The glyph system will see significant changes (glyphs are now required to only be learned once, instead of buying a new glyph every time you need to replace one of your existing ones).
- Mana regeneration has been adjusted and will probably be noticeably different at level 80, but not as much as it will be at level 85.
- Currency for gear has undergone a rather large upscaling, to be in line with the speed you can receive it at level 85.
- Guilds will be significantly changed. There is now a 1,000 member limit, as well as the new guild leveling system.
- Flexible raid locks will be implemented.
- Arena season 8 is over because of the balance changes that will be coming about.
All the balance and class changes shouldn’t be a surprise to those who have been around through the last two expansions. This tends to happen in the pre-expansion patch every time. Your class will likely feel a bit awkward to you until you can start getting into Cataclysm content and eventually reach level 85 after December 7th. Remember, everything is being adjusted for balancing at level 85 now, so things won’t seem quite right for a couple months yet, but be patient, take in the Cataclysm pre-launch events that will be popping up and just coast in. Because, on December 7th, these changes will seem like the very tip of the cataclysmic iceberg.
What are the first things you’ll likely want to do once the servers come back up? Here’s some suggestions:
- Check out the new talent trees for your class and respec. You will have half as many talent points as you once had, but half as many talents, as well. Remember, you’ll get five extra points from levels 81-85 too, so you may not be able to grab everything you want at this point. Wowhead has a Cataclysm talent calculator you can use to help you decide on a direction to go.
- Collect the glyphs you need and learn them. They work like learning a recipe now, they’ll be available to you forever. Just be wary that, because of the changes and how much more expensive they are to make now, Inscriptionists will likely be price gouging. So, I’d suggest hitting up your guild mates for decent prices on what you need.
- Once you’re talented up and have all your glyphs learned, many classes will need to adjust their damage/tanking/healing rotation. Some of this you can use test dummies to practice on, some will require “real world” experience.
- Sit around Dalaran complaining that you don’t like changes and that you’re going to rage-quit because you can’t figure all this stuff out. Go ahead, tell Blizzard off and cancel your account, you’ll be back on December 7th guaranteed.
For more information on this gigantic patch which brings us officially in to the third expansion, you can check out the official patch notes and known issues with patch 4.0.1. Good-bye Lich King, hello Deathwing! See you in Azeroth (whenever the servers come back up)!