The final patch of Wrath of the Lich King, patch 4.0.1, is poised to go live at any time. This patch ushers in many of the big changes that players are awaiting as the release date for Cataclysm draws near. Most of the modifications to the game are centered around the new talent trees. As many are already aware, the class talent trees have been completely redone and now have a maximum investment of 41 points at level 85. The ultimate abilities in each tree will be at the 31 point level and, in fact, you will be required to invest 31 points in your 'primary' talent tree before you can move on and invest points in the other two trees.
The user interface has been tweaked and Blizzard has incorporated some neat ideas 'borrowed' from third party addons as they do from time to time. All in all, the patch will be a major overhaul and is of a size commensurate to the task. The background downloader is currently available to begin downloading the patch which is a whopping 1.5gb, so it's a good idea to start now so that it's finished in a timely fashion!
New Launcher Client
The Cataclysm patcher client is one of the most innovative and all around awesome updates to the game. The new launcher downloads a minimal amount of required information which will be shown with a red progress bar. Once you have picked up all the required information you'll have the option to play while the client patches. At this point the bar will turn yellow and you'll be able to enter the world and play with some occasional glitches. You won't want to raid or arena at this point, but doing daily quests, farming, or even sitting around in Dalaran are a heck of a lot better than staring at a download progress bar! When the bar turns green you can access pretty much all of the functionality of the patch while it finishes downloading and can do whatever you please without worry. This is a huge quality of life improvement and something that I'm sure everyone can agree was a fantastic idea.
Once the bar turns yellow and enters stage "2" you're good to go.
The new ability that lets you re-allocate certain stats into others, called reforging, will be live in 4.0. Reforging was a response to player outcry about poorly or unusually itemized pieces of loot that had severely suboptimal statistics. Players can now visit Reforging NPCs in capital cities and reallocate 40% of any one secondary statistic on an item into another statistic of their choosing.
There are a couple rules to remember when reforging: you can't reforge into a stat that already exists on the item and you can only reforge one stat at a time on each piece of gear. Don't worry if you screw up your reforge though, you can always undo any reforging to your gear and redo it with different stats.
The much anticipated (or dreaded depending on what class you play) talent changes will be going live with 4.0.1. The changes don't just end with talents though; many baseline abilities are being modified in their damage, cast time, or effects. It's never a bad idea to log onto the Public Test Realm and test out exactly how your class is playing with the new talents, because in many cases the changes are major .
If you do venture onto the PTR however, remember that the damage levels are currently tuned for level 85! This is resulting in players being soloed by hunter pets, one shot by elemental shamans, and other unfortunate incidents. The actual numbers that will be patched onto the live servers in 4.0.1 are currently unknown, but if they use the PTR numbers we're in for a chaotic ride from 4.0.1 until Cataclysm comes out.
In response to the unfortunate interactions between PvP and PvE gear in Wrath of the Lich King Battleground and Arena play the Resilience stat is undergoing some significant changes. The universal damage reduction from resilience is being lowered (though how it will scale at 85 is currently unknown), and the critical strike chance reduction that currently exists on resilience will be going away completely.
This is probably a positive change since an inability to land critical attacks is more punishing to certain classes than others. A Shadow Priest or Warlock that relies on many non-critting damage over time spells and only has a 150% bonus from critical damage or an Elemental Shaman that has an ability that guarantees them a massive critical Lava Burst on a short timer will be significantly less impeded by the current resilience than a class that has abilities that proc from critical strikes or that has 200% or higher damage on critical strikes.
Many PvPers are worried that the reduction in the effectiveness of Resilience will lead to increased usage of PvE gear in PvP settings. Whether that's true or not will have to be seen, but right now it's just too soon to tell.
User Interface Modifications
Blizzard has added some significant quality of life enhancements to the User Interface. Here are some of the major ones:
- Spell Alerts have been added which will help players monitor procs and special abilities like Overpower, Hot Streak, and such. This will remove the need for players to install often-complicated addons like Power Auras in order to see when their procs happen.
- New Blizzard raid frames are available and can also be used instead of the normal 5-player UI. They still have a long ways to go before they can rival the likes of Grid, however.
- The Arena pane has been upgraded to show more information (think the Gladius mod, but a bit less cheesy).
- Profession panes have better filtering and search functionality so you won't have to search through 50 grey abilities when you want to make that weird Enchant or Potion.
- The Spellbook has been updated for easier use and is now much less cluttered.
The new Blizzard Raid Frames are strikingly similar to grid, but lack its customizability. Nonetheless they are a big improvement over the current basic UI.
All in all, this is a significant patch and should sate the appetites of WoW players until Cataclysm itself is released, or so we hope!
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