4.0.1 – First Impressions

This has been a crazy week in World of Warcraft. Overnight our game changed in lots of ways, and it left players in various states of excitement, bewilderment, or disappointment. It already feels like we’re playing a whole new game, and the world changes haven’t even arrived yet.

And based from my experiences this week, I’m really happy that they introduced this patch 2 months early. I’ve been playing every night this week and I still haven’t gotten my characters nailed down completely. I’ve been spending time at the training dummies, working out new rotations, testing out new powers, and trying to get a handle on the new mechanics. As players, we need this extra time to get used to all the new stuff. I can’t even imagine the disaster that would have happened had they released these changes along with the world changes and a major world event.

Overall, my experience so far has been positive. A few highlights…

New Guild UI

A thousand times YES. They scored a huge win on this. It’s easier to read and has more functionality than ever. My favorite feature is the Professions list… no more “Can you link Jewelcrafting?” in chat. I don’t have to remember who does what… I can just scan the list and check everyone’s professions until I find what I’m looking for.

New Raid UI

“It’s… it’s like GRID”

So said my GL when we tested the new raid windows. That, along with the ability to make party windows look the same and the ability to move the frames around, solidified my decision to toss unit frames add-ons out the window. My only other wish would be that they would re-do the player, target, and focus frames as well… but I’m happy with this.

Merging Buffs

No more Power Word: Fortitude and group Power Word: Fortitude. Or Shadow Resistance and group Shadow Resistance. Or Gift of the Wild and Mark of the Wild. The single-player versions have been taken out and the group versions had their reagents removed. More room on my bars + no reagent costs = win!

New Talent Trees

This is a somewhat controversial topic, but I have to say that I really like the new talent trees. They’re simpler, yet more interesting, and feel more like the talent trees we had in classic WoW. I appreciate that Blizzard made it so that people can choose talents on their own without risking horribly gimping their character; we don’t have to consult Elitist Jerks or various class websites anymore in order to have a viable and competitive spec. It really would have been unacceptable to continue developing the trees as they were, they were far too bloated and overly complicated. Imagine what they would have looked like at level 90? level 100? They would have been a mess.

This change also pretty much killed hybrid builds. That makes me a bit sad, as alternative builds were a legitimate playstyle for some and when you saw a truly skilled player making the most of a hybrid build, it was a wonder to behold.

Chat Channel Throttle

Amazingly, during the past week I’ve seen actual conversation in the Trade and General channels. Not ASCII art, not gold-spammers, not other craziness, but real, helpful conversation. Sure, there’s a few trolls still lurking around, but overall it seems to be working pretty well. Only time will tell how this will end up affecting chat in the long run.

Yes, that’s all well and fine, but how did the class changes affect you?

I primarily play a Shadow Priest, and the class changes were… actually okay. They’ve pretty much killed my one and only AoE ability (RIP Mind Sear), so it’s back to single target DPS for me. But right now my single-target DPS seems better than it was before, so I’m okay with it. I’m aware that Ghostcrawler has targeted Shadow Word: Death for a nerf, but I’m not too worried about that right now.

Wednesday night some of my guildies and I decided to give heroic Pit of Saron a whirl to test our new builds and see what would happen. We had a Warrior tank, a Druid healer, a DK of some flavor, an elemental shaman, and myself. Keep in mind that we primarily run 5-mans and weekly raid quests, so we don’t have ICC gear.

We took it slow, the tank marked, we focus-fired on the groups. The DPS gave the tank 2-3 seconds lead time to get some aggro built up on the groups, but then all was well. The odd thing was that the trash groups seemed a bit more difficult, but the bosses went down easily. None of us were running DBM or boss mods, we just kind of winged it. And we did just fine.

So overall, WoW is exciting again now… earthquakes, uncertainty, new shininess, and all. There’s still so much to do to get ready, and people seem to be getting really amped up for the expansion. It feels like it’s coming very, very soon now.

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