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World of Warcraft: The beginning of the Cataclysm

Blizzard is overhauling the way World of Warcraft functions and plays, and October 12, 2010 marked the release of the first of two patches for WoW. Read about the major changes in WoW patch 4.0.1.

October 12, 2010 marked the release of the first of two patches for Blizzard's immensely popular online game World of Warcraft. Patch 4.0.1 includes many of the game system changes that players have been expecting; these changes range from class changes to hardware support. On December 7, 2010, Blizzard will complete the changes to its online world with the release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

In this article, I highlight the major changes in patch 4.0.1. You can read the patch notes on the WoW site, as well as the marked-up notes at WoWWiki (including the Undocumented Changes page).

Character changes

Talent trees - In previous expansion packs, Blizzard has increased the talent trees from 31 points at level 60 to 41 points at level 70 and finally to 51 points at level 80. This has, in Blizzard's opinion, created a large number of "required" and "filler" talents that don't seem to add much to the play of the character. Because of this, the new talent trees will be reduced to 31 point trees again, however also reducing the wasted points as mentioned above.

Also, talent points used to be granted at each level from 10 and up, allowing the character to attain 71 points at level 80. Now talent points are only awarded every other level or so, granting 41 points by the time the character reaches level 85.

In addition, once a character chooses a tree at level 10, they must put 31 points in that tree before they are allowed to put points in either of the other two trees.

Spells and abilities - Most classes have experienced changes, additions, or deletions to their book of spells and abilities. Here some examples of the changes:
  • Death Knights - The Blood tree is now the dedicated tanking tree. Blood Presence and Frost Presence have been changed accordingly.
  • Druids - Bear form has been moved from level 10 to level 15, while Cat form has been moved from level 20 to level 8. This makes sense, as the Bear form is used for tanking, which isn't really done until level 15, whereas the Cat form is used for damage-dealing, which is used right away.
  • Hunters - Five pets may be stored with the hunter, allowing for easy swaps between a variety of play styles. Also, Hunters now start with a race-specific pet at level 1 instead of waiting until level 10 and learning how to tame. Hunters will now use Focus (like their pets) as a resource instead of Mana.
  • Mages - New fly-out UI feature for Portals and Teleports to reduce the number of spells listed in the Spellbook.
  • Paladins - New resource: Holy Power. Holy Power is accumulated while using certain spells and spent while using others. It seems to function similar to Rage (Warriors), Runic Power (Death Knights), or Combo Points (Rogues).
  • Warlocks - Another fly-out UI feature, this time for Minions. Warlocks will get an imp minion at level 1 instead of level 4.
  • Warriors - Rage has been normalized.

In addition to the spell changes, players will now be warned by a UI alert (the spell icon flashing in the command bar) when a spell is available; players will also be notified when a new spell is available upon leveling up via a notification in the chat window.

Spells no longer have different levels available for training; instead they scale with character level automatically.

Item changes

Blizzard has released many changes to in-game items that will affect how players play their characters.

Item stat changes - Many secondary stats are being removed from items; instead, these stats will be granted based on other stats. One example is the removal of Mana Per 5 Seconds (MP5); instead, Spirit will give more mana during cast time and non-cast time. Durability - Cloth, Leather, and Mail armor items have been equalized with Plate in terms of durability, which will make repair bills similar for all classes. Previously, Plate wearers, such as Warriors, Paladins, and Death Knights, had much larger armor repair bills than Cloth wearers. Reforging - In addition to enhancing their armor with Enchantments, players will be able to alter 40% of a secondary statistic on an armor piece or weapon to another stat that is not already present on the item. This will allow for more flexibility in gear choices and will surely increase the theorycrafting on sites such as Elitist Jerks.com. Ammunition - Until now, all Guns and Bows required ammunition (bullets and arrows) to use; this especially affected Hunters because Guns and Bows are their primary weapons. Now, Guns and Bows will come with built-in ammo, eliminating the need to keep a healthy stock. Special currency - Almost all special currencies, such as Emblems and Marks of Honor, have been converted into Justice Points (PVE currencies) or Honor Points (PVP currencies). There is a complex calculation used for each previous currency type to calculate the new currency type. In addition, several older currencies have been converted into money. Glyphs - A third glyph type has been added, and several of the glyphs have been moved around between glyph types or deleted, depending on other spell changes. Also, several new glyphs have been added.

Interface changes

I've already mentioned the new fly-out UIs for Mages and Warlocks, as well as the Holy Power resource for Paladins, but there are many other UI changes that are character independent.

Character pane - All character stats are visible via a fly-out pane that expands from the right of the character pane. This has opened up more space for the character animation. Profession panes - Profession panes have been enhanced to allow for more filtering and searching, which add-ons have been doing for years. Also, there are buttons to link professions into the chat frame. Spellbook - Professions have been broken out from the main part of the Spellbook in order to provide more information on each profession. Also, spells such as Campfire have been placed within the Cooking Profession section for ease of access and because it is related. Guild UI - The new Guild UI allows for additional customization by the Guild Leader; it also prepares for the Guild Achievements coming in the next patch. It appears the ability to view guild members who are able to craft a specific recipe is present. Raid frames - New raid frames are available; these frames have been implemented as an alternative to third-party add-ons. The frames can be used instead of the standard party frames. Raid Lock system - The new Raid Lock system allows for greater customization and blending of Raid parties. Basically, each boss encounter in a Raid (starting with Icecrown Citadel and The Ruby Sanctum and continuing with Cataclysm raids) is on its own lockout regardless of whether it is 10-man regular or 25-man regular difficulty. This means a guild that raids normally as a 25-man can split into two 10-man parties if five of their players need to leave or cannot log in for a subsequent raid night. It also means, however, that guilds cannot run both the 10-man version and the 25-man version in the same week, so Blizzard has equalized the gear, and it sounds like they've increased the amount that drops.

Hardware and system changes

Launcher - The new launcher will allow players to begin playing without necessarily downloading an entire future patch. When logged into the game, players without a fully updated patch may experience delays and "force-fields" to keep them out of areas where game content has not yet been downloaded. Effects rendering - Water and Lava have been completely redesigned with a brand new rendering engine. Also Sunshafts are able to be turned on via the graphics options. Improved hardware support - Multiple monitors are now supported. Also OpenGL Hardware Cursors are supported in Windows clients via the graphics option pane. There is experimental support for DirectX 11 either by command line switch or adding a line to the Config.WTF file; this feature may not be present until the next patch (I am unable to test for it on my hardware).

More Cataclysm coverage coming soon

Watch for our coverage of the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm patch 4.0.3, which will probably come out in late November. We'll also publish a review of the new features, zones, and races in the Cataclysm expansion pack soon after its release on December 7, 2010.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm gallery on TechRepublic

Take a look at this TechRepublic gallery in which I present screenshots from the World of Warcraft client before and after the Cataclysm Systems 4.0.1 patch.

33 comments
blackepyon01
blackepyon01

Quote: "In addition, once a character chooses a tree at level 10, they must put 31 points in that tree before they are allowed to put points in either of the other two trees." Blizzard doesn't like hybrids. Bad for me. :{ However... Multi-monitor support! I've been running multi-monitor on my home PC for ages! I've been waiting for a game to come out with the ability to take advantage of this!

tbostwick
tbostwick

Thoughts from the RetPally corner - in general I like many of the changes in the new patch. What I don't like is the addition of Holy Power - which now makes it akin to DK's runic and Rogue's combos. Going from full control over "what" to cast depending on the situation, to now waiting for certain things to time in and proc is in my mind a unforgivable change to the core game mechanics. Watching two golden Klingon Bat'leth Swords pop-up next to my toon is flashy, but deters from me looking at what's on-screen (like an HUD) - which if I wanted, I could find an AddOn for most certainly. There's enough rejection already with this one piece of the new patch, I forsee some changes before Cat. is rolled out in December. Game mechanics should never be altered to the degree they were in this patch, for any class. It has now "dumbed-down" one of the most enjoyable classes in the game - except for now.

harrylal
harrylal

Personally I believe they are forsaking their loyal customers to draw in new business. Vulpine pointed out some of the bad ideas they had to which I agree. I also believe there are a lot of other things they did that seems to indicate the same attempt to get more players and shaft their existing players, the casual players in particular. They really messed over everyone especially the higher level characters, and in my opinion the whole game in general with this recent patch/upgrade. They took away many talents and abilities, touted about how you get to re-spec your character(s) for free, yet charge your character in game money to buy many of the same abilities or similar ones you had already bought which they took away (hunters ability to wear chain for one example, but there are many more). I am not sure what person thought of this, but a re-spec where you have to buy back abilities you previously had, is NOT FREE. They seem to think they improved the talent trees. I heartily disagree! They may have dumbed it down, but took away all the flexibility that it used to have to match your play style. Again catering to new players who either don't know how to play a particular class or who have never played the game at all. Monsters will start hitting harder in cataclysm at the higher levels (at least this is what has been stated) causing even more damage, and with the already 'balanced' repair costs, will be even more expensive, and take you more time in game because the player will be spending hard earned gold for repairs as opposed to getting better equipment. This is an improvement to the game, right? For those who are casual players, it will be even more difficult to get any decent gear just to survive. There has always been an imbalance between those who raid and those who don't either have the time or inclination to do so. For those who may have the inclination to group, they are faced with an elitist snob attitude pervading the game, where if you don't have the 'right gear' for raiding, it becomes very difficult to be able to get into a raid, especially if you are not a healer or a tank class. Guilds (at least some) are the same way. The alternative is PUGs (pick up groups) and there is a whole other ball of wax involved with them. Anyway I'm digressing. What is most disappointing is what is being done to their existing customer base, casual players especially. Those who have put in the effort a few hours here and there, when they can, over a number of months and paying the same monthly subscription fees as everyone else (even the addicts) are having to start over. They have to buy abilities they had that were taken away and learn how to play their class all over again with a lot less variety of configuration in the talent trees and working to get new equipment to survive in the 'improved' game. A brand new player has not put in the same effort or has the same time and other resources invested so for them, its not an issue. In a nutshell they found a way to get you to pay them even more in subscription fees to get your character back to where you were before the 'upgrade'. I guess they did upgrade their bottom line. I really liked and enjoyed the game the way it was, which is why I'm so disappointed and unhappy right now because I do not see improvements to make the game continue to be enjoyable, instead, I see a move to draw in more new subscribers. They really need to fix this mess and do something more for their existing loyal fans or their December 7 release date for Cataclysm will become a "day of infamy" for them. If they don't fix it, the answer that may get their attention, is to cancel our subscription and demand a refund on whatever portion of our subscription fees have not been used yet.

itguy04
itguy04

I have to agree they better fix it or they will probably lose a lot of their user base.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I think you've got hold of a universal, there. [i]They may have dumbed it down, but took away all the flexibility that it used to have to match your play style.[/i] Dumbing down, in every instance, removes flexibility. IMO

Shift4SMS
Shift4SMS

I like the idea of streamlining the talent trees by removing the filler talents, but a complete restructure?! Now I feel like I'm being forced to spec it the Blizzard way as opposed to my way. My first toon I respeced was my DK tank. Now there is a single tank tree with very limited options for playing style (a DK tank is a DK tank -- go to the instance and press the big tank button) whereas before, there was a frost tank and a blood tank -- both with pros and cons and different play styles. I'll give it a little more time to see how I like it after the newness wares off but so far I'm not liking it.

Shift4SMS
Shift4SMS

And with the massive patch comes a whole new round of bugs. After waiting in a random queue for over 10 minutes, I popped into my instance only for WOW to freeze tighter than a tick. I had to rip it from memory using task manager. Then I relogged, only to receive a "you are not in a guild" message when trying to use guild chat even though I could see the guild pane. Not fun. What other Easter Eggs await and for how long?!

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Live needs living....

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... then you aren't living life. Everyone needs some form of escapism to keep from losing track of life. There's a difference between 'Living to Work' and 'Working to Live' and if you can't see that difference, you're simply killing yourself. Not everybody likes the same things. Not everybody hates the same things. YOU may have no time for WoW, but is it "no time", or "no desire"? My point is that just because YOU think a game like WoW is worthless doesn't mean everybody should. Online gaming gives some people a chance to 'live' their fantasies that simply aren't possible in the real world and gives them a break from the stresses and grief that their work puts onto them. I agree that gaming, like any other form of recreation, needs to be taken in moderation, but as long as it is recreation and not their 'life', then there's nothing wrong with it. Technology is essentially my 'life', as everything I do centers around it one way or another. Gaming with technology is just one more way of using it.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I have to tell you, I don't agree with all those changes. [b]Talent Trees:[/b] Forcing you to put 31 points into your primary tree before allowing any secondary tree activity flat kills the desire to use a secondary tree. Players who tried to take a more 'balanced' posture simply cannot do it, and the potential low-level benefits of using some of those secondary tree skills are now useless. [b]Armor:[/b] Balancing the costs of armor is simply unrealistic in any world. Armor repair for plate should be more expensive--metalworking can't be done just anywhere. Same goes for mail like chain or scale. Leather would rightfully be less expensive since almost any town would have a thriving leather industry and cloth would naturally be least expensive since simple needle and thread could stitch up torn and rent cloth. Even if you have to worry about different types of cloth, you're simply not going to have the same kind of maintenance costs as you would with metal. The concept might balance costs, but if they don't balance actual protection to go along with it, that puts the disadvantage on the cloth-wearers. Show me a robe that can block a battleaxe as well as steel, and maybe it will be worth the cost. [b]Ammunition[/b] Again, unrealistic. I could see making it possible to recover arrows or looting your enemies' ammunition supplies, but giving the shooter/archer an unlimited supply simply feels like cheating to me. Many of the overall changes to me make it harder for a high-level character to adapt to them. Already having gone through skill-tree changes in the past, I've struggled more than once with losing skills that I commonly used and almost completely changing my play style to regain the same effectiveness. I do agree with paring down the 'fluff', but not changes to the extent that they've done here. Despite the time it takes to bring a new character up to high level, these changes almost make it necessary to get a handle on all the differences. This isn't to say that most of the changes aren't good, but these three in particular degrade the game, not improve it.

blackepyon01
blackepyon01

What Blizzard needs to do, is make it so that you can repair yourself or for other people whatever armor/weapons your "Professions" are able to create. Maybe make it level specific, (a level 150 blacksmith could only repair armor/weapons up to the level of armor/weapons he could make). It's always bugged me that as a blacksmith, I could never repair the plate armor that I made myself. Just the same, leather workers should be able to repair leather armor, and tailors should be able to repair cloth armor. It just makes sense.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Thought it would be your bag.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Bluntly, it got boring. That doesn't mean I can't still have an opinion on it. I would call this new module Intriguing and tempting, but I can't say for sure I'd like it any more than when I quit. I have other Dungeons & Dragons to visit Online.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

I play Everquest 2. Between family, work, personal fitness, home upkeep, and hobbies, that only leaves me with a couple of hours a night to play. You have to ask yourself, "Is it worth dumping those things just to not be called a noob while playing a social game?"

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I'll also agree that what one person likes, another might not. I've played a number of online games over the last ten years, from [i]Azeroth's Call[/i], to [i]World of Warcraft[/i], to [i]City of Heros[/i], [i]Champions Online[/i], [i]EverQuest II[/i] and [i]Dungeons & Dragons Online.[/i] In each case, I've played it til I got bored with it and moved on to another. The problem is, each game gets to a certain point where you simply feel like you're never getting anywhere and you've done it all before. They lack enough variety, pretty much burning you out in a given region before letting you move on. The real world isn't like that and a fantasy world, no matter what the game, shouldn't be either. I'm old enough to have seen more of our world than most people see in their lifetimes. I, for one, thrive on variety. I'd like to see that variety within the games I play, not just in which games I play.

teacher33
teacher33

Help! I was/am absolutely an idiot. It took me two days to download the patch and it finally opened the new Cataclysm downloader at 6am this morning. I didn't run that screen as an administrator so I closed it to reopen it again assuming the patch was already downloaded. Now I get to the WOW login screen, am able to enter my password and authenticator and it goes to a WOW background that says updating. It immediately goes to a blizzard error message. Any ideas on what I can do? If I have to take two more days and reload everything, I may have a meltdown...

tnboren
tnboren

I downloaded the patch in about 15 minutes - it was about 4GB. I was logged in as an ordinary user and ran the update immediately following the download, so it un-packed and installed. The install took longer than the download. Since you logged out, the downloader thinks the process was never completed and will start over since the downloaded file is unreachable in the Administrator's temporary folder. Either log back in as the admin so it can finish the download (it will check to see how much is there, so it should not take long) and install, or copy the entire directory from someone else like tracyle said. WoW is very portable and I've copied it easily between my 3 machines at home. Turn off the Blizzard file sharing - by design it asks to make your machine a server gnutella style for others trying to download. You obviously do not have the bandwidth for that.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

The only thing I can suggest is take your machine to a friend's who has broadband. Even with a high-speed connection, this update will probably take most of an hour, maybe longer. I'm not exactly sure where your town is, but I do know Verizon is in the process of bringing FiOS into the more rural areas of Pennsylvania. The problem is, this expansion is taking time and homes less than a mile from Freeburg in east central PA (about 5 miles from the Susquehanna) won't see the connection until next year, while others only 2 miles closer to the river already have it. Check around, broadband may be coming your way; but until then, you're better off carrying your PC to a place that already has it for this update.

teacher33
teacher33

I ran the repair program that comes in the download. It fixed itself. Thank you for all of the help.

Heath_H
Heath_H

If you haven't already tried it yet, I'd suggest reinstalling the patch from the wow directory. That fixed it for me.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What is the error message? My brother was getting a message during patching because he did not have enough room on his hard drive. Is this problem after you have downloaded and applied the patch?

dfrueh
dfrueh

I lost out on so much during my college years because of a game, like WoW that exists on some server as zero's and one's... If I had any suggestion it would be to quit now while you can and devote time to something more substantial. (The game was Shadowbane, and it sucked about 6-14hrs a day out of college) then you have to add in time for the binge drinking, frat parties, etc. Didn't leave much time for school. Either way, the game doesn't exist anymore and WoW will eventually get there too. My suggestion: read. Anything that interests you. It not only helps your vernacular, but it is engaging and gets you to think deeply, you don't just need to concentrate on your HP while getting mobbed. I'm actually a bit surprised to see news about a game on here.

-M-
-M-

Think how fast you could turn your pages with this kind of APM! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbpCLqryN-Q&feature=related

dfrueh
dfrueh

So they actually modeled 'Zerg' after real people? That's nuts. And guys I didn't mean to get preachy, I'm just saying I wish I could have gone back and told me, "hey buddy, all this time wasting you're doing is eventually going to be taken down." The game was Shadowbane, and the company Ubisoft, not exactly small potatoes, but they eventually took down all the servers, so buh bye all time anyone ever devoted to the game. Just realzying my experiences. You can use your time however you'd like. Oh and I am a former WoW player. Just couldn't get past the "why am I doing this again" phase, and also the leveling is WAY slow. (Or, at least, was).

John.Schupp
John.Schupp

You are surprised? really? From a site that documents what the goings on at comic-con and lego fest? or whatever the lego convention is called. Or has a section called Geek end? I understand what you are saying having wasted a large portion of my free time on games like WoW but you have to consider 2 things first nobody likes being preached to, and second i would hazard a guess that more than 50% of the users of this site currently play or have played WoW or a similar game at some point. We are geeks after all. I actually think its cool that they covered it because i read something once that was engaging and got me thinking deep thoughts... my favorite line was "all work and no play..." never mind I don't mean to preach :)

haggis75
haggis75

Perhaps you could exercise some self control? All things in moderation! Also I think you mean vocabulary and not vernacular. I was also suprised to see this article here but as I play WOW it was a pleasant one. Due to disk space I couldn't extract and install the update and decided to download the client and start again. For anyone else that tries the same, be warned - the Blizz servers don't come close to max'ing my bandwidth.

teacher33
teacher33

I'm not looking for a sermon on addiction. I'm 37, a professional, physically active, married, and a great father. I was hoping for computer help, not a sermon. Anyone have any constructive help? Thanks!

blackepyon01
blackepyon01

Try running the WoW repair tool in the wow directory. If you installed in the default directory, it should be in "C:\Program Files\Blizzard Entertainment\World of Warcraft\wowrepair.exe" (Or somewhere similar. I think that's what it's called, I'm on my work computer right now >_>)

tracyle
tracyle

Do you have a friend who has successfully downloaded the patch? If so, you can just copy their .../Program Files/World of Warcraft folder to a flash/external drive and copy it to your machine. I had that problem with one of my kids computer and all is well. Don't forget to update those add-ons, too... LOL

maclovin
maclovin

I'm just trying to hit at least 60 on my main before CAT comes out! (46 now) Don't have much free time to play with work and all that!

wowcast
wowcast

Hey thank you for the fast post. I just saw it came yesterday so im really sicked. There are huge changes, a person needs to think about the volume of the patch 11gb. The classic eddition of this game was 10gb :P . SIck isnt it. I will tell my followers at http://www.wowcast.de to subscribe you :p

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