WoW Post-Cataclysm Recap
This recap is dedicated to those who quit WoW sometime during Cataclysm. Here we have gathered all the major changes and new features/content types beginning with patch 4.1 you need to know heading into the Shadowlands.
Systems And Features
The AH has undergone a major revamp, both in UI and functionality. You no longer need to list by stacks or a specific amount, nor do you have to undercut others. Simply select an already listed price and add your items to that. The latest additions are the first to sell. On top of that, the AH is now cross-faction.
It’s now possible to pay for your monthly WoW subscrption through ingame means. This is done through tokens, which you can buy from other players in a special category of the Auction House. Or you could buy a token and list it for gold, thus exchanging IRL currencies for ingame gold.
Dual Talents Removed
You can now have a single saved template for each spec of your class and swap between them when out of combat. There are a few exceptions to this, most notably PvP where you can’t swap specs while in a game.
Talent System Rework
The Cataclysm talent squish didn’t prove to be a long-term solution to the talent bloat, so a new system was implemented in Mists of Pandaria:
- Talent points are gone.
- You’re locked into one spec – a Resto Shaman can’t pick up Elemental talents.
- Talents are now grouped by rows. You may only pick one talent per row.
- Changing talents and specs no longer requires retraining. Swapping talents is free in rested areas but requires a Tome of the Tranquil Mind outside.
Glyphs no longer provide any combat benefits. Their function is purely cosmetic.
Special abilities have been decoupled from mounts. For example, the Water Striders from Pandaria no longer walk on water by default. Instead there is a new Mount Equipment slot in the in the mount collection tab where you can customize any active mount with extra perks. These perks include water walking and gathering without dismounting.
As for how to obtain the equipment, they mostly come from the same sources as before – for the water walking perk you still need to grind reputation with the Anglers.
Barber Shop Rework
Never before has WoW had this many customization options. New skin tones, accessories, even druid forms can be altered in the barber shop! Not only that, but now you may also change between male and female for a couple of gold coins, it’s no longer a paid store feature. Very skilled barbers indeed.
Current raid tiers no longer have to dictate the look of your characters!
Every single armor piece and weapon you ever make soulbound to a character will be stored in the account-wide Appearances tab. Once unlocked, you can apply any skin to a compatible piece of armor or weapon, overriding their current appearance but retaining the stats for a fee.
Transmogrifiers can be found in major cities like the faction capitals (Orgrimmar and Stormwind) as well as expansion hubs.
This is like an ingame newsfeed. Here you can learn about some of the most recent patch content, ongoing weekly events and even some suggested content for your level.
On top of that the Adventure Guide also has a loot tab where you can check out the drops of every dungeon, raid and open world boss. The default keybind for this panel is Shift + J.
The raid equivalent of the dungeon finder. You can now queue up for raids from the current expansion. These are good for getting started on alts and easier than even normal raid encounters, but gear from LFR won’t take you far.
Premade Group Finder
No, it’s not the same as the LFG system. Instead of being an automated group finder, this is a cross-realm feature where players can list their own groups for just about any content or join that of others.
Cross-Realm And Linked Realms
Playing with others from different servers is now a daily occurence. Some servers are linked by default to create a megaserver in order to ensure healthy population levels.
The most important things returning players have to know:
- You can play with anyone from other servers as long as they are on your region (EU, NA, etc.). Simply invite them into group and they’ll be brought over to your shard.
- This works in both open world and instanced PvE/PvP encounters.
- Economies are still separate. You can’t trade with players from servers outside your linking.
- Mythic raiding is an exception, here you can’t play with people from other realms after the initial release. However, once enough people have cleared a new raid on Mythic difficulty, cross-realm grouping opens up for the region.
Look at them as an alternative to the guild system, there are all sorts of communities you could join without having to leave your guild. Kind of like an ingame Discord server.
Are you in a guild with friends, but want to get more involved in PvP? Join a PvP community! Or maybe you want to build a better future for all gnomekind? There’s a community for that too. The possibilities are endless!
Do you have a bunch of items from 15 years ago that you are holding onto for one reason or another? Well aware deep down that if they were to disappear overnight, you wouldn’t even notice?
In that case the Void Storage is the perfect place to store them. This is like a bank for items you barely even touch. Depositing them is free, but withdrawing has a fee. Should free up a couple of bank and inventory slots for returning players.
The PvP/PvE server split is no more, every server is the same. Instead we have an optional War Mode. More on that in the PvP section below.
Mission Tables are best described as offline progression. You send your followers on missions, then you sit back and relax for a few hours and they’ll be back with some rewards for you.
This is a new type of reward structure that’s present in every expansion from WoD onward in some form.
To use a mission table you don’t even have to log in! Simply download the WoW follower app for your phone and you’re good to go.
As part of this new minigame, you can level up your companions and use them in turn-based battles against both PvE and PvP opponents.
- Demon Hunter
- Brewmaster - a tank using two handed weapons.
- Mistweaver - healing spec.
- Windwalker - dual wielding melee DPS.
Monks are masters of martial arts taught by the masters of Pandaria. They are agile, fast and versatile.
- Havoc - dual wielding melee DPS.
- Vengeance - dual wielding tank.
Demon Hunter is the second hero class to be added to WoW. This is an insanely mobile melee class with special perks such as gliding and double jump.
Only Night Elves and Blood Elves can become Demon Hunters.
Pandarens have entered the fray! They are the first race in WoW that can choose their own faction, which means you’ll see them on both Alliance and Horde.
A new concept introduced near the end of Legion, allied races are new, faction based playable races. To unlock them you have to do associated quest chains and achievements.
Allied races start at level 10 and thus get to skip the first zone.
- Void Elf
- Lightforged Draenei
- Dark Iron Dwarf
- Kul’Tiran Human
- Highmountain Tauren
- Mag’har Orc
- Zandalari Troll
Allied races have their own, unqiue armor sets that match their theme. Over the years however some of the old races have also received heritage sets as an ongoing project. These are:
- Dwarf, Gnome, Worgen for Alliance.
- Blood Elf, Goblin, Tauren for Horde.
Achievements, mounts, titles and companions are now account-wide.
First Aid Removed
First Aid is gone, making it the first profession ever to be fully removed from WoW.
- Bandages are now rolled into Tailoring.
- All the other recipes became part of Alchemy.
New Skill Levels
Profession skill is now based on individual expansions. For example you no longer need to level Alchemy in TBC before you could learn WotLK recipes.
Players are no longer competing for resources in the open world. Gathering nodes such as ore and herbs can now be looted by multiple players.
Combat Perks Removed
Combat benefits and skills associated with professions such as the extra stamina from mining or Lifeblood from herbalism have been removed.
Learning a new recipe isn’t a culmination of your efforts, but rather the first step toward mastering it.
Some recipes can now have up to 3 ranks, each rank is more effective than the previous. How you get to the next rank depends on the recipe – could be from a vendor, quest or other methods.
Not all recipes follow the same pattern, but here’s an example:
- At rank 1 you may have to craft the item at a crafting station,
- Once you hit rank 2 you may no longer need the station.
- Finally at rank 3 there’s a chance to create more items than expected.
This is a new weekly event that happens about once a month, bar a few special occasions. Timewalking lets you revisit and relive old content, getting scaled down to the appropriate level and doing it all over again for special rewards including mounts.
TW mostly consist of dungeons, but a few old raids like Ulduar have also made a comeback during WotLK weeks.
The current range of available expansions starts at The Burning Crusade and ends with Warlords of Draenor. Legion TW is expected to be added a few patches into Shadowlands.
Mythic And M+
There is a new raid difficulty level above Heroic: Mythic.
Dungeons also have a Mythic difficulty level, but there’s something even beyond that: Mythic+ (or M+).
M+ is a new, scaling dungeon difficulty system. When you kill the last boss of a Mythic dungeon you’ll gain a key – a key is used at the start of a run to determine the difficulty level. A +7 is harder than a +4 and offers better quality gear.
These dungeons are timed, you can upgrade your key by finishing the dungeon within the time limit. Keys are tied to specific dungeons, but only one person has to have the right key in the group.
The best M+ reward however doesn’t comes not from the dungeon itself, but rather the weekly chest. Each week after reset you may loot items from a chest in the expansion’s main hub based on the highest key you did the week before.
Blizzard is trying to diversify the questing experience, and World Quests (WQs) play a major role in that. To do a World Quest all you need is find the marker on the minimap, go there and complete the objective. You don’t have to accept anything or visit a quest hub, it’s all automatic.
In many cases WQs are a replacement for dailies, and most WQs only stay up for about a day.
World Quests started out in WoD with bonus objectives but were truly fleshed out in Legion and BfA.
Legion and BfA reputation grind isn’t over at exalted – instead, that’s where it truly begins.
For every 10k rep you earn after exalted you can pick up a Paragon reward from the faction’s quartermaster. These rewards usually include expansion-specific resources, gold, toys and even mounts.
An unprecedented level/stat squish has happened in the Shadowlands prepatch. 50 is the new max level, soon to be raised to 60 in the new expansion. Item levels have been adjusted to fit the squished numbers.
A mob can now be tagged by up to 5 people and all will gain credit, even if they are not grouped. Cross-faction tagging is a bit more complicated thing and partly depends on your War mode settings.
Ever experienced being on a different part in the leveling process than a friend of yours? Already did the quests in a zone, but your friend is just starting out? With party sync, higher level players can now join their lowbie friends and replay content they’ve already done, while gaining credit for quests all over again! This enables both of you to progress together.
Heirlooms have been reworked. They went from each piece of armor and ring increasing experience gained by a small amount, to using a tier bonus system. The XP bonus has been completely eliminated, the closest thing we have now is a passive effect which makes rested XP last longer.
Every piece of heirloom armor, necklace and ring contributes to the completion of the set bonus. Weapons and trinkets on the other hand don’t.
Finally, there is now a collection tab for them. When you unlock a new heirloom, all of your alts on your account will be able to create an infinite amount of copies of them by clicking on a heirloom item in the collections tab.
This is a new level 1-10 zone that’s supposed to be the universal tutorial for all new players, regardless of race. It goes by fast (about an hour) but teaches many of the fundamental concepts a WoW player has to know in the current era (vehicle combat, boss mechanics, LFD, etc.).
When you make a new character, you’re going to have to decide between leveling in Exile’s Reach or in your race’s starting zone.
It’s now possible to select a single expansion and level up there all the way fom 10 to 50. This should make leveling more of a coherent experience, and potentially very different for every new character you create.
To begin, seek out Chromie in your faction capital. She is near the Embassy in Stormwind for Alliance and Orgrimmar for Horde players.
Your character must be level 10 or higher to access this feature.
Mobs and quests in most leveling zones now scale with your level, which means you’re no longer forced to change zones every few levels. You can also do them in any order you want.
PvP Progression Rework
There’s now an account-wide PvP rank system in place:
- By participating in PvP activities such as BGs or killing enemies in the open world, you earn Honor points and Honor currency (these are 2 separate things).
- Every few Honor levels you earn new rewards, mostly cosmetic ones. The max level is 500.
- Rewards can be found on this page.
40v40 battlegrounds now have their own random BG queue under the name of Epic Battlegrounds, separate from regular BGs. Currently available ones are Alterac Valley, Isle of Conquest, Wintergrasp and Ashran.
Strand of the Ancients is no longer in the game.
Couple of major changes here:
- 5v5 was removed, there’s only 2v2 and 3v3 now.
- Arena teams are no longer a thing, everything is based on the character’s MMR.
Tired of long queue times in random BGs? If your faction is heavily outnumbering the opposing one you get to sign up to fight on the enemy’s side as a mercenary. There is a special NPC you have to visit in order to sign up as a mercenary – look for Seargeant Wilson in Dalaran (Broken Isles).
To offer more customization options for PvP players whilst also freeing up space in the talent rows, Blizzard has introduced PvP talents. There are 3 slots where you may slot in any combination of available PvP talents.
The PvP talent window can be accessed through the regular talent panel via a toggle in the top right corner.
These talents are active in BGs, arenas and even the open world (as long as you have War Mode ON).
Right underneath the PvP talents you’ll find the War Mode toggle. The PvP/PvE realm split is now gone and War Mode is the replacement. When toggled on you’ll be placed in a shard with only those that have also made the same choice. It’s an easy way of opting in and out of world PvP, but you may only toggle it on/off in your faction capital.
There are certain benefits to War Mode. During leveling you’ll get bonus XP between 10-30% based on which faction is the underdog in the zone. At max level War Mode increases world quest rewards. There is also a chance for a supply drop randomly in each zone, incentivizing clashes.
Gear And Mechanics
Brief summary of major changes:
- Beginning with Battle for Azeroth, no set bonuses are being added to new tiers of raid gear.
- Class based tier skins are replaced by type based ones (leather, plate, etc.) from BfA onward.
- No new items come with a socket slot by default. Instead it’s a chance based system – when you loot something, it has a chance to come with a socket slot.
- All sockets are now prismatic ones.
- Raid bosses no longer drop tokens, and there are no raid vendors to buy gear from.
The following stats have been removed:
- Expertise and weapon skill.
- Hit rating. In PvE characters are hit capped up to 3 levels above theirs.
- Spell Power and Attack Power. Spells now scale with Intellect in effectiveness while physical attacks scale with either Agility or Strength, depending on the spec.
- Spell Penetration and Spell Resistance.
- Resillience (PvP stat).
Several new stats have been added to the game:
- Versatility as the name suggests has a little bit of everything. Versatility increases outgoing damage whilst mitigating incoming damage.
- Avoidance reduced AoE damage taken.
- Leech causes spells and attacks to heal the user.
- Speed. Not to be confused with Haste, Speed increases movement speed.
Dodge and parry rating are no longer itemized, but still exist as game mechanics.
Another one bites the dust, you can no longer reforge secondary stats on your gear.
Flexible StatsMost endgame items now have flexible main stats. This means that whether the item has Agility, Intellect or Strength depends on your active spec. The same item may have Agility on it when your Shaman is Enhancement, and Intellect when you go Elemental.
Other than the cloak or the helmet, several new armor pieces can also be hidden now at the transmogrifier.
Navigating old content just became easier! Both faction capitals now have their very own portal rooms providing easy access to major hubs of every expansion as well as other the cities of their faction.
With the level squish, riding requirements have also been adjusted and reworked:
- Level 10 – apprentice riding (ground, 60% movement speed boost).
- Level 20 – journeyman riding (ground, 100% movement speed boost).
- Level 30 – expert riding (flying, 150% movement speed boost).
- Level 40 – master riding (flying, 310% movement speed boost).
Unlike class skills, you still have to visit a riding trainer in a city to learn new ranks of riding skills.
As for how to obtain the equipment, the sources are different for each one. For water walking you must grind some reputation with the Anglers faction in Pandaria, while ground speed increase comes from Enchanting.
Legendary weapons can now be transmogged by all classes that are listed as eligible on the description of the weapon.
There is only one exception – the Warglaives of Azzinoth, dropped by Illidan are exclusive to Demon Hunters. It’s not that simple though. DHs must first farm out both glaives on a single character capable of wielding them (this doesn’t have to be a DH).
Then they have to wait for Burning Crusade Timewalking to come around and successfully clear Black Temple’s Timewalking version. They could do that on any character however, only the achievement is required.
Once both of these criterias are met, Demon Hunters on your account will be eligible for the warglaive transmog.
Each week there is a PvP and a PvE event going on. Bonus reputation, Timewalking, special Battleground rules and more await you! Weekly Events help keep the game fresh and motivate players to try out new types of content. Use the ingame calendar to keep track of these events.
These are small, annual events that usually last 1-3 days. Micro Holidays rarely have rewards associated with them. Most of the time these are just little side activities you could participate in, like the Auction House Dance Party or Moonkin Festival.
The keyring has been removed, as keys are no longer a relevant thing for the most part.
There’s not much reason for these poor guys to exist anymore. Skills are learned and upgraded automatically, talent resets can be done for free in any rested area, and there’ no dual talent to be purchased.
Skills such as Water Walking or Slow Fall no longer require a reagent, the whole system has been scrapped.
Recruit A Friend Revamp
Everyone has their own referal link they can use to recruits their friends to try WoW. In the new RAF system when you successfully recruit someone, both of you gain 50% bonus experience as long as you’re in the same group and within 100 yards. You’ll also unlock a hearthstone-like feature that allows you to teleport to each other’s location (this is on a 30 minute CD).
For every month of gametime one of your recruits add, you’ll gain a special reward – including mounts and skins! The rewards cap out at 12 months.