I talked a few weeks ago about the caster Druid changes for 3.1; that information is pretty much still accurate. However there are a whole host of other changes in the works. What else is going on?
I'm not going to talk about the new content yet — stuff like Ulduar, Noblegarden, or the Argent Tournament. Instead I'll talk about the other random stuff that's changing. And there's a lot! I won't cover nearly everything; check out the Patch 3.1.0 notes and Patch 3.1.0 Undocumented Changes for details.
Quality of LifeThere's a whole category of things that will affect the details of your gameplay. What's up there?
Obviously the big change is dual specs. Here's the nickel summary:
- For 1000g, you can purchase the capability to have two predefined specs.
- You'll have two talent specs. Switching between them will also switch glyphs and action bars. So when I switch from tree to boomkin, I will also get boomkin glyphs and boomkin spells on my action bar. That means you don't have to redo this stuff each time you switch.
- You can switch specs any time you're out of combat. (You don't need a Lexicon of Power, as they'd originally planned.) The change has a 5 second cast time and will apparently drain all your mana. You have to be out of combat, and you can't switch in Arenas.
- Once you define your two specs, you can change between them for free, or pay your normal respec fee to alter one of the two specs. So if you start as Balance and Resto, but want to switch to Balance and Feral, that's a respec fee.
- You can buy this feature at level 40.
- Blizzard had planned to offer an Equipment Manager to help change gear along with your specs, but that was removed from 3.1. No clue if they'll add it later or not.
- For the love of... it's dual spec. Dual = two; duel = fighting. Sheesh.
Ground mounts can now swim. It's slow — 60% speed, or the same as your level 30 mount. Still, it's much better than being dismounted whenever you ride through a river. There are several new mounts, including a swimming mount that's slow on land but swims quite quickly.
Your hearthstone cooldown is now 30 minutes instead of an hour. Congrats!
ProfessionsMost crafting professions have new epic recipes that drop from Ulduar bosses. Both the recipes and the resulting gear appear to be BoE, so you'll see items on the AH, and maybe a recipe once in a while. Expect to pay a lot for it, though. The gear is iLvl 226, or the same as what drops from the 10-man Ulduar hard modes. So it's good gear. The mats for these recipes include [Runed Orb]s, which will drop from (you guessed it) Ulduar bosses.
The blue crafted PVP sets now get actual set bonuses. For example, the leather Overcast Battlegear set gives you a 4-piece bonus of +75 stamina and a 6-piece bonus of +50 resilience. This will add some survivability for newer PVPers.
Also, most crafting professions have had their lower level items buffed, basically so it's worth using these items as you're leveling. You might now be able to sell some of those pieces you make while leveling a new profession.
Another big crafting change is to flasks. Basically, both duration and cost will be halved on flasks — they'll last only one hour (instead of two) but you'll need half the materials to make them. The goal is that flasks will be more flexible, so for example you're not wasting so much if you drink a flask for the last half-hour of raiding some night.
There are about 50 new glyphs. You'll want to check your class to see what's most interesting for you. Many spells which weren't glyphed before now have glyphs.
Your current WotLK flasks will change, too. Basically, if you have a WotLK flask today, it'll be converted to two of the new, shorter-duration flasks. (I believe there's an intermediary step in there, probably for technical reasons.) However, your old BC and vanilla flasks will see their duration halved but you won't be compensated for that! So if you have old flasks around, it's best to use them now.
Gathering professions have a couple changes too. Herbalism will now recover more herbs for each Northrend node, which should increase the herb supplies. It also will take less time to harvest a node. Mining nodes will now despawn 1 minute after they're looted, so you shouldn't find any partially looted nodes.
There are a host of lesser profession changes — some nice stuff but nothing game-changing. It's more than I want to cover here, so check out the patch notes for the full list.
Cooking sees a host of changes. You'll get more skill-ups from most WotLK recipes, so leveling to 450 should be easier. (Cue "Back in my day...") They've eliminated most 'flavor' materials, like apples and spices, from recipes. (Boo!) And there's one new recipe of significance: [Black Jelly] is only a health/mana replenishment food, but it provides more of each than any other current food. I'm not sure how much of a market there will be for that, especially when mage food is free, but there are probably some borderline situations where you'll want the quicker replenishment.
Fishing sees some nice changes and may be worth a post on its own. First, we now have Dalaran Fishing daily quests. Hooray! You can check out El's Extreme Anglin' for the full scoop. Much like in BC, the quest will give you a bag with random items in it. You'll have a chance at some new fishing poles (with nice models) and another new companion pet, which is pretty cool.
Wintergrasp fishing is now very worthwhile. In open water (no nodes) you will now catch the fish you need to make [Fish Feast], plus some clams that have extra clam meat and very good chance to drop pearls.
It now takes less time to fish (on each cast). And you can skill up anywhere. If the required skill in the zone is too high for you, you'll catch worthless junk, but at least you can still get skill points. And you don't need to do Nat Pagel's quest to gain Artisan fishing. Instead, that quest will give you a new fishing pole.
WintergraspWintergrasp sees some good change. The defense can now capture the south factories. This will make it much easier to kill towers, and as a result give the offense more incentive to guard both the towers and the south factories. There will be more NPCs guarding the fortress and towers. You'll get quest credit for killing them, but overall you need fewer kills for the daily quest.
User InterfaceThe glyph interface is moved from the Spellbook to the Talent window. You can also preview talent choices before committing them, to make sure you don't mis-click and screw up your spec. (This option is off by default, so I think you have to turn it on.)
There are changes to quest tracking, Looking for Group/Looking for More, and the mini-map. There are also video and sound settings changes, to give you more precise control over the settings. And there are a host of Macintosh changes and bug fixes, including support for the Logitech G15/G19 keyboards. I might have to buy one!
So that's a lot of change, and I haven't even touched class changes or the new content! Yowtch! But what's the most important change? The one that will make your life much better and greatly increase your happiness?
The [Wind-Up Train Wrecker]. The best 200g you'll ever spend.