Warlords of Draenor will ship in only a couple of weeks, but already players of the near ten year old MMO can get a taste of the new expansion in patch 6.0.2, “The Iron Tide.” Starting the game after patching reveals the new cinematic in glorious HD. After that, you reach the login screen, which is kind of a rip-off of The Burning Crusade screen, but the portal is now red and still looks pretty cool. When the character select screen pops up, players will get their first taste of the new character models, provided that their characters are not Worgen, Goblin, or Blood Elf (Pandaren characters also stay the same). If you don’t like how your toon’s face looks, you can send him or her to the local barber shop. Apparently they now do plastic surgery there. And unlike real life, it doesn’t cost that much money.
While most people will enjoy the new look of the game, the class changes may perplex some and devastate others. Blizzard has pruned many abilities they felt were redundant or unnecessary. As a Retribution Paladin, I haven’t felt too impacted by the changes, and I still dish out good amounts of damage without my Inquisition or Guardian of the Ancient Kings abilities. Others, including a sizable portion of my guild, have voiced numerous complaints about spells and abilities they believed were essential to their rotation. One of my guildies said, “I wish I could go back to Mists [of Pandaria].”
After re-learning how to play your character, you can jump into a pre-expansion quest line in the Blasted Lands, where the Dark Portal has turned red as Grommash Hellscream’s orcish forces are pouring through and destroying everything in their path, including Nethergarde Keep and Okril’lon. It’s a quick, easy series of quests that should only take less than an hour, and you get an achievement and title out of it when you’re done.
Also, for a limited time, Upper Blackrock Spire has been revamped for level 90 players, and includes a new storyline featuring Iron Horde bosses. Warlord Zaela, thought to be dead by falling from a proto-drake in the Siege of Orgrimmar, also makes a surprise appearance.
One of the best things about this patch is the enormous amount of consolidation to the inventory. The new toy box has joined forces with the battle pet and mounts tab to further remove things from bags. Right click on any “toy” in your bags, including everything from the train set to that thing that turns you into a bug for a few seconds, and it goes to the toy box, where you can activate it at will. There are also achievements for collecting toys. In addition to the toy box, the stack size of profession materials has been greatly increased, there’s a reagent bank, and another 80 slots on a separate Void Storage tab. You can even sort your bags at the push of a button as well.
This patch has ended many seasons, too. PvP Season 15 is now over, along with Season 1 of the Brawler’s Guild and Challenge Mode dungeons. The Legendary Cloak quest line and Siege of Orgrimmar heirlooms are not gone, but they will be when Warlords of Draenor hits stores. If you really want these rewards, get them now!
Many other minor changes include a character undelete feature, a combining of the quest log and map, the removal of Justice and Valor points, cross-realm zones in Pandaria, and the changing of the old MPQ file type to CASC. The “Stat Squish” is also in. Numbers may seem much smaller, but your character will still retain the same prowess in the game.
My activity in World of Warcraft has been very limited, but since this patch I have been itching to play more and more. If you can stand the changes to your class of choice, don’t wait for the official expansion to come out. Play now!