With the release of Patch 5.0.4, a number of features and changes that aren’t strictly in the continent of Pandaria will be added to the game. I’ve drummed up this guide (with the help of a lot of other people) to ensure you’re prepared for the patch, aware of how it will impact your characters and experience, and ultimately get you into and enjoying the improvements the patch brings as quickly as possible.
You Are Prepared!
With any large patch, you’ll want to ensure you have it pre-downloaded, and ready to start up the game for the first time when it goes live. The 5.0.4 patch has been available on our background downloader for a couple weeks now, and if you haven’t yet, you’ll want to ensure you have the majority of the patch data downloaded before its release on August 29. The Background Downloader FAQ can help answer just about any question for how to get this done. To verify you have the patch fully downloaded already, just run the BackgroundDownloader.exe found in your World of Warcraft game directory.
Once the patch releases, it’s always possible you could run into an issue when installing it. Our Patch Troubleshooting page has a number of steps you can take, as well as basic and advanced steps.
One other area that trips a lot of people up when coming into a major game revision (especially one with as many changes as 5.0.4) is out of date UI AddOns. Both WoWInterface and Curse are popular UI sites that offer up-to-date addons, and you should attempt to find addons that state they support version 5.0.4 and/or the Mists of Pandaria expansion.
If you’ve been away from the game a while, or are running into UI issues, LUA/XML error messages, or “Unknown” entities, it may be a reasonable option to just wipe everything clean and start your AddOn adventures over. Our UI Reset FAQ can help!
Certainly one of the biggest changes coming in 5.0.4 is the new talent system, and with that comes a ton of changes and new spells and abilities, but before we get to that, a number of changes have been made that can impact how you play your class. These range from minor to major, but almost all specs have altered rotations, and a few have been completely redesigned. Once the patch launches be prepared to spend a little time reacquainting yourself with each ability, and setting your action bars up. Here are just a few of the highlights to be aware of.
Presences have changed. Frost Presence now doubles Runic Power generation, and each specialization learns a passive effect that should cause that specialization to favor the corresponding Presence for general use. Necrotic Strike, as well as the new talent Death Siphon, both cost a Death Rune, meaning that they can only be used when one of your runes has been transformed to Death.
The Feral specialization has been split into Feral (for Cat-focused Druids) and Guardian (for Bear-focused Druids) specializations. Each of the four specializations has a more distinct and different set of tools, but all of the spells available to the specialization are now useful. For example, Feral and Guardian Druids can cast Healing Touch for a useful amount of healing, and Balance and Restoration Druids can make better use of the Cat Form and Bear Form abilities they have.
There is no longer a minimum range for the class. The ranged weapon slot has been removed from the game; hunters now equip their ranged weapon in the main hand weapon slot. Hunters now benefit from Expertise as their ranged attacks can be dodged. Any type of pet can now choose any specialization (Ferocity, Tenacity, or Cunning).
Mage: Mages received many changes intended to flesh out rotations and make them more interesting. Arcane Mages now have a more complex rotation. Fire Mages now have tools to control the random nature of their spells. Frost Mages are now considerably stronger at sustained damage dealing, and now viable in PvE. Much of the crowd control and survivability that was unique to Frost has been spread to the whole class, or made available to all specs as talents.
Paladin: Paladins now have several ranged abilities, though remain primarily melee combatants. In-line with streamlining raid buffs (more on that below), Auras have been removed, and the buff focus is now on Seals. Paladins can now store up to 5 Holy Power at a time, but still can only use up to 3 on each Holy Power spender.
Priest: Mana pools are fixed for all casters (more on this below). Chakras are now more similar to warrior stances. Changes have been made to Discipline to further support the damage absorption playstyle. Shadow Priests now have Shadow Orbs as a resource, which can be generated by some of their basic spells, and spent on either strong damage or crowd control.
Rogue: Poisons are now spellbook abilities that affect both weapons at once. Poisons are divided into two categories, Lethal (Deadly or Wound Poison) and Non-Lethal (the rest), and you may have one poison of each type active at once. Many abilities that used to be restricted to a single specialization are now talents and available to all specializations; so you can have a Shadowstepping Combat Rogue or an Assassination Rogue with Cheat Death. Dagger speeds have been normalized such that the niche of the “fast dagger” intended for the off-hand no longer exists. Any dagger should be fine to equip in either hand.
Shaman: Totems no longer provide long-term buffs. Some of the old passive effects are now innately provided by the shaman. Totems instead have short-term situational benefits. In light of this the totem multidrop UI has been removed, though all totem spells are now sorted under draggable elemental flyouts in the spellbook.
Warlock: Each warlock specialization has a unique secondary resource which allows them temporary surges in power. Affliction warlocks focus more on layering multiple periodic damage effects, and amplifying their effects, and use Soul Shards rotationally for strong damage, or occasionally for utility as before. Demonology warlocks now have a new Demonic Fury resource, instead of Soul Shards, which is built by casting their normal spells. Destruction warlocks now use Unstable Embers as a resource, which is built up slowly through casting their normal spells, and spent in bursts of massive damage. warlocks no longer use armor spells, instead gaining additional armor and bonus health passively. All demons deal similar damage and are no longer linked to a specific spec. Doomguard, Infernal and Soulstone cooldowns reset upon wiping to a raid or dungeon boss.
Warrior: The design of Rage has changed to function more like a valuable resource. Warriors no longer naturally gain rage from taking damage, but instead generate rage with their primary attacks, such as Mortal Strike, Bloodthirst, and Shield Slam. Stances also now share a single action bar, rather than changing your action bar, and abilities are no longer restricted by stance. In addition, the benefits of the stances have changed considerably, with Berserker Stance allowing the Warrior to gain some rage from taking damage, Battle Stance making the Warrior gain additional rage from dealing damage, and Defensive Stance focused on survivability.
New Talent System
The new talent system redefines how you create your character in World of Warcraft, while keeping the core style and feeling of each class and specialization intact. When launching the patch for the first time and hitting ‘N’ to open your talent pane, you’ll notice a number of changes.
The most obvious is a new layout for specializations, which now show the Core Abilities for each class spec. These are the defining skills that can only be used when you have that spec active.
The talent tab will show you the new talent system. You have a wide variety of useful and powerful abilities available to you regardless of your spec, but you may only select one talent from each row. Many of these tend to be old talents, sometimes with a bit of a change, while others are completely new abilities. These choices tend to be quite difficult, and you should expect to spend time considering each. But don’t get too discouraged, you can reset a single talent at any time (and anywhere) by using a Tome of Clear Mind (a tradable item crafted by Inscription), or reset all of them by visiting your class trainer.
Of course with a change this vast all talents have been reset, and you’ll be able to explore the new skills and talents as you choose them for the first time!
Glyphs are now a bit more focused, and a bit more fun. Prime glyphs are being removed, and Major glyphs are taking on the majority of the power and utility bonuses from both Prime and Minor glyphs. Minor glyphs are instead focusing on more fun aspects, and cosmetic customization.
Quality of Life
There are a ton of changes in 5.0.4, and you should definitely check out the full patch notes on August 28th, but a few of these are worth calling out because of how wonderfully pleasing they’ll be every time you log in.
- All cooking awards have been combined into a single currency: Epicureans Awards. This not only cleans up your currency list a bit, but means that doing the daily quests in Stormwind can help you buy the Chef’s Hat in Dalaran.
- AoE looting! Round up a ton of enemies, nuke ‘em, and then pick up all of their loot with a single right click – bag space permitting.
- The Daily Quest cap is removed. While this will truly shine in Mists of Pandaria with far more robust daily quests, you can certainly take advantage of it before then.
- Account-wide mounts, pets, and achievements! It’s finally here, and you’ll be able to enjoy just about every mount and pet you own on any character, and any license, under a single Battle.net account. You can also work on a wide variety of Achievements from multiple characters.
- A new help system has been added to many of the UI elements and menus. You can toggle hints on and off by clicking the "i" button in the upper left corner of windows that have it.
- New spells are now learned automatically when you level up. Class trainers are only needed to change talents, glyphs, class specialization, or to utilize the dual specialization feature.
- Mana pools are capped. Not necessarily a quality of life improvement, but this change will impact all mana-using classes and the stats they want. Intellect will still make skills more powerful, and Spirit will still regenerate mana faster. The amounts you choose for each is a bit more compelling now.
There’s a bunch of other stuff in the patch, and if you think we missed something crucial here be sure to let others know in the comments below.
There are a few changes to be aware that impact how you interact with and play with others.
- New buff and debuff design. This builds off the class section above, but the basic premise is that there is now a specific list of available buffs and debuffs, and each are castable by a few classes or specs. When stepping into a raid you know you should have 8 buffs, and if you don’t, there’s probably at least one person that can cast it.
- BattleTag support. If you’ve played Diablo III you’re already well acquainted with BattleTags (and you have one!). If not, you should make one now. A BattleTag is your permanent account-wide nickname on Battle.net, so choose it wisely. BattleTags can do anything RealID can, but anonymously. RealID should be kept for your real life friends and family, and BattleTag can be used for acquaintances are others you don’t want to reveal you real name to.
- Unified PvE queue. You can now queue for dungeons, raids, and other queue-able content in one handy place, all at once, and just see what pops up first.
- Cross-Realm Zones. We’ll be rolling this feature out beginning with a few realms at the launch of 5.0.4, and increasing until all realms are included for the release of Mists of Pandaria. If you’re looking to level a new character up before Mists of Pandaria, this feature will have a noticeable impact on the world around you.
- There’s also a new roll frame that pulls all the loot rolls out of the chat window and into its own spot.
The first two Scenarios are coming with 5.0.4, but they won’t be enabled until a few weeks before the Mists of Pandaria expansion release. Keep an eye on the front page of this blog for more info.
The Kitchen Sink
None of this stuff seemed to fit anywhere else, but these are important bits to take note of to better understand way lay ahead in the land of 5.0.4.
- Currency conversion. In case you missed it, Kaivax put together the specifics of the currency conversion rollout in 5.0.4 and beyond.
- PvP Season 11 ends. As usual, we’ll be determining who is getting end-of-season awards, so stay put and don’t change realm if you think you’re eligible. Conquest points will also automatically convert to Honor points at this time.
- Head enchants removed. Another bit explained a while ago was the beheading of faction enchants. The design intent will be fully seen in Mists of Pandaria with the new factions, but the change (like so many others) will hit with this patch.
- Spell Penetration has been replaced by PvP Power, and Resilience is now PvP Resilience. A blog Ghostcrawler wrote up was posted a while back with the first incarnation of this change, and the design intent remains true.
- The ranged/relic/thrown item slot has been removed. All weapons should now be equipped in the weapon slot, and ranged weapons, including wands, have been adjusted to be more powerful.
Well, that should do it. These are some big and exciting changes, and I’m certain I forgot one or more of them. If you have any helpful info or tips to ensure you and others can get into the game, set up, and killing giant boars (or each other) as fast as possible, post it in the comments below!