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In the frigid wastes of Northrend, the final battle against the merciless Lich King ended in victory for Azeroth's defenders. Upon returning home, veterans of the unforgiving conflict against the Scourge were showered with praise for their valiant sacrifices, while the honorable dead were mourned. Yet as hope flared anew in the wake of the Lich King's fall, Azeroth's native elemental spirits grew confused and erratic, setting off a series of deadly natural disasters. Horde and Alliance leaders scrambled for clues about the troubling state of the world, but nothing could have prepared them for what was to come.
Without warning, the corrupted Dragon Aspect, Deathwing, erupted from the stone heart of Deepholm, the domain of earth within the Elemental Plane. Jagged fissures were torn across the earth, and monstrous waves pummeled coastal regions. From Thousand Needles to the Blasted Lands, the surface of Azeroth was reforged through violent upheavals. Now, the Horde and the Alliance must defend their homes against Deathwing and his minions, burdened by the unsettling fact that the world as they know it has changed... forever.
Deathwing's return has had an immeasurable impact throughout the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. Players will notice drastically altered terrain, thousands of new quests from levels 1-55, and updated level ranges for some zones to improve the questing flow.
In the wake of a world on the brink of destruction, members of the Horde and Alliance have taken to new cultures and studies, mastering crafts previously foreign to them. Many existing playable races now have new class combinations. Check the official World of Warcraft: Cataclysm website for a breakdown of the new combinations.
Due to several talent revisions for select classes, druids, paladins, priests, and shaman have had their talent trees reset.
The damage and healing done by players from levels 1-79 has been retuned, with the base points of almost all spells and abilities reduced. This was done to bring combat times at low levels to a more reasonable length. For most abilities that deal weapon damage, the weapon damage percent now rises per level until level 80, and starts at a lower percent.
Healing Rain, Efflorescence, Holy Radiance, Holy Word: Sanctuary now have a diminished effect when healing more than 6 players at once.
Mortal Strike, Furious Attacks, Wound Poison, Widow Venom, Permafrost, Improved Mind Blast, Monstrous Bite, and Legion Strike now reduce healing by 10%, down from 25%.
Effects which are broken from taking too much damage (Fear, Frost Nova, Entangling Roots, etc.) now break automatically from about half as much damage taken as before.
Death Pact now heals for 25% of maximum health, down from 40%.
Death Strike now heals for 25% of damage taken in the last 5 seconds, down from 30%, and will heal for a minimum of 7% of maximum health, down from 10%. The tooltip may not yet be updated to reflect this change.
Icebound Fortitude now provides 20% damage reduction, down from 30% (now 50%, down from 60% when talented), and has a 3-minute cooldown, up from 2 minutes.
PvP set bonus redesigned. While not in an Eclipse state, critical attacks against the druid restore 5 Solar or 7 Lunar energy, whichever is more beneficial. This effect can only occur once every 6 seconds.
Empowered Touch now procs from Healing Touch as well as Nourish.
Heart of the Wild: the Bear Form Stamina bonus from this talent is now 2/4/6%, down from 3/7/10%.
Malfurion's Gift no longer has Fury of Stormrage as a prerequisite talent.
Natural Shapeshifter now also increases Tree of Life duration by 5/10 seconds.
Revitalize is now a 2-point talent, down from 3. It provides a 20% chance to return 1/2% of the druid's total mana on periodic heals from Lifebloom or Rejuvenation. This effect cannot occur more than once every 12 seconds.
Swift Rejuvenation is now a 1-point talent, down from 2. The global cooldown reduction this talent provides to Rejuvenation remains 0.5 seconds.
Symbiosis: heal-over-time spells (Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Lifebloom) can no longer benefit from this Mastery merely by refreshing themselves. A different heal-over-time spell must be present.
Arcane Blast now increases damage of the next Arcane Blast by 10% per stack, down from 20%, reduces cast time by 0.1 seconds per stack, and increases the mana cost by 150%, down from 175%. In addition, the base cast time of Arcane Blast has been lowered to 2.35 seconds.
Arcane Explosion now costs 15% of base mana, down from 18%.
Arcane Missiles damage has been increased by 5%.
PvP set 4-piece bonus changed to increase damage by 5% instead of providing 5% haste.
Arcane Barrage damage has been increased by 5% and its cooldown is now 4 seconds, down from 5 seconds.
Arcane Concentration: Now has a much higher chance (13/27/40%) of entering a Clearcasting state. This effect cannot occur more than once every 15 seconds. The tooltip still states that there is a 3/6/10% chance, as it averages out to approximately the same chance with the internal cooldown applied.
Arcane Specialization again increases arcane damage by 25%.
Beacon of Light now lasts 5 minutes, up from 60 seconds.
Blessed Life: the effects of this talent cannot occur more than once every 8 seconds, up from every 2 seconds.
Illuminated Healing absorb shield now absorbs 10% of the total amount healed, up from 8%. Each point of Mastery increases the effect by an additional 1.25%, up from 1%.
Light of Dawn has been redesigned. It no longer has an enforced cooldown, now costs Holy Power instead of mana, and scale in direct proportion to the amount of Holy Power used. In addition it now heals the 5 most injured group targets (including self) in a 30-yard frontal cone.
Protector of the Innocent no longer triggers from self-heals.
Divine Bulwark now grants 2.25% less block chance per point of Mastery, up from 2%.
Holy Shield no longer increases chance to block. Instead, it increases the amount blocked by an additional 10%, for a total of 40% damage blocked.
Shield of the Righteous: Contribution of attack power halved (now 60% with full Holy Power) and base damage brought up so that a level 85 paladin in Heroic dungeon gear deals the same damage with no Vengeance, but Vengeance has less impact.
Shield of the Templar now reduces the cooldown of Guardian of Ancient Kings by 40/80/120 seconds, down from 1/2/3 minutes.
Wrath of the Lightbringer now increases Crusader Strike and Judgement damage by 50/100%, up from 30/60%.
Crusade now also has a proc on kill to increase the healing done by the paladin's next Holy Light by 100/200/300% for 15 seconds, in addition to its current effects.
Divine Storm: This ability has been redesigned. It no longer consumes Holy Power and instead costs 5% of base mana. It shares a cooldown with Crusader Strike and hits all nearby enemies for 60% weapon damage.
Pursuit of Justice now has an 8-second internal cooldown, shared with Blessed Life.
Rebuke no longer initiates Auto Attack.
Sanctity of Battle now also causes Divine Storm's cooldown to be reduced by Haste effects.
Zealotry no longer consumes 3 Holy Power, but still requires 3 Holy Power to use.
Divine Aegis is now always triggered by Prayer of Healing in addition to critical heals from all other spells.
Grace has been increased to 4/8% stacking 3 times, up from 2/4% stacking.
Inner Focus now works with Binding Heal, but no longer works with Heal.
Power Word: Barrier has been redesigned. It no longer acts as a shared absorb shield. Instead, all affected friendly targets take 30% reduced damage for the duration of the shield, which is now 10 seconds, down from 25 seconds.
Shadow Orbs: redesigned slightly. The Shadow Orbs continue to increase damage done by Mind Blast and Mind Spike and stack up to 3 times, but now when the priest casts Mind Blast or Mind Spike (consuming the orbs), the priest gains a 15-second duration buff (Empowered Shadow), which increases the damage done by all Shadow periodic spells. Empowered Shadow does not stack. Mastery increases the damage bonus of Shadow Orbs and Empowered Shadow by the same amount, 10% with the base 8 Mastery, and an additional 1.25% per Mastery.
Vampiric Embrace healing to the caster has been reduced to 6%, down from 12% (there was a tooltip error which stated that the self-healing amount was 15%). Party members still receive 3% healing.
Critical Block now grants an equal amount of block chance and critical block chance (1.5% each per point of Mastery).
Devastate no longer provides bonus threat.
Shield Slam: Contribution of attack power reduced to 60%, down from 75%, and base damage brought up so that a level 85 warrior in Heroic dungeon gear deals the same damage with no Vengeance, but Vengeance has less impact. In addition, Shield Slam no longer generates 30% bonus threat from its damage.
Vigilance no longer provides 3% damage reduction, but still refreshes Taunt and provides Vengeance.
Perfect Gem Cutting and Mixology have been removed as trainable skills and are instead passives profession abilities. When players reach the appropriate skill levels, they will start getting bonuses from Mixology (they must know the recipe to gain the benefit) and/or cutting perfect gems (depending on their profession, of course).