Patch 3.1 is probably still a week away, but the Public Test Realms have largely cooled down and I thought it might be handy to do a bit of an overview for Patch 3.1.
Note that this list is not meant to be comprehensive or have all the details, especially about skills. It’s really just a quick look at what’s coming up. If you have any questions or want more info, you’ll probably want to start with the PTR patch notes (at least until 3.1 launches and we get real patch notes) but I will also link to other sources below when I have them handy.
- Dual Talent Specialization: At level 40 you can spend 1000 gold to unlock a second talent specialization. Each spec behaves just like your spec right now — in particular, you can set up and respec each spec just the way you do now. Once you have unlocked the second spec, you can switch between them almost instantly and almost anywhere. Each spec also has its own set of glyphs and hotbars, and switching specs switches these as well. Note that switching between specs drains all your mana. (More on how this works with hunters below.)
- Argent Tournament: A permanent event for level 80 characters in Icecrown that introduces mounted jousting and can reward you with cool new mounts and mini-pets. (If only I could do it!)
- Noblegarden: The Easter-like Noblegarden event has been expanded from a single tortuous day into quite a fun week. This is the first holiday I’ve looked forward to in quite a while.
- Ulduar: Apparently some sort of new raid dungeon.
- Switching between talent specs will also respec your pets, which gets annoying fast but is necessary. Blizzard has, however, apparently fixed the bug that unsuccessfully respec’d your pet when when you switched, so at least you no longer have to go back to town to straighten everything out.
- In order to help level 80 hunters switch between exotic and non-exotic specs, hunters can train the Call Stabled Pet skill at level 80. This skill lets you access your stable (almost) anywhere. Call Stabled Pet can be used without switching specs — it’s just a normal level 80 skill with a 30 minute cooldown — but the cooldown is reset when you switch specs so as long as you have unlocked Dual Talent Specs and you don’t mind repeatedly spec-switching — and you are level 80 — you can switch pets at any time. Did I mention this is only for level 80s?
- Hunters no longer need to use quivers and ammo pouches, although they can if they want to. The haste from quivers and pouches has been removed from them and is now an inherent part of the hunter class. In addition, ammunition now stacks to 1000. Other ammo changes may come later, but this is what we get for now.
- There’s been a whole laundry list of hunter talent changes which I’m not going to bother to summarize here.
- All hunter pets now have the same stat modifiers: +5% Damage, +5% Health, and +5% Armor. Note that these are the stat modifiers previously help by Cunning pets.
- Pet talent trees have been expanded. All three trees get the new talent Wild Hunt, which increases the hunter’s Stamina and Attack Power contribution to the pet. Ferocity pets get the new talent Shark Attack, which increases damage. Tenacity pets get the new talent Silverback, which heals then when they Growl. And Cunning pets get Grace of the Mantis and Roar of Sacrifice, which were previously only available to Tenacity pets.
- The Gorilla skill Thunderstomp is now a Tenacity talent available to all Tenacity pets. Instead of Thunderstomp, gorillas will instead get Pummel, which interrupts and prevents spellcasting.
- We have a new spirit beast — Gondria of Zul’Drak — and a new non-exotic but exceedingly cool pet in the form of Aotona.
- There are new turtles and crabs to tame in Eversong and Ghostlands.
- As with hunter talents, there’s been a whole laundry list of pet talent changes. I’ve deliberately left out the changes to Furious Howl, Stampede, Acid Spit and more for this post or it would be a good bit longer.
- The cooldown on the ubiquitous hearthstone has been lowered to 30 minutes.
- You can now queue for Battlegrounds anywhere.
- You no longer need flint and tinder to make a campfire.
- The level 40-ish quests for cooking and fishing are no longer required to advance your skill, although you can still do them for rewards. Similarly, you no longer need to buy cooking or fishing books to advance — the trainers will, you know, train you instead.
- The way fishing works has changed slightly. You can fish (and skill up) anywhere, but you won’t be catching actual fish unless your skill is high enough.
- You can fish up a mount in Northrend!
- Horde characters now have an avenue to obtain a Sprite Darter mini-pet and an easier avenue to obtain a Westfall Chicken.
- There are all sorts of useful new UI options built into the default UI. Unfortunately the Equipment Manager addition had to be pulled from the patch at the last minute, but check out the so-called Colorblind Mode (useful for all sorts) and the Preview Talent Changes option.
As I said when I started, I’m hand-waving away a lot of the changes, especially in hunter and pet talents. I also know that there’s been a host of animation changes (ghost wolves can run now!). I’m afraid it’s going to take me several more posts to round all that info up! But please feel free to let me know what I missed in the comments.