I can't help but wonder: are there still people who are trying to avoid Cataclysm spoilers completely? I imagine that it must be quite hard by now, considering how omnipresent spoilers appear to be on the news sites and how casually people like to drop them into discussions of completely unrelated subjects as well.
Anyway, no story spoilers here, as I'm still trying to avoid those. I don't mind finding out about gameplay-related changes really, because I don't consider "being confused by my vastly changed talent trees" a fun feature of new content patches anyway. Better to be able to prepare yourself a little ahead of time.
Biggest gear reset ever
One thing that's pretty old news right now but that nonetheless hasn't ceased to amaze me is the absolutely massive gear reset that's coming in Cataclysm. To give an example, these are the leggings my main is currently wearing. They are the tier 10.25 legs for healing priests (or whatever you want to call them), acquired by running normal-mode ICC-25 or heroic ICC-10. Not the best item currently available in the game for that slot, but pretty close. This is what they look like in the Cataclysm beta, with the spell power mostly converted into stamina. And this is a green quest reward from Mount Hyjal, for a quest that you can do at level eighty. The stats are pretty damn close.
Now, this doesn't so much annoy me (though I will probably moan a little when I have to replace my epics acquired through raiding with quest greens), but it does confuse me. Remember the Burning Crusade with its also pretty considerable gear reset? If you don't, just compare this blue quest reward from Hellfire Peninsula with this robe from AQ40. Ouch.
The thing is, Blizzard agreed afterwards that this was a bad idea. This is why the gear replacement curve in Northrend was so much smoother. A green quest reward from Howling Fjord didn't really hold a candle to something from Zul'Aman for example (and not just because of the weird itemisation). And again, people mostly seemed to agree that this was a good thing.
And yet, here comes Cataclysm and they go back to the "massive gear reset" model and nobody seems to do as much as bat an eyelash about it. Or maybe they did and I've missed it; personally I haven't seen any discussion of the subject on blogs or read about any official Blizzard statements explaining this complete turnaround in attitude. It just seems strange.
Fear those normal world mobs
Larísa made a nice post last week about the fact that Blizzard has been ramping up the health and damage output of normal world mobs in the high level zones in the Cataclysm beta. Many seem to welcome this change, but I'm a bit undecided - which is ironic considering that I asked for a "healthy buff" for all outdoor mobs myself before.
I still think that it's a good idea in principle, but judging by some of the comments I've seen on the forums it could be that Blizzard has gone too far into the other direction right now. It's one thing to not want to be able to two-shot a mob of equal level and quite another to be two-shotted yourself by that same mob instead.
Plus, one has to consider that mob difficulty varies a lot depending on what class and spec you play. My holy priest still takes her sweet time killing normal level eighty mobs, even in ICC-25 gear. My hunter can kill the same mobs quickly, but can still get into situations where she'll have to feign and reset if she gets too many adds or tries to take on a powerful elite on her own. And my protection paladin could just run through any group of mobs, including elites, and tank them to death without even losing any health or mana. So I'm a bit worried that if Blizzard tunes things in such a way that they'll be challenging to even the most powerful characters, my weaker toons might just not be able to solo at all, which would obviously suck.
Also, you have to keep in mind that these characters are all at least in a mix of triumph and frost level gear, so that is a factor as well. If you tune things to push people in ilevel 264 gear to their limits, any alts that get levelled after the release of Cataclysm and try to progress into the level eighty-one zones in greens and blues a hundred ilevels lower will run into a massive brick wall all of a sudden, which doesn't exactly make for a smooth levelling curve either.
Personally I would only increase the difficulty of normal mobs a little, but bring elite areas back into the world and generally increase mob density in areas that are supposed to be "scary". Many mobs that give levelling players trouble in the old world don't actually hit particularly hard on their own either, but they come in packs and like to do things like run away and call for help, which keeps you on your toes.
Holy priest, Batman!
On a completely unrelated note, you might remember me ranting quite heavily about what holy priests looked like in the Cataclysm beta one and a half months ago. As such I'm quite happy to hear that Blizzard has finally got around to paying some attention to the spec, trying to make sure that the talents actually make some sense and just generally making holy sound interesting again.
Personally I'm not worried about the spec becoming too difficult to play, but I do sort of wonder about how much point there is in adding too many new healing spells for priests. After all, resto druids were denied any new additions to their healing arsenal with the argument that they already have enough, and while priests need a little more variety since their spellbook has to cover two healing specs focusing on different spells, there is still such a thing as overkill. Don't get me wrong, the huge variety of healing spells is one of the things that really attracts me to holy priest play, but there comes a point where spells start to look too similar and you just can't make them all equally viable. Don't introduce more spells just for the sake of having more, they are likely to just end up on the edge of people's action bars where they never get used because another spell pretty much already does the same thing anyway.