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Pre-Panda Patch Brings Cross-Realm Zones, New Areas, and New Class Abilities to World of Warcraft

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It's one of those little things I never thought about until the first time I tried a game that had it as a feature, maybe a year ago. One of those little, tiny, quality-of-life features that nobody knew, back in 2004, that we would all want so very badly by 2012.

And so, it comes to pass: World of Warcraft is finally adding area-of-effect looting. You never will know exactly where those badgers were storing that armor, but at least you'll be able to rob the corpses of the whole colony of them at once.


Joking aside, though, the 5.0.4 patch for World of Warcraft, which came out today, adds and tweaks a number of the game's features in preparation for the September 25 launch of the Mists of Pandaria expansion. Blizzard has put out a survival guide for players (including the video above), summarizing how the changes will effect every account and character class.

In addition to the class-specific changes, the patch has also redesigned the talent system and made achievements, mounts, and pets go account-wide. Blizzard has also tied World of Warcraft into the BattleTag system.


What may be the most useful feature, though, is the implementation of cross-realm zones. After eight years, World of Warcraft has become heavy on high-level players and late-game participation, but lower-level zones often have a population slump. The ability to connect across servers will let low-level players find others to play and connect with. And with a new expansion on the way, making it easier to level new characters can't be a bad idea.