The preparations for World of Warcraft's upcoming Cataclysm expansion are going live today with the launch of the 4.0.1 content patch. While not including Goblins or Worgen yet, today's patch does feature some major design overhauls and brings in-game systems up to date for Cataclysm's December 7 launch. The game's lore will also see some changes in the next few weeks as scripted events begin taking place across Azeroth, foreshadowing the coming destruction and revamp of the game world.
The majority of today's changes streamline interface elements, such as the character, spellbook, and guild management screens. Also, hoping to adjust how players choose and play their roles in-game, 4.0.1 has shed some of the bloat that has built up over the previous expansions. Rarely-used spells have been removed, talent trees have be redesigned and shortened, and the glyph system has been refined.
Several new features have been launched as well: "reforging," which allows players to alter the stats of their gear and replace less desirable bonuses with others that better suit their spec or play style, and a new water rendering system, which adds a nice cosmetic improvement to one of the game's most outdated-looking elements. A list of all changes made in the patch can be found here.