Cataclysm: Giving the UI a much needed polish
I was very excited to receive some pictures a few days ago of some of the changes to the UI that have been found in the Beta so far, both things that have been promised and completely new, unexpected surprises. They’ve been giving the UI a much needed polish. With the changes to the way we learn spells (one rank that scales with levels as opposed to new ranks every 3 levels or so) they’ve made some excellent changes to the spellbook, the training windows and added a great new notification of new spells on leveling, shown on the right.
On the left you can see the new training window for professions, looking very nice indeed. The items and their icons are clear, you can obviously see what skill you need and how much the pattern will cost to purchase. Very pleased with that. It has a comprehensive filter as well, allowing to sort by things that will give skill-ups, things that will give MULTIPLE skill-ups, etc. The player training window is very similar to this, with abilities able to be filtered and sorted, and shown in thicker rows with icons and names shown; again a product of the new ‘one rank of each spell’ concept.
Right. The next thing I’m excited about… I’m veeeery excited about. They’re doing some nice little modifications to the way SOME quests work by allowing them to be handed in without revisiting the quest giver until the end of the chain (most definitely not all, but most of the ones that require you to be out in the field doing things that would otherwise have required back and forth running. Think Nesingwary.)
As you can see on the right, if one of your quests can be treated this way, you’ll get a highlighted box. Clicking this, or opening your quest log and selecting the appropriate quest, will give you the normal text box, and a talking picture of the NPC, like you’re on a videophone to them. Similarly, for quests with a one mob kill objective, you’ll have a picture and a short description of the mob you’re looking for, a wonderful step forward for those classes without forms of tracking. Examples of both are shown on the left (if you don’t want even the tiniest spoilers, just marvel at the way the 3D pics work with the quest log, but I did try and find the least spoilery quests to show. The pictures make sense if read alongside the text!)
A change I’m not going to put pictures in for is to the minimap. It was long promised to us that we’d be able to track both Mining and Herbalism nodes in Cataclysm, something the double-gatherers have been asking for for years. They’ve done us one better; their tracking system allows for anything to be tracked along with anything else – you can select what you want to see with a drop down list. Things like the default Blizzard tracking for Inns, Mailboxes etc get their own minimap icons so you don’t get flooded with a minimap of yellow dots. They have also introduced a minimap arrow that will direct you to your highest tracked quest (best used in conjunction with Blizzards currently implemented feature to sort your quest tracker by the closest quest, alá questhelper.)
What you see here is the new character pane. Gear is now placed similarly to the inspection window, the ranged ammo slot is gone (with the removal of ammo from the game, now noone has to look at that pointless thing.) Down the right is a much clearer representation of statistics for your character. We can now look at multiple tables at once, hurray! They have also said they are working on getting this to show you useful things, such as hovering hit to give you your chances to hit against different level mobs, and hovering Mastery to see how much your specific bonuses are being increased by by the amount of mastery stat you have.
Above, you can see the amazing changes brought about to the spellbook. Now that the skills tab has been reshuffled with the removal of weapon skills, they’ve made an excellent page to showcase your primary and secondary professions. They’ve also redesigned the spellbook itself: All spells are listed, whether they’re useable or not. The usable ones are the normal colour, ones that you can train but haven’t done so yet are glowing yellow, and ones that can’t be trained till higher levels are greyed out and have a listing of the required level.
It’s all excellent stuff, and I’m pleased as punch with some of these changes. I know they’ve been covered by other people, I just wanted to give my take on them!