So, I get the Cata invite around 8am yesterday morning, I rush home (luckily I work ~5 minutes from my house) and get on my computer and start the installer. It says "Cataclysm will require about 16GB of free disk space, proceed?" I hit my SSD info and see what I got... ~10GB free... hmmm. Okay, I uninstall the following:

Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2: Episode 1
Half-Life 2: Episode 2
Counter-Strike Source

Suddenly, I have around 22GB of free space available. Baller, I agree with the installer's 50 dialogs and start the download. It says "1.2Mb/s of 2.24GB" ... hmm, must be something like that is just for the full installer or the compressed files of the basic Cataclysm and there will be a hundred patches or whatever. So, I go back to work.

Skip ahead to 3PM when I get home. I pull up to my desk and see an error message... GREAAAAAT! It doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but then I just click it closed and a new message appears "Failed to Apply Patch blah blah blah." Okay, that makes sense... it fills me with rage, but it makes sense. I click "play" on the launcher, it starts trying to apply the patch again, and see the problem immediately: disk space reports on my SSD says "142MB available."

... wat!? Damn, this thing is huge! So, I offload this monster onto a secondary HDD that has around 80GB available, and it patches fine... now it only has 40GB available. What was the problem? What happened to that estimated 15GB of disk space required? Well, I completely forgot that this is not coming off of a DVD (or multiple DVDs in this case) and is actually downloading each patch and applying them. The patches themselves are a gigabyte or two in size themselves, then they make the game a gigabyte or two larger once applied... it's actually ABOUT double the estimate unless you delete each patch as its applied, which I was not because it was getting auto-applied/run for me while I was at work.

Long-story-short: I got the Beta client up and running with a Druid to test and a Priest for Guntir to test at around 7PM when we got back from dinner.

The very first thing I noticed when I logged in... there's no Feral weapon in my bags. I have caster gear and feral gear, but no Feral weapon. BAH... okay, well I can, if nothing else, assume that my Shreds/Mangles/etc will be hitting a LOT harder than my 99DPS caster dagger.

The second thing I noticed when I logged in: Orgrimmar is BEAUTIFULLY redesigned. Here is a youtube link of some guy who is showing you around; it's definitely worth the watch. For your information, Thunder Bluff, Undercity, etc have not really been redesigned as much as Orgrimmar has, but there are small changes.

Okay, let's talk about abilities and talents and what-not:

Skull Bash
Ridiculously overpowered for PvP at the moment... you can simply assume that this ability will never make it to live in its current implementation. Just write it off as "will be nerfed into oblivion later" and you will be less annoyed when it inevitably happens. Currently, Skull Bash DOES have an 18-yard range, DOES charge you to your opponent (rather nicely... better than Feral Charge Cat, for instance), DOES interrupt their school for 5 seconds on a 10 second cooldown, and DOES put a PHYSICAL DEBUFF on the target which causes their spell cost to be increased by 30% for 10 seconds with 2/2 Brutal Impact.

Again, Skull Bash is NOT going to stay as-is; there is just no way Blizzard is going to leave Ferals with an interrupt that also charges the opponent and puts arguably one of the best healing debuffs in the game on them on a 10-second cooldown. Could you imagine Warriors with a 10 second CD on Charge? Remember when it was 12 seconds??? People went crazy! If I had to guess, I would say that the charge-component is going to go away, and hopefully that is it. As I say, Skull Bash + Brutal Impact may be the new best healer-debuff in the game, and it interrupts a school for 5 seconds if you interrupt them... this is borderline OP, but I think it might be just strong enough to slide beneath the radar if Blizz is more concerned with the charge-component than the rest.

Like I was telling Guntir last night: "If they give us some RIDICULOUSLY overpowered abilities early-on in Beta, then the hope is that they will be nerfed to the point where it qualms all the QQers but still ends up being extremely strong... just 'less strong' than it was in Beta."

Rip/Rake (and lesser - Pounce)
These abilities have not had their scaling from attack power reworked as of yet. This is not entirely a huge concern of mine, but it definitely puts a damper on testing (though, without a Feral weapon, it would not largely matter either way). Additionally, Rip/Rake/Pounce do NOT currently benefit from Haste. I have about 16% haste in the T10 Feral set they started me with, and there are still only 5 ticks in Rake and 8 ticks in Rip (without glyphs and whatnot; 5 ticks on Rake because of Endless Carnage... so awesome). One thing I did not really check is whether Rake/Rip/Pounce innately have the ability to tick critically. I AM wearing the 4PT10 bonus, so it could very well be that Rake is only critically ticking because of that, but I want to be sure; I will post back here when I have confirmed that.

Maybe this should be under a "Haste" heading, it's hard to tell. Energy regeneration SEEMS to benefit from Haste at the moment, but it is EXTREMELY unclear exactly how. For instance, I energy-starved myself (using Ferocious Bite at ~35 energy) and immediately hitting the "go" button on the in-game stop-watch, and it took right around 8.5 seconds to get entirely back to 100 energy.

Under normal conditions today, we regenerate energy at 10 energy per second, meaning that after 10 seconds at 0 energy, we should be full again. With 15% haste, it seems that we regenerate energy 15% faster (do the maths, it takes 1.5 seconds less than normal to regenerate the same amount of energy, at 10 seconds, 1.5 seconds is 15% of that... etc etc). This is an extremely nice and balanced way of causing Haste to scale our energy regeneration. It will still have to be seen how haste rating scales at 85, but if we can expect something like 10-20% haste on PvP gear, then the energy-return will be nice.

Ferocious Bite
FB is now overpowered.

Do you think BG-heroes complain about FB now? Wait until they see this monster implementation. I mentioned in the "NDA is lifted, here's info" post that FB had the curious change of "extra energy consumed up to 35 causing UP TO 100% bonus damage."

I tested this with ~3.5k attack power in Cat Form (I know... doesn't that just sound weird? I'm rocking like 10k right now, going to less than 4k just feels dirty somehow) and a caster dagger and offhand, and FB was critting the Heroic Training Dummy for... wait for it... about 6k at 35 energy, and around 17k at 70 energy. Perhaps that number doesn't do it justice; let's try this: seventeen-thousand damage on an FB crit without having a Feral weapon equipped. Admittedly, FB is one of those abilities which scales 100% from Attack Power and has nothing to do with weapon damage, so it will not change much if I were equipping Heroic Oathbinder or nothing at all... the Attack Power difference is rather small, but not completely ignorable.

I know there will be more... I didn't have a chance to test some things I really wanted to like NomNomNom or target-bouncing (using FCC then SB and going back and forth between targets) because Guntir wanted a shot at testing out Disc which is pretty cool... Power Word: Barrier is ESSENTIALLY Anti-Magic Zone, except it works with all damage, not just magic.

I was thinking that I would put up some video reviews, maybe start a YouTube channel and link them here... I don't know how useful that would be, but I went searching for a Skull Bash video last night and could not find one for the life of me... so I figured I am as well-equipped as anyone to do so... might as well, right?