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The Shattering: Major World of Warcraft Update Coming Today

If you don’t play World of Warcraft, the phrase “Patch 4.03a” probably doesn’t do much for you, but if you do, it most likely makes you gooey with delight and anticipation. For Patch 4.03a marks The Shattering, the most portentous in-game change until Cataclysm drops on December 7th.

This is a huge update to the world of WoW, and will affect players whether or not they buy Cataclysm. Blizzard’s servers are currently down in anticipation of the change, but here’s some of what players can expect, once a dragon messes some stuff up in Azeroth.

Update, 3:56pm EST: While the servers were initially scheduled to go back up around 4pm EST (1pm PST), a tipster tells us that upon trying to log in, he received a message that Blizzard has delayed this by an hour; at present, The Shattering is set to officially go into effect at 5pm EST / 2pm PST, although there’s no guarantee that that too won’t be pushed back. (Thanks, Luis!)

Update, 5:53pm EST: The Warcraft folks just tweeted out that “Patch 4.0.3a: The Shattering of Azeroth is now live on North American realms. Welcome to a world forever changed.” [Blizzard’s comprehensive rundown of the changes]

Cherrypicked from WoW Insider’s comprehensive list (serious WoW players will want to check out the whole thing):

* The new race/class combinations will be playable, with the exception of goblins and worgen.

* trolls and the gnomes have their brand new starting zones.

* Speaking of zone changes, all level 1 to 60 zones will be forever changed, and as a result, all zones will have fully playable content.

* Did you like the new Cataclysm cinematic? Good, because it’ll be viewable as of Patch 4.0.3.

* How long have you had your in-game music muted? Now would be a good time to crank it up again, as the new Cataclysm music for all new zones will be implemented.

* The new Cataclysm login screen featuring Deathwing in all his glory above a fiery version of Stormwind will also be available.

More at WoW Insider.

Susana Polo contributed knowing stuff about World of Warcraft.

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