When you get a beta invite, do you use our own character, or a pre-made one?
There are no pre-mades in the beta -- the beta servers are populated by characters copied from the live realms.
If its your character from live, do you keep the XP and gear you gained in beta when WotLK goes live?
Though Blizzard hasn't explicitly said, my guess is no. Just like the PTRs, the beta realms are for testing. Things can change radically day to day -- even the amount of experience required to level! It wouldn't really be fair to give beta testers a leg up on the rest of the players.
What's the status of real-time weather in Northrend? Will we have clear days, snowy days, blizzards, rain, or anything like that?
At present, there's no real-time weather in Northrend. Or at least, if there is, it's subtle enough that those of us here at WoW Insider haven't been able to notice it.
Now that Blizzard is looking at making Paladin tanking less reactive, how will this affect Paladin tank solo grinding? Are we still doing as much damage to enemies that hit us, we just rely less on it for threat?
Retribution Aura, Blessing of Sanctuary, and Holy Shield all still exist -- so your standard issue tankadin will still be doing plenty of damage (and thus threat) to anything that's hitting them. However, the changes to the judgement system will allow Paladins to take a bit more of an active role in directly attacking their opponent -- you know, something more than hitting seal, judge, seal, judge whenever the cooldowns are up. (For those of you just trying to catch up, seals now last for 2 minutes, regardless of how many times you judge them; Seal of the Crusader is gone, and its damage bonus has been rolled into the base spells; and seals and judgements are no longer tied together, so you could seal righteousness for the bonus holy damage and judge wisdom for the mana regeneration debuff.) There's also a new ability, Shield of Righteousness, that will also provide damage and threat when used.
I don't think either of those will make a big difference for soloing, however. At this point, Paladins are still your best option if there's AoE tanking to be done and you'll still find Protection Paladins grinding away a half dozen mobs at a time in the right places. The new judgement system and Shield of Righteousness give us more options when we're forced to take mobs on one at a time, but because of reflective damage, it's still going to be faster to fight more than one at a time if you have the option to do so.
asked.... I've read that the new quests will try to explain the story somewhat, going away from the "Collect 20 pig snouts" variety. Is this true? Are the quests more diverse than what we've had before?
Though you'll certainly run into the same "kill X number of Y" type quests, the quest chains I've seen thus far in Northrend do a pretty good job of setting the stage. You and the rest of your faction have traveled to Northrend to fight off the Lich King and his minions. And even when your quests are mundane, they all seem to revolve around that story, even from the start.
The Wrath of the Lich King
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