Our assessment of new and altered restoration talents and abilities can be found here.
The scourging of the trees: My own raid's resto Druid, an extremely competent player who was used to landing in the top three on the healing meters even in deep Sunwell where Circle of Healing and Chain Heal rule the roost, has seen his share of the healing done shrink since patch 3.02. The meters of late have had him (at worst) at 9% compared to a holy Paladin's 17% share of healing done. Any experienced healer will tell you that the healing meters are typically misleading -- no contest here -- and I think what I've been seeing in raids has a lot more to do with buffs to other healing classes than resto suddenly being terrible (our Paladins are extremely good, and Holy's raid-healing capacity was buffed significantly). Outward signs of resto's performance have always been hit-or-miss depending on the strength and suitability of direct-healing classes for particular encounters, but restos have been concerned for the past month over the numbers they're seeing.
Speedy oak: With Tree of Life's speed penalty removed (oh thank God), the ability to cast Healing Touch and decurse in form (OH THANK GOD -- Kalecgos pre-patch for a resto Druid was much less fun), the recent improvement to Wild Growth, and Regrowth's improved mana efficiency (which, to be fair, we've had for a while now), resto also has a number of new and better tools at its disposal for both tank and raid-healing. In my opinion, the recent changes have made it significantly easier for a tree to shift roles as desirable or necessary in a fight; we've always cushioned tank damage with HoT's and we have the mana efficiency to do a good -- if time-dependent -- job with raid healing. Our capacity for both jobs have been improved, with the exception of the nerf to Lifebloom.
Ouch, baby: The Lifebloom nerf hurts, don't get me wrong, but the per-second tick is too valuable on tanks to give up. Or, as Phaelia observes, it sucks and we'll still use it. Lifebloom does, however, gain more efficiency from Glyph of Lifebloom and Nature's Splendor, in addition to 3 more seconds' worth of GCD to get other HoT's on the tank and the raid. Indeed, the rapid deployment of HoT's seems to be the spec's new area of expertise via Gift of the Earthmother.
A solitary tree, not a forest: With all that said, our other raiding resto Druid has gone to full-time feral and/or balance and we don't anticipate needing to replace him with another resto. Trees don't need to be stacked the way that CoH Priests and resto Shamans do in current content. As with moonkin, I don't think resto Druids have ever been stronger as individual case studies, but previous encounter design has been prejudiced toward healers able to top a raid off faster than we can; waiting for a HoT to tick for its full duration in advanced raid content without other incoming heals is often deadly. I don't believe it's a problem of the class so much as the nature of raid damage, particularly in Black Temple and Sunwell. This may or may not change, but it's going to be interesting to watch at 80 given the homogenization of healing classes and better raid-healing potential across the board. Wild Growth is still being tinkered with, but it's currently planned to heal for the same amount as Circle of Healing over its duration. Will this be enough? We'll see. Raiding restos I spoke to in the beta were generally positive about their mana efficiency and healing output in raids, so that gives me hope.
With all that said: Druids still retain a serious advantage as the most mobile of all four healing classes, and that will be a factor in many Wrath raids.
5-man fun times: From my experience healing dozens of 5-mans in the beta, I can say that resto's solo-healing capacity has been significantly buffed, and its Northrend glyphs are amazingly helpful (another shout-out here for the overpowered awesomeness of Glyph of Swiftmend). I had way less difficulty healing severely undergeared tanks than I've typically had on the live realms; we just have better and more mana efficient ways of dealing with burst damage on the tank while instantly Hotting a group through AOE damage.
Was 8/11/42 the most widely hated spec in the game, or am I wrong?
The damage! My eyes!: As Arena Junkies notes, double-DPS teams up until the end of Wrath are probably going to be more common, and it's the opinion of more than a few Gladiators posting that moonkin or restokin specs will fare better under the circumstances.Talents and abilities are tuned for level 80 right now, which has made burst damage significantly more common and difficult to deal with. Healing has also scaled, but not to the degree that DPS has, and -- more importantly -- player HP hasn't scaled at all for the moment. All four healing classes are having difficulty keeping up (I've definitely noticed the DPS issue while healing battlegrounds), and the general consensus seems to be that you're probably better off respeccing or waiting until 80, unless you're in the mood for a challenge.
The crystal ball is malfunctioning again: As with predictions concerning moonkin in arena at 80, I'm a little ambivalent about predicting resto's performance. My general sense of things is that Blizzard is attempting to move resto in the direction of greater mana efficiency and healing output in PvP in order to compensate for the loss of easy access to uninterruptable CC in the balance and feral trees. Is it a fair tradeoff? I don't think anyone can realistically deny that crowd control, interrupts, and mobility lay a solid foundation for arena success, and a number of PvP restos are mulling the possibility of a 0/21/50 spec to regain Feral Charge. The more offensively-oriented 11/11/39 spec has also gone the way of the dinosaur, but restokin does look more viable; the additional 10 talent points between 70 and 80 will allow you to pick up both moonkin form and Swiftmend, which is huge. The consolidation of +healing and +damage into the unified spellpower stat is also a strong plus in favor of 31/0/40 or 41/0/30 in conjunction with Druid/Mage or Druid/Warlock teams.
The Death Knight factor: Unholy DK's in the beta (at least pre-nerf) were generally a very strong (some would say overpowered) counter to resto Druids, which is another reason I'm withholding judgment on resto's ultimate fate in arena. No one knows yet how many well-geared Death Knights are going to turn up to battlegrounds, much less high-end PvP, and the class is almost certainly going to be adjusted and readjusted for months after Wrath's release. If they become extremely common foes in arena, resto PvP is probably going to take a serious hit.
Generally speaking I think balance and feral are extremely well-placed for PvE content and progression in Wrath. Resto concerns me a bit with respect to 25-man raiding, although I'm still optimistic; it was tremendous fun healing in 5-mans and I hope that translates to the endgame well. PvP-wise, resto will probably stay strong -- pending the wave of PvP Death Knights reaching 80, and however Blizzard chooses to balance them afterwards. Balance/restokin is likely to pick up a few enthusiasts, and feral is pretty clearly the PvP spec with the most to gain.