The Cataclysm beta continues, and the crafting dudes abide. Betas can be tough when you're doing professions analysis. A lot of the itemization and various power coefficients aren't finished, so none of the gear created by crafting feels "permanent." And I don't believe any drop rate that isn't firmly sourced from live servers. In the words of many before me, "You can't take anything for granted yet." Makes it tough to know what you're looking at.
Of course, that being said, the beta is providing a lot of tantalizing hints about what professions will be like in the expansion. There have been enormous efforts to reconcile the relative power levels of each profession, and I think the developers have made huge strides in that regard.
Random stats on crafted items are making a comeback through items like Charred Dragonscale Shoulders. While these shoulders are obviously a shaman item, since hunters don't use their intellect, the random enchant portion will keep the shoulders interesting for many of our dearly beloved totem jockeys. (Heck, inevitably a hunter or two will be wearing them, despite the intellect.) Since intellect will provide direct scaling to spellpower, that random stat bonus could be very interesting.
We can't forget that some difficult-to-make recipes can result in more than one skill-up. While I've not seen it confirmed yet, I wouldn't be surprised to see items like the Earthsoul Boots providing multiple skill-ups. Not only is the item itself purple, the recipe requires a leatherworking of 475 to perform.
Engineering is getting some pretty nice benefits in Cataclysm. The big news is that engineers will be getting jewelcrafting-like bonuses from cogwheels and hydraulic pumps. These engineer-only enhancements will socket onto their gear. Those of you who've been dying to roleplay engineering-based power armor soldiers will finally get your chance.
There are other enhancements for engineer's gear also, of course. Synapse Springs will enhance intellect for a period of time, and other gadgets are being added all the time. It seems as if Cataclysm will finally be the expansion in which engineers get some stat parity with other professions.
There's no announced equivalent of the Mechano-hog yet, though, which is kind of a bummer. But, like I've said before, Cataclysm is still in the beta; anything could change. We can still hope for a goblin-themed hot rod or something.
Enchanting has always been a workhorse profession. Ever since the days of vanilla World of Warcraft, getting your gear properly enchanted has been the way to signify yourself as a knowledgeable player. In Cataclysm, that's not really going to change.
What is going to change, however, is the addition of new procs and new enchanting dynamics. I can't help but hope that some of the proc-based enchants will make it to raiding level, instead of simply being marginalized as "leveling enchants." Weapon enchants like Landside, though, are almost definitely going to be first-tier raiding enchants, which is at least a little more interesting than plain old raw strength or agility.
Alchemy actually feels a lot like it did in Wrath of the Lich King, with a few relatively minor exceptions. The alchemist's stone is pretty cool, and its metric ton of stamina proves that the developers are serious about making sure everyone cares about survivability. The transmutation structure for pyrium resembles the metal from Wrath, but the krovalian gold required by engineers could be a nice touch. If the teleportation potion makes it to live servers, we could see alchemists selling quick trips to Deepholm.
These gimmicks aside, though, alchemy is alchemy. You make potions to restore mana and health, and flasks to buff various stats. Like enchanting, alchemy has always been such a staple of successful WoW careers that it's hard to improve on such a reliable craft.
As the stalwart and ineffable Matthew Rossi already pointed out, we're already seeing some awesome gear for blacksmiths to make. Even the poleaxe carries over 500 stamina. Blacksmiths are going to be incredibly busy supplying raiders and PvP players their initial gear, since it seems likely that this crafted gear will be the best stuff available before the first tier of endgame content.
We can only hold on tightly while we wait to see what else will be revealed in the beta. It's still a little early to feel like we're seeing final versions of anything, but professions seem like they'll play a vital role to kickstarting any character into the endgame. This will feel like a repeat to those of us who were busy crafters at the beginning of Wrath, but hopefully the good times will last a little longer this time.
Each week, Insider Trader takes you behind the scenes of the bustling subculture of professional craftsmen, examining the profitable, the tragically lacking and the methods behind the madness.