I bit the bullet and resubscribed to WoW. Here are my impressions of the new patch.
The new character models look pretty decent. They still look a lot like the old models. The major differences I've noticed on the human female model are the eyes and the running animation. The eyes seem much bigger and brighter, more like "anime" eyes. At least you can change your face in the barbershop now.
The running animation also looks a little different than I remembered. It may just be a case of more moving parts though.
The ability pruning is pretty noticeable. I had a lot of blank buttons on my hotbars. But all the important abilities are there.
Warning! There's a new button to sort your bags. I accidentally pressed this button in my bank, and it wrecked my carefully laid out system of having specific bags for specific items.
The stat squish is both noticeable, especial when you look at armor, and forgettable. The numbers seem to work, and general combat in the open world worked pretty much like normal.
Initial Warlords Questline
The new questline is pretty decent. There are some changes to the way the quest tracker works, which was surprising at first. As well, quest goals are pointed out with great detail.
Another new thing came with a quest to plant flags in certain locations. Before, you would go to that location and click a flag item in your inventory or on your quest tracker. But now there were golden outlines of the flag in the location. When you clicked on the outline, your character planted the flag. I cannot decide if this is a better or worse way to handle these types of quests.
Upper Blackrock Spire
I did the new UBRS. It's pretty short, ending at roughly where the Rend Blackhand encounter used to be. There are some nice call outs to the old UBRS. It feels incomplete, but it may just be a teaser for the full dungeon at 100.
New Healing Model
Healing-wise, I don't know. I don't think the numbers for healing are quite right at 90. For one thing, it didn't seem to make a lot of difference whether or not I used the expensive, fast heal, or the slower, cheap heal. It would also have helped a lot if the tanks had pulled slowly. The first tank pulled everything in the first room, we wiped, and then the tank left the group. Then for some reason the second tank left in the middle of the last boss fight event. Luckily we got a third tank quickly, and successfully finished the fight.
Healing is a lot weaker than it used to be, but it feels like damage still comes in at a higher rate. Or perhaps tanks have a lot more control over how much damage they take. I'd notice that the tank would take crazy damage, but then take very little when they were at low health, while I was trying to frantically heal them back up. Or with the DK tank, suddenly the tank would gain 30% of her health back, but it wasn't from one of my heals.
Basically, as a healer, it felt like the tank had more control over her health than I did. I am not sure that is a good thing for group mechanics. The bargain is that the tank controls the mobs, I as healer keep the tank up, and the dps kills the mobs. This feels like it breaks the link between healer and tank a little bit.
I guess we'll see how it works out at 100, though. I may also be wrong about why the tank's health dropped fast some of the time and slow at other times. I thought it was the tanks starting to use active mitigation more, but it may just have been random or the tank using her regular defensive cooldowns.