Well not sure how many remember last week anyee made a post saying she had a beta invite and didn't have the time to make use of it. Anyee and I play eachother's accounts from time to time anyway, and so I've spent the weekend beta testing, putting in endless bug reports, interacting with GMs, poking at new content, taking screenshots, and posting all the screenshots online.
I've found that distinct feeling of fun and excitement that I had when I was first beta testing WOW before it's release. Excited to see and explore new lands, experiencing new quests I've never done before, seeing new sights I've never seen before. I haven't realized in the last year or so how much I've missed that. For the last few months my attitude has been one of "Oh I'll log in when I log in. No hurry" - but now I'm excited to log in and see/experience new content again. I think we're all really hungry for this new content, honestly. Experiencing something new.
The expansion is an upgrade to your account. The $40 gives you a datadisk and a keycode. Using the keycode on your account to upgrade it gives you access to the content. But you need the data that is on the CD.
Character copy to the test realm is up but really backlogged, so I was not able to play my (Anyee's) 60's yet. I've made a newbie Draenei and Blood Elf to try them out. I really like the Draenei - they are a lot of fun. The quests are a lot of fun and are pretty cool so far. The art in Exodar is really neat. There's a lotta storyline, which I like. There's a new LFG system built into the game, there's a new enemy castbar system built into the UI. The racials that scale with level are REALLY neat, I think that should be done to all racials. So far I'm having a lot of fun, but there's bugs too. I've been reporting them as I find them. But the GMs talk to you personally and not canned responses.
Some additional notes. The following may contain spoilers I guess to some, so if you are worried about such things... don't read this.
ALL NEW ZONES ARE INSTANCED - meaning you must own the expansion in order to enter them. You cannot fly to them when you have the flight paths - although there are birdmasters, there are no connections. They are all flagged PVP-active like a racial city - the whole zone. Anyone with the expansion can enter these zones, however if you are not of the faction of the zone your entering (EG. alliance in silvermoon/horde in exodar) - anywhere in the zones - you will be auto-flagged for PVP. (Outlands, however, is flagged down on a non-PVP server.)
Azuremyst Isle / Bloodmyst Isle / Silvermyst Isle / The Exodar (The new alliance zones) - to reach them from the outside world, take the Night Elf longboat at the far far end of the auberdine pier.
Ghostlands / Eversong Forest / Sunstrider Isle / Silvermoon City (The new horde zones) - to reach them from the outside world, take the pass in the northern mountains of the Eastern Plaguelands, past Adon (*cough Addon*), until you reach an instance portal.
Outlands - reachable though the Dark Portal. There are no demons guarding the portal anymore, but instead combined alliance and horde forces. The far side of the portal is a warzone as combined horde and alliance forces duke it out constantly against the titanic demons of the Burning Legion. There is also a flightpoint here, and you get a free flightpath to your first destination - Honor Hold. (End of spoilers, I guess)
Mages: New portals! Teleport to Exodar/Silvermoon is trainable at the portal trainer next to the mage trainers at Exodar/Silvermoon. Teleport is at 20, and portal is at 40. There are some factions in outland with portal trainers too, but you need to grind rep with them first.
Hunters: I'm going to upload a folder full of hunter shots - specifics about what spell upgrades you get when. But you get a new rank of Mend Pet right at 60. I think this is open to everyone, expansion or no. On the whole my damage is the same as it was before, though the stats on my gear (any gear that says "Class: Hunter" on it has changed stats), including Beaststalkers. On the whole I hit about the same as before, with a couple of exceptions. Arcane Shot hits a whole hell of a lot harder - like 500-ish on a lvl 1 critter instead of 100-200ish dmg. Aimed shot hit a little harder than before, but not much. Instead of 2000-ish aimed shot crits on lvl 1 critters, it's 2500ish.
NEW SPELL RANKS FROM AQ - ARE NOT TRAINABLE AT 60! At least not always, depends on class. You have to get to 64/66/68 or whatever the level needed is for that rank of the spell to be trained off the trainer. So either raid AQ20 and get your spell books at 60, or wait until lvl 64/66/68ish and train them for 4g+ each off the trainers. At least this is the case with my 60 hunter. My priest was able to train all three AQ books off the trainer right at 60. May vary by class, member FDIC, your milage may vary.
Alchemists gets to specialize. There are lvl 60-70 crafting patterns on vendors all over the place. Jewelcrafting trainers are ONLY available in Exodar, Silvermoon, and Outland. Upshot being, no expansion, no jewelcrafting. Same applies to the elephant and chocobo mounts - they are at the new racial cities and in Outland. No expansion - no new mounts for you. And so far no sign of cloth quartermasters either. That runecloth your hoarding may not be good for anything.
ABOUT REPUTATION - the reputation system is highly revamped in the new expansion. Doing quests in the Draenei and Blood Elf starting zones, I was HONORED with my own faction by level 7. LEVEL SEVEN. You get 200/300/700+ rep for doing quests in the starting zones. They have definitely started to take the GRIND out of Faction Grinding. You may not *NEED* the runecloth to get exalted with the Exodar. Draenei start out friendly with all alliance factions, and alliance members start out friendly with the Exodar. Blood Elves start out Neutral with Orgrimmar, Thunder Bluff, and the trolls, but are friendly with the Undercity. Undead start out friendly with the Blood Elves, all other horde start out neutral.
Hunters: Added some screenshots including existing spell upgrades and their ranks from 60-70, as well as some damage test screenshots.
Priests: Screenshots added of your existing spell upgrades from 60-70.
X-posted to my livejournal.