Feedback: Warlock Updates

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Community Manager
#1 - April 18, 2024, 5:54 p.m.
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In this thread, we’ll be testing and talking about Warlocks in The War Within. Look here for posts from the development team as adjustments and bugfixes are made throughout the testing period.

Please note that off-topic or inappropriate posts will be strictly removed.

Thank You

Before we continue testing The War Within, we’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who read and responded to the Hero Talent previews we posted over the last few months.

Looking to the Alpha

In this first Alpha build, every single class has at least one new Hero Talent tree available for testing, with the rest coming in the following weeks. We’re asking testers to initially keep several things in mind:

  • There are UI elements on the talent panel that are placeholder, including things like talent icons, text, or final UI art.
  • Some talents may not be functioning yet, or may be marked as not yet implemented (NYI)
  • New spell visuals and audio for several new Hero Talent trees are still a work in progress. Many trees are using placeholder assets for now that will be updated over the course of Alpha.
  • There are some talents that are not fully tuned yet. This is expected, and we will implement tuning adjustments throughout testing.

The combat design team has two big areas of focus right now that we are prioritizing over other concerns such as tuning or generic class updates/maintenance:

  • Finish building the remainder of the Hero Talent trees that are not yet available.
  • Fix bugs that are blocking testing of new talents.

With the Alpha build being playable and all of the discussion that will occur around the flood of data, we wanted to reiterate that the responses to our blog previews were highly valuable. The feedback we received allowed us to make some early improvements or revisions while we didn’t yet have a public test environment. It allowed us to take some big early swings on certain trees, and then react to early feedback quickly.

Going forward, we aren’t planning to publish any additional Hero Talent previews in blog form, since we’ll add the remaining classes to the Alpha as soon as they reach their ready-to-test state.

Working from Feedback

Several Hero Talent trees have received changes after reading feedback to the blog posts. Some of these were tuning changes to ensure that the Hero Talent tree felt competitive, while others were significant design changes. The feedback thus far has been of great benefit to us.

Going into Alpha, we feel good about the shape of the Hero Talent tree designs. Keeping a consistent number of utility and defensives nodes across all trees, having parity between number of choice nodes, and the overall structure of the trees are things we’re confident in.

We’re also working on tweaking some core class designs as well. In some cases, it was necessary to make adjustments to the class or specialization talent trees before significant work was done on a Hero Talent tree. In other cases, we did work seeking to improve base class talent tree designs.

Alpha Feedback

Now that we’re in Alpha, we’re looking for feedback on how it feels to playtest these trees. We’re specifically curious about:

  • Hero Talents that you feel are “required” for your spec in a type of content, such as raiding or Mythic+, or that push you towards picking a specific tree.
  • Hero Talents that create frustrating or unsatisfying gameplay or rotations for your spec.
  • Hero Talents whose functionality is confusing, unclear, or difficult to track during gameplay.

Throughput comparisons of Hero Talent trees are helpful, but we’re more interested in gameplay, feel, and choice feedback at this stage. Also, when possible, we appreciate it when you focus posts or articles on a single spec and Hero Talent tree, rather than combining feedback about multiple issues.

Again, Thank You

We greatly appreciate all your feedback on Hero Talent trees and are very excited for you to see everything else we’re working on. Thank you!

The World of Warcraft Combat Design Team

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Community Manager
#2 - April 19, 2024, 8:22 p.m.
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Greetings Warlocks,

We’ve been very excited to see the community’s reactions to the Warlock Hero Talents, and we appreciate all of your feedback.

In the coming weeks, you’ll see multiple changes to the Warlock class and specialization trees, and we’d like to provide some context for these changes here.

Core Goals

  • Ensure each capstone is interesting and exciting.
  • Reduce the amount of throughput talents, to free up utility choices.
  • Reduce the number of ranks for talents that don’t warrant multiple ranks.

Affliction
The Affliction specialization tree forces a choice between a single-target or multi-target profile rather than providing a viable build that is adaptable in both situations. We want to redesign, introduce, and remove talents, as well as address the tuning of Malefic Rapture to help reduce this friction.

Demonology
For Demonology, we want to address the number of long cooldowns available as well as reduce the amount of resource flooding. We’ll also look at underused talents such as Doom. The feedback provided during Season 3 was instrumental in helping illuminate a path forward for Doom, and you should expect a redesign of it in a future build.

Destruction
For Destruction, we have plans to reduce the fluctuation in power based on target count. We also want to take another look at how Destruction plays in multi-target situations and look for ways to improve underused talents such as Cataclysm and Soulfire.

More to come
As always, we’re reading feedback and discussing other changes. We’re still monitoring discussions about Hero Talents, and will make adjustments as needed.

Thank you for your thoughts thus far. We look forward to hearing more as development progresses!

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#8 - April 25, 2024, 9:26 p.m.
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Greetings Warlocks,

Today, we have various Core and Affliction tree changes hitting the Alpha. We want to take a moment to go a bit more in depth as to what certain changes were made and why. As a refresher, here are the goals for our Core and Afflictions that we posted last week along with some additional goals that we can dig into here.

Class

  • Ensure each capstone is interesting and exciting.
  • Reduce the amount of throughput talents, to free up utility choices.
  • Reduce the number of ranks for talents that don’t warrant multiple ranks.

Affliction

  • Address the tuning of Malefic Rapture in single-target and multi-target situations.
  • Reduce complexity and the amount of active buttons that contribute to it.
  • Erase the need to choose between a single-target or multi-target profile by adding more adaptability and flexibility.

While we cannot go over every change here, we’d like to get a bit more detailed than last week’s update and explain some of the bigger changes coming in this build.

Class Tree Throughput
We’re removing a lot of throughput talents from the class tree to allow warlocks to pick up more utility without feeling forced to take mandatory talents to be competitive. These talents aren’t compelling options when placed against utility as they will always be the right answer to have. This allows us to move that power into the specialization trees and tailor throughput-centric talents to be specific to that specialization’s gameplay.

Malefic Rapture
In addition to becoming baseline for Affliction, we are introducing new talents that will help Malefic Rapture become the go-to spender for both single-target and multi-target situations. This should also shift Seed of Corruption to being a means to apply Corruption to multiple targets rather than what you spam in dungeons. In addition, we are redesigning Siphon Life to be friendlier to Affliction’s rotation and expect that its new design will make it easier to optimize Malefic Rapture.

Affliction’s Adaptability
While we do want Affliction warlocks to have a preferred talent setup for single- versus multi-target situations, we don’t want it to feel like they are powerless if they are in the opposite situation. By focusing on Malefic Rapture being Affliction’s main spender and removing talents that are only valuable in multi-target situations (Soul Flame, Soul Swap, Doom Blossom, etc.), we’re hoping that the Affliction tree feels less punishing to fill out.

Is This It?
Not at all. We expect to make changes based on feedback and our own playtesting. We want to get the ball rolling on changes we knew we want to make, so we could start the discussion early on and make adjustments before The War Within launches.

Thank you all for the continued discussions and we look forward to your feedback!

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#10 - May 2, 2024, 10:53 p.m.
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Greetings Warlocks.

You’re going to see some Demonology changes in the War Within Alpha build today, alongside some additional changes to Affliction, Hellcaller, and Soul Harvester.

Destruction Warlocks – we’re working on changes for you that will become available for testing in a future build.

Here’s some context for the Demonology changes you’ll find in this build. As a refresher, here are the goals we previously stated for Demonology:

  • Reduce the amount of resources Demonology generates.
  • Redesign Doom to be an attractive talent choice.
  • Reduce the amount of major cooldowns Demonology has access to.

Demonic Cores
Over the course of Dragonflight, we’ve wanted to and tried to reduce the number of Demonic Cores available to Demonology warlocks to rein in their mobility, resource generation, and reduce the amount of rotational time spent going back and forth between Hand of Gul’dan and Demonbolt only. In addition, we want Demonbolt to return to being a moment rather than be your primary rotational button.

With these goals in mind, we are removing Demonic Knowledge to reduce the frequency of Demonic Cores and will make further adjustments down the road if the rate of Demonic Cores remains too high. Over the course of alpha and beta we will be tuning Demonology to compensate for this change.

Doom
This is our first iteration of Doom going into The War Within and will be iterating based off feedback we receive. We wanted to try bringing back a castable version of Doom, rather than a proc, while avoiding making it required to cast Doom multiple times before being able to perform your rotation. At the same time though, we want you to think about how you use Doom and when it is cast rather than bring back an effect like Hand of Doom that makes it largely passive.

Nether Portal
In this alpha build of The War Within, you’ll see that Nether Portal has been removed. While we love the fantasy that Nether Portal provides and that it created a moment that felt different rotationally, its gameplay and performance proved difficult to optimize. Too many major cooldowns can increase the number of peaks and valleys Demonology’s output can experience and how much effect the duration of an encounter can have on its performance.

We’d like to spend some time workshopping a new design for Nether Portal and have it return as a healthier addition to Demonology’s toolkit in the future.

What’s Next?
We’ll continue to read through feedback and the discussions happening across the community. As mentioned last week, these changes are by no means final, and we plan to iterate based off your thoughts and our own playtesting. Thank you for the discussions thus far and we’ll have more updates to share soon!

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#18 - May 9, 2024, 8:27 p.m.
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Today’s Alpha update focuses primarily on Destruction.

The Path Ahead

Before we dive in, we want to acknowledge that our work with each specialization tree is not complete. We’ve seen the recent discussions regarding how bloated the Demonology and Destruction tree are in terms of available talents and ranks, as well as thoughts on the pathing of the Affliction tree.

In the near future, you will see that the Demonology tree is being restructured and condensed. Both the Destruction tree and the Affliction tree will also undergo a restructuring in the near future. In this context, a restructuring means that: the amount of 2-rank talent nodes will be reduced, talents may be removed, talents may be added, new pathing will be added, and talent nodes may be moved.

Destruction Update

Here are our stated goals, with the addition of a new goal, for Destruction moving into the War Within:

  • Reduce the fluctuation in throughput in relation to the number of targets in combat.
  • Improve underused talents such as Soulfire and Cataclysm.
  • Condense the number of talents and talent ranks available.

Beginning with our general changes, we are moving Chaos Bolt to be baseline. This is mainly to provide a Soul Shard spender once your specialization is chosen. We are also removing Chaosbringer but plan to provide additional tuning to Chaos Bolt, Rain of Fire, and Shadowburn baseline to ensure their power remains relatively the same.

Avatar of Destruction

We are removing Avatar of Destruction for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, we want to highlight Summon Infernal as a powerful moment and Avatar of Destruction lessens that by increasing the cadence in which an Infernal is present.

Secondly, Avatar of Destruction provides Destruction warlocks with a powerful, multi-target stun on a frequent basis. We could remove the stun, but we want to stay in line with our philosophy that when a player sees a demon there’s an understanding of what function that demon provides.

To replace Avatar of Destruction, we want to try bringing back Decimating Bolt as it fits the fantasy of a Destruction warlock well and provides more power to your rotational spells. We plan to iterate on this decision based on feedback we see from the community.

Inferno

We have redesigned Inferno to reduce how much throughput fluctuates based on the number of enemies present during an encounter. This will allow us to tune Destruction in all situations, regardless of the number of targets available. Additionally, this allows us to tune this talent to be a competitive option against Cataclysm rather than have it remain the correct choice.

Soulfire, Shadowburn, Channel Demonfire

We want to make each of these spells more appealing. In this build, you’ll see a redesign of Decimation as an experiment to accomplish this for Soulfire however we plan to expand more on this as well as Shadowburn and Channel Demonfire with the restructuring of the Destruction tree, mentioned earlier in this post. Stay tuned for future updates as we work to address this goal.

Thank you for the discussions thus far. We appreciate the continued feedback!

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#26 - May 14, 2024, 10:05 p.m.
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Greetings Warlocks.

Today’s Alpha update focuses on Demonology and addressing feedback received regarding how many talents were available within its specialization tree. You will see several talents removed as well as new talents being added. We’ve also reduced the number of available ranks across the talent tree.

Cooldown Alignment
We are removing all talents that reduce the cooldown of Demonology’s summon abilities and baking in those decreases baseline so that they align in a way that makes sense. These talents, along with the varying cooldowns, made playing Demonology more convoluted and difficult, especially for new players. This should free up some talent points and require less problem solving when it comes to trying to ensure your cooldowns align.

Demonic Tyrant
We are moving Summon Demonic Tyrant to the center of the Demonology tree to make it much easier to access. When we first set out to design the new talent trees, there was an idea that we could make Summon Demonic Tyrant an option against abilities such as Nether Portal. However, Summon Demonic Tyrant is so woven into the identity of Demonology and synergizes so well with other options on the tree – it’s difficult to have anything else compete.

Doom and Vilefiend
We are expanding upon Doom and Vilefiend by offering new talents to customize and upgrade these abilities. We want to ensure that these are competitive options with one another in both single- and multi-target situations so please provide feedback if one or the other isn’t quite hitting the mark. In terms of Immutable Hatred and the “Felguard portion” of the tree, we want to retain that as the passive damage opt-in for players who prefer that kind of damage profile.

Demonic Cores
Our goal with reining in the Demonic Core economy is to bring Demonology closer to Affliction and Destruction in terms of mobility. Warlocks provide powerful utility and have access to incredible survivability and mobility has usually been their weakness in exchange for those strengths. However, we are watching discussions happening across the community and thinking through feedback as it comes in.

Abyssal Dominion and What’s Ahead
In the Diabolist tree, we’ve redesigned Abyssal Dominion for both Demonology and Destruction, focusing on increasing the potency of both Demonic Tyrant and Infernal. We wanted to give a heads up that the Overfiend will reappear in the Destruction restructuring coming in a future build as the replacement for Avatar of Destruction. It will undergo a slight redesign, mainly to address some of the components that Avatar of Destruction provided and went missing with the inclusion of Decimating Bolt.


We hope to have the Destruction tree restructured with the new alpha build so keep an eye out for that in the future. Following the Destruction tree, we’ll be revisiting the Affliction tree to address its overall structure and pathing. Lastly, we’ll continue to look at hero talent trees and make further adjustments as the dust settles from our work on the class and specialization trees.

Thank you again for the feedback and thoughts!

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#34 - May 21, 2024, 9:26 p.m.
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Greetings Warlocks.

Today’s Alpha build focuses on restructuring the Destruction specialization tree. We will provide context for some of these changes in this post.

Heads up! Some talents are not yet implemented but should be in a future build.

Soul Fire, Channel Demonfire, and Shadowburn
We’re pivoting away from Soul Fire becoming another execute spell as Shadowburn already fills this purpose. Instead, it will serve as a reward for high critical strike chance and will naturally become more available when Shadowburn benefits from a low health target.

Both Channel Demonfire and Shadowburn spells are retaining their current uses and identities; however, we are introducing new talents that should increase how valuable these spells are in Destruction’s toolkit. We look forward to hearing your feedback regarding the direction of each of these spells.

Summon Infernal
We’ve moved Summon Infernal to a more central location in the Destruction tree to provide an interesting and powerful spell to look forward to while leveling. Additionally, it’s an incredibly iconic spell for Destruction and by making it easier to get we can ensure that regardless of your build you have a longer cooldown to look forward to.

Tree Structure
In this alpha build you’ll see new pathing and a reduction of available talents and ranks to reduce the bloating the previous tree had. We’re interested in hearing feedback regarding if it’s too easy to get across the tree, too difficult, if a talent’s placement doesn’t make sense, or if a talent can be taken and it won’t provide any benefit unless another talent is taken.

As mentioned last week, we will have an update for Affliction in a future build and will be focusing on hero talents and polish after. We appreciate the discussions and look forward to further feedback.