PvP has a severe lack of non-damage buttons

#1 - March 17, 2016, 8:34 a.m.
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WoD started and Legion continues pruning. I suppose abilities of all types have been pruned, but what we really feel the most is the pruning of abilities that don't directly contribute to damage rotations, of which there has been a ton. We feel the loss of a unique spell much more than replacing or combining a couple of nukes.

This trend is very bad for pvp, which really needs lots of interesting abilities that aren't purely damage. Abilities like grounding totem, spell reflect, curse of tongues, curses in general, gouge, dark sim, and many more. Even simple choices like which armor to use (fel vs demon) are engaging in pvp. Some of these abilities come back in pvp talents, but you're only able to pick 1-2, rather than the 3-6 (or more) that kits used to have.

Without these abilities, pvp feels like a damage spam. In the past, it was the case that pvp battles were significantly more complex, in terms of the types and number of different abilities being used, than pve battles, even raid bosses. However, with very significant pruning of non-damage abilities, and pve fights getting ever more complex, this may no longer be the case. It may be true that raid boss battles now have more going on than pvp, and that makes pvp dreadfully boring (since it's lacking other things that make pve interesting). Even if it's not true that pvp is less complicated than raid bosses, think about the weight that puts on players, backtracking in depth so far. What if the first raid of Legion was equivalent in depth to vanilla Molten Core? People might not be so happy--yet that's basically what's happening in pvp.

The result of removing all sorts of different non-damaging utility spells and replacing them with 1-3 pre-boxed pvp talents is that pvp starts to look like a moba with really complicated (for a moba) damage rotations. You might say: that's not so bad, mobas are really popular. Yes, they are very popular, but WoW's pvp audience wants to play WoW pvp, not a moba. Worse, WoW pvp looks like an extremely watered down version of a moba, missing all sorts of incredibly intricate and interesting elements, like map positioning, farming, ganks, on-the-fly-builds, map objectives, etc.

I understand you're trying to make the game more appealing to new players. I share the concerns of making WoW (and pvp specifically) easier to get into and easier to watch on twitch. But it does nobody any good if those new players have nobody to play against. WoW pvp needs kit depth in utility and non-damage abilities.
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#63 - March 22, 2016, 6:39 p.m.
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03/22/2016 09:00 AMPosted by Mingx
daily reminder: this thread is already 5 days old and still not a single response.

Generally when you see a major point of discussion on the forums that is being met with what seems like complete silence, it's not because we're stonewalling and assuming the concerns will just go away if we ignore them for long enough. We're usually discussing the same issues internally with just as much enthusiasm (though generally with fewer memes and hashtags), but don't have anything to share just yet.

It'd be most helpful if this type of discussion could focus on specific examples of abilities that you miss, and why you feel they're important to deep and enjoyable gameplay.

I'd like to describe one category of abilities that is the least likely to return: tools added in recent expansions that ultimately contributed to homogenization. BC is generally well-regarded historically when in comes to WoW PvP (and raiding). But then we gave everyone 4 new abilities in Wrath; then 3 more on top of that in Cata. And then reworking the talent system in Mists and Warlords actually introduced a ton of new active abilities and procs (since the old talent "trees" actually were mostly passive modifiers with only a handful of active gameplay drivers).

Along the way, we made what I'll freely admit were design mistakes. The underlying one was probably just committing to adding X new abilities each expansion even when many classes genuinely were complete and functional packages without any need for that many new abilities. But then more specifically, coming up with fun and desirable new abilities is hard, and a bit too often we turned to the easy path of looking for a class's weaknesses and offering solutions to those weaknesses. Paladins lack mobility when Freedom isn't up? Let's give them them an array of passive and active sprints to choose among. Shamans don't really have CC? Let's give them Hex, a stun, and a root. And so forth.

Subjectively, removing those things now feels like a nerf, and objectively, it essentially is one. But in the context of broader CC and cooldown disarmament, it's not coming at the expense of balance. And offering new tools, especially through the PvP talent system, that can accentuate strengths, seems like a better path than continually shoring up weaknesses at the expense of diversity.

Finally, I'd like to respond to the idea that this is all about increasing accessibility for new players at the expense of veterans. It is not. The new player experience has always been fairly streamlined, with only a handful of abilities available, and new ones meted out over the course of many levels. We don't think that the existence or absence of a cooldown or CC tool at level 75 has any impact on a new player's ability to approach and enjoy the game. But it does have impact on the clarity of gameplay at max level, spec homogeneity, and how impactful each individual ability can be in a world full of analogues and counters.
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#81 - March 22, 2016, 8:30 p.m.
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Thanks for the replies so far. A couple of specific responses, though I am by no means discounting the other examples so far that aren't getting direct replies:

For Warlocks -

No baseline Demonic Portal - Remove gate way and give us Portal Back
No Shadowfury

Though it still exists as a talent, Demonic Portal is actually an example of removing weaknesses in a way that harms class differentiation. Going back to BC, one of the core differences between the two pure offensive casters, warlock and mage, was that warlocks were far more durable and "tanky," while mages were frail but had more mobility and escape tools (Nova+Blink being central to that). Giving an instant teleport/escape ability like Demonic Portal to warlocks did a great deal to blur that distinction, and the class's design might have gone in a quite different direction without it.

Shadowfury falls more under the general CC disarmament pass. It's an ability that used to be available solely to Destruction warlocks, deep in their talent tree. An AoE stun like that is incredibly strong, and was only balanced as a tool exclusive to a spec that faced significant challenges in PvP at the time, due to their reliance on cast-time spells and other factors. When it became available to the class as a whole alongside their other CC, as part of the Mists talent system conversion, that simply proved to be too much, and so it was a prime candidate when we started looking to dial back the overall amount of crowd control being thrown around.

03/22/2016 12:28 PMPosted by Bynir
For me, abilities like Dark Simulacrum added a great level of depth. A friend of mine loves the ability and the freedom it offers: do I need a heal? Let me put it on a healer. That mage is probably going to Mirror Image, let me steal that. That sort of stuff.

Dark Simulacrum is a talent available through the Honor system, so that exact gameplay, which we agree is awesome, should still be present. Like Grounding Totem, these types of abilities really shine in PvP, and were subject to so many restrictions in raid/dungeon usage that many players often gave up even trying to use them. And then occasionally we'd miss a spell flag, and you'd be able to entirely negate a major boss mechanic like Xhul'horac's Void Surge (not intended, but left in due to how many groups had come to rely on it by the time we realized the problem). Those are fun and cool abilities, but they simply fit better in the PvP space, and the dedicated Honor system allows us to make that distinction now.