#1 - April 16, 2016, 1:20 a.m.
What you’re seeing in Legion falls under one of two different goals:
- Refocusing each spec around their core concepts
- Reduced reliance on cooldowns, both offensive and defensive
I’ll explain these one at a time.
On refocusing: Over the years, as we’ve attempted to add new toys for every class in each expansion, we feel that the gameplay of quite a few specs has drifted away from the philosophies and ideals behind them. For some classes, such as Rogue, the specs don’t really feel very different from each other. For others, such as Priest, the differences are purely mechanical; Discipline uses absorbs, and Holy uses direct healing, but it’s not really clear why.
So, in Legion, we’re taking a hard look at what each spec should make you feel like when you’re playing it, and making sure that the abilities you’re using tie into that. When we talk about “class fantasy,” that’s more or less what we mean. It’s also made us realize that, frankly, we’ve made some mistakes over the years. Each spec is supposed to have some strengths and weaknesses, and as we’ve added abilities to shore up those weaknesses, we’ve diminished the value of their strengths.
Compare a Mage to a Warlock, for example. Mages were supposed to be highly mobile, but very squishy if you can lock them down; Warlocks were supposed to be able to take more direct punishment, but have a harder time getting away. But then we started giving Warlocks more mobility, which meant we had to give Mages more survivability, and nowadays those differences are subtle at best. The two classes should feel a lot more distinct than they do, both to play as and to play against. That means dialing back the mobility for Warlocks, and dialing back the survivability for Mages.
End result: Yes, you’ve probably lost a couple tools in Legion. But so have other people. So, when we get feedback along the lines of “Now I don’t have any way to deal with X”… we might actually think that’s a good thing. In PvP, this means you’re going to rely on your teammates a little more often. In a raid or dungeon, it means you might not want to purposefully stack Warlocks just because “they have the best numbers.”
On cooldowns: We’ve gotten a ton of feedback over the past couple of expansions that players feel like they aren’t able to do much without cooldowns active. When a Ret Paladin uses Avenging Wrath, Holy Avenger, and Execution Sentence all at once, they hit like a freight train carrying a truck full of bricks, but as soon as those effects end, they just kind of… keep themselves busy until their cooldowns are back up. “Your class is fun and exciting 17% of the time” isn’t awesome.
We’ve also gotten to the point where there’s entirely too many “get out of jail” cards in PvP. The Mage is in trouble… Ironbark. In trouble again… Nature’s Swiftness. Then Ice Block. Then another Ironbark. Then a trinket. Then Nature’s Swiftness. Then maybe, if you’re really good, you can get the Mage’s second Ice Block before Ironbark comes up again. He had to use Cold Snap, what an amazing play!
I’m obviously exaggerating here – most of the time, your goal is to force several of those cooldowns at once – but that kind of illustrates the point. In order for a kill to ever happen, things have to get excessive. So, in Legion, we want to chill out on just how strong those cooldowns can be, so that we can let you be more effective once they’ve worn off. Theoretically, we could accomplish that by just making the numbers on those cooldowns lower, but that quickly gets to the point where each individual cooldown just feels flat. “Increases damage by 5% for 20 seconds” just isn’t that exciting. Our only real alternative is to reduce how many cooldowns you have available, so that the ones that are left can still feel substantial.
Now then, on feedback: We recognize that all of these changes are pretty scary, and we’ve been in the MMO business long enough at this point to know better than to assume we’ll get everything right on the first try. So, let’s talk about feedback, and what you can do to help us make Legion an amazing expansion.
Many players have already been providing great feedback and bringing up good points of discussion, which we’re extremely grateful for, and have already made several changes that were influenced by that feedback. For example, pretty early on in the Legion Alpha, we decided against our original thought of removing resurrection spells from non-Healer specs (such as Shadow, Enhancement, or Balance). A lot of you thought that felt weird, and we agreed. More recently, several PvPers have expressed concern that Legion is currently too focused on simply dealing damage, and there aren’t enough opportunities for a skilled player to shine. That’s a big concern of ours as well, and one we’re doing our best to avoid.
However, sometimes good feedback gets so bogged down in hyperbole that it’s hard for us to tell if the point you’re making is based on actual concerns and testing, or if you’ve just been misinformed. For example, one complaint we see a lot is that “classes only have 5 or 6 spells in Legion.” That’s simply not true – as of this post, most specs have between 20 and 25 baseline abilities, with talents, Honor talents, and your Artifact active skill adding up to 5-10 abilities on top of that (and yes, we recognize that not all of those skills will be useful in all situations).
So, the biggest thing that can help us understand your concerns is to be as specific as possible. “I have too few abilities” is certainly a reasonable opinion, but that doesn’t tell us why you feel that way. Instead of leaving at that, try to expand on it a bit:
- What specific ability do you miss, and why do you feel it’s important?
- If you’re concerned that your spec will be too weak in a given scenario, what makes you feel that way? Do you feel you shouldn’t be? Why?
- If you want more abilities, but are taking passive talents instead of active ones, why is that?
- Are the new abilities your spec has in Legion not doing it for you? Why not?
Those are obviously just some examples, but that’s the sort of feedback that lets us really understand what your specific concerns are. And while there are certainly going to be cases in which we just disagree (we’re always going to do what we feel is right for the game), pointing out the underlying issues goes a long way towards making sure we recognize when we need to improve.