Tag Archives: Blizzcon

[Blizzcon] WoW: The Bad

Took me a bit longer to get around to finish my series on Blizzcon’11 (after The Good, and The So-So). That’s mostly because I had little time to think about the points I liked least, and I wanted to give them some thought so I’d not be ranting without any substance.

I had a couple more points, but I cut it down to two which are most important to me, to give the post some more focus. Both of them have either-or problems, where I can see two possibilities of how they end up, and I like neither nor.

Yet Another Revamp of Talents

Talent choices in a game like WoW can be either meaningful, or interesting. If they’re meaningful, that means there is a difference in the choices. If there is a difference in choices, there will be a best option for each situation or spec. If there is a best option, choice stops being interesting.

I’ve seen people talk a lot about choices, but I have not seen anybody come up with a good idea how to make choices both meaningful and interesting. What I’ve seen at Blizzcon is a try to trade a bit of meaningful for interesting. I think they are on the best way achieve neither in the process.


Either this ends up badly tacked on, like EQ’s Legends of Norrath. I’m sure there are LoN players and I’m just not in the right community, but all I’ve ever seen is people getting their monthly free boosters for loot cards, which are generally some fluff item. Nothing against fluff items, they work fine in EQ. I’m not sure how well they’d work in today’s WoW, though. Housing is a great fluff sink. However, Blizzard might profit if they sell premium pets with better stats in their shop. Though that would probably annoy pet collectors.

Or this becomes an integral part of WoW. I’d rather not have a pet raid boss. Or, even worse, an extension of their announced quest model (“finishing a [daily] quest might give you a buff for the day”) where you better do 5 pet battles before the raid because it will give you a certain buff.

[Blizzcon] WoW: The So-So

After the good stuff, now the things I’m not sure or worried about. The outright disappointing things, I’ll talk about in another post.

Pandas as a race: We’re getting as the main selling point a race that started as an April fools. That is somewhat silly, literally. I never understood what the thing with these drinking pandas was. I concede that some players got really worked up about those pandas, so I guess it might work for them. I’m a bit worried that the whole panda focus we’ve seen yesterday makes for a one-trick-expansion though. That would be the last I want.

edit: If Blizzard is aiming for a more light-hearted expansion, I can get behind that. A lot of the great conflicts that we fought out in the past, against the Lich King, against Deathwing, but most of all, against each other, made the world a less likable place. If all I see is dreariness, what is there to fight for (instead of against)? If they succeed in making the world dear to me again, then that’s a plus.

Pandas as a race for both factions: Obviously somebody at Blizzard thought that pandas are so supremely awesome that nothing would be able to stand their ground against them, and whoever would end up with the not-panda would be annoyed. Huh. Like when Horde got the elves, and Alliance got some retcon space goats? And Horde got the goblins, and Alliance some weird werewolves? Even as someone who always played Horde, I feel for the Alliance routinely getting the short end of the stick when it comes to new races. I wouldn’t have complained if Horde would have gotten some ersatz pandas this time.

On the other hand, this will then be the first race that will be available to both factions. That raises interesting questions. One of the reasons why races are bound to factions was suspected to be PvP; at least, that’s what I heard. (It also fits well with my “PvP is the root of all evil” mantra, so it’s easy for me to believe.) The silhouette of a character already gave away their allegiance. This will go out of the window. Maybe that’s the first step to freer choice of faction/race combination? Maybe some EQ2-style betrayal? I’m probably assuming too much though. If anything, it would probably be an extra battle.net shop option for transfers.

Talent revamp: It looks like Blizzard really likes the way they’re doing talents in Diablo III; so much that they’re now porting this to WoW. It’s really a mixed bag (that’s why it ended up in this post, right?): on the one hand, it emphasizes interesting choice, and choice generally is good. (We recently had that discussion on several blogs. See Psychochild, Tobold. Yes, I’m paraphrasing the results. *g*). On the other hand, it feels like it clamps down the players in an even more rigid system than the talent revamp we got last time around. And Blizzard fundamentally redoing the whole talent system twice in such a short time means they’re obviously not happy. Will we get yet another one after this? By going the D3 route, Blizzard put all their talent eggs in one system basket. Let’s hope that basket works. And for two such different games at the same time.

Removal of ranged weapons: That felt very odd. There will be no ranged weapon slot any more. Warriors and Rogues will throw their weapons. Wands will be come main hand. Hunters are the exception, and will instead not have a melee slot any more. Does that mean they’ll have to hit the enemy over the head with their bow when it comes close? No, it seems minimum range will be removed too. Yay for point-blank bow shooting.

This is an example how Blizzard is going for fundamental changes more and more these days instead of minor fixes. Back in the good old days(tm), warriors, rogues, and hunters could equip ranged weapons. Priests, mages, and warlocks could equip wands. Paladins, shamans, and druids could equip… nothing in their ranged slot. That was considered the “hybrid tax”. And it was the reason hybrids ran around with Egan’s Blaster. Then, in patch 1.10, they got relics to equip in that slot. It was a fix to give hybrids something to do with their empty slot. Compare to today, where they merge melee and ranged slots, merge ranged weapons into melee ones, and work around that. Which one is better? I don’t know. I personally could do with a few less sweeping changes these days; we already had enough in cataclysm. On the other hand, I know that I might be prejudiced when it comes to that topic. But it seems we’re going full circle on this one, because relics are scheduled to be removed from the game again.

[Blizzcon] WoW: The Good

I can’t say I followed the Blizzcon information with bated breath. Instead, I skimmed over MMO Champion, and that’s almost it. Let me first say that a lot of information disappoints me. However, I realized that a lot of my posts lately had a negative vibe. So I’ll start with a positive thing I found in the information. Besides, it’s already past 1am here, and it’s a lot faster to write a post about the things I like instead of the things I don’t (sadly).

The saving grace for me so far? The mistweaver. It is a monk specialization, a healer. But not one of those pansy healers in dresses that stand in the back. No! This healer is supposed to be in the middle of things, punching and healing. A melee healer. This sounds all kinds of awesome on paper.

Back when I started playing Vanguard, the disciple was one of the classes I fell in love with. It worked wonderfully in this game. You hit stuff and healed people in your group. It was awesome fun. If Blizzard can pull this off well, this might be a real reason for me to try out this expansion.

Of course, and though I hate it, I have to become a bit negative or at least wary again. How are they actually going to pull that off, especially in raid settings? Melee has had a disadvantage in many situations in the game since… forever, almost. It’s only gotten worse over the years. Melee has to pay attention to at least as many environmental effects as ranged, and they lose their possibility to do damage if they have to move into the wrong direction. A healer that can’t heal because they have to dodge an environmental effect doesn’t sound very appealing. Especially because exactly those elemental effects might necessitate healing. And especially especially since healers already have to juggle health bars. Watching health bars plus watching the ground around you plus intricate melee positioning is more than anybody has had to do so far, and sounds like a little bit too much stress in my book.

Vanguard also has another large advantage. In Vanguard, you can have two targets at all times. An offensive target, which you attack, and a defensive target, which gets beneficial effects. In Vanguard, disciples do their healing and buffing by cycling between group members, while they still can attack whatever is in front of them. I wonder how targeted healing will work with damage dealing in WoW, if you can always only attack or heal.

Of course, Blizzard could change a lot of things around to make the mistweaver work out better. They could reduce their reliance on move-out-of-the-fire effects, which would also make melee more fun again at the same time. In that way, by designing it to cater to a melee healer, they could fix the game back to an (in my opinion) overall better state. They could even extend their focus system to create something similar to the Vanguard offensive/defensive target system.

Blizzard obviously isn’t afraid of change, just look at the “yet another major talent remake” that is planned for the next expansion. But we’ll see whether they can change the game in a way to make this class/spec work.

What do you think? How on earth could Blizzard make a melee healer class work in WoW? Or do you disagree and think such a class would be fine in the current situation, without any changes needed?