The idea of class balance and utility has been an overarching theme in a lot of the changes on WotLK. Blizzard is trying to make it so that no single class is indispensable, no one class is “better” than another. The newest thing is the removal of priest racials. This has been met with a mix of cheers and jeers by the WoW community.
My opinion – I think that this balancing act is a terrible idea, because it can’t be done successfully without losing part of what makes WoW great. The uniqueness of the classes is one of the very strong draws to the game, the PvE aspect in particular, even if there are minor balance issues.
For a lot of people, one of the best parts of playing the game is the character creation screen. You get to choose race and class, of course, but then you can fix the eyes, face, hair color, style, and facial hair. What is the point of doing that, and why is it so much fun?
Its fun because we WANT our characters to be unique. We desperately want our toons to be different than all the other ones standing in Ironforge or Ogrimmar. No one wants to play “Generic Warrior #2453”.
When I made my draenei priest, and then found out that it had this ability that was different than priests from the other races, that was COOL. It was UNIQUE. It gave the game a flavor and a level of personalization. Sure, some people specifically made a dwarf priest just for Fear Ward, and that was their only reason. Well, they are in the minority among WoW players.
Unfortunately, that uniqueness is gone, along with many other “unique” aspects of the game.
It was neat that Shadow Priests returned mana to their party… something that made Shadow Priests unique in their role. Now a bunch of classes can do it. It was interesting that hunters could redirect their threat onto the tank. Now other classes can do that.
As I see it, Blizzard has put the game mechanics ahead of the game play. Uniqueness is fun and makes the game interesting to play. See the key words here? Fun. Play. So what if druid tanks are a little better than warrior tanks, or vice versa? So what if BM hunters can out-dps rogues?
The hardcores are gasping at my audacity. “If warrior tanks are 0.5% better than druid tanks,” they’ll say, “then the game will be dominated by warrior tanks and no one will raid with druids.” Bull-pucky, I say. People who have fun playing druids will still play druids. That’s the way it has always been, and that’s the way it will always be. Does anyone think that top raiding guilds wouldn’t have been able to beat Kil’jaeden if they brought, say, a ret pally in place of a rogue? Baloney. If you play your class well you’ll be able to raid.
I’m very disappointed in all of these changes. WoW will become a more mathematically balanced game, but I think it might be less fun. Too much of this homogenization makes your toons just placeholders. Without the things to set them apart, there is no personal connection between you and your avatar. Time will tell.
At least we have haircuts.