Yesterday Blizzard released previews of the changes to shaman, warlock, and priest. I have only played one of those classes for any length (I have an 80 priest that I rarely play). The other two I never got past level 5.
Still, despite the fact that I’m not an authority on any of those classes, here’s some of my impressions.
They released the shaman one first, which was a good idea because it was clearly the best, in my opinion. Healing rain is a perfect addition to the game – it gives the class a new, powerful ability that expands their role, AND it fits beautifully in with the lore of the class as a nature-based healer. Earthquake, without having any details yet, strikes me the same way.
The warlock and priest previews were much less exciting. There were a lot of “more of the same” kinds of abilities. There was nothing that grabbed you and made you say “wow!” (well, the Life Grip for priests might, but mostly it made me lol). I do think that the proposed changes make both classes better. However, the changes to the shaman are intriguing and might actually make someone roll a shaman to try them. The changes to priest and warlocks may only appeal to those that currently play those classes.
Something that kind of disappointed me was the Mastery system. We were led to believe that the top-tier Mastery bonus would be something unique and interesting for each spec.
I have always been impressed by the creativity of the Blizzard developers. They come up with so many unique ideas – especially considering that they have to create content for 10 classes with three specs each over 80 (now 85) levels on four continents. So keep in mind that I’m only being mildly critical here.
Look at the shaman Masteries…
- Elemental Overload: Your direct-damage spells have a chance to proc a less powerful ‘bonus” version of the spell. This will work much like the current Lightning Overload talent, but would also apply to Lava Burst.
- Nature Damage: This will provide a passive bonus to the Nature damage dealt by the Enhancement shaman.
- Deep Healing: Your direct heals will do more healing when the target’s health is lower. This will scale to damage (e.g. someone at 29% health would receive more healing than someone at 30%) rather than have arbitrary break points.
Two of the three are unique and creative. Elemental Overload and Deep Healing add real flavor to their respective specs.
The priest Masteries…
- Absorption: Improves the strength of shields such as Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis, and Power Word: Barrier.
- Radiance: Your direct heals add a small heal-over-time component to the target.
- Shadow Orbs: Casting spells grants a chance for Shadow Orbs to be created that fly around you and increase your shadow damage. This will help lower-level characters feel more like “Shadow priests” before they obtain Shadowform.
Again, two of the three are unique and creative and interesting. They are different rather than being just more of the same. (Well, really just one of the three (Radiance) is unique. Shadow Orbs is just “buff shadow damage” with a nice animation, I’m guessing.)
Now look at the warlock Masteries…
- Shadow DoTs: The damage caused by Shadow damage-over-time spells is increased.
- Demon Damage: The damage caused by pets and Metamorphosis is increased.
- Fire Direct Damage: The damage caused by Fire direct damage spells is increased.
That’s a shame. If I were a warlock I’d be bummed. They couldn’t think of anything interesting other than passive damage buffs?
This makes me think that the rogue and mage Masteries will be similar. Mage masteries will likely be passive buffs to arcane, fire, and frost damage. Rogue buffs will probably be something similar.
I’m trying not to come off as complaining. There is no doubt that Blizzard is improving the game and trying to make more engaging gameplay for everyone in every play style. Maybe my expectations are too high, so when the changes are mundane there’s some let down. Not everything can be flashy and shiny. Maybe those warlock and priest changes are amazing, but I wouldn’t know since I don’t play those classes.
I’m looking forward to the other class previews, especially on the classes that I actually play.