Warlocks as the MoP Baseline

If you look at nothing else regarding the Mists of Pandaria Talent Calculator, browse the warlock section. Having looked at all the classes, it is pretty clear which among them have received the most designer attention. Which is not to suggest this pre-alpha build indicates which classes will be screwed or whatever. I’m simply saying that if the warlock design can be considered a baseline, Blizzard has a very real chance at blowing everyone’s fucking minds.

Demonic Portal alone… here, just let me show you again:

*cue the sound of one jaw dropping*

The sheer number of potential shenanigans boggles the mind. Set this up in a WSG flag room. Set this up in an AV tower. Set this up for your raid team as a handicap accessible ramp for those that struggle moving out of the fire fast enough. Set this up between the goddamn mailbox and AH. Five charges is not a lot, but I bet there will be a Glyph for more.

I don’t want to call a spell like this a “game-changer,” but I am finding it difficult to express what it does in any other terms. So many “new” spells and abilities in WoW are iterations of what came before. Malefic Grasp is the Affliction filler and acts as equal parts Drain Life and Shadow Bolt, with a speeding up of DoT damage innovation. Refreshing, and feels like something Affliction should do. Demonic Portal though is so out of the box that it feels like I have to approach the game in a fundamentally different way, even though it technically is an iteration too (“What if everyone could use a warlock’s Demonic Circle?”).

The rest of the warlock spells/talents show a similar level of left-field thinking. Look at the T3 talent line-up:

  • Spell Drain: Next single-target spell/ability focused at you deals no damage and heals you for half of what it would have dealt. Lasts 4 seconds, 15 second cooldown.
  • Soul Link: Probably same ~X% damage reduction.
  • Sacrificial Pact: Demon sacrifices 50% of its HP to make you immune to damage for 10 seconds. 3 minute cooldown.

I think Spell Drain is going to be redesigned completely by the time Blizzard is through – no way it lasts with a 15 second cooldown – but all three of those are really, really hard choices. Yeah, raiders will probably stick with Soul Link unless the boss has an uber-move you can cheese with Sacrificial Pact, but I’m looking at this from more of a PvP standpoint. Or, hell, what about leveling/soloing old instances/running heroics/etc? Tough choices.

Now, look at T4:

  • Blood Fear: Your Fear is instant, but costs 10% of your maximum health.
  • Burning Rush: Your Life Tap causes you to move 25% faster for 8 seconds.
  • Dark Bargain: Absorbs damage equal to 20% of your maximum health, lasts 30 seconds. Any shield remaining when the spell expires is dealt to you in damage. 30 second cooldown.

When I read this tier, I forgot these talents were from WoW; it felt like I was reading off some Dragon Age: Origin interpretation of a warlock. In a good way. These choices are more… warlock-y than warlocks have been in WoW since their inception. Before this, there was what? DoTs and Life Tap? Outside of the class quest to unlock the Succubus, I felt there was always a bit of weird, thin line between mages and warlocks. DoTs + pets vs nukes, sure, but once DoTs are up the warlock simply nukes too. And there never seemed to be much conceptual distance between Destruction warlocks and Fire mages. Now, with this kind of flavor and direction? Much, much better.

Everything can change between now and the Beta, let alone between the Beta and release (and the hotfixes, and mid-expansion overhauls, etc). But if the remaining classes can siphon off even a fraction of the creative juices oozing from these pre-alpha warlocks, MoP could end up making WoW feel like an entirely new, high fidelity experience to even the most bitter of veterans. I am indeed that impressed.

Posted on November 25, 2011, in WoW and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. > MoP could end up making WoW feel like an
    > entirely new, high fidelity experience

    But is that what the player want? Did 10 million play TBC because they liked what they played or because they were hoping for an entirely new experience?

    Besides that, I agree, some stuff sounds like Titan is dead, or more like MoP is Titan. It looks like they’ve put a stop on bleeding WoW to death and try to add back some innovation.

    • But is that what the player want? Did 10 million play TBC because they liked what they played or because they were hoping for an entirely new experience?

      The funny thing about that is how the 10 million playing today aren’t likely to even be a fraction of the 10 million playing in TBC – it is similar to how the Baby Boomers are not really anything like Generation X, and have different wants and desires. And yet the American population overall is still 300+ million.

      And besides, let’s not forget there are more ex-WoW players than WoW players. How else could you get those ex-players back other than making the game (radically) different from how it was when they quit? Even a return to vanilla/TBC sensibilities isn’t likely to entice them back because they would have to start all over vis-a-vis integrating into a completely foreign community that evolved differently while they were away.

  2. As cool as some of the abilities are (especially warlocks!) some of the classes feel really blank right now…the rogue new ability is just a rehash of a talent they already have and like 90% of their talents are ripped right from their existing trees.

    With these abilities Warlocks bring plenty to the table: free potions, free summoning, portals for mobility. Rogues and Hunters especially feel slightly hollow as is.

    I am really concerned with how Blizz will keep pures in demand when Spec/Role can be changed easily between fights. As a raid leader I’d have to seriously think about why I would bring a rogue when I could bring a kitty for the same effect + any of three other roles in a pinch.

    /rant, that said they are cool talents, I do hope the warlock tree is the “bar” they are using :)

    • I am 100% convinced Blizzard hasn’t really even touched the other classes yet, beyond throwing old talents up against the wall just for mock-up purposes. If you look, only four of the classes have a level 87 skill (i.e. the flashy new kind). I am hoping that Blizzard isn’t done with, say, paladins despite them being one of those four, but who knows.

      • I’d agree, many of the trees are inconsistent and look unfinished…for example Paladins, Shaman and Priests have their resurrection baseline but for druid it’s now a resto spec ability…taunt is baseline for paladins, warriors and druids but is blood only for DK’s…some strange stuff.

        Not to mention the gutted shaman ability list.

  3. I think the whole point of such new spells/talents is to get people excited about the expansion, and nothing else.
    Warlocks used to have a number of unique abilities to bring to end-game raiding, that were subsequently nerfed or spread around to other classes, turning Warlocks into a mostly pure dps class, all in the name of balance.
    Warlocks are now not very popular. For the best players out there, Warlocks can be the top dpsers, but for the average player, mashing one button with an Arcane Mage will give better dps than an Affliction Warlock juggling 4/5 dots and a shadowbolt.
    Maybe this is Blizzard’s way to try and make Warlocks more popular again, but as soon as class balance rears it’s ugly head, I think Demonic Portal will be heavily nerfed, and so will any other class abilites that are seen as being OP.