Comfort & Fashion

There is a saying that goes “Never let comfort interfere with fashion.” Perhaps it’s less of a saying and more an ironic reminder of how absurd human beings can get in the pursuit of arbitrary, ephemeral trends. Why anyone thinks high heels should be a thing, for example, I have no idea. Sure, some jiggly-bits are at a higher incline than normal, but my eyes are always drawn down to the barely-recognizable compressed foot nodules at the end of the legs. Can’t we have the fashion and the comfort? Let’s just make it fashionable to wear comfortable sneakers and call it a day already.

All these thoughts came to mind when I spied the following WoW PTR Patch 5.4 notes:

Warrior

  • Shield Wall no longer requires a shield. If the Warrior does not have a shield equipped, it will show a visual of an equipped shield.
  • Spell Reflection no longer requires a shield. If the Warrior does not have a shield equipped, it will show a visual of an equipped shield.

Way back in November of 2011, I mentioned the ridiculousness that is/was warrior gameplay. Obviously the ridiculousness extended all the way back to Day 1 of WoW’s release, but in 2011 there were a number of changes going on that made it feel like Blizzard was finally turning a corner. Most every warrior ability was tied to a specific Stance up to that point, but suddenly those restrictions were evaporating. “You can cast Spell Reflection in Arms stance!” And we cheered. And then realized you still needed a shield, and we sullenly took one line out of our macros before continuing browsing mice on Amazon with 12+ buttons on the side.

I am 100% convinced that, up to this point, Blizzard has required a shield for Spell Reflection (and Shield Wall for that matter) simply out of “fashion,” e.g. no legitimate gameplay reason. I mean, it’s one thing to include abilities/functionality that requires a high skill cap, or even an honest desire for certain skills to not be usable outside of certain scenarios. It is quite another when there is basically no possible way to utilize a button on your hotbar without having to support it with in-game scripts. No, seriously, just walk yourself through the steps necessary to cast Spell Reflection, and then compare that duration with the typical window in which the ability is useful… while keeping in mind that every PvP warrior is expressly balanced around judicious use of said ability.

I can understand their likely thought process here. “How are you reflecting the spell if not with a shield? And don’t even try to tell me you don’t need a shield for Shield Wall – it’s in the name!” Okay, yeah, it is. But the whole thing is one big, convoluted mess that creates an enormous gulf between even so-so warriors and their macro’d peers. You can make one button that handles the whole gear-swap/ability use process in a way that the default game never could. While “anyone” can copy/paste the macro, at some point you need to ask yourself why its necessary in the first place. Tradition? Fashion? Because it sure as hell isn’t for gameplay reasons.

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Posted on July 9, 2013, in WoW and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. The thing about these little changes is that by themselves, they don’t mean much, but when you put them all together you eventually, as TAGN put it, rub all of the interesting texture right out of the game.

    I can see the point about the macros, but wouldn’t a better fix be to just make weapon changes involve a cooldown, either on skills or on the act of swapping itself? It makes sense that you wouldn’t be able to instantly plop out a shield and do something with it, just to instantly go back to your giant sword again.

    Perhaps there is no legitimate gameplay reason to require a shield, but then there is no legitimate gameplay reason why backstab requires you to be behind the target either. But then the problem is that warriors shield walling without a shield and rogues backstabbing your sternum are ridiculous. Shouldn’t games maintain some level of verisimilitude? Why not just give the hunters laser guns while we’re at it?

    On the other hand, maybe WoW is too ridiculous at this point to worry about it.

    • I suppose my biggest problem with Spell Reflect/Shield Wall was how metagamey it ended up being. Backstab requiring you to be behind your target? That both makes sense flavor-wise and is an easy problem to solve (just move through their character model, turn around). Compare that to Spell Reflect which, sans macros, would require you to open your equipment screen or bind specific equipment to your hotbar, which you’d still need to click. It reminded me of when Blizzard all but sanctioned the rogue gameplay where you hot-swapped a third dagger to keep up Deadly Poison stacks up while you otherwise DPS’d with two Instant poison daggers. At least with paladin Seal-twisting, we were dealing with actual player abilities and not juggling equipment.

      The “texture” argument is compelling, but I think it’s possible for designers to be too clever for their own good. Hell, I would have been fine if they left in Stance-dancing (even though I disliked it) for flavor if they got rid of the equipment requirements. If you need a macro to utilize an ability effectively at all, chances are its too complicated.

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