This is what happens when I turn my back on those Blizzard people for two damn months while I take care of important Real World stuff like Tyranids moving house, and Tyranids having a new job, and Tyranids. I knew Change was coming, don’t get me wrong; I was in on the beta for a couple of months before the move, and I had some idea that some things would be different.
I wasn’t quite expecting to log on last week and find that I had eighty levels of character development to relearn.
At least, that’s what it felt like. My talent trees – painstakingly and expensively crafted from the raw nothing in order to form two ability sets which, while not the ultimate in efficiency, afforded genuinely ridiculous amounts of destructive fun for either solo questing or the collaborative insanity of battlegrounds – had been gutted, and the need to lug around a huge bag of sixteen little purple chunks of crystallised death-agony was gone before I’d really known. Understand that this had been expected, but I wasn’t expecting it yet. I’d been out of the loop for a while and Patch 4.0 had caught me on the hop.
Needless to say, I set myself a day (a day when I was coughing up significant amounts of vile lung fluid – I’m waiting for it to draw life into itself and scuttle off into a dark corner, but nothing interesting’s shown its pseudopods so far) to relearn How The Warlock Works.
The talents were fairly easy to restore: my Demonology spec still uses the same two abilities to set up two more abilities, but the efficiency and, well, blatant fun of the character has been increased somewhat by an extended rotation. Being permitted to place three effects on a target, one of which enables the summoning and guidance of a second, ridiculously powerful demon, and the other two of which operate together to trigger two direct, powerful damage spells – well, it’s a lot more interesting than ‘Immolate, Corruption, mash Incinerate ’til it’s dead’. Demonology has options now, and I’ll go on record as saying that making Soul Fire something that can be cast and deployed before the fight is over is a good move.
Affliction works about as well as it ever did, with the added bonus that it now sprinkles hideous ticking time-bombs of shadowy damage around over multiple targets, with Seed of Corruption spreading baby Corruptions onto everything it blasts, Soul Swap moving the whole package of damage onto another target – although I haven’t tried that yet, since I’m still working out exactly which nauseating nocturnes to apply to any given target type for maximum brutality, and adding another element to the mix might throw me off entirely. Again, a key improvement has been the adding of options: Demonologists are still shackled to the Felguard in solo play, but the Affliction Warlock can now find uses for each of the other four pets. Imps provide another source of long-ranged damage, and add a second damage type to the rather monomaniacal all-shadow all-the-time way of the Affliction ‘lock, while Succubi simply add more shadow damage and crowd control, flinging things back and forth about the screen and seducing key targets into uselessness. The Voidwalker and Felhound do what they always did, although ‘threat management’ and ‘group buffs/’caster locking’ seem less entertaining now.
Yet, confession time – I find myself bored by the Warlock. Once I’d figured out how the new Soul Shards work (answer – trigger Shard to replace dead demon, cast Soul Fire faster than the speed of evil, or top up health with an empowered Healthstone or super-fast Drain Life), I was less than enchanted by the whole business. I don’t hate what Blizzard have done to my Warlock, but I don’t particularly like what my Warlock does for me.
Part of it may be the endgame experience, about which I have another post in draft at the moment. Part of it, I feel, is the increasing shallowness of pure DPS gameplay – at the end of the day, ‘stand at the back hurting people from afar, try not to get hit’ is somewhat monotonous. I’m trying a Priest (again), on the grounds that standing at the back either hurting things or healing things broadens the gameplay style I prefer.
I have tried melee-focused characters – I had a Death Knight who made it a good way into Northrend before his profession of choice (damn Engineering, damn it all to Hades) frustrated me into abandoning him. The news that Death Knight tanking options would become more limited by the new changes sealed the deal. Blood tanking does not interest me; the fun of the Death Knight was figuring out how abilities from three trees made for a functioning role, not following preset pathways like a normal class. I’m still quite interested in ‘melee damage with a pet’, which is the novelty of the Unholy tree, but I have sworn a terrible vow never to level a pure DPS character EVER AGAIN. Long instance queues and an unchallenging just-like-the-normal-game-then experience when you’re inside does not a happy Von make. I may try tanking again; I’ve messed about with Warriors in the low levels and found them not unappealing, although I’m probably going to wait until the new Gnome starting area arrives before I go there.
I also want to roll a Worgen Druid, although goodness knows what I’m going to do with it. Maybe just play it, revelling in the hybrid nature of the class, and enjoy the experience of the new environments and narrative for what it is? That would be a nice change.