Rain before the storm

My goodness, but did Blizzard release a ton of information about Warlords of Draenor! Let's get right to it, shall we?

Why not begin with the Big Post, the Dev Watercooler post found here. A lot of the information in that post had already trickled out prior to posting, but they wanted to collate it and put it into context.

Stat Squish

The simplest and least invasive change of Warlords of Draenor. 

After multiple expansions and content updates, we’ve reached a point where the numbers for health, damage, and other stats are so big they’re no longer easy for players to grasp. [...] In order to bring things down to a more understandable level, we’ll be reducing the scale of stats throughout the game and smoothing out those obsolete spikes, so that power scales linearly through questing content from levels 1 to 85.

This handy graph shows how:

Player Power by Level.jpg

Yeah…things are completely bananas right now. I wholly agree with this change. It's important to remember that everything is squishing, including monster health. If it takes you 10 seconds to kill a monster today, it'll take 10 seconds to kill it after the squish.

What I want out of the change

Just what they're saying. Do we even need that teeny tiny spike at level 100? Really? Why not just keep it flat the entire way? Still, this squish will be a welcome improvement.

Racial Traits

I must admit: I never pay any attention to these at all. I was reputation grinding one day and was pleased as punch when someone told me I was earning an extra 10% for being human. 

But apparently racial traits are a bit of an issue. Some are worthless, some the bee's knees, others meh.

Blizzard says:

To keep racials more in line with one another, we’ve decided to bring down the couple high outliers, then establish a fair baseline and bring everyone else up to that. We’re accomplishing this by improving old passives, replacing obsolete ones, and adding a few new ones where necessary. Ultimately, our goal is to achieve much better parity among races.

Sounds good! But I still can't imagine making any of my character choices based on racial traits, though. Race is such an important decision from every other angle that, honestly, I'd be fine if there weren't any racial traits a'tall.

What I want out of the change

Nothing—do whatever in the world you want, Blizzard!

Ability Pruning

Ability Factory working overtime

Ability Factory working overtime

Here we go—it's the big one!

Blizzard explains…

Over the years, we’ve added significantly more new spells and abilities than we’ve removed, and the game’s complexity has steadily increased. We’re to the point now where players are starting to get overwhelmed, sometimes feeling like they need dozens of keybinds (in a few extreme cases, over a hundred). While the game is loaded with niche abilities that could theoretically be useful in some rare scenario, in reality, many of these are barely used at all—and in some cases, the game would simply be better off without them.

For Warlords of Draenor, we decided that we needed to pare down the number of abilities available to each class and spec in order to remove some of that unnecessary complexity. That means restricting some abilities to certain specs that really need them instead of being class-wide, and outright removing some other abilities. It also includes removing some Spellbook clutter, such as passives that can be merged with other passives or base abilities.

Say goodbye to things—say hello to new things!

I am welcoming this change, too—I'm nervous with excitement to see what they're going to do. I can confirm that holy mackerel there are way too many buttons in the game right now. Just too many. Some classes are worse/better than others, of course. 

In addition to too many buttons, there're too many interdependencies. I'm completely lost when it comes to my paladin, what with all the various things and whatnots, for example. You first have to use X to get to Y, and the timing should be good, and so on and so forth. Nor am I looking for the older version of Frost mage, where you could, without too much hyperbole, stand there and press 1 repeatedly. Something in the middle would be just fab. Not too many, not too few, and this sounds like what Blizzard is up to.

And how much is Blizzard going to axe? Here's a post from Twitter that puts a number on it:

  • About 20% of class skills and abilities have been removed to help address ability bloat.

Yow! 

The Big Worry

One reason I can't play my paladin any more is that so much has changed over the patches that I no longer recognize it and don't know what to do. Ability Pruning will not help this at all and will only make that same problem worse—doubly so considering there'll be inevitable class balancing and miscellaneous changes as per usual for any major upgrade.

There's a big risk of every class being unrecognizable. If my paladin was my main and/or only class and I came back to the game, I'd likely not keep playing, chalking it up to the game passing me by and my not wanting to re-learn my everything for the umpteenth time.

What I want out of the change

Fewer buttons. Frankly, I'm not wedded to any particular ability of any class. When I think of my mage, I don't think of a particular talent or spell, I think of the overall experience. To counteract the Big Worry, I would actually favor just re-vamping everything and coming clean with a new experience so everyone's on the same page. Don't relearn half a class—might as well relearn the whole thing for the overall good of the game and overall reduced needless complexity and better play experience.

If you're coming back to a game, it's better that the game have streamlined and become more efficient while you were away rather than more complex and difficult to catch up on.

Crowd Control and Diminishing Returns

Have you noticed that there's hardly any call for crowd control any more? I have. When was the last time I used Polymorph? I honestly can't tell you. It feels like decades.

Crowd control.jpg

In fact, to do a little of my own Ability Pruning, I moved Polymorph off my action bar to reduce complexity. If, at some point in Ye Distant Future I need it, I'll just put it back on somewhere before the fight.

Anyway, Blizzard:

One other big takeaway from Mists of Pandaria is that there is currently simply too much crowd control (CC) in the game, especially when it comes to PvP. To address that, we knew that we needed an across-the-board disarmament.

Too much CC? Oh, in PvP, OK. Well, I don't PvP so do whatever you gotta do, Blizzard, to make things right. They made a list of changes that you may peruse at your leisure.

What I want out of the change

Frankly, I want more PvE CC, not less. Perhaps this isn't so much an ability issue but a fight mechanic issue. Crowd control itself works like a charm, at least in PvE, so can we have more of that, please?

Because as a ranged DPS, it's awful nice to be able to do something other than ranged DPS 100% of the time. 100 is too much.

Meanwhile

There was an article over on WoW Insider that listed many miscellaneous changes that've been mentioned hither and thither. Have a look for some of the specifics mentioned above to get a peek at what's to come.

Meanwhile to that

There were still yet more miscellaneous tidbits released on Twitter, mostly, about Warlords of Draenor changes.

  • Raids will be less linear, giving you more choice of which bosses to do every night.

On one hand: Yay, not the same thing every time.

On the other hand: It's still going to be the same thing every time, because there always emerges One True Strategy to All Things that "everyone" follows. The exception to this is Icecream Citadel, where I was in many groups that chose almost willy-nilly where to go each night. That was fun! I'd like that, if that's the level of choice they're talking about.

But, I fear there won't be enough bosses per raid, or whatever, to make meaningful choices like that.

  • If the Level 90 boost gives you your first high level character, there will be a starting experience that introduces you to your skills slowly, rather than giving them to you all at once.

Oh, well, that's neat! That adds another gate against a problem we discussed in Episode 59: "Prideful." It sounds like a good way to handle things, indeed! I'm anxious to see how it all works.

  • Mage talents have received significant revision. Currently: 12 brand new, 3 existing/old spells now talents, 4 w/ major changes. 

Wait, what? What what?

Well, knowing nothing more than that, at this point, I guess we'll have to wait for more information before either a major squee or a major boggle!