We drafted the help of Ross Fale – elepheagle on Twitter, blogger at Feckless Leader, and a part of the family friendly raiding guild Sapere Aude – to help with BlizzCon 2015 coverage in the areas that Virtual Ticket holders could not access, as Nick Shivley sadly hasn’t worked out a way to be in all places at once just yet. A huge thank you to Ross for this coverage of the Darkmoon Faire Legion Systems Q & A Panel!
Immediately following the Legion Systems panel that Alternative Chat broke down for you in a previous post, a handful of Blizzard devs held an intimate session in the Community Amphitheater at the Darkmoon Faire. The panel featured non-scripted audience questions, though most of the questions focused on classes, specs, or roles. Using a small notebook and an iPhone 4s for notes, what follows are what I saw as the more interesting tidbits.
All About the Class
The developers stressed the importance of delivering the same type of fantasy aspect they’re highlighting with Demon Hunters to all classes. Blizzard wants players to better understand the lore behind their class choice while simultaneously delivering an experience that feels unique to their chosen spec. We’ll see this by way of updated visuals, sounds, and animations. Some of this will be subtle, but should ensure that specs within a class feel more unique. Survival Hunters, Shadow Priests, Demonology Warlocks, Balance Druids and Combat Rogues (which will be called “Outlaw” in Legion) will receive major overhauls, whereas Frost Mages, Arcane Mages, Restoration Shamans and Feral Druids will see minor changes. However, they didn’t get too far into specifics with the aforementioned classes.
If I was shocked on Thursday when I heard that Legion isn’t expected to launch until the summer of 2016, that reaction was tempered a bit when the devs touched on the massive overhaul they’re planning for the talent system. The phrase “hundreds of new talents” was tossed about quite a bit, and with the sheer amount of work I imagine it requires to balance that great of a change, I’m beginning to understand why it might take a bit longer for this expansion to see the light of day. If you thought the ability pruning seen in Warlords of Draenor was significant, hang on tight. It’s clear some specs will be nigh unrecognizable when compared to their current iterations.
Blizzard admits that the current talent trees don’t feel very exciting for many specs, i.e. in certain tiers it doesn’t really feel like it matters which choice a player makes. In Legion, talents will be spread more broadly across tiers to facilitate freedom of choice. For example, if a player wanted to focus on a run speed/mobility build, they may have that option. Additionally, they mean to encourage raiders to evaluate talent choices from to fight to fight, something Blizzard intended with the current tree, though never came to fruition for many specs. At the base level, all players should have more flexibility when it comes to creating a character build tailored to personal preference.
Two-thirds of the talents in Legion will be spec-specific–Blizzard’s rough number, not mine. Choices can potentially add new abilities that will become part of the core rotation. In other words, players will have the opportunity to add complexity to their base rotation should they so desire. I’m not exactly sure how this will play out in practice, especially given the significant ability pruning we saw in Warlords, but I’m excited to see it nonetheless.
Some highlights from questions fielded from the audience:
Elemental/Enhancement Shaman: Mana is gone! Both specs will have a new resource called Maelstrom.
Death Knight: Multiple rune types are out in favor of a single rune type. They’re also looking at how to further differentiate Unholy from Frost and Blood specs, perhaps in the form of additional unique pets and minions.
Discipline Priest: Absorbs will be unique to Disc Priests, though they won’t be as powerful overall. Power Word: Shield spam is something Blizzard would like to get away from. Their new mechanic is rooted in how Atonement currently works. Healing will place a buff on allies which provides additional healing when the priest damages enemies. The devs believe Discipline has the potential to become the most complex healer spec in the game.
Marksman Hunter: Pets are out–something we already knew–but the question that elicited this response asked whether or not a pet could be acquired through a talent. However, players who enjoyed Marksman should choose Beast Mastery in Legion, as the experience will feel very similar to the current Marksman spec.
Healing: Healer damage potential will increase overall. This came in response to a question from a raider who asserted that healing became boring as individual player power and fight familiarity increased. How much of an increase wasn’t specified, but the devs assurance was two-fold: for one, healer damage will be a useful contribution to the raid, and secondly, leveling through solo content as a healer won’t be so punishing.
Tanking: Blizzard feels that tanking can be rather unforgiving in terms of resource management and up-time on active mitigation. They mean for tanking to focus on using the right abilities at the correct times, with active mitigation being baked into some of the standard abilities. They also touched on the possibility of non-active tanks (off-tanks) possessing the ability to contribute more damage in a group environment.
Timewalking Raids: The devs think this is a good idea, but they have nothing planned. However, they did hint that we may revisit some of the raids of yesteryear in the same way that we saw Zul’Aman and Zul’Gurub in Cataclysm. Kara’zhan, anyone?
Rewards and Incentives: While the devs didn’t agree with a common complaint heard about Warlords, specifically that there’s “nothing to do,” they agreed that they failed to provide players with enough incentive to get out of their garrisons to explore content. This will change in Legion, with Blizzard promising rewards that players will actually care about.
The panel ran for 60 minutes and though some questions touched on other aspects like transmog, artifact weapons, and glyphs, most of that information was covered in the previous panel. Either way, the devs are banking on hearing lots of feedback on these changes from players once the Legion beta releases. Which of course should happen soon™.Related: Article, Blizzard Entertainment, Blizzcon, Expansion, Legion, MMORPG, World of Warcraft