I have been slow to post, as only the second alpha patch has dropped so far, with patches often coming rapidly with huge class changes every patch. Right now, balance is the only playable specialization for druids. In addition, there is much that is incomplete about balance druids including their artifact weapon traits. Many classes overall still have “awesome things coming soon”. However, druids so far are starting in really good shape.
First, our class hall artwork is absolutely incredible. I used to visit moonglade for fun sometimes and hang out. However, this new class hall is like “What would happen if we took moonglade and dialed it up to 11?” It definitely still has a night elf architectural feel, which makes sense given the history and lore of going to the place where malfurion learned to be a druid. This zone is not yet finished, with many orange flashing signs with “work in progress” posted around. You spend the majority of your time outdoors in this pretty large zone, but there are already some hidden places where you can find an indoor bed to take a nap if you so desire.
Second, the balance druid form artwork is in. The Tauren keep their horns. All other 3 races keep their antlers. In all cases, the coloring is the same as the original models. They have most of their animations in and complete, including retaining the same awesome dancing skills.
In terms of the balance druid rotation and play style, the “build and spend” resource model works out really well. It still feels familiar to the old playstyle, without having to watch the Eclipse bar dictate what spells to use – potentially offering even more room for choices to make in how you play. There is still a lot of work to do for ensuring that balance is a fun and effective specialization. I’ll comment more on specific abilities after another build or two and things stabilize a tiny bit more. There are a few places that need tweaking, such as some of the artifact weapon bonuses. For example, there is a risk of generating astral power so quickly that you feel like you have to frantically mash buttons to keep up. In the current build, some of the artifact bonuses also run the risk of making talents feel redundant with the artifact (such as not needing a talent to get instant-cast nukes when you passively get instant-cast nukes from the weapon, or not needing astral power generated via talents when you get tons of it from an ability you get with the artifact weapon). However, the current weaknesses are easily addressed in terms of balancing out the values of the talents and artifact weapons to not compete with each other. The major problems now are relatively minor compared to the problems brought to us by Eclipse.
The good news is that if you hated Eclipse, the new moonkin playstyle may be fun to learn. In addition, if you did like the complexity of balance and Eclipse, there are still plenty of opportunities for complexity (and we still start out with more buttons to manage than most other classes do before talents).
When restoration is in, I’ll start hitting dungeons and see how that goes. We also don’t know at what point we can pick up secondary artifact weapons for dual-spec leveling.