I spent yesterday watching Blizzcon stream from home. We also put a new video card in my desktop computer so that I could play WOW again after almost a week of having to play WOW from a laptop. While this is an “off-year” for WOW in terms of not being an expansion announcement year, there was still some exciting new things Ion presented in the warcraft panel. I’ve split this into 2 posts: one for 7.1.5 and one for 7.2 to cover all the info in more depth.
Most importantly, they appear to have moved to an Agile development cycle, based on the new terminology Ion is using to talk about their patch development. While not directly calling it such, he talked about how they are being more flexible in their release schedules, so that we get content faster even if it means removing 1 feature from the patch release and not holding up release cycles. What does this mean? We can get more content faster, even if it’s small filler content that gives us fun things to do but isn’t tied to the big narrative storylines or raid tiers. This gives me hope that we can avoid some of the content droughts we’ve suffered from in the pre-expansion release cycles. We’ll see what the future holds, though, since we’ve been burned before with lots of fast content that slowed down to a snail’s pace across the expansion.
The panel was light on specifics related to class changes, but here are some of the things I’m most excited about that is coming in the 7.1.5 patch, along with a discussion of my thoughts on what balance and restoration druid issues are still outstanding that I believe should be looked at by the dev team in 7.1.5. Once the PTR is up, I’ll do more indepth posts about class design changes I would like to see.
Patch 7.1.5 Highlights
The 7.1.5 patch is a small filler patch that brings a ton of new content which isn’t tied to progressing the narrative storyline. This ends up being things like brawlers guild, holidays, timewalking, and other small feature releases that together give us a ton of new content to play. For example, on AQ rememberance day, I can spend the whole day watching Oxhorn’s Red Snappah video on loop and relive the memories of how hard we all worked delivering linen cloth to the NPCs.
Class changes in 7.1.5
Of course no WOW panel would be complete without discussing WOW class design philosophy and changes. The 7.1.5 patch will include:
- changes to talents to change talents that never get chosen to be more interesting and appealing.
- Continuing to improve the balance of secondary stats, as their ongoing goal has always been that we should care more about the ilevel of an item than the stats on the item.
- They are working on adding back abilities and utility to classes that need more utility. In this respect, I think druids are overall in a pretty good place, but we’ll see what the future holds.
Working to Improve gameplay feel: Changes to rotations and other abilities.
Now that we’ve had some time playing with the various specs, they will be working to improve the gameplay “Feel”. While they didn’t specifically mention balance or resto, both of these specs I believe could benefit from improved tuning to the play feel. I’ll write another blog post on this issue later, but here are my thoughts on play feel for resto & balance.
- The biggest problem I see for balance is that I have very underwhelming and clunky AOE damage that hurts in many raid or Mythic+ situations. I’ll be working to help address balance AOE damage.
- While restoration feels great healing 5-mans, in larger raid sizes (e.g., 20 to 30 people), I often “feel thin… stretched. Like butter scraped over too much bread.” That is, rejuv blanketing and the poor scaling of our mastery in large raid sizes (compared to 5-mans) starts to feel like blanketing HOTs on raid members at low health resembles putting a bandaids on a broken arms.
- We don’t know what class changes will go in for druids in 7.1.5. The PTR should come up in a few days. I will definitely be working hard to address these two problems (balance AOE and resto raid ‘feel’), as well as other issues that the druid community brings to my attention.
The next post will cover 7.2 changes.