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WoWApr 13, 2016 1:00 pm CT

Totem Talk: Leveling as Restoration in Legion

One of the big things that has long been a thorn in the side of healers since World of Warcraft first went live is leveling. Questing or playing solo as a healer has always been slow going and sometimes downright difficult. Over the years, there have been marked improvements: new spells, dual-spec, group-finder and better Dungeon experience. Even with all of that, if you wanted to quest effectively, you were often hard pressed to do it in a healing spec.

That last point is one that the developers at Blizzard have been working on over the course of several expansions and it’s been a hard nut to crack. One of the promises of Legion is that are going to have an easier go of playing solo and questing. I decided to put it to the test and see exactly what the quality of life is like for a questing Restoration Shaman in the Broken Isles, and I want to share my experiences with you.


Going on the Offensive

The first concern I had is that one of the big items on the check list is making only certain spells available in each specialization, further drawing the line that separates them from each other. To that effect, Restoration is losing access to a number of offensive spells. No more Fire Elemental Totem, no more Earth Elemental Totem, no more Flametongue Totem and only one flavor of shock. So then what are we left with?

Restoration shaman will be holding in their hands a limited offensive toolset with only four offensive spells. Lightning Bolt, Flame Shock and Lava Burst are going to make up the bulk of our damage as we make our way through the world. Chain Lightning is still present, and we may have some occasion to use it, but that three spell core is going to be our bread and butter.

That’s not to say that it isn’t without augmentation. We get access to Lava Surge, which allows for the cooldown of Lava Burst to be reset and make the next cast instant. Combine this with Echo of the Elements which gives us a second charge on Lava Burst and makes Lava Surge give us another charge instead of just resetting the cooldown.

Beyond offensive spells, we retain access to our utility spells and cooldowns, as well as all healing abilities. Talents like Voodoo Totem, Graceful Spirit, Ancestral Vigor and our normal healing kit strengthen the ability to quest for longer and be more resilient.


Practical Application

It’s one thing to talk about the spells we have, it’s another thing entirely to put it to the test, and this past week that is exactly what I did. I wanted to see how leveling as restoration worked out compared to leveling as a traditional DPS spec.

The first thing I thought would happen is the three spells we have for offense would get boring quickly. With the lack of variety offered by pure DPS, surely it would get old quickly, right? Honestly, after the first few quests, I hardly noticed. Lava Surge, despite having only a 15% proc rate, seems to trigger rather frequently. It makes it feel less restricted, just by having fresh Lava Bursts to throw out so frequently.

The second item of note was the damage output of the spells I was slinging. One of the things that I’ve always felt in the past is my damage was far too low when questing to really do it in Restoration spec. Here, however, Lava Burst and Lightning Bolt are hitting for comparable numbers to when I’m in Elemental Spec. While it might sound a bit cliche, it feels empowering.

What that meant, at least in my experience so far, is that I didn’t feel impotent at any point while questing. In truth, until I encountered an elite, everything moved along quickly. One of the things I always complained about before is that it felt slow to level as Resto. At least so far in Legion, while pure DPS is faster, until I encountered an elite I didn’t really notice too much of a difference. That’s a huge win, in my opinion.


When I did find an elite, or come across a mini boss from the end of a quest chain, that was really the only time I felt truly slow. That, however, was offset by still having access to all of our healing spells and utility spells. It made me able to stand and fight a lot longer than when I was in Elemental. I felt more survivable, which I suppose makes sense.

Overall, it just feels much better questing out in the world in Restoration spec. I don’t feel as hindered as I have in previous expansions, and while we’ve lost some spells I really wish we still had like Fire Elemental Totem, or even just the passive damage from Flametongue Totem, it doesn’t feel as rough as before. I’m genuinely surprised and happy to be able to say it feels like we’re getting very close to having that promise of being able to solo quest as a healer fulfilled.

Bear in mind, this is still based on the state of the current Legion alpha, and by the very nature of things it can and will change before the expansion is released, but I surely hope the developers at Blizzard keep moving in this direction, because it’s incredibly enjoyable so far.

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