Shadowlands brings core class spells and abilities back
Class identity is a theme which has been evolving through the last two expansions of World of Warcraft. In listening to player’s feedback on how they want to build their characters, characters will see a return of core class abilities and spells.
As we headed from Mists of Pandaria to Warlords of Draenor, players complained about button bloat — so many buttons to have to push. So the designers began pruning. In the World of Warcraft Deep Dive panel, Lead Game Designer Brian Holinka explained — thanks to player feedback — they realized pruning had gone too far and some class identity was lost in the process. During his part of the panel, he discussed some of the things which will return to players as they go into the Shadowlands.
First of all, what they called Class Defining Mechanics are returning. Each class has some feature which defines who they are. You knew if you were facing a paladin by the aura surrounding him. Auras were a key part of the paladin identity and which aura they used depended upon the situation. You know you have a shaman by the totems they put out, but the many varieties of totems were pared back. All this will be brought back, to make each class feel distinct again.
As you start out, you’ll learn the basics of each school or role. As you progress through the class, you’ll specialize. This feels akin to the old talent trees where you could pick a little from each tree but you had to specialize to gain the benefits of that tree. The designers recognize the desire of every class to have access to a little of everything for that class — at least to start. This change will bring back that overall class feeling.
I think the most exciting part of Holinka’s presentation was announcing the return of specific class abilities which have been pruned away. He said they realized some of these abilities were core to the identity of the classes. Players grew to love specific spells or attacks which gave the class a distinct feel and play. The loss of those spells or attacks made the class less fun. Consecration is returning! This is probably one of the most iconic spells for paladins. Cast Consecration and you had the mob’s attention immediately.
Other talents returning help define the classes further — Hunter’s Mark, Hammer of Wrath, and Cyclone — are three class abilities pruned in the desire to make play less of a button mash and more of a natural flow. They are also bringing back what Holinka called “Long Lost Friends.” These spells or abilities haven’t been part of a class for a couple of expansions but people are always asking for their return. Examples are Hunter’s Mark, Challenging Shout, and Ritual of Doom.
The return to class identity is something I’m extremely excited for. While each class does have a unique play style, the examples shown are spells or abilities which further make the classes who they are. It will be exciting to play my Hunter being able to tell people which mob I’m targeting. And I can hear the squeals of delight from the other classes knowing abilities we loved are coming back.
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