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WoWAug 7, 2020 2:00 pm CT

Does a Diablo-style kill streak system work in WoW? With heirloom changes, we may find out.

This week we found out how Heirloom items are going to work in Shadowlands. Instead of granting bonus XP for every piece of Heirloom armor, there will be a set bonus for Heirloom items, and the four piece set bonus is a bit of an odd duck. It’s essentially a Diablo 3 style kill streak mechanic married to the act of leveling itself.

Now, this has me wondering — does a D3 kill streak work in World of Warcraft, even in this somewhat limited form, or is it somewhat mechanically at odds with the way WoW presents mobs and combat?

Here are the relevant details about the set bonuses so we can discuss them more clearly.

Not exactly an overpowered bolt from the blue

Originally Posted by Linxy (Official Post)

We want to ensure that players’ investment in these Heirlooms continues to offer unique benefits while leveling, so we’re planning to replace the experience bonus on Heirlooms with unique Heirloom set bonuses.

  • (2) Set: Rested experience consumed is reduced by 30%.
  • (3) Set: Increases your out-of-combat regeneration in the outdoors, normal dungeons and battlegrounds.
  • (4) Set: Gaining a level triggers Burst of Knowledge, dealing Holy damage to nearby enemies and granting you 40% primary stat for 2 minutes. Defeating additional enemies extends this effect, up to 2 additional minutes.
  • (6) Set: Rested experience consumed is reduced by an additional 30%.

Now, off the top, I can say that I don’t feel like we’re going to see anything like the Season 19 Pandemonium buff here. You’re not going to be leveling more than once an hour or so — that’s a guess, but even if you level once every half hour, it’s still a sizable amount of time between triggers for Burst of Knowledge. The up to 2 additional minutes wording on the set bonus makes me believe the most you’ll be able to extend that 40% primary stat is four minutes total. So this is a nice little bonus, but it’s not something you need to rampage around a zone killing everything in sight to maintain, at least as far as I can determine.

But if — and only if — the ability can be extended for 2 minutes as long as you have Burst of Knowledge up, then it gets closer to a D3 style kill streak.

A lot depends on the reset, but this isn’t likely to add up

Technically, if the ability can be renewed indefinitely, then you could see something that would encourage you as a player to just chain pull everything. But World of Warcraft isn’t Diablo 3 — your WoW character can’t stack various means to reduce incoming damage or instantly heal as soon as you take it as long as you’re murdering fools, and mob density isn’t even close to as thick as in Diablo. You will almost certainly run out of stuff to kill and simply not be able to find anything else to murder before the two minutes falls off.

So the ability isn’t unbalanced, and it’s not going to really control how you play that much — it’ll basically just be a nice bonus when you hit a level if you’re doing so while fighting. If you level from a quest turn in back in town, it’s practically nothing at all. A case could be made that it’s a bit weak because tying it to leveling in that way means it could end up while you’re absolutely not in a place where you can take advantage of it. But furthermore, I think mechanically it’s not a terribly compelling fit for WoW. This doesn’t make it bad per se, it’s just not a great fit for a game where you don’t kill as fast or as often, where there are less mobs to guarantee the streak, and there’s not much more to this particular kill streak than kill stuff to extend the buff. There’s none of the excitement you’ll get in Diablo 3 when you extend the buff — you won’t get an additional 1% damage for every mob you kill making it more interesting to stack the buff up, and even if you did, the game doesn’t provide you with a lot of stacking options.

Ultimately, I see this as an experiment. And not a bad one, either, but also not one that I find terribly compelling in its current form. A straight up kill streak in D3 has a much quicker reset time, but it also has a great deal more mobs to explode, whereas mobs stay up longer in WoW, there’s less of them, and  the odds of survival for a WoW character who tries to pull say 40 mobs onto them is not close to as good. It’s a different game, with different mechanics. But I’m still curious to see how it shakes out — it could end up being a great situational buff for players who level in the middle of a tense combat situation.

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