What will Warriors look like after Shadowlands?
Lately, I’ve been wondering how Warrior design will change past Shadowlands — after all, if there is any constant, it’s change. This is certainly true in MMO design. The statements made by Ion Hazzikostas back in April of 2021 about borrowed power systems — which seems like a whole different universe now, but still — seem to indicate a big shift in the design direction of all classes.
Right now, a lot of the power and flavor of level 60 characters comes from Conduits and Covenant abilities, which is giving some folks running the Mage Tower a bit of trouble since those abilities don’t work there. Essentially people are running the Mage Tower with half of their tool kit they’ve gotten used to in Shadowlands gone, and that has me wondering — what happens when we’re leveling in the next expansion and we don’t have Covenant powers and Conduits to support us, especially if there’s no borrowed power system in place for Warriors to get once they hit level 70, or whatever max level is in that expansion.
So what would Warriors look like in that hypothetical expansion without borrowed power?
What will Warriors look like after we come back from the Shadowlands?
One thing that immediately comes to mind is that systems like Conduits and Azerite Armor wouldn’t be there to paper over flaws in the class or spec of the Warrior in question. Furthermore, those flaws aren’t necessarily the result of bad design or mistakes, but rather deliberately put in place because the capstone borrowed power system would come in and allow players to make specific decisions using those systems to compensate for limitations that will now have to be instead addressed by inherent class talents and abilities.
Furthermore, we’ll see some homogenization. No more will you have Warriors choosing between the Night Fae and Kyrian for Raiding and Mythic+ and we won’t see things like players choosing Venthyr at the beginning of the expansion only for Condemn to fall out of favor and become much less powerful for Arms DPS Warriors, while it’s very strong for Fury. Also, the design of the Covenant abilities combined with Covenant or Spec specific legendaries in ways that really defined Warriors this expansion, and that’s a system we probably won’t see in the next expansion if what Ion said about borrowed power not returning pans out. This will mean that talents and abilities will have to fill the void, but it will also mean that we won’t end up with Covenants, Conduits and legendaries basically serving as de facto class abilities or talents at max level.
I personally hope that certain talents and abilities that have been gone for a while make a return in the future. I’d like to see stances return for Warriors — maybe not as they were before, with a dedicated Tanking stance and two basically DPS specs. but instead a more situational ability that you’d activate for specific circumstances, like a Prot Warrior going into Gladiator stance if they wanted higher DPS while leveling or when serving as a trash/offtank in a raid, or even as a dedicated sword and board DPS spec like it was in Warlords of Draenor.
I’d also like to see Retaliation come back. It was a really great ability for when you pulled a lot of trash, and I feel like you could design it so it could be a big tank threat cooldown or a good way to flip the bird at a trash pack that are hitting you, But in general, I feel like the shift away from borrowed power means that the class will have to pivot to abilities that made it feel individual again. Ironically, the Covenant abilities actually achieved that by giving different ones to each class again. I mean, Spear of Bastion is really distinct from Divine Toll and that’s a good thing. The Artifact Weapons did much the same thing, while Azerite Armor really fell down on the job in terms of giving classes unique identity.
How the class evolve?
It’s going to be interesting to see how the class might change when it’s not dependent on these capstone power systems that come in, alter everything, and then leave the class feeling strangely weaker once we’ve moved on to the next expansion. I felt naked without my Artifact for leveling in Battle for Azeroth, and while I was glad to see the end of Azerite Armor — of which I was not a fan — I did notice how odd it felt without it.
But of course it’s hard to predict how a class design will change. I will say that some of the best things added to Warriors in the past few expansions were specialization-defining abilities like Rampage for Fury Warriors, and I’d like to see more iteration on abilities like that. Frankly, it would be nice to see some of the Warrior specific Covenant abilities becomes talents or abilities — imagine if Fury got Condemn as a potential talent to replace Execute? There’s a lot of potential, but we ultimately can only speculate for now.
I do believe that it would be best for Warriors if borrowed power systems went away. It would force a shift in how the class was designed going forward, making specific class talents and abilities the focus, rather than new systems that come in and replace those in terms of their importance to the class.
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