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WoWAug 18, 2022 8:00 pm CT

Warriors bleed (with fun!) in Dragonflight’s new talent system

I’ve been spending a fair amount of my time running through content on a variety of Warriors in Dragonflight‘s alpha, from a series of premade 70s to an assortment of 60 to 68 characters I’ve created. There are a few things I can say about the class as it is shaping up in the alpha test so far. Even though there’s some degree of iteration from build to build, there are some trends emerging.

  • The Warrior class talent tree has some interesting synergy with the various specialization talent trees. Arms and Fury can be crafted for AOE or single target DPS, for example, and Arms has some tempting options like talents in the class tree that work well with talents in Arms itself to create a spec that spreads bleed based damage around with Thunder Clap.
  • By design, you will not be able to get everything you want. Meanwhile, node talents mean you are going to have to choose between the two talents on the node. You want Heavy Repercussions? Hopefully you want it more than Into the Fray, because they’re both on the same node.
  • The Warrior class really changes as you level up. Some abilities are baseline and some are fairly deep down the tree — you will definitely miss Single Minded Fury until you can spec for it. The choices you make can really alter your earlier playstyles. Nothing reinvents the wheel, exactly, but while you’ll recognize the class between Shadowlands and the Dragonflight pre-expansion patch, the two talent systems are very different.

So let’s expand on some of these points a bit and discuss how the class currently feels when playing it on the alpha.

Some general talents make for great synergy for some specializations

You are going to be able to customize your build a lot more in Dragonflight than you currently can in Shadowlands. The cost of that will be that certain dream builds will be difficult to impossible, trading in the current talent system’s fairly rigid level tiers for more choice within tiers at the possible expense of being unable to move as far down the tree as you might like. Even with all the iterative changes ongoing through alpha, you are not likely to get more than one of Spear of Bastion, Avatar, Shockwave, and Thunderous Roar without sacrificing most of the endcap abilities. In one build I managed to get Avatar and Thunderous Roar, but I had to give up Thunderous Aftershocks for Signet of Tormented Kings to do so.

But that doesn’t mean you should consider everything set in stone. For instance, Rend was a class talent, but now it’s a spec-only talent for both Arms and Protection. This has implications further down the tree. For Fury, Blood and Thunder is only half as effective, since it won’t spread Rend around, because now Fury Warriors won’t have the option to take Rend. Meanwhile, both Dual Wield Specialization and Two-Handed Weapon Specialization are all in the class tree, so you can get all of them, but to do so you have to be willing to leave out other abilities out like Thunderous Rage or Spear of Bastion. It’s really hard to hit the bottom of the tree in more than one place, and often requires a sacrifice further up the tree.

Even when the talents are all implemented and working, you will have to make some tough decisions by the time you get down that tree. But the up side is, there’s some interesting things you can do on your way down. There are a fair amount of ways to get more rage, refund the rage cost of specific attacks, and choose how your attacks will work with each other. Options like Anger Management vs Reckless Abandon really make your cooldown use distinctive — and to some degree, this keeps gameplay feeling fresh as you swap builds.

Specializations feel distinct but also wholly Warrior

There are options and choices in the main tree that make specs feel distinctive and focused on certain things. Arms is very much capable of being a spec that focuses on AOE bleeds, single target weapon damage that refunds rage and lets you feel almost surgical in combat, or even a kind of blade dancer that focuses on battlefield control and keeping enemies debuffed. Prot is of course the tanking spec, but you can specialize in spreading out damage and thus increasing your threat, going for pure survival, or even dabbling in buffing a particular strategy — Devastator instead of Devastate, Shield Slam increasing Shield Wall duration, Recklessness hitting more targets for more damage. Fury can focus significantly on AOE with abilities like Ravager or Odyn’s Fury, and can supplement them further with class talents like Shockwave, Avatar, or Thunderous Roar.

I was pleasantly surprised at how the class talents work to give you a feeling of cohesion while still letting you pick and choose what kind of Warrior you want to be. For instance, with the proper talent choices, combinations like Armored to the Teeth, Reinforced Plates, and Honed Reflexes can work very well alongside Shield Specialization, Shield Charge, and Focused Vigor to let you recreate the Gladiator Stance style DPS Prot Warrior, at least to a degree. It’ll certainly work for farming, although I wouldn’t want to tank with it in raid progression. However, I’d love to offtank with it. Switch back to Battle or even Berserker Stance when you’re not tanking, pop back to Defensive Stance when you’re about to Taunt.

The work the developers have done so far is impressive, and there’s a lot of potential. So far, I’m optimistic — and if nothing else, I’m having a lot of fun trying out the combinations, even as they change.

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