It seems to me that amidst all the various Cataclysm announcements, folks are getting stuff awfully out of context with the upcoming changes to classes and raids. It’s probably worth bearing in mind a few things before we run screaming to the forums to proclaim the end of the world.
1. Very little in the way of actual fact has yet been announced. At best all we can determine from the scraps we’ve thus far been fed, is a broad idea of the general direction in which Blizzard intend the game to go.
2. We can surmise that healing’s going to be less stressful and more fun. We aren’t going to have to spam our biggest heals on the tanks just to stop them from dying, as they’re almost never going to be in a situation where not getting healed for three seconds means tank death. Similarly, a dps class isn’t going to get one-shotted if they take too long getting out of The Fire. I forget who the quote came from, but it went something like this: “I couldn’t keep everyone on full health at the same time, but once I realised that I didn’t need to and no-one was in danger of dying because they weren’t on 100% all the time, I started to relax and have fun.”
3. Tanking’s going to be more… well… let’s use the word “interesting” for now until we see where we end up. The days of running into a pack of mobs and just rounding them all up and AoEing them all down are very likely to be over. Possibly because tanks won’t have the tools to maintain AoE aggro so easily, possibly because a healer isn’t going to be able to keep a tank up under that kind of onslaught without cooldowns being used, more likely due to a combination of both. My only concern is that we’ll end up going back to the bad old days where tanks developed carpal tunnel syndrome from the stress of having to swap targets and sunder so often on every single pull because that was the only way to generate enough threat on everything. But Blizzard are good at this and they’ve been there before. I remain cautiously optimistic.
4. As a result of 2 and 3 above, Crowd Control will be making a comeback, and this scares people because facerolling is a lot easier and faster. Unlucky, bub. Time to dust off those crowd control buttons and learn how to play your class. This is going to be a dealbreaker for a lot of people because for a long time there hasn’t been any reason to need to learn how to crowd control. Not our fault, if it’s easier and faster to zerg, we’re going to zerg. Simple as that. Therefore Blizzard are going to make sure the zerging will be fatal, so it’ll be easier and faster to use crowd control and focus fire. We’ll still end up doing whatever’s easier and faster because that’s how people roll. All that’s going to change is what is easier and faster. Zerging and corpse running, or doing it properly the first time?
Other than points 1 to 4 above, we know exactly zip about the details of what’s coming in Cataclysm other than some ideas and hints about how we’re going to get there. Anything else in the various class previews is subject to change, and the only thing you can lay money on is that anything idly mentioned by a blue that contradicts the four bullet points mentioned above is something that’s probably not going to happen, or at the very least, not survive in its current form.
Having said that, the recent announcement about 10 and 25 man raiding does have me wondering. Short version for those living under a rock for the last 24 hours is this: Killing a boss in a 10 man raid locks you out of doing that boss again in 25 man. 10 and 25 raid loot will be exactly the same but more will drop in 25s.
Take a second to let that sink in. Ready? Okay, first of all, this fixes a genuine problem that Blizzard found themselves in as Icecrown was getting close. Incremental gear upgrades from all the tiers and half tiers of content preceding Icecrown left them with tanks who had so much health and avoidance that the only way they could balance encounters to be actually challenging was to either have bosses hitting so hard that tanks could be two-shotted if they went three seconds without a heal, or to implement an avoidance debuff like Chill of the Throne to get things back on an even keel. Obviously option 1 was ludicrous, so they went with option 2, but it was a band aid, pure and simple. Since Wrath hit the shelves there has effectively been well over a dozen tiers of gear taking into account 10 man versions, hard mode loot and 25 man normal and heroic versions of raids. Much more than the simple Tier 7, 8, 9 and 10 labels would have you think. With this change, they can throttle that back to one effective tier of gear for every patch, instead of two or three. This is a good thing because it means they can plan future patches and raids much more effectively.
However, it raises several questions, first and foremost being, who the hell would want to put themselves through the 25 man grinder when they can raid 10 man instead and get exactly the same loot out of it? I’ll put my had up right now and admit I don’t actually like raiding 25 mans all that much. There’s a lot of pressure to perform, it’s easier to screw up and a lot more stressful. I raid 25 mans because there’s better loot, simple as that. Take away the better loot and you take away my incentive. Of course, part of this is because raiding 10 mans is easier. No, don’t argue, you’re wrong. It is easier. Does Lady Deathwhisper do Mind Control in 10 man normal mode? No she doesn’t. Is there more space to spread 8 healers and dps around on Blood Queen or 23 healers and dps in the same space? It’s easier. Fact. It doesn’t make you a second class citizen because you’re only doing 10 man raids, but we need to agree that you’re doing easier raiding. Not easy. Easier.
Is it going to be easier in Cataclysm? Blizzard are aiming for it not to be, and that’s going to take some careful balancing but I’m pretty confident that they can do it. This is part of what’s driving their spreading around of the dispel mechanics and things like giving paladins an aoe heal at last – bring the player, not the class, again. By the way, I love what they’re doing with paladins and the aoe heal “aura” for want of a better word. Holy Paladins wear more armour than the USS Missouri, get them into melee where they belong and let them heal from there! Stop standing at the back with the sissy robe wearers! Get stuck in, you’re paladins!
So in a nutshell, we really need to stop looking at everything that’s on the drawing board from our current perspective and complaining about it for two very good reasons. What’s being proposed might suck if it was imposed on your class today, but in the context of a Cataclysm raid it may make perfect sense. And since none of us are playing Cataclysm yet we’ve got no context to claim we understand how the proposed changes are going to actually affect us. So until we do get a bit of context (and that ain’t going to happen until right before Cataclysm ships and we get the patch with the new talent trees anyway) we might all do well to chug on a nice hot cup of shut the fuck up until we actually know what we’re talking about.
So it is the end of the world as we know it, but I feel fine.
But you’ll take my Tree form off me over my cold dead body!