I’ll examine this stuff in a little more detail over on WoW Insider next week, but we’ve got two items of note from Day the First in the Year of the Seventh Convention of Blizzard:
Stat Changes: Farewell to Caps
Nestled within the official Blizzard FAQ for the Warlords of Draenor launch announcement is this little nugget, which if you’ve been following any of the fansites you’ve already seen a half-dozen times:
One of our goals for Warlords of Draenor is to make the act of finding and collecting loot even more exciting for players. With that in mind, we’re adding some fun new stats to gear, such as Movement Speed and Cleave, which gives you a chance to do extra damage or healing to additional nearby targets. In addition, we’ll be retiring a few stats that players don’t find very enjoyable to manage, such as Hit and Expertise. We’re also making improvements to armor itemization that will make it easier to share armor pieces across classes. We’ll have more details to share as development continues.
My instinctive reaction is a positive one on the hit/expertise removal front (I generally cheer changes that remove aspects of the game that are mindless and rote) and… intrigued on the idea of us getting more stats that have an obvious, direct impact on gameplay in a way that so many of our current stats simply aren’t designed to have. (At least, not within the span of a single set of gear reforges. Reforging between mastery and haste has basically no noticeable affect, but if we were switching between movement speed and cleave strength? Now that’s a spicy meatball.)
I’ve got tons of questions in my brain — not least among them how quickly/easily we’ll be able to alter stats on our gear from moment to moment, when they have the potential to wildly swing in importance depending on the specifics of the in-game encounter — but I expect we’ll hear a lot more about all of this in the “Raids, Gameplay, Questing and More” panel on Sunday at 2:30pm ET, so I’ll shut it for now.
Talent Changes: A New Tier Beckons
We’ll be getting a new talent tier at level 100 in WoD, and from the looks of it (by which I mean “from the looks of the photos that people surreptitiously took while playing an early demo of WoD at BlizzCon”), they’ll be worth talking about at length over the upcoming weeks ‘n’ months. With endless thanks to a historically great rogue who will remain nameless here only because I don’t want to risk getting him in more trouble than he already would be simply for leaking the photos, I can tell you that the options appear to be:
- Master the Basics: “When you critically strike with an autoattack, you gain an additional combo point on your target.” (Apparently a passive ability.)
- Shadow Reflection: “Summon a shadow of yourself on the target that will watch you and memorize your ability usage for the next 8 sec. After this time, it will mimic the memorized abilities on its target over the next 8 sec.” (Has a 20-yard cast range and a 2-minute cooldown.)
- Death From Above: “Finishing move that consumes combo points on the target to empower your weapons with shadow energy and perform a devastating two-part attack. You whirl around, dealing Shadow damage to all enemies within 8 yds, then leap into the air and slice into your target on the way back down, dealing additional Shadow damage. (Costs 50 energy and has a 20-second cooldown. More importantly, probably looks REALLY FREAKING COOL. The tooltip includes damage numbers that scale with the number of CPs you have, but they’re obviously just placeholders and not even worth noting here.)
Again, a crazy-huge number of questions here, which I’ll explore in a little more depth next week. Unlike with the stats stuff above, I’m not so sure we’ll hear a ton of detail about any of these at BlizzCon on Sunday, given that there are no class-design panels; I suspect we’ll need to wait a few days at least (if not weeks) before we get the opportunity to learn more.
Ability Improvement While Leveling?
I expect we’ll learn more about this on Sunday as well, but here’s another curious bit from the official WoD FAQ:
Warlords of Draenor introduces a new bonus system that rewards players with powerful perks as they level up to the new cap. At every level from 91 to 100, characters will earn a major permanent boost to one of their their key spells and abilities (e.g. a Fire Mage might earn a +50% damage boost to Pyroblast or +30% boost to Scorch).
If there’s as much flexibility in this as it sounds like there may be, this could provide an interesting new level of customization for us — that is, assuming it isn’t simply a matter of crunching a few numbers and easily theorycrafting out which ability buff provides the greatest DPS benefit. (And I suspect they’ll make sure it’s not that simple, else they wouldn’t be trying to implement something like this in the first place while eliminating stuff like the hit/expertise cap.)