A post about perspective.
Or, to quote one of my favorite movies, “Spaced Invaders”, “Maybe you’d better step back and look at the big picture here.”
I’ve been playing for a while, and I believe most of you have been also. “A while” is subjective, but I’m using the term to mean “You’ve played long enough to get comfortable with how the game works, how your characters(s) are controlled, and you’ve got at least one character to the end game and have been sitting at end game since before patch 4.0.1.”
That’s a whole lot of meaning to dump on one poor, innocent little word, isn’t it?
Patch 4.0.1 came along and shook a lot of things up, but it’s starting to settle down a bit. We’ve all had a chance to play what we consider our “mains”, get Glyphed and specced and regemmed and move our stats around a bit if we’re into that sort of stuff.
I’ve seen some comments out there since the Patch came out, and it seems that responses are a bit mixed. As one example, Dechion, a long time devotee of the Hunter class, is so unhappy with the overall changes that he just can’t bring himself to play his Hunters anymore. He’s moved on to other classes.
The post I’m writing now is inspired by two things; Dechion’s post and his reasons for not liking the changes to Hunters, and my own personal experiences since Patch 4.0.1 went live.
You see, contrary to Dechion, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences in actually playing since 4.0.1 went great gonzo on the servers.
I’m obviously not talking about bugs or crashes or instability or the world server crashing because OOB got the Kael’thas Realm First 25 man Heroic ICC Lich King kill last night (grats, guys!).
I’m talking about having fun playing a class.
There is a reason for that, and it has to do with my forward planning. When Blizzard announced the intent of their changes in Cataclysm, and the scope of what they were going to do in revamping Talent Trees and abilities, I stopped making new alts… of classes I do not already know.
It’s been hard. I get tired of end game, and love making new alts. I love the travel, the exploring, the following of new paths, the road not taken the last time, choice ‘C’ in the Make Your Own Adventure book story, the trying on new pets or new specs, doing stuff that’s unfamiliar.
But I did it. I put my Warrior on a shelf, I didn’t make another Warlock, I canceled other alts, and really the only altage I was doing was a Death Knight on another server, and that was mostly so I had a gold maker should Cassie and I start playing somewhere with more character slots… she’s plumb run out.
With 4.0.1, I’ve played my maxed characters a bit, Druid, Hunter, Shaman, Paladin and Rogue. Playing those characters gave me one perspective on the changes. Settling in, getting used to how they feel, trying to work out the changes and develop a new flow.
Then I respecced my leveling Mage, dusted off my 43 Warrior, I started playing my level 73 Shadow Priest again for the first time in, literally, over a year (haven’t played her since hitting 73 a month after Wrath was released, just made her my Jewelcrafter bot), And even made a Warlock for just 4 levels, to kinda feel the class out. I played my leveling Death Knight a teeny tiny bit, since I was loving Blood before and Blood for DPS feels dead as a doornail.
Playing the characters I’m more unfamiliar with gave me a much different perspective.
You see, the characters I was really familiar with obviously feel like strangers now. Enough of the core rules have changed, but enough of the intent has stayed the same, that it’s not just that there was change. It’s that some things look like how they used to, spell names and Talents, and it leads me to expect them to work a certain way from past experience, but things are changed enough that once I get into a flow using abilities can feel jarring, unnatural.
But the characters I don’t have any pre-conceptions about come off as feeling fresh, smooth, and extremely well-designed. It’s the well-designed and well thought out aspects that make me look more closely at the classes I know.
I respecced my Warrior as Fury for now, after playing the new changes as Prot for a bit, because I wanted to see if it was just me. Leveling as a Protection Warrior with the new changes felt like being an evil little killing machine… so how much more powerful could an actual DPS spec feel?
Well, pretty crazy, actually. The new Fury is just nutso. I had two Heirloom swords, so I went dual-spec Fury, and it’s just zero down time. Stuff dies so fast I wish there was a Glyph that refreshed the cooldown of Charge when you kill a mob that grants honor or XP, like Death Grip does. ‘Cause I’m ALWAYS waiting on the Charge cooldown.
What about the changes to Frost Mages?
Well, I never use the Water Elemental because I’ve got my own pet tank (sorry, Cassie), but I love that you DO get it as a base ability of the class/spec at level 10, and while I miss a lot of the focus of the original Frost Talent Tree in being able to concentrate on pinning down monsters and raining a Blizzard on their heads, the new method of play with Fingers of Frost and Brain Freeze, and the instant Ice Lance and all of our other goodies is just hilariously awesome. As my crit increases I feel like I’m riding a wave of juggling procs that’s actually fun to manage based on the situations. It’s never really about following a set chain of triggers, it’s about knowing what to use at the moment out of what you’ve got available. Decisions and judgment, gotta love ’em.
The Death Knight I switched to Frost and had a lot of fun on for a couple nights, picking out one-handers and dual wielding and messing about before the lure of the Mage called to me.
The Priest… ah, the Priest. I tried, I really did. It was fun, and I did blow through another level, but here’s the funny thing; the playstyle of Shadow actually doesn’t feel like it’s changed much at all, and so I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as the others. The whole “Pop some DoTs and Mind Flay to slow” thing was still in effect. Oh sure, stuff died so damn fast that it felt like I was casting too many DoTs and I pared it down… but it still felt too automatic. Not enough room to mess about with other things. Probably just me, but the class certainly wasn’t lacking in any power, just variety. But back when I was originally Shadow in BC, I loved the playstyle… so again, it’s not that the class is lacking, it’s probably my own perception of what I like now compared to then, and Shadow is still very good… so good they didn’t have to change it that much.
I did make a Paladin alt just to see about the differenec when you hit 10 as Ret, and I’ve watched Cassie as her Druid changed and got Mangle as one of her given moves while leveling. Both clearly rock the casbah.
It really does seem to me that the class changes, all of the class changes from level 10 on, have been extremely successful. They were all well thought out, from a “starting fresh with a new perspective” point of view.
Every new class that I play, or every new spec of a class that I play feels tight, smooth, fun and exciting.
The only real dissapointments I have are when I play classes or specs that I already knew very, very well, right?
So, I gotta ask, is it the design on a few of them, or is it just me? Because it sure seems as though it’s probably just me.
If I’d never played a Feral Druid before, would I be rocking the changes better than ever? I’m still loving it now, I soloed an instance just the other night to manage multi-mob threat, and it was lots and lots of fun.
With the AoE cooldown timers, it’s the return of multi-mob threat distribution, but I preferred that style over Swipe spam by a light year anyway. Only reason I and so many others started spamming Swipe was because DPS stopped giving us a second to grab all the mobs. These days I follow the apparent intent of Blizzard; mark some targets, dish your threat, use Swipe to stay above Healer threat, and if a DPS grabs from me on an unmarked mob before the marked ones are all dead, let his dumb ass die as a learning experience.
Oh, and my Druid is back on the Alliance side. I’m a Night Elf again. It’s only temporary, though, until Worgen get opened up for race changes. Just an FYI. Now I have a max level tanking character on both factions, which was my original intent.
It’s just funny. I don’t dislike any of my max level characters, I actually LIKE my Hunter’s changes quite a bit, the trap launcher and multiple trap types up at once and expanded stables and new pets… much like Mania, I can see Hunters have a BLAST in Cataclysm. I dislike feeling like Arcane Shot spam for Beastmasters is a viable technique, but I’m sure that’ll get nerfed.
But while I don’t dislike my max level characters, the changes to the characters I’m unfamiliar with, now that I’ve learned those abilities and integrated them into a playstyle just as if they were brand new characters all feel fresh, vital, and above all exciting.
The whole thing REALLY makes me look forward to making a brand new Troll Feral Druid when the expansion comes. Leveling from level 1 as a tank from the very beginning seems incredibly exciting. Having that chance to flush all of my preconceived ideas and experiences, to start over with a clean slate and work out what to do and how to do it, wow. I’m excited.
Plus, I get to be a Gummibear. How cool is that? Yes, yes, I know, I’m in the minority on the colors, it’s okay. I’m freaking wierd, it’s understandable that I’m a rare bird when it comes to liking rainbow bears.
But that’s going to be the big challenge for me in Cataclysm. To look at the old and familiar with new eyes.
I fully intend to level as a Troll Bear Tank for Cassie. I intend to make a second Hunter and level as BM, collecting new and exciting pets along the way. I intend to finally make that Warlock that never was, as a new Goblin. And I’d like to try a new Tauren Paladin from the ground up.
Mostly classes that I’ve played before, classes that I KNEW very well indeed. I know it’s going to be a challenge. Can I really set aside the years of “this is how it works” and see the classes for the way they really are now, and LIKE them on their own terms?
I think so. I think I can do it now at max level, but how much easier will it be when the characters are new and the world is changed and alive?
How about you? How have your experiences been going in the new Patch? Have you experienced any of this kind of dichotomy between the new and the familiar? Are you looking forward to the new expansion like I seem to be?
Or have the changes to your familiar characters clicked with you even better than the old way did, and far fro feeling wierd, they now feel ‘just right’?
Oh, and as far as my Warrior goes… he’s a Blacksmith. I managed to achieve one of my goals, and maxed out Blacksmithing as high as i can get, and am running around wearing personally crafted ‘Imperial Plate Armor.” Is it just me, or wouldn’t it be cool if we could choose what color to make the accents of the armors and weapons we made? ot the bse steel greys or blacks, but the accent colors. I find it cool that my badass Orc is tooling around desecrating the Imperial Plate armor, but I sure wish I could have made the accents and helmet plume colors Horde Red instead of Alliance Blue.
Have a great weekend folks.