Experimenting on the Alpha plus PAX East info thoughts

I realized when I was crafting this post that I hadn’t mentioned that I got into the Battle for Azeroth alpha. I’ve done some questing in there, but not enough to spoil any major plotlines. I’ve mostly been using it to test out possible class mains and trying to decide what I might like to play as a main come Battle for Azeroth.

As of now, I haven’t quite ruled out any of the five classes I’d mentioned previously, but here’s the thoughts I have so far. The Rogue won’t be mentioned because I haven’t really tried it enough to give a fair opinion thus far.

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One of my big problems with the Hunter of Legion was not being able to wrap my head around two of their three specs. Survival and Marks both felt overly complicated and clunky, whereas Beast Mastery was almost TOO simple, but it was also easily my favorite spec because, well, pets are honestly my favorite thing about the class.

In the Alpha, Beast Mastery doesn’t feel different, and I like that they retained the ability to have a second pet (though as of the last time I checked the talent to make this happen was not yet implemented). Making Dire Frenzy baseline and Dire Beast the talent is a strange choice, but perhaps I’m the only one who enjoyed the visual of calling random zone-appropriate beasts to aid you. Dire Beast remains a talent you can gain, but it shares the same row with the second-pet talent, Animal Companion. That’s disappointing, but I’ll give it a shot once it gets implemented to get a feel for it.

Marksmanship has been cleaned up a lot, removing the clunky Hunters Mark and Marked Shot mechanic in favor of some simplified interplay between Aimed Shot and Arcane shot with Steady Shot as a regenerator. There’s a new channeled ability, Rapid Fire, that fires a constant stream of shots that also regens focus as well Add to that a few extra shots you can get via talents and the various utility abilities, and you still feel like you’ve got a pretty decent kit to play with. Sounds pretty good right? Except Blizzard made it completely unattractive to me once again, because Lone Wolf is baseline to the spec again. Why, Blizzard? It’s bad enough you made this thing a talent that you refused to balance correctly, making it practically mandatory for any Marks hunter, but now to not even give us a choice? Did you seriously make the mistake of thinking “Oh man our data shows every hunter took this, they must all like it” again? Yeah, not interested in touching this spec, ever. Pets are my favorite thing about this class, I have no interest in playing it if you’re gonna practically take them away.

As far as Survival, I never really cared for the Legion version, it seemed like it wasn’t well thought out, and reports made it seem like you had to be insanely on point to do any kind of decent damage, so aside from some experimentation with some leveling characters, I never messed with it much. The new version seems like they’ve captured the fantasy they were going for with the Legion redesign, but still made it more fun to play. Plus, with a single cooldown, you can briefly play the spec entirely from range. It’s a nice touch that I’m still experimenting with, but I’m still not sure how much I could ever main a melee spec.

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Moving on to the Warlock, I’ve only really put in a lot of time with Affliction and Demonology. Affliction is more or less the same as it is on live, but there are a few new talents I like. Deathbolt especially feels like it adds some much-needed burst potential to the spec to go with Unstable Affliction stacking. Demonology didn’t get a full redesign, but the changes it did get take the spec from a boring mess in Legion to an engaging and interesting choice in BFA. Demonic Empowerment has died the death we have all longed for, replaced with the cooldown ability Summon Demonic Tyrant, which extends the duration of your active demons, increases their damage, and attacks on its own as well. Replacing it as a rotational ability is Demonbolt and the Demonic Core passive. Demonbolt has a long cast time, but Demonic Core gives a chance, via normal rotational gameplay, to grant you an instant cast Demonbolt. There’s several other talents that provide additional demon summoning abilities, many of which use the various new demon models seen in Argus. My honest favorite talent has to be Inner Demons, in the level 90 tier. It allows you to passively summon wild imps and adds a chance to summon additional demons. It honestly makes you feel like pet classes in an ARPG, with a solid minion wall.  If you didn’t care for Demo in Legion and you have alpha access, give this new version a shot, it’s incredibly fun.

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With the Shaman, I’ve focuses Primarily on Elemental and Enhancement (big shocker I know), and honestly, some talent swapping aside, there’s no real major changes, which is good, because I personally believe that both classes were in a great spot in terms of gameplay design, they just needed better number adjustments.

Let’s go over probably the most significant changes. Flame Shock now has a static duration and doesn’t consume Maelstrom any longer, which is nice as that mechanic made for some clunky soloing, especially at lower levels. Enhancement did lose Stormlash, which while a cool mechanic didn’t really seem to do all that much. I think my biggest complaint is that Gust of Wind is gone. Yeah it was a talent and only available to Elemental, but that thing was a lifesaver for jumping off of high cliffs or towers and surviving. It was a huge time saver and I’m gonna miss it a lot. Never realized how much I would miss Slow Fall on my mage while I mained a shaman for that brief period of Legion.

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Yes, it’s an orc. I wanted to see how their upright models looked. (and they look fantastic, by the way)

Finally, there’s the mage. I’ve played Fire and Frost the most, but I have given Arcane a bit of time as well.

Fire and Frost are pretty much the same in terms of basic gameplay, the few real differences come in the revisions to their talents. Fire’s artifact ability and two of the effects of its most popular legendaries, Koralon’s Burning Touch and Marquee Bindings of the Sun King, have all survived into BFA as talent choices, replacing some of Legion’s least-interesting choices (although I’ll miss Cinderstorm, that spell looked cool). Frost lost Water Jet from the Elemental Pet (honestly no big loss there), but it gained two items from the artifact (Ebonbolt and Freezing Rain) as talents. Frost Bomb and Unstable Magic are gone as talent choices, and Arctic Gale got baked into Freezing Rain. That leaves one talent that hasn’t been implemeted, or even identifed yet. We’ll see what interesting element it adds, if any.

Arcane is probably what saw the most interesting overall changes. The main one is that Arcane missiles can now be cast at any time, with Clearcasting returning to make it cost no mana on a proc. This opens up a lot of potential changes to the rotation in concert with the two new level 15 talents the spec gained. I’m not the greatest Arcane player, so I’m going to point you to this video by FinalBossTV covering the spec in more detail that offers how this works. It’s pretty interesting and might make the spec more worth checking out to me.

So that’s my class thoughts so far. Let’s run down a few quick topics from all the info we got out at PAX East this past week. If you’re not familiar with it, MMO-Champion and WoWhead both have very detailed recaps of everything.

Gameplay wise, I loved everything we heard about in terms of Islands and their new AI plus the bigger look at how Warfronts will work. I personally can’t wait to test them out. What has me concerned is expansion story. Some of the things have me seriously concerned that Blizzard has been tone deaf to the issues with Garrosh Hellscream from Cata and Mists. Look at this answer they gave when asked about Sylvanas being hella evil and Horde players being concerned about working for an evil Warchief again.

“Sylvanas has always been aggressive, she’s never been a pacifist. There is war going on, but she is the Warchief and is trusted and followed. As we saw on the battlefield of Lordaeron, there is a great deal of inspiration around her.”

Do the folks writing BFA’s story honestly think they can just SAY Sylvanas is trusted and followed and expect players to just agree with that? Come on guys, that isn’t how this works. I don’t think you understand what made the Horde so well liked in WC3 and Vanilla anymore if this is the route you’re going. We don’t want to be warmongers, we don’t want to be the aggressors because we were the “bad guy” faction in WC 1 and 2, and we are TIRED of serving someone so blindingly evil and having to pretend our characters are blind about it. PLEASE do not turn Sylvanas into Garrosh 2.0.

I was also disappointed by the timing reveal for the next 4 allied races, because I honestly wanted to play a Zandalari mage in this expansion from the start. I’m trying not to be cynical, but it’s hard to look at that timing and not see it as a ploy to get extra race change money out of players who were excited about the new models. I like the idea of unlocking them via story methods, but the timing really sucks if we want to take advantage of them as soon as possible.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got the time to cover here. Next post will cover Topic 34 from Z and Cinder and then we’ll probably get another 5 things post, likely on my troll shaman.

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