It’s no secret that a LOT of people are not happy with Battle for Azeroth in terms of gameplay systems. I’ve already gone over the Azerite Armor controversies in a previous post (and that doesn’t even cover Lore’s insanely problematic response to the issues, if you want a better analysis than I could provide, watch this video by BellularGaming, you can skip to around 8:11 to get right to that part), but what is probably less talked about is that classes on their own feel objectively worse in BFA.
I don’t know about your experience, but I have to agree with the generally held consensus that people felt absolutely weaker leveling up. Around 115-116 or so, and suddenly mobs are taking far longer to kill than they had previously. I know this has to happen, because as we level the calculations for stats change, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt as dramatic a shift in any previous expansion as I did in BFA. It may also be the case that the sudden loss of legendaries from Legion contribute to that as well. Whatever the cause is, I think we can all agree that taking longer to kill things after gaining a level feels like a punishment for something that should absolutely be a reward.
For a game that asks a new player to gain a level 120 times, you would think Blizzard would go out of their way to make that experience as enjoyable and rewarding as possible. The problem is that thanks to Blizzard’s insistence on removing “button bloat”, the last forty of those levels have almostzero reward. Every class gets their last ability around level 80 these days, so your only reward that makes you feel more awesome are talents at level 90 and 100. Warlords had you gain cool passive bonuses every even level, those are gone now, made baseline for the spells they affected for the most part. Legion had you unlock your basic artifact ability at the start and gain maybe 2-3 passives from the weapons themselves as you leveled, we all know those are absolutely gone. BFA gives you nothing outside of whatever you get from Azerite gear, and we’ve already covered how not interesting that is. Players have very little to look forward to as they level, aside from the annoyances of eventually feeling like all those levels you’re gaining eventually become a punishment.
So with that all said, it’s time to take a look at your main class (and spec if you want to narrow it down to one). The question I pose to you is this: with the changes to Battle for Azeroth class design, does your class feel better, worse, or about the same in terms of the experience playing it as compared to Legion?
I’ll go with the Mage here, and I think we got mostly lucky here. The class is absolutely not measurably better than it’s Legion incarnation, but the changes aren’t bad to the level that I would call them worse either. So I have to call it about the same really.
Fire, my most played spec in Legion, has probably gotten the worst of it. Combustion lost a good chunk of it’s duration gained from Felo’melorn, plus it’s on the global cooldown now so we waste part of the already reduced duration as well. We did get our artifact ability back, but it’s on the same talent row as Flame On, which gives us more Fire Blasts more often. Since we have less time in Combustion already, Fire Blast is an objectively better generator of Hot Streaks than Phoenix Flames, so there’s absolutely no reason to ever take it. We did gain two legendary effects as talent choices, replacing talents that saw little to no use, so that’s at least a small benefit. However, you won’t see a lot of fire players out there because we are at or at least close to the bottom of the DPS charts, unfortunately. We’ll see how that 5% increase to all damage coming on October 2nd changes that.
Frost has luckily seen very few changes aside from buffs to how often we see Fingers of Frost and Brain Freeze procs. We also gained back our artifact ability as well, which is nice. The worst that Frost got was a lot of the damage bonuses to various abilities thanks to the artifact, which has made our single target damage somewhat worse than it used to be. So far (and someone correct me if I missed it) I haven’t seen any flat damage increases or other hotfixes that would change this.
I played Arcane the least in Legion, but I have been using it in raids in Battle for Azeroth given how well it’s performing. I leveled up with the spec due to the high burst DPS it provides, and I think that is what finally made the spec “click” for me. I never felt like the spec made any sense in Legion when the mastery changed to no longer provide bonus damage the more mana you had, but now I definitely feel like I know where I’m supposed to keep my mana around at all times. I really like the small change they gave Arcane Missiles as well, making it a proc-only ability to one you can cast at any time, but only for free and at a higher damage level if you wait for the proc. Sure it means I can mess up and fire off arcane missiles when I’m not supposed to, but it also means I can use the spell in clutch situations to end something while soloing. Talentwise, we didn’t get Mark of Aluneth back, but we did receive a number of interesting new talents to replace more boring ones, which is nice.
I got lucky. The mage is definitely in about an equal place in BFA than it was in Legion. I know I’m definitely the exception, however. I haven’t touched my shaman because of how bad their DPS specs feel right now. Shadow, a spec I hated in Legion, somehow is even worse in BFA. But I’m not an expert on those other classes, so I’m throwing it out to you, dear readers. Tell me about how your class is playing in BFA, and is it less fun, more fun, or about the same than it was in Legion?