The State of Class Fantasy

Battle for Azeroth Items and Classes
This is not a thread about class balance, per se. This is a thread about how well the classes are currently meeting their expected fantasy.

I understand this is not what people are currently worried about, and that traditionally both players and developers have been more concerned with balance than they have been with fantasy. However, this has been and still is my top issue. As such I feel that before my subscription runs out in December I should probably mention it.

The Priest

As a Priest main I can say that Disc and Holy have still retained a strong sense of identity and purpose. Shadow, well... Legion just barely managed to capture it, and what's left is still mostly that, so I'll give the class fantasy itself a pass for shadow even though it just feels really underwhelming right now.

Overall, has the Priest retained its class fantasy? Yes.

Meanwhile Shaman is a mixed bag.

First off, having 2 rows' worth of the 7 talent bars be the same across all 3 specs is lazy and homogenizes them. Again, homogeneity = balance, and people have wanted balance above fantasy for the entire history of the game, so I'm almost certainly wasting my time by putting all this time into making this thread.

But I have to at least try.

The Shaman

When thinking about an Enhancement Shaman, I have this image in my head of a hybrid melee dps-support class that uses buffs to enhance the durability/dps of themselves and others. Good examples of this would be Stoneskin Totem (removed), Strength of Earth Totem (removed), Elemental Resistance Totem (removed) or Wind Rush totem (which is shared by all specs).

So right out of the gate the Enhancement Shaman is half of what I was hoping it to be, focusing on self-enhancement alone. Let's stay positive and focus on what's there. You have the four elements, Earth being burst, Fire being DoT, Wind being speed, Water being represented by a icey slow. Basic but effective. Do the talents add much? Outside of the level 100 talent bar, no. Not really. A slow, a charge, a stun. Most of it's just toying with what's already there, and there's not much there in the first place. Not good.

Resto is actually meeting expectations. When I think of Resto Shaman I think of healing totems and focused AoE healing, and there does seem to be a good portfolio of talents and abilities to meet that expectation. There are talents to go single target healing, and that's fine, as long as it doesn't impede the bread and butter of the fantasy which as I said remains intact. If there's a single problem I have with Resto, it's actually the Flame Shock-Lava Burst rotation for the off-DPS.

Elemental is bad. When I think of an Elemental Shaman I think of a high utility DPS that can do things like put totems down to serve as traps, snares, attrition, or AoE dps... And they have almost none of that. I was so happy to find that Earthbind Totem had survived the purge, because that feels like the last vestige of what Elemental Shamans used to be (which was actually a unique and fun identity for Elemental Shaman).

I'm convinced that whoever was tasked with designing the Elemental Shaman wanted to play a Mage. Elemental Shaman is just a hybrid of the three Mage specs with electricity thrown in to keep it different. Single target mixed DPS rotation with some AoE thrown in. You can't even decide if you want to pursue AoE over single target, or totems over spells, the only choices you get are procs and number changes. Do you want something different? Well you can slightly alter that rotation to cast Lava Burst a little more often as opposed to Lightning Bolt, which effectively do the same thing!

In the 5 talent bars that an Elemental Shaman has to work with to even be an Elemental Shaman, most of what's there is just stat changes and procs, just a bunch of "the same but better". Even the active cast talents are just doing the work of passives by empowering existing abilities! I can not conceive of how narrow-minded the development of Elemental Shaman has been up until now to get to this point, and the very idea that after 14 years of evolution we've ended up here is just insulting.

Overall, has the Shaman retained its class fantasy? No.

I've demo'd other classes since then to see if I was completely insulated from what was going on with the other classes. None of them seem to have it quite this bad, but then again Priest and Shaman are the only two classes that I actually have long term experience with.

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