Dev Watercooler – The Role of Role

General Discussion
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When I first read the title, "The Role of Role", I was hoping we were talking about a redesign of the old Tank-Healer-DPS make-up of groups. For a moment, at least, I was excited.

I have played another game where these traditional roles didn't exist, and defeating enemies was more a responsibility of each individual knowing how to evade. Mind you, it only had 4 classes at the time I played it, but I loved it a great deal. Each class felt completely unique. There was no"2 tank, 6 healer, 17 dps" raid design.

How I wish World of Warcraft could do this.

Moving on, I honestly don't know why I am even posting as this will probably largely get ignored. But, if even one person sees this and it causes them to pause for even a moment, maybe it is worth it.

You might as well make the 4 pure DPS classes hybrids as well now that everyone is equally good at everything. A Warlock tank? Why not. A Mage healer? Sure, go for it. A ranged DPS Rogue? Lets get it done. Eventually all 10, or soon to be 11, classes will be so similar only their dot color on the mini map will be able to distinguish them from one another.

I blame RDF and Recount.

It's stuff like this that makes me miss Vanilla and BC so much. Just reading all of this made me really sad.

In all honesty, I agree with the idea of possibly utilizing some sort of Tanking spec in a warlock tree for instance, demonology perhaps, as it does have the most AE type spells of the different trees since the most recent changes (also metamorph always felt like a tank like stance to me for the short time I played as a demonology spec). The only thing that would possibly cause some headaches would be figuring out how to balance them and how to make gear specific to the role (would warlocks become dodge tanks like druids and death knights and prefer the 2H staffs, or would we need to mix parry into the stats, or even a modified effect from spirit so we don't have to generate too many odd items). Another question comes to light when talking about warlocks being able to tank in how the stats would interact with the pet, would the Voidwalker basically have all the warlocks threat redirected to it (the healing could possibly taken care of by making increased pet heals through attacks and the locks life is drained by a larger percentage per hit against their pet), or things like that.

A warlock mele spec would also be interesting to see, though I would say stick with using the caster type weapons (give us more caster swords in that instance since very few were made in Cata that I have seen) rather than doing the whole shaman approach of mixing agility weapons/gear for the mele spec (for some reason I really see destro spec as being the mele style warlock).

In both the examples of tanking/mele dps, affliction just doesn't feel like it would work in either regard because of its heavy reliance on dots. That and coupled with coming changes where you are changing our affliction nuke/filler spell to be similar to shadow priests in regards to it being channeled.
Honestly, I think all of the models are valid models. None of them are incorrect; you just need to narrow down the type of player you want to make a game for. The problem is in trying to reach too big of an audience. No game will ever be able to satisfy every fan of MMOs out there. There will always be divisions of the community that prefer one model over another, and some people's preferences are mutually exclusive with other people's preferences. Go with a design that caters to the audience you want and stick with it. I think the biggest failing in WoW most recently was the shift back and forth in style of PvE content. Going from Burning Crusade heroics with large amounts of CC required to Wrath heroics with no CC required, then back to Cataclysm heroics with CC required again confuses people about who the game is designed for.

I think most gamers are perfectly comfortable with the idea of a style of a game just not being for them. I don't get angry at the developers because Dragon Quest isn't the style of RPG that I enjoy. I just understand that the game's style isn't for me. I think unhappiness in the community in large part comes from direction changes within a game they thought they enjoyed. So my opinion: Pick any of the models listed and run with it. Flesh it out and implement it with the creativity, passion, and ingenuity that only Blizzard can deliver. Don't worry if some MMO enthusiasts don't enjoy the particular model you chose. You will never please everyone, but you *can* make a significant segment of your subscribers incredibly happy if you pick a design philosophy and stick with it to the bitter (or hopefully sweet) end.

So make dungeons hard! Or make them easy! Give specs certain specialities, or make them all perform equally well. Make tanking about active mitigation, or trying to hold threat. Make healing about triage, or keeping people topped off. None of them are wrong. Just different. Whatever you pick in the end, just please... Stick with it. Blizzard has among the best production quality of any company out there. Don't let that get muddied by trying to create the MMO-for-everyone.
You know, while I like reading developer writings and see the process behind the game and learn a bit or two more about the classes I play, at the end of the day, I just play the game. I could slow down the enemy in pvp with Ice and do some extra damage on them while they are frozen. Or I could just blast the heck out of them with Fire spec.

I don't get that deep in to the mechanics. I'm aware of them. I know they matter. I may even take a serious look at my specs to see if I can improve. But I ultimately just want to play the game and lose myself in another world. I don't necessarily want big change that forces me to vastly adjust how I play every expansion. But a little change here or there is ok. New powers, enchancing original ones, that's fine.

That attitude may lock me out of a lot of WoW's content. But if playing that way is fun for me, it is what I will do.
Class specialization has become superfluous in my opinion. Why have multiple specs of the same class?

There is an option that was never argued by Ghostcrawler that is very much valid –

The removal of specs but the containment of the class, every class is every spec.

There would need to be some initial balancing but the idea is that every class currently is restricted to a specialization, when it would be better to let the class just be a class. No specs required.

In this model you wouldn’t end up with a tanking or healing warlock you’d end up with a singular warlock class that can do anything a warlock can already do – no specs, the player decides how to build their character.

In this model you have two options –

Option One -

Give the player tools (spells) and a restricted combat bar, let’s say the player has access to 25 spells. Once the player chooses their spells they ‘lock’ them in place to use them.

These spells are chosen from a pool of all available spells. There could be pre-set skills available for new players but the option to create your own build will exist.

In addition to solving the ever increasing action bar spam that creates a headache for players, it also increases player build diversity. Not everyone is going to ‘lock in’ the same skills.

Option Two –

Simply give every class all their spec abilities and balance around that. (This would be harder to do in my opinion.)

This wasn’t considered a design choice Greg? It’s seems like the next natural step in the design of classes in this game.

There is a problem with having too many skills on the action bars – solved by limiting what players can use.

There is a problem with class specs – solved by pooling all skills into one class (The druid class, the warlock class, etc)

There is a problem with customization in this game - solved with limiting player skill choice.

This creates the problem that the system might overwhelm new players (they might build a broken character) – solved by offering “pre-sets” that set up the players ‘locked – in” skills automatically at level 10.

Why can’t the druid just be the druid? Choose your skills and have fun! Pre-set skills can help guide people to a valid build.
I guess model 2 is the best one.

A good way to solve the problem however is forcing specs to work with other specs.

For example, let's say you had one class/spec that was very good at single target, and another class that is good at AoE situations.

What if the aoe class had a target-focus ability? That is to say, something that gets placed down(like a totem), but has a lot of health and can be attacked by allies. When allies attack it with single target attacks, the damage is converted into AoE damage originating from the totem.

That way an AoE spec is really just a class that enables single target specs to AoE while retaining their single target nature.

There are hundreds of ways just like that to get different classes working together. Encourage team play with class mechanics, Blizzard. Don't just ask people to do well with their role. Make us use our abilities in conjunction with other class abilities.
We heard from Shadow priests that they wanted to do competitive damage, not just be there to make everyone else more awesome. But even today we get a lot of requests to improve the utility of someone’s spec so that they are more likely to get invited to a group.

Personally I am ok with inequitable dps or heal/sec as long as the the class has something else compelling to offer.

And Model 5, or something even more radical - I don't know that it would be more traumatic or intolerable to other changes we've had - mind you, it would affect all players across the board so there would be more traumatised than say, when hunters changed from mana to energy. But the last change to trees was also pretty revolutionary (from large and completely flexible 71 pts to 31 pt fixed + a smattering thereafter) and affected everyone across the board - I would considered that on comparable scale.

To paraphrase Martin Luther, 'If you're going to sin, sin boldly'.

IMO, don't stop at pruning superfluous dps specs - do something even more radical!

[Also, not to derail, but I like how GC mixes up the pronouns. V progressive]
What's wrong with applying a Diablo3-esque model to WoW anyways? I mean isn't MoP already kind of moving towards that direction anyways? I really don't see the point of specs. Just have more talent choices, and players can choose to choose and pick however many tanking/healing/dps talents they want/need, just like how a Barbarian in Diablo 3 can choose a bunch of survival talents and stack survival stats and play a tank.

This preserves the uniqueness of classes rather than specs, and also allows way more customization across the board

I like this one.

If I had to chose... it would be model 3.
This is a very good topic to discuss, especially since this expansion has forced me to make people change specs in order to beat a boss. I think it's really unfair to ask players to switch to a spec they barely know and loathe because the fight was designed in such a way that it is impossible if they use their preferred spec.

Examples - high ranged aoe damage forced hunters to spec survival for T11. The don't be in melee range of adds punished demo and arcane and melee. Requiring a 30k crit on Rageface was probably the worst limitation since nobody could do it using their preferred spec in my group. My fireball crit averaged 28k at the time, so I was unreliable not to mention casting a fireball is slow compared to shooting out arcane which easily crit over 30k all the time. So the hunter had to be marks and I had to be arcane and both of us were msierable on that fight. On spine it's all about burst damage and no dotting for grip breakers. It just seems this entire expansion showed off several class flaws - I dubbed it bring the class spec not the player.

On the flipside I'm pretty angry about the proposed talent changes in MoP because it looks like specs are becoming more homogenized - and I want to have very different feels to the specs, not the same spec with different ability names and colors. Some classes I enjoy playing alternate specs because they are so different. Some specs I detest, some I really love. I always find something to suit my tastes in the trees for each class. Making them all the same would kill that variety and potentially make me hate an entire class.

I think we definitely should enable all specs to be viable for normal mode fights - I do expect heroic fights to be more demanding except for heroic spine which was way too extreme. I'm ok with specs being better or worse at a particular thing as long as they can still do what is asked. This gets tough to balance as fights become more difficulty and require high dps output but I'd love to see this work out.

I was hoping the 6 talent points would be used to supplement a spec with a high burst, or high aoe, or high dots to choose from. I think this would be a very excellent way to allow a player to be frost, arcane, fire, BM, sub, fury, etc and be able to gain tools required for a particular raid tier in order to be viable as that spec. I was also hoping for more spec specific choices on the talents to further strengthen the spec theme instead of homogenizing the specs with the same selection choices. I could imagine a burst dps for a BM to involve their pet suddenly chomping down vise like on the enemy and thrashing them around back and forth whereas for survival it would be more of a ranged shot that pierces the enemy's soft tissues. I realize it's a lot of balance work but that to me would feel much cooler and help solve this issue.
I still think that for the next Blizz MMO they should look back at Asherons Call.

The class comcept can be built on and made to be very good system.

I havent played in a long time, but it was something like this.

Every player picked a race. Then you pick your skills. You can master about 2 of them, then pick a set of sub skills. You could be a sword swinger with healing magic. however your heals would be weaker since your stats are based on melee damage. Among the list of skills were life, war, protective magic. Def abilities, dodge block parry, lockpick, alchemy etc.

its been so long since I played, but this system would be a lot better these days since programmers have the software to balance it all out.

if anyone else played AC and thinks it could work or can correct me please say so. The system as I remember gives players a solid choice as to their role.

It just seems to me like all three specs need to be completely different in order for them to be fun. All three hunter specs are too similar. I honestly think the game would be so much better if each tree were completely unique. For instance Beastmastery a ranged tanking tree. Marksman is the standard ranged physical class. Survival is a melee hunter focused on poisons and traps. Very different, but all hunters still. I would love there to be more variety in each class.
i would go with a mix of 1, 2 and 3, one thing that i would love to see is more difference on gameplay on different specs from the same class, preferable reinforcing the aspects of each spec (even if the dps is the "same")

for me having competitive dps between all specs and difference in gameplay/utility would be awesome =P

currently i do swap specs to mach the "best" dps spec and i kinda feel like there is nothing really that different in play style from all my specs to actually have a favorite between then..
Model Four – There is just a best spec for PvP and PvE
This was the model of vanilla World of Warcraft, and we understand some players wouldn’t mind it returning. In this model Arms and Frost and Subtlety (and other specs) were designed to be good for PvP, while others, Fury and Fire and Combat perhaps, were designed to be good for PvE. The PvP specs might have better mobility or survivability or burst damage, while the PvE specs have better sustained damage over the course of a 6-10 minute boss fight. A lot has changed since vanilla.

Has it really?

Just out of the three specs you listed, frost and subtlety are still miles ahead of every other spec in the game, much less the other specs of those classes. Almost every class has one spec that far outperforms the other two in pvp.

From an arena standpoint, these are the strongest specs of each class:

Rogue - Subtlety
Mage - Frost
Warlock - Affliction
Shaman - Restoration
Druid - Feral
Hunter - Marksman
Warrior - Arms (may not be great, but it's better than the other two)

There are only three classes where I'd argue they have two strong specs:

Priest - Disc and Shadow
Paladin - Holy and Ret
Death Knight - Unholy and Frost

Cataclysm made the strong pvp specs even stronger when you tried to give them raid viable dps but didn't obliterate their superior pvp toolkits. Sure, you nerfed the toolkits to some extent, but they still have far more than what other specs bring.

I know the easy answer to this is "but, but... rated battlegrounds!" That's great and all if you're capable of finding nine other players who are actually good at pvp, but some of us have a hard enough time finding two. The only real hope I have for rated battlegrounds on my backwater server (highest rated 3's on this server is 1891... on the other faction) is waiting for the battletag system to come out, since I don't really want to go around spamming my e-mail address all over the place for RealID invites.

Then there's also the fact that you failed to deliver on your design goals for Cataclsym PvP. Larger health pools? Damage just increased to match. Dispels matter? No, not really. DOWN GOES VENRUKI! Oh, that still happens.

Then we have crap like Season 10, which is arguably right up there with Season 5 as one of the worst of all time. Any level of competition went right out the window when you adjusted the way MMR works not long into the season, and made it impossible to climb the ladder beyond a certain point. Queues were also insanely bad at this point. I'm still not sure if arena has even recovered at this point. It doesn't seem like activity this season is nearly where it should be for an expansion's final season.

tl;dr: You still have a LOT of work to do on the PvP side of the game. At this point, I think players would like to see results, rather than hear your sales pitch for the next expansion.
What's wrong with applying a Diablo3-esque model to WoW anyways? I mean isn't MoP already kind of moving towards that direction anyways? I really don't see the point of specs. Just have more talent choices, and players can choose to choose and pick however many tanking/healing/dps talents they want/need, just like how a Barbarian in Diablo 3 can choose a bunch of survival talents and stack survival stats and play a tank.

This preserves the uniqueness of classes rather than specs, and also allows way more customization across the board

I like this one.

If I had to chose... it would be model 3.

I also love the D3 approach but I think that could make WoW too hard to balance for pvp.
GC: Subjective question is subjective.

Have the developers ever looked at what they are asking players to do during each encounter, how they design fights to be wipes or successful kills?

You talk about the theoretical 1% DPS not mattering or being outweighed by the personal DPS loss and yet on many boss encounters that 1% dps gain is the difference between a kill and a wipe so the RL asks the dps to switch for the damage *they should be doing*.

Test a raid in other ways than burst DPS. How about survivability (and im not talking healers being able to heal through AE) personal survivabilty, the heigan dance, the avoid the deep breaths, the
**Disclaimer: This is all opinion, don't take it as me stating it as fact**

The problem is, in MoP you're going with the "Play how you want" formula. You can Pet battle or whatever and get your valor points, you progress how you want.

The only mode in that list that fits that idea is Model One.

The one where I can play whatever the heck spec I want, and I'm viable everywhere. Frost Mage raiding? Sure, you're just as good as the Arcane Mage, or the Arms Warrior.

It's also the only model that truly supports an RPG, and playing the role of a fantasy character, and living that "life". The other models don't.

"I am JohnDoe, the valiant Warrior of Stormwind, I wield my mighty axe and bring destruction where I go, I do not cower behind a shield. Oh, unless we're fighting Dragon#6, my axe sucks there, I need to bring my shield and cower at that point"

The other models all have flaws that either go against your ideals of MoP, or against someone's desire for heavier RP within a viable raiding environment, or just against fun entirely.

What fun is a game where I love the shadowy, demonic magic of the Warlock, and the style of Demo, except of crap, this tier is terrible for Demo so I'm forced to:

- Respec into a hated spec I despise the play style of.
- Reroll, lose play experience and achievements on my Warlock.
- Don't raid, sit around in SW all day admiring the bricks.

This is an issue where you will never have unanimous acceptance of the chosen option.

Personally, if it goes back to the days of yore where I can't spec to what I enjoy without being barred from raiding, I'll likely move on from this game.

In retrospect and with the years of balancing issues and seeing the need to even make blog posts like this, I personally feel like Model Five being in the game since the game's inception would have probably led to less of these issues, but I can't say for certain unless I'm transported to an alternative universe where Model Five happened and I can play WoW for 7 years there and make an educated conclusion.


I'm going to add in a bit extra here I think helps bring forward some issues with people's desires for different models for these roles.

A big problem stems from the game having different rolls in people's lives, and that changes how they feel about these features.

- For some people, the game is to relax a bit and just mess around.
- For some, it's an escape from stress or whatever else in life.
- For some, it's a challenge, they want to be the best in the world at it.
- For some, maybe the game and the people they know within it (friends, guild) are all they really have in their life at that moment.

This can change which model these people will support.

The guy who plays WoW for competition is going to be more interested in maybe Model Four, as it gives him a set spec, and it also makes his opponents have 1 set spec, he will know exactly what to expect every time. This makes his playing field level, and it's his adaptation and knowledge of an opponents spec allow him to strategize and defeat that opponent by pure competitive skill.

This guy probably doesn't care about the spec, or playing it always.


For me, I play for the sheer fun of it, I don't have a set schedule for anything, I do what I prefer at that moment. This leads to me switching spec or my characters almost constantly. Raid Arcane this week, Fire the next. Switch to Warrior and Fury away next raid maybe.

For this reason, suddenly the Model Four the above example guy loved, is now suddenly my bane. I cannot accept playing 1 spec always if I want to be viable. Knowing I will go into a raid as Arcane every single time and never branch out unless a patch changes my classes fundamentals. I probably wouldn't continue to play in this model and I would become drained and bored quickly.

I can't really think of much more to say beyond this point, other than I hope it works out fun for everyone in the end.
Good lord, about diving into the deep end of the pool.

I read your post 3 times and all I think I can say is what you yourself already said...hell if I know. I do know one thing though...

You can't please all the people all the time.

I know...preaching to the preacher. Every model here has its plus side...and its negative side. But I have been playing this game since before Dire Maul was a place...and over the years you guys have made decisions I loved and decisions I loathed. But even on the things I have disagreed with you guys have always been vocal enough that I come to understand and maybe even respect those decisions. So...I won't sweat it. You're not idiots over there no matter what people like to scream in their big letters...I am willing to keep the faith that come what may I will adapt and carry on as I always have.

I also have to add that from what I have seen in the Mists previews...I have that tingly feeling the new talent trees are going to "blur the lines" a bit regarding roles. I don't mean the ironclad Tank/Healer/DPS roles...but what each one is and can do may start to blend a little. You said it yourself...specs are going to be getting abilities previously unavailable to them...and this may contribute to a culture where its less set in stone that "Okay we need X class" and move more toward "Okay we need someone who can bring Y ability". Keyword "may".

The community itself also has a part to play...its not the people designing the raids or writing the story that deny certain classes from their raid groups. Its the players forming the raids. Sure you could argue that "Well X class is weak right now so we don't want them dragging us down"...but I don't think since Wrath began has there been a class or spec completely useless in a raid or pvp situation. Raid leaders have to be willing to take a chance once in a while...and consider that maybe the guy who's spec is at the very back of the parade line may be so good at it he more than makes up for it...and maybe even crushes that guy you think is really good because of his gearscore but in reality is a middle-of-the-pack player that got lucky on a few high rolls. I say this both because I have seen it happen plenty and on rare occasion been that guy that was supposed to suck as DPS and came in 3rd or higher on Recount.

I know that sounds dangerous and it's could end up getting a really low performer. But thats the gamble any time you bring someone you don't know...and thats what PuGs are. The boys and girls in blue text can only do so much...the community is what we make it. And while I won't be holding my breath...maybe if we can all lighten up a little and stop trying to achieve some "Perfect Raid" scenario...this question of roles won't be as necessary.
Before I Delve into my opinion of the current state of the talent system; i just wanted to commend Ghost-crawler on a FANTASTIC post. KUDOS to you!

Now. As an almost 30 something gamer; I've had the last decade + to be able to play a multitude of both Turn-based RPG's and MMO's. And from what I've seen, and is especially true with wow; is that the more talents, spells, and specs you release unto the masses; and the more variables you add into those (such as mastery, for example), the more inflated things become, and the more impossible it becomes to "put the genie back in the bottle" so to speak.
Hence the current "growing pains" I believe wow is experiencing at this point.

Something that i think the Dev's were absolutely GENIUS in creating was the Aura system for Pally's and even more importantly, the Presence system for DK's; and unfortunately i dont think it gets the credit it deserves.

Something i think that would be worth considering, would be; instead of spec's in the current form it has now; why not have the new system they are looking at now for talents (which i think looks great, btw), And develop/merge the Spec's into the presences (for dk's) or the Aura's (for Pallys), etc. Personally, i think that would negate the need to hard switch all the time between Spec's. And lets face it no-one likes to have to respect EVERY time a new patch is released to even out the game-play.

Let me pose an example to further my idea. I will use the tried and true mage as an example: (keep the DK presence system in mind)


Arcane envelopment: (arcane presence)

Increases arcane spell damage by X%
Decreases Fire spell damage by Z%
Decreases Frost spell damage by Z%
Mastery: Increases critical damage by Y% for the amount of mana unspent

Envelopment of flame: (Fire Presence)

Increases Fire spell damage by X%
Decreases Arcane spell Damage by Z%
Decreases Frost Spell Damage by Z%
Mastery: Increases DoT Damage by Y% for each point of mastery

Glacial Envelopment: (Frost Presence)

Increases Frost Spell Damage by X%
Decreases Arcane Spell Damage by Z%
Decreases Fire Spell Damage by Z%
Increases potency of Slow Duration by Y% for each point of mastery

My point is, i dont think you should have to be completely limited to the spells you have access to, JUST because you want to specialize in a specific school of training. But on the other hand, if you decide to specialize in something specific, whatever you didn't choose will, and rightfully should suffer in efficiency. I think that the focus on what spells/talents a certain spec has or doesn't have is garnering WAY too much focus. I think if you switch to more of a open system, like the one posed for MoP, you can have much more of a option for Customization. Not to mention, the Current system of hard switching specs, which costs money, or at the very least, when you switch between the 2 specs you already have, is inefficient. Hence why i think the DK presence system, and Pally Aura system works so well.

I Even thing this type of system could apply to a healer/tank class too such as Druid for example.


Channeling of the Moonkin: (Balance/Healing Presence)

Take the form of the Moonkin
Arcane and Nature damage increased by X%
Decrease of Melee Attack power by Z%
Mastery: Increases the critical chance/Healing potency of nature/arcane spells by Y% for each point of mastery

Channeling of the Feral Cat (Feral Presence)

Take the form of the Feral Cat
Increase Melee Attack power by X%
Decrease Nature/Arcane Damage by Z%
Decrease healing potency by Z%
Mastery: Increases Dot Damage by Y% for each point of mastery

Channeling of the Great Bear (Tank Presence)

Take the form of the Great Bear
Increases Rage and threat generation by X%
Decreases healing ability by Z%
Decreases nature/Arcane damage by z%
Mastery: Increases defense by Y% for each point of mastery

**please note** these are only examples. They do in no way convey how i actually think they should be.

In summation: I think that your "Spec" under this type of set-up would be more of a support decision, rather than an end all be all, "your either this spec for this class or you suck!" type situation. Also i think that not only would this open up for a wider opportunity for customization; not to mention, that if you could change that on the fly, rather than hard switching, and resetting all your mana, or spending a crap ton of money to "respec" every time things get patched, i think you will also alleviate some of the issues people are experiencing with setting up raids; since you would theoretically have the class you need, with the potential spec available if needed. The responsibility would once again be put back to the player to be able to perform on the fly rather then blaming the game since the spec wasnt viable at the time.

What does everyone else think?
Model 1 (Everyone is the same) - This is not as interesting as the other models and will be even less interesting in Mists when all specs have access to the utility talents that currently make them significantly different. Everyone will be even more the same.

Model 3 -
This was the Burning Crusade model, where classes like shaman and Shadow priests were brought to raids just to make the pure classes (and warriors, who were always treated as pure classes back then for some reason) do better DPS.

This seems to me like just a logging issue which could be remedied by counting the raid-wide DPS/healing boost of a buff someone provides as their own, and not as the other players'. In this way, the utility player can very well be the top DPS or healing in the fight and they receive the credit they deserve.

Model 4 (Best spec) - This was my favorite model because it embraces the entire reason we have different specs and is way easier to balance, meaning less changes. Why fight it? We don't need to make sure every spec is represented equally in PvP and PvE. And like you said, a PvP spec may prove useful in many boss encounters as well. That seems like a win-win to me.

The only downside you proposed is what to do with the 3rd spec (remember this only affects pure classes). You can handle this fine (and did, in many ways) by ensuring that the kits of the two "same role" specs were different enough that the playstyles of a say Combat or Assasin Rogue were significantly different enough (dagger vs sword playstyle, for example).

Ultimately I think Model 4 is what the game was built on and what I think we should expand upon. Systems-wise this game is still one of the best and most polished, making wild changes on such a mature title will just remove much of the polish you have created. The innovations to keep this game fresh and current need to come from the content side, not the systems side.

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