How classes change, a ramble
If you look back over the years that WoW has been around, it’s undergone some pretty hefty adjustments. I have a few friends who have followed one class, one character solidly through from day one, raided every level of content, deleted more epic sets than the noobs today have ground badges, and still haven’t swapped or quit. I was having an interesting conversation with a few of them the other day. I brought up how when I first started playing Paladin, seals lasted for 2 minutes. There were some confusing mechanics with things like seals going away when you judged with them, and other such effects. Anyone coming back into the game now, having played a paladin early BC like that, would be somewhat flummoxed by the constant ‘buff’ way seals work now, and how a judgment is now just a solid attack that requires a seal to be active to use, and triggers the seals effect as per the spell.
I remember late Burning crusade when MMO champion and other sites started releasing WotLK beta information, a lot of it about changes to proffesions, zones, models, and classes. Everyone was clamoring to know what was going to happen to their main. For example, early in the Beta, the level 80 hunter spell was going to be stealth for the hunter and his pet, with a higher movement penalty and the ability to drop traps. It was a trade-off with Rogues: they got Tricks of the trade, a buffed copy of Misdirect. Except that stealth for 80 hunters went, suddenly. Vanished from the files. In its place was a rather pathetic substitute in being able to fire a freezing trap to where ever was in range. Mages discovered that they would get to duplicate themselves at 80, and learn Frostfire bolt at 75, changing the way double dipping into the fire and frost trees was viewed entirely. Warlocks got a reverse blink in a summoned Demonic Circle.
These were all dug out. I know there was a couple of other abilities being developed for classes that got taken out (Heroic leap, allowing a warrior with enough rage to leap to wherever he targeted, there was outcry when this was removed*). Now, it’s coming round to Beta time for Cataclysm soon. No doubt we shall see a flood of information as the gnomes take it apart. Some of it may rock the board for the class in question, in the way that Rogues getting Fan of Knives boosted their damage potential on trash/certain bosses and popularity by a lot. Some of it may be just an extra functional tool in an already bristling arsenal.
My personal hope is that they can strive to keep things balanced, whilst giving classes some really fun toys. The warlock and mages example is a good one. Functional abilities, and fun – a teleport and a duplicate damage buff. But some classes got the short end of the stick in WotLK. Warriors got Heroic throw, a move that acts in the same way as shooting an enemy with a gun (which warriors have had for a looong time) and generating a tad more threat. They should have got Heroic Leap, allowing warriors to be bounding round the scenery. Blizzards excuses for removing that awesome move were centered around texture/wall hacks, being able to climb environments that weren’t flying friendly (such as Azeroth.) My hope is that they’ll implement that move in Cataclysm, now that the entirety of Azeroth should be flying friendly. Who knows?
There are plenty of mob moves that aren’t available for players. They’d be a hell to balance in pvp, but they’d also be amazing fun. The Black Knight’s ‘Force choke’ where an enemy gets silenced, lifted up and thrown back. Death knight ability anyone? Melee range, 50 Runic Power, 1 minute CD? How about the ability held by the Valkyr trash in ICC, to make doppelgangers of the enemy that attack and heal? Sounds like an interesting one for shadowpriests, or maybe mages. Some kind of ability that lets a player drop a voidzone in a targeted area? I don’t know. There’s a lot of fun possibilities. Let’s hope Blizzard comes up with the goods!