Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Druid Class Q & A Drops

Blizzard has continued its class based Question and Answer series by turning its sites on Druids. Check out the Druid Q & A here.

To give a quick overview of the information provided, I thought it might be helpful to separate the more interesting tidbits by what they reveal about the past, present, and future of each Druid role.

The Past

In terms of the history of the Druid class, Restoration has been the only spec to maintain endgame PvE viability since release. Bear tanks joined them in Burning Crusade with kitty dps pouncing into the party in Wrath of the Lich King. Balance Druids made great strides in Burning Crusade and have continually improved in terms of endgame PvE performance, but they have still yet to find a solid place to call their own.

As for PvP, although Feral has always been a viable option, Restoration became king with the advent of Burning Crusade and never left its throne. Though Balance has gained many PvP tools during the evolutions which preceded the release of Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, things have never quite come together the way the developers and players would like.

The Present

The Q & A highlighted several strengths and weaknesses for the Druid class as it exists today. In terms of strengths, Feral dps and tanking roles are both well defined and viable. Though kitty dps is complicated, it is hitting a nice target and fills the needs of players desiring a more involved dps role. Bears are also tanking on par with other tanking classes. Restoration Druids are also excelling, able to fill a wide range of PvE healing roles and hold their own in the Arena.

As for weaknesses, Balance rotations have become boring as a result of the similarities between Wrath and Starfire and Eclipse not cutting the mustard in terms of keeping things interesting. Moonkins are also generally poor performers in PvP. Restoration Druids are apparently spending too much time in Tree of Life Form. Additionally, though the developers are largely happy with Tranquility and Healing Touch, they are not especially pleased with the spells' prominence in the Restoration talent tree.

The Future

In terms of changes, Balance Druids were presented as being the most in need of some help. Unfortunately, it also seemed as though very little changes were on the way. Though there were some hints at shaking up the Moonkin rotation, the developers seem to have no clear road map for making that happen. Some more prominent distinction will ultimately be made between Wrath and Starfire, but it remains to be seen what form that distinction will take. Also, Moonkin PvP survivability needs fixed, but Blizzard doesn't want to simply retool mage spells and doesn't have the time to create something unique. Oh well.

Restoration Druids will likely find themselves shaken out of Tree of Life Form in the distant future. Though Blizzard seems committed to having the form in the game, they do not like that there is little to no incentive for Resto Druids to be in caster form. Possible fixes included beefing up the form and putting it on a cooldown or splitting healing spells between Tree of Life and Caster forms. It is also likely that some PvP nerfs might be hitting Resto in the foreseeable future.

Feral Druids seem to be in a relatively good spot as far as the developers are concerned. Bear survivability will be high in 3.2 and cat form is performing as intended in both PvP and PvE. Likely no significant Feral changes will be coming down the pipe any time soon.

More generally speaking, throughout the entire interview, Ghostcrawler frequently bemoaned the fact that Druids are not shifting often enough and hinted that mana free and perhaps global cooldown free shifts might ultimately be the solution. There were also hints that new art for Travel Form and Aquatic Form may be in the works. Blizzard also intends to stay the course in terms of itemization and keep all Druids in leather whenever possible.

All in all, the Q & A was interesting and promising for everyone except Balance Druids. Here's hoping the future isn't quite as dire for Moonkins as it may seem.

No comments:

Post a Comment