Having played a Disco Priest as well as an Elemental Shaman over the last few days, I can attest to the fact that learning the new ‘streamlined’ version of class talents has become considerably easier than it was. There was some suggestion that by paring down the abilities of each class there would be a loss of enjoyment, but I’m finding the opposite to be true. In fact, for someone like me who has the option to play multiple flavours of the game, this change is more than welcome. However, there is one part of the experience that hasn’t gotten easier. In fact, if I’m honest, it just gets more complex with every Expansion launch.
Gearing characters is about to become a great deal more problematic than it has probably ever been.
For me, not living in the rarefied air of Mythic Raiding, gear choices normally revolve around what I can pick up from the decomposing corpses of mobs. This time around, if I read this right, there are four types of tier on offer, all recolours of themselves, and then Class Order Hall sets on top of the normal quest rewards. Forget for a moment the aesthetic trauma of trying to make sure I pick up and learn every damn item I find from the word go. I’m not stressing about Wardrobe malfunctions here. There’s a shittonne of items I might need, and when you throw the Legendary items into the mix, plus crafted gear? MY HEAD ALREADY HURTS. We may have had the trauma of spell choice lessened, but the need for third party websites to tell us what to wear and do the maths for us has become even more of a crutch than it ever was before.
Maybe the problem was never just rotation complexity to begin with.
Removing Multistrike and Bonus Armour might lessen the effort required to calculate what matters for your class, but to do the numbers properly, like it or not, you’ll need help. Then there’s the very real understanding that however much you might believe a set bonus will beat all, someone will inevitably disprove the base theorycrafting and discover a better combination that Activision Blizzard somehow missed. It’s why the concept of ‘no best spec’ might look great in theory but when you’re trying to eke the 1% needed to kill a Boss? There will always be a best way to not only play but gear to do so. No, it might not be right, and it should be discouraged, but if a strategy works because you had your talents and rotation set a certain way? Yes, of COURSE you’d be foolish not to use it, especially if you’re playing with other people who do the same. That’s the biggest problem when you die to mechanics: is it the game, or is it you that’s the problem. If switching spec can give you 10% more dps when everybody else is flat out? Will you refuse to do so because it negates your ‘class fantasy’?
Once upon a time, as a Hunter, I could have three specs to switch between whilst levelling to ensure I could give the most dps in any given situation, and not gimp or disable my fellow players. With the introduction of the Artefact weapon? That choice has gone, because now I’ll need to max out THREE different main hand items before I can do the same thing. That means that overnight the gear I choose becomes very significant indeed, because it is the only way I will be able to maximise my abilities and dps. It doesn’t matter if I never look at a talent guide again, I’ll be forced to use third party websites to calculate the best choices regardless. Without the flexibility of spec switching at a constant level? Gear is the all-encompassing and limiting factor in every decision I now make going forward. I’m not sure I’m really that happy about being tied to restrictive practice in this fashion.
I’d been used to using third party support for years, and then I chose to walk alone, and the difference, one could argue, is minimal. Both get you from A to B eventually, the former just takes less time, the latter causes far fewer arguments. However, for those people coming to this game fresh, the spectre of complexity may yet be frightening enough to make them leave before they’ve learnt how to play. It isn’t just about making life easier via the medium of button pushing, after all. Activision Blizzard have stated they intend to intentionally ‘break’ certain key addons that trivialise complex boss fights. There’s a desire to keep the level of encounter complexity consistently high. Is the assumption therefore that if you’re prepared to live with that you’re clearly capable of dealing with the maths needed to work out your best combination of gear?
Why isn’t gear being simplified in the same manner that class abilities have been?