World of Warcraft class rebalance detailed

Tuesday, 13th August 2013 05:56 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Blizzard has gone into further detail on how and why it intends to rebalance World of Warcraft’s classes in an upcoming update, to the usual roars of “nerf”, “OP” and “rage quit”.

In a developer blog post on the upcoming patch 5.4, lead systems designer Greg Street ran through the proposed changes to each class, many of which are already included in the public test of the update.

The full post is well worth a read, as are the patch notes, but it’s a little difficult to parse for general interest readers; in short, some of the changes have whipped players into a frothing rage.

“I know it can feel like the developers are out to punish players sometimes, but really our primary goal is to keep everyone having fun,” Street said in his accompanying notes.

“That includes redesigning awkward mechanics and buffing weak spells, but it also means nerfing overpowered mechanics so that other classes or specs don’t feel as if they can’t compete.

“I won’t pretend that we’ll get everything perfect this time around either, but we should be closer. Please keep providing us with specific, constructive feedback. We still have time to respond to feedback, even after the patch launches.”

Thanks, Polygon.



  1. TheWulf

    The way you do this is simple:

    1.) Resign yourself to not be lazy and ham-fisted. Subtlety and planning are the order of the day. It’s easy to just follow bias and proclaim something as overpowered, but objectivity really must be of great import. I’ve seen MMOs where a designer has a clear love for one class and that’s dominated the balances so that that class is always the best. I remember WoW had periods like that, where it was Druid, then Warrior, and so on. Plan it out and have it peer reviewed. Don’t be cheap and lazy.

    2.) Look at imbalance as something others can’t do, not as something one can do too much. If you were to solve the rich-poor balance of the world, better to make more people on the verge of richer, rather than destitute. Buff the classes and adjust the difficulty of the overall game as necessary. This way you’re creating an even playing field, and if people think that the game is too easy, then you can adjust the difficulty even more. However, this would probably cut into WoW’s profit margin as the entire profitability scheme of WoW is to convince the player to grind for another month to gain a short-lived feeling of power, before falling back into the grind.

    3.) Stop looking at your players like wallets and consider how they’d feel about the changes. This ties into one and being ham-fisted, but sweeping changes are bad. I believe WoW has had plenty of these, where entire classes and trees have been redesigned in single patches, leaving people clueless and with broken characters. Make smaller iterative changes over a longer period and solicit feedback as to whether the players like the changes thus far, and make your overall plan for a class public so that people can offer their thoughts on the direction of the class. Same for the direction of the game itself.

    4.) Place a lesser reliance on gear and levels, The Secret World has taken the first few steps here and it seems like Everquest Next will take it further. This is something to look into. Vertical progression introduces power creep; this is because the players are constantly expecting to grow stronger with each levels, and then you add more levels so they expect to be stronger, and so on. However, if you have no levels you have a roof at the start of the game for how powerful a character can be, then you just brach out from there horizontally. You reward people with peeks into exciting new playstyles, eventually leading to them playing their character very differently thanks to the abilities they unlocked. Thus a player ends up with a cadre of very, very unique and different abilities that they can use to construct their own sorts of classes. Having Fireball, then Telekinesis, then Freeze Ray is more fun than Fireball I, Fireball II, Fireball III.

    Of course, we can see why this can’t happen with WoW, but it’s definitely good advice for any budding MMO developer.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Ireland Michael

    “Of course, we can see why this can’t happen with WoW, but it’s definitely good advice for any budding MMO developer.”

    Everything you mentioned in that list is exactly what WoW does.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. GwynbleiddiuM

    I’m happy with the DK changes to blood, I only wish they could buff Unholy just a bit tho, since it has always been my choice spec.

    @1 I really wanna know when did you start playing WoW and when did you quit . It’s just everything you say about the general development attitude of Blizzard and most of the time the game itself is so off that I wonder if you have ever really played it.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. silkvg247

    That’s a lot to read – can anyone tell me if the core pvp issues have been addressed at all?

    e.g. Invulnerable druid healers (when geared) ditto blood DKs with unlimited regen?

    I stopped playing because beating down on a single target which can’t even be hurt was as much fun as sticking pins in my eyes – and yes I do mean including using all available stuns and interrupts.

    I play a fury warr (played, 6 months ago); I’m surprised they buffed arms and not fury, pretty sure Arms is *already* the spec people bitch about in PvP.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. viralshag

    @2 & 3, You’re obviously just covering for the game because you’re both “brand zombies”. Of course he’s played the game recently and long before that. I mean, it would be ridiculous for someone to criticise a game for something it’s not actually guilty of doing!

    Anyway on topic, I miss WoW still. Such a good MMO and probably the best I’ve ever played. I was never really a hardcore PvPer other than a short stint in the arena with a friend, we were ok but nothing worth bragging about, so rebalances and “nerfing” never really bothered me.

    I just enjoyed playing my classes and filling for missing raiders in the guild from time to time. Maybe once I get through the new games over the next month or two and the weather turns shit again I might jump back on for a bit.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. GwynbleiddiuM

    @Silk Fury is currently the spec to go for max DPS between the 2 dps specs. Single minded is even better compared to Titan. Arms is somewhat behind the fury and has rage issues. And people were asking for a bit of buff for it.

    @Viral :D

    #6 1 year ago
  7. silkvg247

    @6 Weird, in PvP it was the other way around and people mocked me for going fury (until they dueled me and died).

    I found SMF worse in PvP because you want high burst since burst is kind of your thing ie you want high numbers when popping cooldowns – did some tests and Titans did more damage during burst every time.. SMF better overall.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. silkvg247

    Just read up on 5.3 and 5.4 – sounds like in 5.3 a lot changed in PvP, including the much needed squashing of rating 2200 gear having a crazy advantage vs other players. So I might give it another shot.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. deathm00n

    Never played WoW, always wanted to. Some years back I had a lot of time but I had no money, my parents would not allow me to pay monthly for games. Now that I’m independent, I have money but no time. Life is hard people, life is hard…

    #9 1 year ago
  10. Ireland Michael

    @5 Brand zombie? Seriously? I quit the game for a year and a half when the quality of its content wasn’t up to snuff. I’m no “brand zombie”.

    I’m “defending” the game because his complaint is invalid, simple as that. The balance in the game is fairly solid right now, with only very small gaps in the numbers some classes can pull out. The game has dedicated class designers, and it *does* make unpopular class changes, instead of following user bias.

    Pretty much everything he said about the game’s class balance is invalid. Quite literally every single thing.

    Edit: Oh wait, you’re being facetious and taking the mickey out of him, aren’t you? =P

    Sometimes I have trouble telling salarta and TheWulf apart. It’s like two clones split into two.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. GwynbleiddiuM

    @IM Yeah I think he was being sarcastic :D

    @Silk I myself am not that into PVP, so pretty much what I said was PVE-wise. :P

    #11 1 year ago
  12. since86

    I think the variations depend on how you play your character; PvP,PVE or RP

    #12 1 year ago
  13. viralshag

    @10, Yes, I am. :D

    I was going to make the exact comment you and Gwyn made in #2 & #3 but I figured there’s no point. He has a thing against WoW and that’s clear whenever he makes a comment related to it. It doesn’t matter that he’s been pulled up on it every time because he comes back and then makes the same incorrect comments later.

    I just find it somewhat amusing because he bangs on about his “wisdom”, “spreading misinformation” and that “brand zombie” nonsense but then blindly lays into something based on incorrect and outdated criticisms that might never have existed.

    Just like the long post about X Rebirth being “quaint” and how they need to make a space sim properly, where you play as pilot connected to the ship cybernetically the ship in third person. I left it to someone else to tell him what he was describing was EvE.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. Ireland Michael

    @13 Its always easy to be right when you ignore everything that proves you wrong.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. DSB

    When I read posts like that, this goes off in my head:

    Helps keep me from doing something futile, like trying to “cure” whatever the fuck is wrong with that person :P

    My problem as a Rogue was when Blizzard started wanting to pigeonhole the builds once Lich King came along.

    During Burning Crusade, the prevailing logic was that Swords was the pan-ultimate build for a Rogue, and the theorycrafting would seem to support it, but personally I thought there was a pretty decent shot at the 5% crit from Fists being at least equal, so that’s what I went with.

    … And it worked! Everybody said I was kidding myself, but I ended up out-performing everyone in my guild, by simply going with my intuition.

    But that sort of freedom was decisively killed off with Lich King. It was simply: “This is your raiding build”, “This is your PVP build”, “This is the build you have if you just want to be an inefficient fucknut”.

    And it was take it or leave it, right down to the itemization. That took a lot of the fun out of it for me. I fucking hated daggers.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. sebastien rivas


    Thanks for the link, don’t we all love him….

    #16 1 year ago

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