Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Patch 4.0.1 Testing - Mage and Warlock

I have started testing the initial leveling experiences for each class on the PTR to get a feel for what they have done to improve the game for new players. A lot of the new features are pretty impressive, including some pretty decent tutorials. I assume that this will be even better with the new cataclysm zones since some of the initial quests are being reworked, but already I'm pretty impressed with how deep they were willing to go into tossing out old ideas to bring in new, better ones.

In this review I don't want to get too hung up on bugs, since bugs get fixed. It's more the intentional design decisions. Of course sometimes bugs have a significant impact on how a class plays and mar my ability to evaluate it properly, but I can still get the gist.

I'm going to be giving each class a letter grade based for the early play experience. What this grade means exactly is hard to say. I would like to say I'm grading based on the current experience and not on my perception of how much they have improved, but I think it would be dishonest to suggest I could completely separate those ideas, so lets say it will be heavily weighted to the current state with some acknowledgement of history. It's also impossible to escape the fact that I just like some classes better than others, but what can you do?

So far I have played Warlock and Mage. My warrior and paladin were both erased when the servers were renewed on Saturday and I'll have to start them again since I don't think I can give a reasonable review without getting to at least level 12 or so.

Warlock (Human)
It was nice to start with a pet right away, even without full control of it. Initial DoTs are quite powerful, allowing you to start two-dotting enemies at level four. Voidwalker is also much improved, as torment is now a strike that does significant damage in addition to increasing threat. At level 10 I chose destruction and was disappointed that Conflagrate is bugged (the damage is very low). Also, it is strange that as destruction Immolate takes over Shadow Bolt as your nuke. There wasn't much cool to look forward to in terms of talents until relatively high level. Mana was a consideration if I ran from mob to mob two-dotting but not really one if I nuked down one mob at a time. Not a huge change from how leveling felt with a warlock before the patch, but warlock leveling was always pretty fun.

Overall grade: B

Mage (Blood Elf)
Fireball is a real beating at level 1, dealing over 30 damage and allowing you to go on two shotting everything until you learn Fire Blast, which does about the same damage as an instant. Very quickly you get arcane missiles and start proc watching, making combat feel much more interactive than it would just spamming one spell. At level 10 I chose Arcane and even without yet having Arcane Blast it felt pretty good. Fights were quite variable depending on missile procs and every now and then a mob be reduced to a health value between Fire Blast and Arcane Barrage and my best action would actually be to just run past them for a second before finishing them off. After the first few levels I always wanted to have multiple attack spells on my bar and had lots of room to make good and bad choices between them. My first couple of talent points weren't that exciting, but the tier two talents were very enticing. Mana became a minor consideration in the mid teens when I found that when monster hunting I would run out of mana slightly before my second Evocation cooldown. So given nearly continuous combat I stopped to get my mana back about every 8 minutes, which felt pretty good. I played to level 21 because I was having such a good time.

Overall grade: A


  1. what sort of damage does arcane barrage hit at level 10 with BOAs?

  2. Since I did my testing on the PTR I didn't have the benefit of BoAs. I could have, I suppose, by copying my main over a couple of times, but I wanted to look at the new player experience, so BoAs wouldn't have really fit that anyway.

    So in questing equipment - that is, equipment that has no effect on anything - arcane barrage was doing around 80 damage. In perspective, that's about 40% of the health of a level 10 enemy, but enemy health rapid expands from around level 10 to level 12 to account for the abilities you get at level 10, so it ends up being a little less than a third of typical enemy health.

    I wouldn't expect BoAs to actually help all that much. You could net about 35-40 spell power from them at level 10. I don't know the Arcane Barrage coefficient, but I would guess it's either 42% or 63%, meaning something like 15-24 extra damage. 104 damage is a lot more than 80, but in practical terms you'll end up waiting the same number of Arcane Barrage cooldowns to kill a level 10. It'll help more as you get closer to level 20, and especially after you get Arcane Blast.