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Friday, July 3, 2009

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WoW: Warlock Q&A
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Blizzard Entertainment has posted another lengthy Q&A with Ghostcrawler and the World of Warcraft Development Team. This discussion focuses on the Warlock class in the popular MMORPG with a range of topics including the Warlock's role in the game, weaknesses in PvP, and future plans for the class.

Where do warlocks fit into the larger scope of things currently and where do we see them going from this point forward?
Ghostcrawler: The warlock is a caster -- a ranged damage dealer. They can fill only one role, which makes them a “pure” class as opposed to a hybrid. Warlocks have a reputation for trafficking with darkness, and their spells and abilities reflect this -- demons, curses, drains, fears. All warlocks rely on damage-over-time spells and demonic pets to some extent. The Affliction tree focuses on damage-over-time spells, curses, and shadow magic in general. The Demonology tree emphasizes the damage and abilities done by demons. The Destruction tree gives up a little of both to become a little bit more like a mage with direct damage and fire magic. Overall, the vision is for warlocks to feel less fragile than mages. They have historically had higher health pools and easier to sustain mana, but fewer emergency escapes. Keeping the mage and warlock feeling distinct is a big challenge. They fill a similar role and share similar gear so sometimes even the profiles of their character art look similar.
Going forward, we want to try and make the warlock experience more different from the mage. Our new plans for Soul Shards will help here. We want to make them a core mechanic instead of a minor feature that can be neglected at best and feels tedious at worst.
We’re happy with the relative damage done by Affliction and Destruction. Depending on which Lich King patch you look at one or the other are slightly on top, but they’re close. Demonology still seems to lag a little behind. We think there is still room for a strong Felguard build in there. It might be that the pets still require too much management or it could just be that the rotation isn’t as interesting as the ones Affliction or Destruction use right now. Demonology suffers from a little bit of the same problem as the Beastmaster hunter, which is when the pet is such a big part of your damage you are crippled in moments when the pet is killed or ineffectual.
Except for a brief moment early in Lich King, warlocks have been under-represented in PvP and we want to see more of them. We don’t want to get there through fear bombs, though. In fact, we think the damage locks can do is in a pretty good place. The problem is survivability, especially when stunned. Now some of the 3.2 changes are going to chill out damage across the board and we are increasing the survivability of pets in PvP. Both of those changes should help warlocks, who historically have been a little better in endurance fights than quick scrums. If those changes aren’t enough, we’re prepared to make additional ones.
Lich King made the warlock pets more interesting but we think there is still a lot of opportunity here. Some of the pets have abilities that just don’t get much use (Imp Fire Shield anyone?) while other pets could benefit from a couple more abilities. The voidwalker for example does all of his damage through just a simple autoattack. While we are slightly positioning the imp as a Destruction pet and the felhound as an Affliction pet, we think we can make the choice of what demon to use at a particular time more interesting. The succubus has too narrow a niche, and the voidwalker is still used mostly as a level-up pet.
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