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[US] Feedback: Druid Updates

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[US] Feedback: Druid Updates

In this thread, we’ll be testing and talking about Druids in The War Within. Look here for posts from the development team as adjustments and bugfixes are made throughout the testing period.
Please note that off-topic or inappropriate posts will be strictly removed.

Thank You

Before we continue testing The War Within, we’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who read and responded to the Hero Talent previews we posted over the last few months.

Looking to the Alpha

In this first Alpha build, every single class has at least one new Hero Talent tree available for testing, with the rest coming in the following weeks. We’re asking testers to initially keep several things in mind:

There are UI elements on the talent panel that are placeholder, including things like talent icons, text, or final UI art.
Some talents may not be functioning yet, or may be marked as not yet implemented (NYI)
New spell visuals and audio for several new Hero Talent trees are still a work in progress. Many trees are using placeholder assets for now that will be updated over the course of Alpha.
There are some talents that are not fully tuned yet. This is expected, and we will implement tuning adjustments throughout testing.

The combat design team has two big areas of focus right now that we are prioritizing over other concerns such as tuning or generic class updates/maintenance:

Finish building the remainder of the Hero Talent trees that are not yet available.
Fix bugs that are blocking testing of new talents.

With the Alpha build being playable and all of the discussion that will occur around the flood of data, we wanted to reiterate that the responses to our blog previews were highly valuable. The feedback we received allowed us to make some early improvements or revisions while we didn’t yet have a public test environment. It allowed us to take some big early swings on certain trees, and then react to early feedback quickly.
Going forward, we aren’t planning to publish any additional Hero Talent previews in blog form, since we’ll add the remaining classes to the Alpha as soon as they reach their ready-to-test state.

Working from Feedback

Several Hero Talent trees have received changes after reading feedback to the blog posts. Some of these were tuning changes to ensure that the Hero Talent tree felt competitive, while others were significant design changes. The feedback thus far has been of great benefit to us.
Going into Alpha, we feel good about the shape of the Hero Talent tree designs. Keeping a consistent number of utility and defensives nodes across all trees, having parity between number of choice nodes, and the overall structure of the trees are things we’re confident in.
We’re also working on tweaking some core class designs as well. In some cases, it was necessary to make adjustments to the class or specialization talent trees before significant work was done on a Hero Talent tree. In other cases, we did work seeking to improve base class talent tree designs.

Alpha Feedback

Now that we’re in Alpha, we’re looking for feedback on how it feels to playtest these trees. We’re specifically curious about:

Hero Talents that you feel are “required” for your spec in a type of content, such as raiding or Mythic+, or that push you towards picking a specific tree.
Hero Talents that create frustrating or unsatisfying gameplay or rotations for your spec.
Hero Talents whose functionality is confusing, unclear, or difficult to track during gameplay.

Throughput comparisons of Hero Talent trees are helpful, but we’re more interested in gameplay, feel, and choice feedback at this stage. Also, when possible, we appreciate it when you focus posts or articles on a single spec and Hero Talent tree, rather than combining feedback about multiple issues.

Again, Thank You

We greatly appreciate all your feedback on Hero Talent trees and are very excited for you to see everything else we’re working on. Thank you!
– The World of Warcraft Combat Design Team

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Kaivax
Community Manager

#2 – April 18, 2024, 6:08 p.m.
Blizzard Post

There are updates to the druid class tree and several specs trees coming in the War Within. We’re excited for you to play with them in the Alpha, and we’d like to share some of the design and class philosophy behind the updates.

Druid Class Tree

A core aspect of the druid fantasy is that they have 4 specializations with a variety of magical and physical powers. We want the class tree to embody druids’ ability to invest in the powers of other specializations for useful utility and defensive power. We kept the central design of there being four main sections, one for each spec. You can invest in the Guardian section to access their powerful damage resistance, or the Restoration section to unlock self-healing. Further, the talents in the bottom half of the tree are divided into “physical” and “magical” halves that you can access by investing in either Feral / Guardian or Restoration / Balance sections.
This concept of investing came with some frustrations in Dragonflight that we are looking to reduce. Some specializations invested more points in abilities they didn’t use than others. Sometimes the rewards farther down the tree didn’t feel worth the cost to get them. In The War Within, it always costs exactly 2 points in a specialization’s section to access their more generally useful bonuses. We’ve redistributed talents so all specializations have some talents in their sections that other specializations will value. And while there is a cost to access the physical and magical sections at the bottom of the tree, there are strong, broadly useful talents in them.
Overall, we want you to feel that you’re picking and choosing the powers of other specializations as you customize your druid, and that you have interesting decisions to make in every gate no matter your specialization or what type of content you’re doing.

Astral Influence and Increased Melee Range

Astral Influence no longer increases the range of melee attacks. We are revisiting increased melee range talents across the game. These talents make the melee experience inconsistent across classes in a way we’re not happy with, so we’re removing most of them. Default melee range has increased since these talents were originally created, allowing specs with increased range to attack from well outside where it appears they should be able to. Cat Form now increases melee attack and ability range by 3 yards, for the moment.

Berserk, Celestial Alignment, and Incarnation Durations Reduced

Feral’s and Guardian’s Berserk and Balance’s Celestial Alignment have a 15 second duration in The War Within (down from 20). Incarnation forms, including Tree of Life, have 20 second durations (down from 30). Druid cooldowns’ long durations meant their power was more spread out than other class cooldowns, and the very long Incarnation durations made them hard to balance against other talent options.
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Kaivax
Community Manager

#3 – April 18, 2024, 6:08 p.m.
Blizzard Post

Balance Druid

Our top goals for Balance Druid in The War Within are to ease some of the constraints on their rotation, open up a greater variety of builds and play styles, and tune their balance and resource generation.

Primordial Arcanic Pulsar Removed

Pulsar is an undeniably powerful effect, granting a strong damage buff and triggering Eclipse effects. However, it’s extremely constraining, reducing the value of any effects that don’t align with its 40-45 second cadence. Plus, since its progress is based on resources spent, encounters with intermissions or mechanics players can’t control can misalign their ability timing with no real recourse. Similar to Rune of Power, we believe Pulsar’s power is constraining Balance Druids too much, and we are removing it. You’ll be able to choose between Orbital Bombardment’s 2 minute cooldown and an empowered version of Celestial Alignment with a 3 minute cooldown.

Build Variety

Second, Balance uses similar builds for different types of content, with very little variety. Removing Primordial Arcanic Pulsar will help by reducing the power of “required” talents that synergize with it. We’re working to even out the power of talents in each tier of the tree and adding some new talents to allow you to specialize more in different aspects of your toolkit like periodic effects, stronger builders, or free finishers. Our goals are that there are different ways to play that you can try, and that you have more power to customize your build for different fights or types of content.

Astral Power Generation Reduced

Balance’s Astral Power generation increased a lot in Dragonflight. We’re pulling back some of those increases to slow the pace of play just a little, make pooling gameplay more interesting, and to provide some space for Hero Talents and other bonuses to provide Astral Power without going overboard. While this and changes like removing Pulsar are nerfs, Balance’s base ability damage is going up to compensate. Overall, Celestial Alignment and other cooldowns will hit a lot harder when they are active.
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Kaivax
Community Manager

#4 – April 18, 2024, 6:09 p.m.
Blizzard Post

Feral Druid

Our top goals for Feral Druid in The War Within are to slow down its rotation a little to make Energy usage more tactical and to bring more clarity to playing the spec. We’re also trying to restore more of Tiger Fury’s identity and excitement, and simplifying some talent functionality to free up more choice in where you spend points. Many of these changes will read as nerfs – the goal is to build a healthy rotation and talent balance and buff damage to make that rotation competitive.

Energy Generation Reduced

Feral gained a lot of strong Energy generation talents in Dragonflight. As a result, it lost some of its feel as a spec where sometimes the best thing to do was pause to let a DoT tick down or for your Energy to recover. In some environments, Feral had more energy than it could spend and became GCD limited instead of Energy limited. We’re going to pull back on the power of Energy generation talents in The War Within. We want players to tactically take a breath now and then to ensure they have energy to refresh Rake, or to get ready to activate Bloodtalons, or to maximize Ferocious Bite damage.
As a part of this, we are removing Predator’s ability to reset Tiger’s Fury when an enemy dies and changing Raging Fury. As a result, Tiger’s Fury will never have 100% uptime. Maximizing the value of the Energy it generates and applying bleeds while it is active will become more of a way to express your skill (though there will also be talents to help with this if desired).

Clarity

Feral Druid has a lot of factors that influence what button you want to press at any given moment. Some of those are healthy, such as whether to refresh a bleed on a dying target, or whether to try to sneak in another Ferocious Bite before you need to refresh Rip. But some are difficult for many players to intuit without reading a guide. Should you Shred or Swipe on two targets in Berserk? Is Primal Wrath or Ferocious Bite with Rampany Ferocity more damage in AOE?
We want to give every button in Feral’s toolset a mostly consistent job. We’re removing the bonuses to Shred and Rake in Berserk, and removing bonuses that gave AOE value to Ferocious Bite. Feral’s AOE strategy will be based on dealing group damage with Primal Wrath and Tear Open Wounds while funneling Ferocious Bites into priority targets with Apex Predator.
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Kaivax
Community Manager

#5 – April 18, 2024, 6:11 p.m.
Blizzard Post

Restoration Druid

In The War Within, we’d like to reduce active keybinds, increase the base power of Rejuvenation, and offer some new Heart of the Wild gameplay.
We experimented with a passive design for Adaptive Swarm, but ultimately feel reducing both the keybind requirements and party frame clutter is worth replacing it with a new effect. Restoration Druid reached a point in Dragonflight where we felt there were one too many heal over time effects within the talent tree that affect both the tuning of Mastery and the space on friendly unit frames.
Luxuriant Soil also had our eye throughout Dragonflight and in part has led to Rejuvenation at a baseline level feeling rather unimpactful and leaving Restoration Druids not having as much control over their healing output as we would like. We are replacing its effect with the goal of bringing up Rejuvenation’s power and making its effect feel directly impactful on the target it is cast on.
With the removal of Adaptive Swarm, we’re opting to replace it with some new Heart of the Wild synergy that both increases the uptime of the effect and enables the Druid to focus on the hybrid gameplay further for its duration.
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Kaivax
Community Manager

#6 – April 18, 2024, 7:11 p.m.
Blizzard Post

We greatly appreciate your feedback and we’re looking forward to your thoughts on Druid changes. There are a few topics we’re especially interested in hearing from you on:

How does it feel to build characters for different types of content? Do you feel you are able to get the tools you need?
How do the changes help or not help in specific situations that are relevant to you?
Are there sections of the talent trees that you feel don’t have enough meaningful choices?
Do you see any degenerate or unintended impacts on rotations, including:

Using single target abilities in AOE or vice versa.
Being flooded with resources faster than they can be spent.
Feeling forced to use (or never use) particular abilities due to how the class is played.

Overall, our goal is to provide interesting choices and options in talent trees that deliver the fantasies of druid and its specializations, including appropriate tools for different types of game content. Do you feel the talent trees for your specialization enable builds you’ll enjoy?

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