Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fourth Spec...ulation

Who cares about this dusty ol' Mists of Yesterdaria, lets talk about the next expansion! Why, you ask? Because I saw this. It's supposedly a "leaked" image from Blizzard, an internal mock-up not meant for the eyes of the public. I'm 99% sure it's a fake, but seeing it has got me thinking about the next expansion. What's the big feature going to be? Well, this rogue is hoping it's fourth spec.

In case you didn't click the link above, here's the image. It's a grid with class icons on the top row and their specs beneath them. What's interesting is that this chart indicates a 12th class, as well as a 4th spec for each class! For this post, I'm going to focus on potential 4th specs. I'll make an entirely different post about the 12th class hinted at by this image: the Tinker. Trust me, I have a lot to say on the subject.

Fourth Spec?

Out of all the potential expansion features (new races, new classes, character model revamp, etc.) I think fourth spec is the most exciting. At first the idea of fourth spec scared me. Blizzard can barely balance the specs they've got, adding another spec to every class seems ludicrous, but, somehow, seeing that picture made it all seem...possible. In fact, if fourth spec was coming in the next expansion, I'd go from "eh, I guess I'll play it" to "no power on earth or in heaven will keep me from this game!"

The reason I'm so excited for fourth spec is because I'm the kind of player who doesn't really do alts, and my main is a rogue (hence this blog). I do love being a rogue, but as rogue player I'm walled-off from healing and tanking. I've dabbled on low-level alts, and even healed a few raids on my paladin, but I've never really made a serious effort to tank or heal because I can't do it on my main.

If my rogue could tank, however, I'd tank. I'd be the best damn tank ever. Because that's how I work. If it's on my main I'm serious about it. I have a level 85 protection warrior. I could easily level him those last few levels and begin tanking dungeons and eventually raids, but I don't, because I'm a one character guy. Every second I spend on an alt feels like it would be better spent on my main. So if my main could suddenly tank, a serious tank would be born.

Looking beyond my own little situation I think a lot of people would love to have a fourth spec. It would bring veteran players back, and encourage existing players to try new classes if a new spec catches their eye. it would be a huge shakeup, but perhaps that's what the game needs at this point.


So what could these fourth specs possibly be? Well, I'm guessing that most, if not all, will add a new role to their respective class. After that it needs to be something that fits thematically into the warcraft universe. Here's some specs I think would fit nicely into the game.

New Spec: Berserker
Role: Ranged DPS

The first thing I thought of when I saw the Dragon Roar icon was warriors using their shouts for damage...they would be the Dovakinh of WoW! But since that's a too-obvious ripoff let's think what the warrior class is missing. Warriors have a tank spec, and not one, but two Jormungars...I mean melee specs. Since healing seems out of the question, that only leaves ranged DPS.

That's why I'd put my money on Bersekers. A berserker is basically just a warcrafty way of saying "axe thrower" or "spear thrower". We've already seen troll berserkers in Warcraft 2 and Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne. Although they weren't exactly hero units, they did set the precedence that there are skilled axe-throwers in the Warcraft universe.

New Spec: Blood Mage
Role: Tank or Healer

The icon seems to be some sort of bloody orb, which got me thinking about blood mages. What is a blood mage, you ask? If you played Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne you should already know, because they're an Alliance hero unit in that game. However, they're a bit too similar to fire mages (and, to a lesser extent, warlocks), but I believe they'd still be a great jumping-off point for a new spec. Simply keep the name, but change the kit.

WoW's blood mage could be based off the idea of siphoning the life out of their enemies...essentially tanking through vampirism. Their tanking style would be similar to a Death Knight's in that it would be largely based on self-healing and shields. If they're not tanks, they could heal, because, let's be honest, magic can be used to explain pretty much anything, and mages are the most magical class.

New spec: Dervish
Role: Tank

This icon belongs to Deadened Nerves. For those of you who don't know DN was an Assassination talent that reduced all physical damage taken by 10%, so it's clearly hinting at a tanking spec, and I have to agree. The idea of rogue healing is laughable, and if rogues were given a ranged spec, not only would that throw us back into the "pure DPS" abyss, we'd stray too far into hunter territory. I think the only logical avenue is tanking. We would tank as we've always dodging enemy attacks. Obviously we'd need additional abilities and passives to buff us up to main tank status, but that would be the core idea.

New Class: Demon Hunter/Dark Ranger
Role: Melee DPS or Tank

I browse the MMO-Champion forums quite a bit and I notice Demon Hunter gets brought up a lot as a potential class. I've always been against this (because everything that makes a demon hunter a demon hunter has already been farmed out to warlocks, priests, and even rogues), but we could still get a demon hunter of sorts as a hunter spec. Hell, it could even be a melee spec with glaives if that would make the Illidan fans happy.

The other thing this could be is a Dark Ranger. Dark Rangers have their roots in Warcraft 3 and can even be found in the game today. However, I see this as somewhat unlikely as it would be cruel to saddle hunters with yet another ranged DPS spec. However, it's also cruel to have 4 DPS specs period, so perhaps the demon hunter spec could tank? Who knows.

New Spec: Guardian
Role: Tank

Shamans have wanted to tank since the dawn of WoW, mostly because abilities like Rockbiter Weapon seemed to encourage it. Indeed, there are shamans who have managed to tank, but it's always been a novelty. It would be nice if Blizzard made a full-fledged tanking spec for shaman. Plus, from the standpoint of the elements it makes a lot of sense: Air and fire do damage, water heals, and earth tanks! Simple!

New Spec: Avenger
Role: Ranged DPS

Ranged DPS is the only role a paladin cannot currently fill, thus a fourth paladin spec would have to be the shockadin (which I'm calling Avenger). For the uninitiated, a shockadin is the most awesome thing ever. Instead of pummeling people with blunt instruments a shockadin casts them down with the raw power of the holy light! They have no need for weapons! The light is thier weapon!

From a non-lore-I-just-made-up standpoint a shockadin is just a paladin stacking spellpower and using Holy Shock as his primary nuke (keep in mind this was before we had Denounce). At no point in WoW's history was this at all viable, but that didn't stop me from wishing for it and watching YouTube videos of shockadins 3-shotting people. It would be cruel indeed to make a 4th paladin spec without making it an homage to the shockadin.

You Missed Some...

I didn't cover druids, priests, warlocks, death knights, and monks. Obviously I left out druids because they already have a fourth spec, and I doubt they'll be given a fifth. They already fill all four roles in the game, and there isn't exactly another druidic archetype lying around begging to be made into a spec. I do think Blizzard would compensate druids in some way for being left out if fourth spec does happen.

As far as the other classes I missed, I didn't write anything because I didn't have any ideas for them. I'm simply not familiar enough with those classes to make an informed guess, but if you have any cool ideas feel free to put them in the comments below!

Blizzard Weighs In

During the writing of this post Ghostcrawler actually chimed in on fourth specs:

With regard to fourth specs, it’s an interesting idea that might bring some excitement to individual classes, but it’s also a pretty big idea in terms of the impact it would have on the game. It would require a lot of relearning for virtually every player who would have to understand what the new rogue spec did in a raid or what the new hunter spec did in PvP. We would have to add a lot of new spells and mechanics, and even things like set bonuses to support all of those new specs, and being honest, it would probably cause a lot of instability in the game as we iterated on all of those new spells to get things right. Maybe someday. (source)

GC does have a point here. Fourth specs would cause "instability", but I have to take issue with the "relearning" part. Fourth specs are just old classes with maybe a dozen more abilities. It's really not that complex. In fact, it would probably easier for players to understand than an entirely new class, and they seem to have no problem adding those.

Plus, this is going to be WoW's fifth expansion...I think by now people should know the drill: you're going to have to relearn pretty much everything. I want to meet the people who complain about relearning their class so I can punch them in the face. WoW's iterative process keeps the game fresh! If things didn't change the same whiners would complain that their class has stagnated.

So I'm still hoping this is just Blizzard being coy, and that "someday" will actually be someday very soon.


So there you have it. Those are my speculations and I'm sticking to them. I really hope fourth spec becomes a reality. I think it would really reinvigorate the game for a lot of players, I know it certainly would for me. Let's be honest, whatever the next expansion brings, I'm going to play it, for at least as long as it takes to get max level, but past that it's questionable how long I'll stick around. However, if there was a fourth spec to try out? Hell yes I'd stick around for that!

1 comment:

  1. Pretty certain this is just me but I always saw Demon Hunters as a Rogue based tanking class of sorts. Not only does the Demon Hunter primarily exist of only Night Elf members, who also arguably but statistically, make the best Rogues, but their weapon of choice is the Warglaive which used to be a Rogue staple. They primarily wear Cloth or Leather, like rogues, but also value AGILITY over all else. The only thing that detracts from my evidence is the fact that they use Arcane and Fire energies for their abilities. Some times Shadow but rarely.