I’m somewhat fed up with seeing people complain about losing class or spec uniqueness. In The Burning Crusade I played a niche class, and was one of the only raiders who did so. I played on a crap computer and this caused my guild to take me along despite poor DPS, and a very low frame rate that caused me to have problems seeing stuff that was going to kill me. When the Replenishment mechanic was spread around the classes, I QQed because it was the only thing saving my raid spot.
Then I got over it. No more guilt for denying my guild a needed ability when I needed a night off. As a Shadow Priest I was no longer just about utility, and because of that I was able to contribute to DPS in my own shadowy way, and not as a mere supplemental warm body. Blizzard talks about iconic abilities so much, but I think we often make the mistake of confusing abilities for identity. A Shaman is more than their Heroism/Bloodlust. They do not lose their ability just because Mages are allowed to DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY.
Matticus points this out nicely with reference to healing, and healer identities. A single ability is not the backbone of class identity, and as the WoW community changes and grows over the years, the niche of a spec changes. Remember the time when BM was the joke of the whole community, it was the levelling spec and nowt more? And then BRK and some other bloggers came along and showed us what it was capable of and the identity of BM hunters changed.
Remember when Discipline was for PvP? Hell, when Shadow was for PvP? The players change the classes as much as the developers do, because they figure out what they want from a spec and use it that way, and the developers respond. These are complimenting strengths and specs that are growing out of what the player base enjoys doing. The way we see ourselves as a class changes over time. Shadow Priests have not turned into Warlocks. Warlocks are not really mages. Any change that enables a group of people to adapt and play what they want to play, without being forced to bring a certain composition is a good thing.
[quote]We are scaling back the magnitude of some of the buffs, as we did with Sunder Armor. We want you to feel awesome when you have strong good synergy, but we don’t want the buffs to overwhelm say your gear or skill. We’re also planning on getting rid of any talent that buffs a buff. Any buff that is earned solely by talent needs to have a selfish component thrown in so that you don’t feel like you should respec if someone else with that buff comes along.[/quote]
The above was posted by Ghostcrawler, of course, and is a good indicator what utility is really going to mean in Cataclysm. Instead of ‘utility’ being the identity for a given spec, such as it was at one time for discipline and the shaman class as a whole, utility is something everyone can bring. Identity is buried instead in play style and not a single all-encompassing thing like ‘utility’. Elemental has identity rooted in fire and lightning, in turret style play with great burst damage and sustained DPS. Enhancement is quick-hitting, a real dazzling whirlwind of shocks and spirits. Restoration is the power of the spirits replenishing and spreading through allies.
What we think our class is about, lore wise, is not always what the Devs see. All the grumbling over Shamans losing their ability to remove poisons and diseases was answered with this snippet. I’ve underlined what I feel is relevant.
[quote]It’s dangerous territory trying to defend game changes (or arguing against game changes) for lore reasons. While we take the lore very seriously, it’s a slippery thing that can be used to justify opposite points of view. For example, in our minds the mystical, yet perhaps provincial nature of druids and shaman make them well-suited for focusing on healing afflictions of the spirit (curses). Meanwhile, priests and paladins have a connection to urbanized society and advanced medicine (relative to a medieval / Renaissance / fantasy time period anyway), and are therefore more qualified to heal afflictions of the body (disease). Druids have a strong connection to animals and plants, so perhaps understanding the nature of toxins and venom makes sense. While shaman have an affinity for elements and spirits, you can stretch that too far and say that because they are tribal healers they should be capable of removing any malady that might strike down their people. It’s all very malleable stuff. We’re also not above evolving the lore when we think it’s absolutely necessary.[/quote]
I made the mistake of connecting Shamans too closely with nature, and priests with the mind. I still think that Priests with all their will and spirit focused spells are better for curing the spirit, but arguing with Blizzard’s interpretation is fruitless at this stage. They’ve taken one angle on the identity of shaman, and stuck to it. And I’m not displeased – it is so easy to confuse the Elements with Nature that more distinction between Druidic Identity and Shamanic Identity. This is a re-evaluation!
Edit: It seems like the mages are also tired of the QQ.