WoW Factor: Speculative classes for the future of WoW

If Allied Races show us anything, it’s that World of Warcraft is really in no danger of running out of new races to throw at us. This particular system is adding nearly twice as many new races in one expansion as we’ve had added during the entirety of the game’s lifespan thus far, there’s another one that looks to be set up for this as well (hello there, Vulpera), and there’s a deep roster of other options that people have asked to have for ages. Yes, it would take some work to retrofit Vrykul and Ogres, but considering the work going into new male orc poses, Zandalari Trolls, and Kul Tiran Humans, it is definitely not insurmountable work.

Of course, as I alluded to a while back, we sort of have a disconnect right now where we’ve got far more race options than class options. And while we’re awash in races, we seem to be in danger of running out of classes that can’t be pretty cleanly modeled by what’s already in the game. That doesn’t mean we can’t get any new classes, of course, but it’s hard to justify the inclusion of a Pirate class when we already have a Rogue spec doing everything such a class would theoretically offer. The inclusion of mechanical Hunter pets alone basically short-circuited talk about “Engineer” as a class.

Not that this means we’re out of options, of course; in fact, there’s still plenty of things left in the bank of known or reasoned class options that we can’t play just yet. So let’s talk about some of those options, and along the way I’m sure we can fit in some fun discussions about the difference between classes and hero classes.

This is a better joke to keep alive anyhow, quite frankly.

Bard

Potential Alliance races: Pretty much any (possibly excluding Draenei)
Potential Horde races: Pretty much any (possibly excluding Goblins, who notoriously lack rhythm)

One of the things that endlessly annoys me about Pandaren is the simple reality that the race started out as an April Fools’ Day joke that people just would not allow to die. I don’t see why we shouldn’t let another joke that’s actually a better idea die, though. Sure, the obvious joke from this was the idea that Bards play Guitar Hero in order to interact with the game, but it’s not like the concept of a Bard needs a whole lot of extra explanation or that particular joke to be justified.

It’s hard to think of races that couldn’t justifiably be a bard, and it’d serve nicely as at least a healing and damage option class. If the developers wanted to be really surprising, they could even go all-in and make it a potential tank as well; yes, tanking through the power of rock alone is pretty absurd, but it’s not inherently more absurd than anything else. Light armor, of course, would be an obvious option for the more support-oriented class.

Of course, it has the one major drawback of no characters actually being marked as bards up to this point, which is some cause for concern. You’d have to create the idea of adventuring bards almost whole-cloth, and it’s a little hard to spin that at times; when the past few expansions have been nonstop crisis wars, there’s less space for just strolling down the road as a minstrel. But it also has a solid conceptual basis, so we’d just need an expansion where we aren’t explicitly setting out to destroy another ancient or recent evil.

That’d be nice anyhow, to be fair.

I want some credit for the fact that I didn't make a single joke about how there's synergy with Bards here thanks to all the dancing.

Necromancer

Potential Alliance races: Human, Dwarf, Draenei (remember Auchindoun?), Void Elf, Kul Tiran, Dark Iron
Potential Horde races: Orc, Troll, Forsaken, Blood Elf, Zandalari, Goblin

Another one that people have asked to get for half of forever, Necromancer isn’t a joke but is a class we see in the game pretty much constantly. Yes, Unholy Death Knights might have taken some of their schtick, but the difference there is that Death Knights are a hero class, and Necromancers don’t really have to be. They’re not actually dead. (The distinction will be discussed further momentarily.)

While there’s space to consider this as an offshoot or variant on Warlock, the big difference is that Warlocks still are fundamentally a pet class that summons something to keep around. Necromancers summon lots of disposable things with an unlifespan of about two minutes, give or take. Rather than being a pet class, it’s a class that just summons targetable effects and potential temporary pets – closer to Enhancement than Warlocks.

Obviously, this would make a nice light armor damage dealer, and you could easily justify it having some sort of tanking component via a particularly tanky bone construct or healing. Heck, necromancy itself is already healing, just very late in the process.

Obviously we're talking smaller, here.

Titan-forged

Potential Alliance races: Human, Dwarf, Dark Iron, Gnome
Potential Horde races: Orc, Forsaken, Mag’har

This one is a little bit more speculative, as we have fewer “obvious” hero classes waiting in the wings (note: I fully expect one of our commenters to point out something blindingly obvious that I missed within about five minutes, so I’ll be very disappointed with all of you if you either fail to do it or point out something explicitly ruled out herein). But it has some precedent with the Earthen and points related, and it also serves as an ideal point to talk about the difference between hero classes and regular classes.

We’ve only got two examples of the former, of course, but they’ve established a pretty solid precedent: Classes are something you do; hero classes are something you are.

Druids are a class. There are a lot of races that cannot be Druids, but that’s because they don’t live in an environment where Druidism is taught. Blood Elves, for example, are fully capable of being Druids (we even see some enemies like that in the game), they aren’t lacking a gland or something. They just aren’t. If we were to get some sort of multi-class option, there’s no reason Blood Elves couldn’t hop on that adjunct program.

Death Knights, on the other hand, are a hero class. A normal living Blood Elf couldn’t train herself to be a Death Knight; they have to be killed and raised under specific circumstances. To extend that multi-class option analogy, an existing Blood Elf Death Knight could possibly train to be a Rogue, but a Rogue couldn’t just train to be a Death Knight. It’s a state of being as well as a profession.

A class that is explicitly an avatar of the Titans would thus make perfect sense as a heroic option, since it would probably involve some degree of titantic purging to bring the eligible races closer to their original forms. There’s definitely an established aesthetic, as well; a plate-wearing class with lots of stellar, lightning, and light-based effects. It’s not something we’ve been told is happening, but given the story direction it makes a certain amount of sense.

All right, Cordana didn't work out so great, but hey.

Warden

Potential Alliance races: Night Elf, Draenei, Dwarf, Worgen, Pandaren, Lightforged, Dark Iron
Potential Horde races: Blood Elf, Forsaken, Pandaren, Nightborne, Tauren, Highmountain, Zandalari

And here we have a class that is often cited as a potential hero class that makes far more sense as a normal class. The Wardens are trained, but they aren’t supernaturally changed by their duty; they just exercise their duty with absolute devotion. They’re not distracted. And as they’re now fewer in number, it makes perfect sense to expand their numbers through other races with a devotion to law and order. Including those that they met during the war against the Legion.

It’s hard not to see Wardens as another potential tank-and-damage class, but it’s also hard not to imagine them striding around in mail armor; their armor looks like it could conceivably belong to that class, and it’d be another use for the largely underutilized armor tier. For that matter, it’d bring a different feel to the game as a whole, and conceivably give us another class that can wield warglaives in addition to demon hunters.

“But do they have any distinct tricks of their own?” Lots of them. Some of their tricks seem to have made their way into the Demon Hunter kit, but the general relentlessness alone offers suggestions, and the spectral owls and additional copies both are mechanics that can be exploited for more options. In short, there’s plenty of ground to make this a class that feels distinct and mobile without infringing on anyone’s territory overtly.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com; as always, I should note that this column is particularly speculative, so don’t be surprised if we never see any of this in the actual game. I admit that I still really like Wardens, so I may be biased.

War never changes, but World of Warcraft does, with a decade of history and a huge footprint in the MMORPG industry. Join Eliot Lefebvre each week for a new installment of WoW Factor as he examines the enormous MMO, how it interacts with the larger world of online gaming, and what’s new in the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor.
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30 Comments on "WoW Factor: Speculative classes for the future of WoW"

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Byórðæįr

It would be funny to see a bard class get abilities like power cords. Little bit of lua work and press the buttons to create different spell effects would be cool but how do you prevent it from being a repetitive bass line for the first twenty levels? How do you end up not using the rotation instead of what sounds cool?

I think the bard class came up on an ama or one of the blizzard forms the last time it was considered. likely it would be more like to be metal spec dps, folk rock utility, and insult spec where the character just uses insults debuff and dps, they have enough of them in the game.

To get a tank spec out of a cloth wearer you need it to be a pet class or utility to soak the damage.

Some possibilities would be power cords create mage armor, and elemental damage, but you start getting into the area where balance because an issue in pvp. If it class that has tank, healing and dps as specs it would actually be easier to balance. The tank spec would shift the abilities to defense, the healing spec would shift them to utility, and the dps spec would be a glass cannon. But the thing is who knows what the team is working on already while we speculate on possibilities.

So other silly things be you start out wearing drab and boring low level gear and every ten levels the gear jumps up an expansion in level of detail. Though the weapons would be the funniest part because things like the cow bell and guitars, and various toys and off hands could be used as mogs over a pair of conductor wands. Is there a set of bag pipes in the game yet?

the way the first couple levels might work would be.
start at level twenty due to the allied races.
So you start with gear that looks like the detail level of burning crusade, while not actually limiting the characters to four hundred polygons. cloth and two one handed weapons or wands moged as musical instruments that are account bound. So maybe a club with a nail in it in one hand and harp in the other hand. Low level looking character. five abilities or so by then per spec so you have two dps, one utility, one healing, one group ability.

So in tank spec you have a power cord going like a bass line that provides an armor effect in tank spec, aoe healing in utility spec, and likely something like a wind effect to push the mobs away in dps spec. A rising note in tank spec would be your dps effect, in utily spec a tempory buff, and in dps spec pulsing damage. A failing note so that the intensity is not always rising would be in tank spec like the wailing of a guitar solo so like turtling up the armor or bleeding out health to create a barrier, in utility spec it would blast out damage as the buff fades away as the raising note fails into the failing note, and in dps spec it would leach health from the target as the pulse goes out a rising note and returns heath on the falling note with the longer the pulse going out the more health it can bring back on the falling note. That is three abilities so each spec would need two more abilities that fit in. So likely a catch your breath type phase would be healing for all three specs, which means you drop into a selection of random instrumentals that can be interrupted. Then likely the last would be in tank spec you have a summon ability or groupies, zombies, candle holding kobolds, or small elementals that would like have to be a minute long set piece cord, the utility spec would summon a pet that buffs abilities, and the dps spec would have their heavy long cool down damage ability.

But even if they are working on something like that, the above took hours to come up with years ago and got shelved at the time too complex for the game. They would have to some how build out the abilities to max level, which is several expansions later with talent trees that we did not have back then.

I do have to giggle about titan forging a player instead of the artifact weapons.

butterpanda888
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butterpanda888

I’d say a tinker class would work great. Give it gizmos, gadgets, bombs, grenades, summonable mechs, torpedos, guns, etc.

I could see bard happening.

I’d love Titan-Forged as a hero class.

As much as Necromancer would be cool, I really don’t see it happening.

Honestly I’d see Bard or Tinker happening before a good number of these, though I do like the list.

Barbarian could be a cool one.

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Ysayle was right

The game could really use another class that uses ranged weapons. Make it more mystical/spiritual than hunter. Give them Shadow Hunter/Dark Ranger/Stormhammer (gryphon rider) specs. Call it… Spiritualist? Animist? Harbinger? Make thrown weapons a thing again too, making them usable for hunters while they’re at it.

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Roger Melly

The first thing that popped into my mind like others here was a bard class . I did also think of necromancer but maybe that would be a little too close to a warlock ?

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Cosmic Cleric

If Allied Races show us anything, it’s that World of Warcraft is really in no danger of running out of new races to throw at us.

Pardon my OCD, but they are really re-skins of existing races.

Hate how words de-evolve, for marketing reasons, so much these days.

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Sorenthaz

Timewalker seems like a more unique no-brainer. Would be a utility DPS or a healer specs-wise.

DPS would be all about stepping into the future and speeding up time to reach their high damage points faster; like I imagine they could throw on some DoTs and then warp time forward by 5 seconds or whatever in order to make those DoTs suddenly do burst damage from multiple ticks going off in one instant.

Healers would work opposite, instead reversing time to undo damage, possibly getting a crazy unique mass-rez spell that sends everyone back in time by 5 seconds like a MOBA ultimate or something.

Maybe there could be a tank class too that does a mix of both to sustain itself and accelerate any heals over time placed on it.

They’d all get an ‘oh crap’ button that basically Za Warudo’s everything in a small AoE radius around them, locking everyone in time for a short period.

Make it a Hero Class too and you’re essentially a Bronze Dragon taking on the guise of whatever race you want but with unique racials like taking on your dragon form and such for brief periods.

Bannex
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Bannex

Would like to see something new completely. The Voidlord. A mail wearing med range similar to the neverwinter warlock. A psychotic warrior that commands the void and can shape it into various forms of blasts such as cone, piercing, blinding etc.

His resource is based on movement, it builds while he moves slightly faster than energy but his heavy hitters require him to be stationary. Mobility powers drain the resource as well but can break immobilizing effects.

Can only wield daggers and fist weapons and uses them as a conduit to channel the void or something…

Tank spec: can use void for defensive abilities, creates a soul linked (both split damage) decoy through which he tanks at range to maintain movement while the decoy is controlled via ground targeting and otherwise doesn’t move.

No heal spec.

Dps spec is mid range, high mobility similar to instant damage mm hunters with shorter range and magic damage.

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Dread Quixadhal

What I’d love to see is a class that’s more like the “Bear Shaman” from Warhammer Online (I think?).

This was a medium armored melee healer class, more like classic AD&D clerics than the dress wearing healers of today. In particular, they healed people in an AoE radius around themselves as they dealt out damage on the front lines.

The more damage they did, the more healing they did. So standing right next to the tank was actually a valid strategy, but they still had to dodge out of incoming AoE attacks, as they weren’t tanks themselves.

It was quite fun to play, and a nice hybrid that could solo effectively, as they were decent DPS and healed themselves to help mitigate some of the incoming damage.

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Bruno Brito

Age of Conan. There were no Bear Shamans in WO.

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Bruno Brito

Don’t see any of those except Warden and maybe Bard happening. They clearly dropped Necro a long time ago.

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Sally Bowls

How about using the SWTOR cost-savings, new specs not classes? (SWTOR has said that they are unlikely to do new classes (1-50! $$$) but could add a spec. )

So instead of a Warden class, add an additional spec to an existing class:
Warden spec to DH, a tinker spec to Rogue, necro spec to warlock, bard spec to … monk?

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

I like this, i wish to see one more mail class, but adding specs is not a bad idea, Blizzard does not have to add one spec for every class, and as for monk … something about tea .. come on, if there is a Brewmaster there should be a Tea Snob :-D