WoW Factor: Speculating on compelling future World of Warcraft class specs


With the release of patch 10.1.5, World of Warcraft’s Evokers will become the second class to get a new spec added after its introduction – and the first one where the new spec isn’t just admitting that the previous spec was way too flexible allowing for two different roles at once. (Remember when Feral let you be both kitty and bear?) It’s kind of weird that this has happened only twice – not because WoW doesn’t have a long history of just abandoning things halfway through, but simply because it feels like there’s a lot more space in most of the classes to split off and do other things without designing, like, a whole new class.

Is this the start of a trend? Probably not. But let’s play with it. If each class that has not yet gotten an additional spec were to do so, what would it look like? Let’s speculate anyway. It’ll be fun. I think it’ll be fun, and I have the column.

We're fine.

Warrior: Gladiator

It was really cool that Protection Warriors briefly got an option reminding us all that shields are not just defensive tools. They can, in fact, be offensive weapons as well. For various balance reasons they didn’t really stick with this as a talent option, so why not bring it back as a whole spec? Make a world wherein players will be excited to get a new shield to do more damage with it. It’s not something you see very often. Shields are normal things for offensive melee warfare, too!

Hunter: Skirmisher

It’s kind of weird to me that we have three tanks who wear plate armor, three tanks who wear leather armor, and no tanks who wear mail armor. Mail is more defensive than leather! You’ve got less distance to go! So let’s give back a dual-wielding melee hunter option and make it an agile and responsive tank with a pet as off-tank backup. Heck, you could even have pet taunts be a thing for re-applying buffs. Just thinking out loud.

Rogue: Sniper

Ranged weapons are underused in the game, and part of that is because the only class that actually uses them is the Hunter. This is for a number of dumb reasons, but if they’re dumb reasons, you can change them. Here’s a change: Give us a Rogue option that’s all about creeping in the shadows and taking pot-shots from range, something different than the existing Rogue variants all trying to make melee stabbing feel different.

It feels faintly telling, yes.

Paladin: Paragon

No, this is not the version of Paladin where you just walk so straight that you climb right over a rock in your path. This is the version where you get a main-hand weapon, an off-hand spell focus, and you unleash holy judgment on your enemies while simultaneously buffing and healing your party. Yes, it’s a ranged support spec for Paladin. There was a Blood Elf quest that featured someone with that style, and it was really cool. Make it happen.

Shaman: Spiritualist

Another support spec! But this one comes from a longstanding feeling that Primal Spirits have never, like… totally made sense for Enhancement. The “frantic melee strikes leading to empowered spellcasting” spec leading to “summon two ghost puppies” seems a bit odd. So here’s a whole spec about summoning spirits and spectral entities to help the party, deal damage, and support everyone. And since they can move with you, we don’t have to have the old totem problem.

Mage: Spellblade

Adding another element on to the Mage feels superfluous and kind of unnecessary. But why don’t I get to rush up and hack at people with a sword as a Mage? You all know by now how much I enjoy hybrid options, and here’s one that’s been possible for years but has only occasionally seemed to have any real support. Just to put a twist on it from Enhancement, best make it so spellcasting enhances your melee strikes, make it a dance back and forth.

What, does that remind you of something? Look, WoW has always taken ideas from elsewhere, might as well take some it could actually use.

Evil Planet Land!

Warlock: Dominance

There was a long stretch of time when there were mechanics best tanked with Warlocks because Warlocks had tons of health to fuel their spellcasting and so they were pretty spongy. People have been asking to see Metamorphosis come back to Warlocks for ages, but I’ve never thought it made much sense for Demonology… so let’s make a spec where it does make sense. Demonology is about summoning and controlling demons, but Dominance is about summoning and absorbing them to fuel your tanking as necessary. They don’t like it, but you’re a Warlock. Doing things others don’t like is your whole deal.

Priest: Inquisitor

Shadow Priests have never made sense. The developers have been trying to make Shadow Priests make some kind of lore sense for ages, going from “psychic damage” to “whispers of the Old Gods” to “void stuff” to “look, we made a stupid decision ages ago when it came to the Forsaken but we’ve got no time to address that when we could spend our time plowing ahead making everything worse.” And I don’t see that changing. But what I do see potentially changing is that we could get a version of Priest that deals Holy damage while being a damage-dealing spec.

I realize that this would probably just mean a spec identical to Shadow but with light themes instead of dark ones, like you turned off dark mode. This is the most boring possible version of design, but hey, I know how this development team works.

Monk: Soulbinder

It’s hard to think of a new spec for Monk just because there isn’t a whole lot of additional thematic space to explore. Even a new kind of weapon is really out of the question. But what if you took the idea of the Monk projecting her body to the next level? What if you made a Monk spec that was functionally a Hunter, but both the pet and the player character was the same Monk? You send your projected body to smack something while you stand back and use spells… and then swap which is which periodically. That could be something.

Death Knight: Shadow

Death Knights are another example of a class that seems as if it really covers all of the major bases with three specs, and for the most part that’s true. I know people had speculated about a flame-based spec to homage Bolvar, but I don’t see that happening. But here’s the thing: We know that at the height of the Death Knights right now are the Four Horsemen, and one of the Four Horsemen is always a little more caster-focused. Blood is a good stand-in for War, Unholy is obviously Pestilence, and Frost certainly leads to Famine, but what is most analogous to Death?

Yes, there are a lot of hybrid casters in here, but considering how much of WoW’s existing design has characters either being melee or casters and ne’er the twain shall meet, it’s a space to expand into.

Demon Hunter: Torment

First of all, I agree that the idea of a Demon Hunter healing doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense. So the spec needs to do something other than that, and fortunately we have Allari the Souleater walking around with a two-handed weapon and generally tormenting demons in order to get what she wants from them. Ideally, I think it’d be interesting if it were something like a dedicated off-tank or a one-on-one DPS, but I imagine that again we’d go the path of least resistance and it would probably just be a two-handed melee DPS class with some different mechanics.

War never changes, but World of Warcraft does, with almost two decades 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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