Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Looming Mists

I've very carefully avoided this post for some time now. 

However, news is coming to light today that the class changes for Mists of Pandaria are headed to PTR. Just like they did between Wrath and Cataclysm, they will push out the changes they've made to each class while keeping the level cap where it is and not releasing new zones etc until you purchase and install the final release of the expansion.

So where does this leave Death Knights?
With the advance to PTR, we're not likely to see very many further changes to Death Knights as a whole, so now seems like a good time to take a good hard look at where we stand.

First I'm going to point out here for the millionth time that this is still not the final release. Also, I'm hardly unopinionated, and I cannot even pretend as though I have an objective viewpoint here. So, before I bring out the hammer o' doom and bash you all over the heads with it, I'm going to give you some background (as I always try to do!) so that you can draw your own conclusions and judge my statements as peers.

Down the rabbit hole.

In the largest currently active Death Knight thread on the forums, Rothulean of Nesingwary (Roth) points out that the previously stated design goals for Death Knights are not reflected with the beta. This has also become the go-to thread to discuss beta Death Knights of any spec. [DK] Developer design goals are failing

Another post of Rothulean of Nesingwary[DK] Not fun to play at all tries to draw attention to the problem that burns more than any issue with a specific talent, dps rotation, or balance problem. Bactide of Arathor responded with a heartfelt treatise echoed by many respected Death Knights in this thread, and is well worth the read.

Apparition of Jubei'Thos spotlights several serious issues Death Knights are currently experiencing with their pets. The thread shows that work on pets isn't completed for many different classes, leaving some small hope for a buff to the Gargoyle, Ghoul, and Army- hopefully an improvement to the AIs as well. DK pets & pet spells need attention...

One of my favorite Death Knights in the community, Tsukiyuri of Dragonmaw (Tsuki) tries to highlight several Death Knight bugs and missing features in her post [Death Knight] Bug list. some of the problems found here are downright silly/weird, and I really hope they're not "working as intended".

The level 90 abilities are the focus of [Death Knight] Level 90 Talents are lacking, written by Dibbirne of Earthen Ring. In it, we read about the lack of interest in these supposedly class-defining abilities from a PvE perspective (In PvP all these abilities are downright amazing).

Death Rune costing abilities: Why? is a post written by Magdalena of Darkspear (posted by me because Mags doesn't have beta access) that means what it says and says what it means. Why would a rune state given to us to improve gameplay by adding flexibility to our rotation be suddenly used in an inflexible manner?

Our next post is brought to you with limited commercial interruption by Reknarok of Thaurissan posting for Sylassanna of Moonguard. In it Sylassanna points out the problems with presences as they stand on Beta, asks some hard questions, and proposes a few simple solutions. Beta: Why the new Frost Presence is a mistake

Next up, we have a revealing thread started by Furor of Turalyon titled [Blood] It doesn't work, even for tanking that discusses the fairly serious problems Blood currently has on Beta, some of them carried over since the early Cataclysm beta.

Finally, we have an older DK thread discussing the last major changes to Death Knights, also started by Rothulean of Nesingwary

So, where are we, again?

Some things you'll notice about those above posts- almost all of them are complaints. Almost all of them are respectful and constructive. Almost all of them have a tone of urgency and/or panic to them. None of them have blue replies.

In fact, the last and only revealing blue post Death Knights have had was a response to the last Death Knight megathread by Ghost Crawler. In it- I believe he reveals his naïveté regarding the class (at one points he calls unholy "shadow" for goodness sake!), and especially for its situation on Beta.

I don't mean to sound alarmist or accusatory or anything- I appreciate that Greg Street has an amazing amount of work on his plate and he can't be held accountable for every slight Blizzard has, knowingly or unknowingly, afflicted upon Death Knights. What concerns me more than anything else is the silence that followed that singular update- made far worse by the infamous "QQ class" and "Less OP" strings that were parsed out of the beta client by wowdb.

I guess my overall conclusion here is that I feel as though the Blizzard developers are out of touch with Death Knights, and simply don't understand that we have the problems we do. I know that they do care- that's their job and Blizzard employs some of the best in the business, but they have a funny way of showing it.

TL;DR Version

We're quite broken in Mists PvE, and Blizzard doesn't seem to understand that well enough to take time from all the other work they're doing to fix us. Many Death Knights are leaving for greener pastures with their alts, or leaving WoW entirely. Some of these are paragons of the community, and that is truly saddening, and should be a good indicator of the dire straights in which we find ourselves.

Needless to say, if we are broken as badly as the community at large believes, Blizzard will fix us with patches- but patches are slow, minor changes. Not enough, and not soon enough for my taste.

That being said, I have decided after some serious consideration that I will not abandon my Death Knight, no matter how bad it gets. I may play my alts more than I did before, but Kalc will always be my main, and I will always be a Death Knight first.

EDIT: My apologies to the first two viewers! I accidentally posted this instead of clicking "Preview". A few changes/additions have been made- hopefully it reads better than a draft now!

EDIT THE SECOND!!!!: Ghostcrawler has just posted in response to a few of these issues! One of the issues he addresses (the issue of frost presence, different GCD for different specs) is a HUGELY positive response! The other issues he appears dismissive of. Ghostcrawler addresses a few issues