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Cataclysm Class Previews – Summary

Posted by Malevica on April - 15 - 2010

Now that we’ve seen all four of the healing class previews (Shaman, Priest, Druid and Paladin), what can be inferred from looking at the previews as a whole?


The first and most obvious theme running throughout all of the class previews is the standardisation of the basic toolkit for all of the healers. Once Cataclysm arrives, every healing class will have three direct healing spells: a fast and small but expensive heal like a Priest’s Flash Heal today; an efficient and moderate-sized heal to act as the default “go-to” heal; and a large, expensive heal for when throughput really counts. The classes have had their basic tools reworked or extra heals added to achieve this.

What’s more, the developers have made it clear repeatedly throughout the previews that they intend to move the classes out of the niches that they have been in over the last few expansions. The best example of this is the big boost to the Paladin’s raid and AoE healing potential.

The point of this is to further the goal of “bring the player, not the class”, allowing every healer to be better-suited to both tank healing and raid healing; of course habits, preferences and in some cases just naked prejudices won’t change overnight, but this is a positive direction to be going in.

I’ve not heard many complaints about homogenisation, although I’m sure that is a fear held by many. Homogenisation to the extent that all the classes are the same but with different artwork would be a bad thing for the game, but so is having your class be ineffective in particular instances or encounters. With these previews Blizzard do appear to be trying to retain individuality and allow healers to specialise, while not forcing a specialism on players.

Looking forward to seeing a new wave of raid healing Paladins in Cataclysm!


Another common theme in the previews was the apparently increased importance of awareness of your position, the position of the raid, and the position of the damage. From Leap of Faith and Power Word: Barrier to Healing Rain through to Healing Hands and Efflorescence, every class gained a new ability which will require them to target it carefully to get the desired benefit, either by casting on the ground, by positioning themselves near those in need of healing, or by casting on the person in the most advantageous position.

This has the effect of getting healers to look away from their health bars and take stock of who is standing where, and also suggests that raiding in general will be more position-focused than it has been in the past.
Positioning is a key part of many fights in Wrath, particularly hard modes, and it’s something that I see a lot of people struggling with; I hope this works as a way of adding challenge back into the encounters again, making strategy and coordination pay bigger dividends.


When Blizzard talked about the talent tree changes way back in 2009, they told us they wanted to strip out all the passive talents and allow us to pick and choose for utility. Where “cookie-cutter” builds today might say “start with 14/54/0 and spend the last three points however you like”, the aim is that in Cataclysm we will see more of those free points, especially since the trees aren’t becoming any deeper but we are gaining five additional points to spend by the time we reach level 85.

We haven’t seen enough detail to call this one way or the other, we can look at the extra new abilities each class will get to do their job and consider those a step in this direction. The standardisation of the core abilities allows the developers to be a lot more free with the rest of our toolkit, since we won’t need to spend tons of talent points simple to make our baseline abilities up to snuff. I’m very keen to see the new talents when they are revealed.


As a final point, I don’t like to end on a low note but I wanted to remark on the amazing amount of cynicism that’s been on display around the web. Not everywhere, but neither do you need to look hard to find it.

First, these are previews, and in some cases fairly obviously preliminary ones at that. If an ability sounds ok but underwhelming, there’s plenty of time for it to be souped up before release. I’d be extremely surprised if everything here made it live in its present form. So don’t panic just yet.

Second, instead of focusing on how much you didn’t get, why not look at what you did get? Instead of looking for the worst case scenario of just how useless and impractical a new ability will be, why not look for the potential, for all the creative and raid-saving used to which you could put these abilities?

Thirdly, “fun” is about as subjective a concept as they come, so what you consider fun is unlikely to be universal. It’s tricky to judge based on three spells and some preliminary thoughts about the future direction how much fun it will be to play a particular class. I often find Paladin tank healing fairly boring, but others get great satisfaction from feeling themselves slotted neatly into the role and being able to hone their throughput or free up GCDs. I love abilities which test my situational awareness, others feel that they are busy enough playing triage with the green bars.

And I love vehicle fights.

Well, someone has to!


Lastly, remember that Blizzard does play your class, they have plenty of people on the payroll who understand your class, probably better than you do, and they are not out to deliberately break your class.

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Categories: Analysis and Theorycrafting, Opinion

2 Responses so far.

  1. pewter says:

    This is a great post. I enjoy Flame Leviathan now, but when it was progress the bugginess/clunky feel of the vehicles was just so irritate, and Occuls/EoE is still a personal pet hate.

    • Malevica says:

      I too remember the agony of spending way too long while everyone worked out how to make Bartender/Dominos show vehicle abilities. Hard to blame that on the vehicle concept though, but maybe the implementation.

      What I liked most was that we had the same set of abilities. Particularly in EoE it was a really good way of seeing who understood the mechanics and had the spatial awareness, rather than the most OP class or the highest gear topping the meters again.

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