Archive | April, 2012

Retribution in Mists of Pandaria: Exo a go go

I have already detailed a few observations of mine about retribution in the Mists of Pandaria beta over in my column at WoW Insider, so if you haven’t read that article yet I would definitely recommend it, and not just because I think it’s one of the more humorous posts I’ve probably written there. Today I just wanted to expand on those thoughts and rattle off a few others that I did not already cover.

Comparing Cataclysm‘s Exorcism to the proposed Mists model, it becomes fairly clear that the Mists version is quite superior. Having Exo as an instant cast from the baseline rather than through a proc means it becomes a de facto filler spell, if not one of our higher priority abilities. Having viable filler spells to prevent the formation of gaping holes that seriously derail the flow of the rotation is good; you won’t find me on the side of the fence arguing for fewer DPS buttons to push.

The recent reduction of Exo’s cooldown from 20 seconds to 15 is also a nice improvement. This change reduces the impact of The Art of War, making our damage less erratic and more consistent overall. Again, I approve.

What still troubles me about Exo in Mists is how hard it hits. Sure, the spell is just as powerful on live servers and leads to even more randomness than in the beta, but I’m not necessarily saying that our current Exo is just peachy either. Huge damage swings are what makes our spec inconsistent and, in my opinion, frustrating at times.

Think about the last time you had five or more Divine Purpose procs in a row. Remember the glee, the childish laughter coming from deep within your soul when you watched your DPS skyrocket with each successive supercharged Templar’s Verdict?

Now think back to those much more frequent occasions when you don’t get a single proc for what seems like minutes at a time. Barring any exciting encounter-related maneuvers, I am willing to bet that you were bored out of your skull. Not only that, but you saw your place on the damage meter gradually slip lower and lower.

I don’t know about you, but seeing myself lower than four or more people on Skada or Recount makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong and motivates me to figure out a solution that brings my damage back up. Getting a chain of non-procs and watching my DPS suffer as a result successfully throws up a red flag in the “You’re doing it wrong!” department, but there is no tangible solution that will satisfy the desire to do better. It’s down to the luck of the roll, and if you happen to lose that roll there is nothing you can do about it.

I am convinced that this playstyle, a high DPS potential spec with highly randomized output, leads many players to get frustrated and quit playing their character. For how mind-numbingly easy the retribution FCFS system was in Wrath, one thing it did well was provide a consistent playstyle for the person behind the screen. The addition of the two-piece T10 set bonus, the randomly proccing Divine Storm cooldown reset, was nice for those of us that got a bit bored with the rotation, but sometimes I grow concerned that Blizzard took the feedback about that set bonus and ran away with it in Cataclysm.

So having such high damage on a random proc can be a bad thing – large attack deltas, inconsistent DPS, and random burst damage are not only possible but probable. Hopefully the cooldown reduction on Exo helps alleviate some of these symptoms. When all is said and done, we’re talking about Blizzard here — if they don’t get it right the first time, they will at least try to remedy it before the end of the expansion.