Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Key Binding Homogenization

Ferrel's a bit disappointed that his plate Templar healer isn't actually that much more durable than EQ2's other healing classes. EQ2's especially vulnerable to this kind of homogenization because the game has so many classes that it's very easy to end up with too many niches. It's not alone by any stretch, however, just today the crab is talking about the same type of issue in WoW.

Fury Warrior Vs Ret Pally
With my warrior now on the move once again, I decided to dust off the old Ret Paladin to see how the two classes compare hitting Northrend content around level 70. The first thing I had to do was gut and overhaul the Paladin's keybindings, as he had previous been a bizarre spell power Prot/Ret hybrid and I had never fully updated him to the Wrath era. Having literally just logged off the Warrior, I ended up with a very similar key layout.

The crucial keybinds that I am most likely to use when soloing one or more normal mobs are:

2: Heroic Strike (single target, burns excess rage)
3: Bloodthirst (single target, triggers a self-heal)
Shift+3: Slam (single target, ONLY used when a specific talent triggers, making it instant cast)
4: Whirlwind (AOE)

2: Crusader Strike (single target)
3: Judgement of Wisdom (single target, triggers mana regen)
Shift+3: Exorcism (single target, used to burn excess mana ONLY when a specific talent triggers, making it instant cast)
4: Divine Storm (AOE, triggers a self-heal)

There are substantial differences between the two classes - for example, the Paladin has many more healing and buffing skills beyond the passive ones, and the Warrior has multiple stances and more defensive tools as a non-tanking spec. From my perspective DPS'ing solo mobs, however, the end results are very similar - both guys can kill multiple mobs at once while regenerating their health and resources (mana or rage) pretty indefinitely, using a very similar set of key bindings.

I haven't played a Death Knight since the Wrath beta, and their current rune system probably requires more than four buttons on a typical fight, but, again, the end result is pretty similar based on what I remember - DPS with enough passive mitigation and self-healing to keep on killing.

Eliminating diversity for laziness?
It's possible that I'm working on the wrong melee alt at the moment. The one melee experience that's really different from the above is what I have on the rogue, who is specced for Subtlety. With this spec, the first mob is dead within 4 seconds of my sneak attack and the rest of the pull is attempting to survive long enough to mop up.

Ironically, rogues don't like to level as Subtlety, because stealth is too much work; why sneak when you can evasion tank and burn stuff down faster than it can hit them like some more agile version of Fury Warriors, Ret Pallies, and Death Knights? Blizzard has announced plans to grant Rogues their wish, with Cataclysm changes aimed at making the use of stealth while leveling more optional, and adding a way for Rogues too to burn their passively generated resource for self-healing.

I suppose that this change was inevitable, as Rogues were the only class left that did not have some way of healing themselves (or their pets, in the case of Hunters). Perhaps the intent is to make each individual class a bit more responsible for their own self-healing, to lessen the burden on healers and thereby lower the entry bar a little bit for players who are new to that role.

Even so, I'm a bit concerned that the homogenization is getting a bit much. It's starting to feel like all the melee characters are going to be played exactly the same way, with different graphics. What's the point of having so many classes if that's where we're going?


CSeraph said...

Ret vs. Warriors is a particularly tricky case. If you compare a cat druid to ret - my two melee specs - the experience is wildly different, particularly in raid but also in leveling. Enhancement shammies are also pretty different from what I know of them.

Unknown said...

Remember, on your pally, you can use Hand of Reckoning to hit them for 50% of you AP when they don't have you targeted. Not good for tauntable bosses, but its great for soloing. Its holy damage, so it can't be resisted or mitigated, and can crit!

Pangoria Fallstar said...

Its been awhile since I played my warrior, but I know for sure, that I played him differently from what you have listed.

The difference in classes is more about the little things.

Warrior Charge for example.

Ferrel said...

I really dislike the homogenization of classes because it seems to defeat the point of having classes. If you're going to blend every healer into a near identical playstyle why have different types?

Honestly, if a paladin and a warrior play the exact same but their abilities are named different, are they different?

In EQ2 it is pretty clear that healers will no longer be differentiated on healing. We can all heal relatively equal. That is fine, we can differentiate on other things like survivability, DPS, and utility. Yet that seems to be evening out too.

Why not just combine them all and call them "healer?" It sounds drastic but by giving every class every ability we are getting there.

I think it is more of the "every class has to solo and solo well" design mentality. It breaks interdependence down and that is what makes us different.

I'm waiting for the the MMO that just has six classes:

Melee DPS
Range DPS
Magic DPS

It would be super cool if they called them that too! ^_^

Dorgol said...

Now compare Retribution to an ARMS Warrior.

Heroic Strike is the same.

Bloodthirst becomes Mortal Strike, and you are no longer regenerating health.

Slam can be used, but not nearly as often.

Whirlwind can be used, but you have to swap stances so not nearly as often.

You now have to maintain a DoT (Rend), which procs another skill (Overpower).

Oh, and once every couple of minutes you get to mow down 4+ enemies at once using Bladestorm.

You already mentioned the Rogue, and how it doesn't really compare to Warriors. But consider that even comparing the Rogue to the Cat Druid doesn't really hold up as well.

Do each of these classes have "DPS with enough passive mitigation and self-healing to keep on killing"? Absolutely.

But can you call it homogenization when they kill in different ways and self-heal in different ways and each requires a different level of attention and each has a different weakness?

hound said...

I think one of the biggest mistakes that Blizzard made was straying from their original idea of what a heroic class was supposed to be: a choice that a player made with a capped character, to switch or not to switch, then live with the consequences...or offer a fix, whatever.

I really liked the idea of a character "becoming" something different later in the game.

Otherwise, I am more concerned about everyone looking the same and wearing the same gear and brandishing the same weapons.

I suppose too many classes would be a problem if every class had a one trick pony and every raid required a different pony...or every raid boss. Otherwise, I am ok if we have 20 "classes" and only six classes with only the graphics being the difference.

But, maybe I do not play for the same reason as the majority of players.

Anonymous said...

Fury has really long cooldowns on its attacks where you can only bleed off rage in heroic strikes.

Ret never has resource problems, and its cooldown length is long enough that there is no real penalty for hitting the "wrong" cooldown.

Both are terrible designs that need to be reworked.

What's my main again? said...

I agree with Dorgol for the most part... and there is a pretty good reason why fury warriors and ret paladins are considered faceroll specs. Arms is much more dynamic of a play style and certainly different from the 2. Even comparing the 2 the warrior has gap closers whereas the paladin can start the combat with a few ranged attacks.

As far as keybindings... well that is how I remain sane playing so many different alts. Shift 4 on my mage, DK, and warlock both do a targeted aoe. Shift 1 does flamestrike on my mage and Volley on my hunter. My extra mouse button is my dispel key on my mage, priest, paladin and shaman. That same mouse button is also a silence on my DK and hunter.

I put abilities in places that are easily accessible and allow me to move from one class to the other in ways that make sense. I guess what I'm saying is in that case the homogenization is something you are doing yourself with keybindings.

Stripes said...

"waiting for the the MMO that just has six classes"

There is also the modern d&d solution. Classes are "ranged DPS with a side of healer" or "tank with a side of melee DPS".

(yes there are other differences, mostly flavor, but that is a good core idea to borrow)