Shadowlands Class Philosophy
Classes have evolved throughout WoW’s 15 years of development, and so have our philosophies on class design. With new expansions and an increasing level cap came new spells, abilities, and Talents. While earning new powers is exciting and a natural part of growth in a role-playing game, eventually we began to butt up against the limits of action bar and accessible keybind space, and many of the tools and perks that had once defined certain classes became increasingly widespread, diminishing class uniqueness. To address this in the past, we made changes to Talents with Mists of Pandaria, and even removed several abilities in Warlords of Draenor. In Legion, alongside the introduction of Artifact weapons, we focused on class identity and carving out a distinct fantasy for each specialization to go along with their weapon. Mechanically, this meant revamps to most of our specializations, removing several long-standing class-wide abilities and adding new spec-specific abilities in the process.
Today in Battle for Azeroth, while specializations have unique and flashy abilities, we’ve heard feedback that in some cases we’ve moved too far away from the core of the class that initially sparked players’ interest when they first created their character. At times, there is more that divides two specializations of the same class than there is that unites them.
In Shadowlands, we want to return to the idea that a specialization is about powering up a specific part of a class’s kit, not narrowing down their toolset. In an expansion that is all about choice, we also want to give players more opportunities to make impactful choices to customize their gameplay and express their own vision of how their characters engage in combat. Many specialization-specific abilities and spells that help define the identity of a class will once again be available class-wide, and we’re reintroducing some iconic abilities to give all of Azeroth’s heroes a fighting chance against the dangers ahead. In addition to these changes, players will have their new Covenant class abilities to look forward to, which we preview comprehensively in our Shadowlands: A Look at Covenant Class and Signature Abilities blog.
Today, we’d like to give you a look at some of what’s in store for each class, including our overall goals, some cool new (and returning!) powers, and some key changes to abilities and talents. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list of updates—these changes represent a starting point for a dialogue with the community—but this should give you a good overview of what to expect.
Former champions of the Lich King, Death Knights overwhelm their foes with brute force and dark magic. In Legion, Death Knights became very narrowly focused thematically around their spec (for example, Frost Death Knights having an overwhelming majority of their spells be Frost-themed only). In Shadowlands, we are unifying the core Death Knight kit by restoring many abilities back to all specs, including popular utility options from the past.
Once these changes are live, all Death Knights will be able to desecrate the ground around them with Unholy magic to deal damage to their enemies with Death and Decay, or neutralize their attacks with Anti-Magic Zone. Furthermore, every Death Knight will once again be able to tap into unnatural powers to temporarily turn themselves undead with Lichborne, or use Raise Dead to summon a ghoulish servant to fight alongside them. The new Sacrificial Pact ability enables Death Knights to perform a forbidden ritual, sacrificing one of their undead minions, siphoning their health and causing them to explode and deal damage to nearby enemies. Finally, the frosty grasp of Chains of Ice will once again bind the enemies of all Death Knights.
At home in the Shadowlands and amongst their fellow dead, Blood Death Knights can learn new abilities and Talents. Blood Tap allows Death Knights to consume essence from slain enemies to generate 1 Rune, and is repeatable whenever a Bone Shield charge is used. Blood Death Knights will also get Rune Tap without needing to select it as a Talent.
Relish in Blood will significantly heal these bloody bruisers for each active Bone Shield charge and grant 5 Runic Power when Death and Decay is cast while Crimson Scourge is active.
Memories of the Lich King’s legendary sword Frostmourne stirs the hearts of Frost Death Knights, who can again choose between two 1-handed weapons or one 2-handed weapon to cut down their foes. The harsh lessons learned on frozen tundra of Northrend have manifested into new abilities and Talents. The iconic Frostwyrm’s Fury will be accessible to all Frost Death Knights, rather than needing to be selected as a Talent. Hypothermic Presence is a new Talent that halves the Runic Power cost of abilities for a moderate amount of time, giving the Death Knight the vigor to strike down all who stand against them.
While all Death Knights have some ability to control and reanimate undead minions, an Unholy Death Knight has chosen to specialize necromantic magic, and their abilities should reflect that. All Unholy Death Knights will be able to use Summon Gargoyle (previously a Talent) to bring these flying terrors to their side. Army of the Damned returns as an even stronger force with a familiar and faithful recruit—a Magus of the Dead. These formidable magic-wielders have fought side by side with Maldraxxus’ bannermen and their presence rallies Unholy Death Knights’ ghoulish armies, lobbing Frostbolt and Shadow Bolt spells into the enemy. Death Coil and Epidemic casts will reduce Army of the Dead’s cooldown, allowing Unholy Death Knights to summon forth a relentless stream of monstrosities into battle. Magus of the Dead will also fight by a Death Knights’ side when they cast Apocalypse, which also benefits from a cooldown reduction whenever Death Coil and Epidemic are cast. Unholy Death Knights’ Mastery: Dreadblade will benefit both master and servant by also increasing the Death Knights’ Shadow damage and the damage of their ghoulish minions, allowing undead armies to trample all in their wake.
Demon Hunters were originally added in Legion, at a time when all characters were assigned a specialization at creation and Artifact weapons made each spec feel almost like its own class—and that’s reflected in the Demon Hunter’s design. Though there are a number of similarities between Havoc and Vengeance, we feel we can do more to create some common ground, such as sharing a single resource and certain abilities.
All Demon Hunters now share a single resource—Fury—which channels their fiery hatred into relentless demonic attacks on their enemies. In addition, Immolation Aura (originally a Vengeance-only ability) will be available to both specs.
Havoc Demon Hunters have a new passive, Unending Hatred, which expands their Fury’s maximum capacity, letting them get an extra hit or two in.
The Dark Slash Talent has evolved into Essence Break, which deals Chaos damage and significantly increases the damage that both Chaos Strike and Blade Dance deal for a short duration.
Vengeance Demon Hunters will see changes to Soul Cleave and their Talents to encourage more build variety outside of Spirit Bomb. This includes getting Demonic as a Talent option and Fel Devastation as part of their specialization’s baseline abilities so Demon Hunters can dish out more destruction than ever before. Similar to their Havoc brethren, Vengeance Demon Hunters who choose Demonic will temporarily enter their Metamorphosis form following a Fel Devastation.
Vengeance Talents as a whole have been substantially reworked. We’ve combined several popular Talents, shuffled others to different locations, and introduced new Talents to encourage new build possibilities. One such Talent is the new Bulk Extraction, which immediately rips a soul fragment from up to five enemies around the Demon Hunter and consumes them. For situations that call for the Vengeance Demon Hunter to take a hit or two, Ruinous Bulwark (Talent) increases the healing of their Fel Devastation and converts overhealing into an absorption shield that lasts for a moderate amount of time.
Druids are the masters of shapeshifting—a versatile hybrid class than can adapt their form to suit a wide variety of situations—and Shadowlands reinforces this core identity by giving them even more flexibility. We’re bringing several abilities back to the class and making others more widely available. Most notably, the Affinity system has been expanded to offer utility abilities along with passive bonuses.
All Druids will be able to use Ferocious Bite, Barkskin, Cyclone, Stampeding Roar, and Ironfur regardless of their active specialization. Druids of any specialization will also now be able to use Cyclone and Stampeding Roar. In addition, Heart of the Wild has returned as a Talent, providing an option for Druids who want to use off-role abilities during combat.
The Affinity Talents associated with each specialization (Balance, Guardian, Feral, and Restoration) also gain an additional utility ability. Balance receives Typhoon, Feral gets Maim, Guardian gets Incapacitating Roar, and Restoration can use Ursol’s Vortex.
Solar and Lunar Empowerments are being strengthened and updated into Eclipses. Reminiscent of past expansions like Wrath of the Lich King, Wrath and Starfire will grant each other alternating Lunar and Solar Eclipses for a longer duration, with special moments of Celestial Alignment allowing both to occur at once. Balance Druids who master the flow of these Eclipses will be able to ensure a period of sustained power to either Wrath or Starfire at key moments of a fight. Starsurge will extend the current Eclipse to continue focusing power into either Wrath or Starfire, while Starfall instead extends your current Moonfire and Sunfire effects, giving the main Arcane Power spenders distinct roles based on situation.
Starfall will also return to its previous design, used from Wrath of the Lich King through Warlords of Draenor. Instead of needing to telegraph the affected area, Balance Druids again call down waves of stars, which strike the surrounding ground while they stand, run, or flap for its duration.
Fierce felines will see their Bloodtalons Talent reimagined, tapping into their primal power. When Feral Druids use Shred, Rake, and Ferocious Bite in quick succession, the damage of their next Rip will increase dramatically.
Guardian Druids in the Shadowlands can once again embrace (or bear hug) their brutish side with Berserk, reducing the cooldowns of Mangle, Thrash, Growl, and Frenzied Regeneration substantially, while also halving the cost of Ironfur.
Renewal also returns as a Talent choice, instantly healing the Guardian Druid for a fair bit of their maximum health.
Swiftmend will return to its historic functionality of consuming a heal-over-time effect on the target, but with a substantially reduced cooldown and cost. And for moments of special need, the classic Restoration staple Nature’s Swiftness will again allow a Regrowth, Rebirth, or Entangling Roots to be cast instantly. Communing with the wild spirits in death’s realm has reawakened Restoration Druids’ inert knowledge to cast Nourish, a Talent option that heals an ally for a significant amount. Nourish receives triple the boon from Mastery: Harmony, which increases the healing for each active Restoration heal-over-time spell on the target.
Masters of the wilderness, Hunters draw on a variety of tools such as specialized ammunition and traps that alter the environment to their advantage. Those who master the strategy of chaining their abilities and coordinating opportune attacks with their bestial companions will unleash their full lethal potential. In general, we feel the core Hunter class kit is well-realized across all of their specializations, yet each plays in a unique fun way. As a result, Hunters’ core damage rotations will remain familiar in Shadowlands, but several iconic abilities will return and many Talents will be updated.
Arcane Shot, Eyes of the Beast, Hunter’s Mark, Kill Shot, Scare Beast, and Tranquilizing Shot will be available for all Hunters to use regardless of their active specialization.
To prepare for the fight ahead, all Hunters will have their stable size significantly increased to hold many companions including the new creatures they discover and tame in the ethereal wilds of the Shadowlands.
A Beast Mastery Hunter’s strength comes from the bond with their companions, who will ruthlessly fight at their side and savagely tear apart enemies.
Bloodshed is a new Talent that Beast Mastery Hunters can teach their companions, commanding the beast to tear into their target. The unfortunate quarry will bleed significantly, causing them to take more damage from their pet.
Beast Masters’ Scent of Blood Talent is being reimagined; this passive now activates when Bestial Wrath is used—granting two charges of Barbed Shot to bloody a target and empower their bonded beast to take down threats quickly.
Venomous Bite takes the place of Spitting Cobra and comes with a twist. When Bestial Wrath ends, a cobra will come to aid the Hunter in combat. The serpent’s power will increase based on how many times they used Cobra Shot during Bestial Wrath.
Master sharpshooters can empower Kill Shot with Dead Eye, a new Talent that lets the Hunter store two charges of Kill Shot. It also makes Aimed Shot recharge faster for a short time whenever Kill Shot is used.
Binding Shackles is a new passive Talent that causes enemies rooted by their baseline Binding Shot to deal less damage to the Hunter for a short time after being released from the root.
Volley is a new Talent that enables the Marksman Hunter to rain arrows down on a targeted area over a short period of time. It also empowers the Hunter with the Trick Shots buff, causing all their Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire abilities to ricochet and hit up to five additional targets for half the damage for the entire duration of Volley.
To take down the horrors waiting for them in the Shadowlands, Survival Hunters are refining their skills and improving their weapons and gadgets. Expect to see damage increases for Hydra’s Bite, Butchery, Steel Trap, Tip of the Spear, and Flanking Strike, along with a reduction in the Focus cost for Chakrams—all designed to help them best the beasts they’ll encounter in death’s realm.
Mages manipulate many schools of magic but focus their power on one in particular. We feel it’s important for every Mage to have access to spells from the Arcane, Fire, and Frost schools, especially for utility purposes, even if their damage rotation draws primarily from a single source—and to support this, we’re making more spells from all three schools class-wide. In addition, we felt that the Arcane Mage damage rotation lacked a focal moment that results in a big payoff. As such, the combat rotation is undergoing a significant redesign that looks to add this while retaining the overall flow and feel of the spec.
Arcane Explosion, Fireblast, Frostbolt, and Mirror Image are once again available to all specializations, and Fire Ward and Frost Ward return to bolster Mages’ defenses.
Alter Time also comes back from the past, allowing Mages of all specs to show off their temporal mastery. When cast, this spell gives the Mage the ability to return to their initial location, with the same health and mana, after casting it a second time or after a short duration.
All Mages can also learn a new Talent, Focus Magic, which grants an ally a slight bonus to their spell critical hit chance; in addition, when the ally critically hits with a spell, the Arcane Mage receives the same boon for a short period of time.
Wild, untamed magic wends through the Shadowlands—and Azeroth’s most chaotic magic-wielders can’t wait to channel it. Clearcasting now has an additional stack, rendering Arcane Mages even more capable of decimating their foes. Mastery: Savant now extends its damage-increasing properties beyond Arcane Blast and Barrage to all spells. Touch of the Magi moves from its current place as a Talent to a baseline Arcane ability, allowing wielders to target an enemy that will take an additional burst of damage from all Arcane spells and spread that damage to surrounding enemies.
Enlightened is a new Talent that rewards mana management. While the Arcane Mage’s mana is above a certain threshold, it empowers all Arcane damage dealt by a moderate amount; when below that threshold, it significantly increases mana regeneration.
Fire Mages now have more control over how and when they spread their Ignite with a redesigned Mastery: Ignite. Fireblast now serves as the catalyst: when used against an enemy who is Ignited, it spreads to up to eight enemies close to your target.
Fire Mages’ Talents are also getting a few updates to help promote different play styles based on the situation they face. Blast Wave now does more damage, and an increased slow duration helps keep enemies at bay while melting their health away.
For Mages who want to watch the world burn, the cooldown reduction provided by Kindling is increased, allowing the Mage to get their Combustion back faster for maximum critical-strike goodness.
The damage bonus that Pyroclasm grants is also being increased, making the reward for casting the next non-instant Pyroblast much more satisfying.
With the addition of Mirror Images and Alter Time, Frost Mages will have some cool new abilities to weave into their gameplay. One of the more noticeable changes to Frost Mages in Shadowlands is the update to Flurry’s Winter’s Chill debuff. Previously Winter’s Chill was tied to Flurry’s movement speed debuff, which created tight windows and required distance checks to achieve the maximum-damage bonuses. Moving into Shadowlands, Winter’s Chill is now a much longer debuff that causes Frost Mages’ next two spells to treat the target as frozen, a debuff that increases the critical hit chance from the Frost Mage and their allies against the target.
In preparation for their perilous journey into the Shadowlands, Monks return to the Peak of Serenity to study, train, and hone their skills. Several abilities from the original version of the class return to all specializations to reinforce their identity as masters of martial combat. In addition, each specialization will receive a unique Celestial cooldown ability reconnecting them with the mystic nature of Pandaria.
Expel Harm, Fortifying Brew, Spinning Crane Kick, and Touch of Death are now available for all Monks to use. Additionally, Touch of Death returns to its original design, killing an enemy with less health than the Monk. Each specialization also gains a unique benefit by dealing damage with Touch of Death.
All three specializations will also be able to summon their Celestial to the battlefield with Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger; Invoke Niuzao, the Black Ox; and Invoke Yu’lon, the Jade Serpent (previously Talents).
Stalwart Brewmaster Monks are prepared to do all they can to restore balance and can again choose between two 1-handed weapons or one 2-handed weapon to subdue their foes.
Brewmaster Monks also have a returning passive, Shuffle, which increases the amount of physical damage that’s staggered when the Monk uses one of several abilities including Blackout Kick (previously called Blackout Strike), Keg Smash, and Spinning Crane Kick. Celestial Brew is a new ability that absorbs damage based on the imbiber’s attack power. And Brewmaster Monks can once again challenge their chosen target with Clash, a returning ability that causes both the Monk and their target bull-rush each other and—at the epicenter of the conflict—root their opponent for short duration.
All Brewmaster Monks will be able to use Invoke Niuzao, the Black Ox (previously a Talent) to help shoulder Brewmasters’ Stagger damage. Niuzao also deals additional damage based on Stagger damage purified. For Brewmaster Monks, not only does Touch of Death instantly kill any creature with less health than the Monk, but it will also clear remaining Stagger damage.
Brewmasters can imbue their brews with divine powers via a new Talent, Celestial Flames. Drinking brews has a moderate chance to grant Celestial Flames, which slightly increases Breath of Fire’s damage reduction and spreads its periodic damage effect to targets struck with Spinning Crane Kick. Exploding Keg returns as a Talent, immolating enemies on impact and blinding them for a brief period of time.
All Mistweaver Monks will be able to use Invoke Yu’lon, the Jade Serpent to summon the Celestial, who heals allies with Celestial Breath and spawns Healing Spheres for nearby allies. Touch of Death now instantly kills any creature with less health than the Mistweaver Monk and will spawn Healing Spheres for their allies.
Invoke Chi-Ji, the Red Crane returns as a Talent choice for Mistweaver Monks, strengthening their Physical damage moderately and healing their allies for part of the damage inflicted on enemies. Chi-Ji also makes Mistweaver Monks immune to movement-impairing abilities so that they can constantly be on the move during combat.
Like their Brewmaster brethren, Windwalker Monks will once again be able to choose between two 1-handed weapons or one 2-handed weapon in their fight to restore balance.
All Windwalker Monks will be able to call upon a powerful ally with Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger (previously a Talent). Xuen will fight by their side and assault enemies with Tiger Lightning, dealing additional damage to targets the Monk has recently attacked. Touch of Death now instantly kills any creature with less health than the Windwalker Monk and will spawn Chi Spheres that the Windwalker can consume to perform devastating blows.
In the Shadowlands, Wild Gods freely wander the woods of Ardenweald, and their magic awakens Windwalker Monks’ knowledge to perform Dance of Chi-Ji. This new passive Talent has a moderate chance to make the next Spinning Crane Kick free to use and deal a significant amount of extra damage to all it strikes.
Devoted servants of the Light, Paladins tap into its holy power to protect their friends and vanquish their enemies. In the original version of the game, Paladins had several categories of spells that transcended their specializations, such as Seals, Blessings, and Auras. While we feel that not all of these categories of spells make sense for the modern game, having those categories defined the Paladin class. We want to restore that feeling of shared spell categories with the unification of the Paladin resource system, and the restoration of several iconic abilities including Auras. While a few of these abilities are situational utility, they play well into the Paladin’s archetype as a holy avenger and bane of the undead.
Blessing of Sacrifice, Hammer of Wrath, Sense Undead, Shield of the Righteous, Turn Evil, and Word of Glory will be available to all Paladins, regardless of their specialization.
Holy Power returns as a resource for all Paladins to use to fight off attackers and defend their allies. Abilities such as Crusader Strike and Hammer of Wrath grant Holy Power on use, which can then be spent to call upon the most powerful forms of the Light—including Word of Glory and Shield of the Righteous—to vanquish foes and protect allies.
As champions of the Light, all Paladins can use powerful Auras to safeguard and enhance their allies. Concentration Aura returns to all Paladins, reducing the duration of interrupts and silences. A redesigned Retribution Aura allows Paladins to avenge fallen allies with a short burst of Avenging Wrath, giving these holy warriors the strength to vanquish evil or keep their remaining allies on their feet. Crusader and Devotion Auras are also available to all Paladins.
All Paladins will also have access to more Talents that allow them to manipulate and spend Holy Power. The Divine Purpose Talent will be available for all Paladins to select and standardized for all specializations, allowing their abilities that spend Holy Power to have a decent chance to make the next Holy Power-spending ability free and increase its damage or healing output. Holy Avenger allows the generation of huge bursts of Holy Power in a short window, while Seraphim allows the Paladin to spend their Holy Power to increase their secondary stats for a moderate amount of time.
The Azerite Trait Glimmer of Light moves to a space in the Level 50 Talent row, competing with powerful existing options such as Beacon of Faith. While Holy Paladins’ Aura Talent row has been replaced by the class-wide Aura bar, Aura Mastery continues to give Holy Paladins the unique ability to give any Aura a special empowerment.
To better uphold their oath to protect the innocent, Protection Paladins now exude Shining Light—a new passive that makes the next cast of Word of Glory free whenever Judgment critically strikes a target, enabling Protection Paladins to shield themselves and defend their allies from attackers.
The darkest places within the Shadowlands inspire Retribution Paladins to perform valorous acts in the name of the Light. Wake of Ashes is available to all Retribution Paladins instead of needing to be picked as a Talent, allowing these holy warriors to vanquish evil with a blow so powerful it damages all foes close to its impact and reduces any survivors’ movement speed significantly. Demon and Undead enemies are further crippled with a substantial stun when struck with the ability.
Empyrean Power (previously an Azerite Trait) will be available as a Talent, giving Crusader Strike a moderate chance to make the next Divine Storm cost no Holy Power and increase the damage dealt by a significant amount.
Priests call upon the Light to heal their friends—and tap into the Void to eradicate their enemies. In recent expansions, Priests’ specializations became polarized around these two ideas, with Holy and Shadow tapping only into their respective schools of power. In Shadowlands, we want to move back to a world where even though a Holy Priest excels in their connection with the Light, they are still able to harness some Shadow magic to deal with foes. Likewise, even though Shadow Priests focus on harnessing Void energies, they are still able to draw on the Light to protect themselves.
Mind Blast, Mind Soothe, Power Infusion, Shadow Word: Death, and Shadow Word: Pain will be available for all Priests to use regardless of their active specialization.
Discipline Priests are masters of balancing the forces of Light and Shadow, and the changes in Shadowlands cover both ends of that spectrum.
Light’s Caress is a new ability that the most powerful disciples of the Light can use, enabling Discipline Priests to heal their allies by blessing them with Power Word: Barrier, and healing them again if they’re still under the barrier when it expires.
Discipline Priests who dare to lean into darker magics can learn Shadow Covenant. This reimagined Talent instantly heals a chosen hero and four other injured allies within a small area and moderately increases the damage the Priest deals for a short period of time, during which they cannot cast any Holy spells.
New to Discipline in Shadowlands, Mind Blast will provide a powerful burst of damage and Atonement healing along with an absorption shield for a significant mana cost.
With the protective veil of the Shadowlands shattered, the grace of the naaru has slipped through and can be channeled by their most faithful. Circle of Healing is now a baseline spell for all Holy Priests, freeing them up to master a new Talent in its stead: Prayer Circle. Prayer Circle empowers Circle of Healing, reducing the cast time of Prayer of Healing moderately for a short period of time when cast.
In the realms of death, Shadow Priests will learn how to ascend to the peak of their power with a new Talent: Death and Madness. Each time a target dies after being slain with Shadow Word: Death, the Shadow Priest gains a substantial amount of Insanity over a few seconds; in addition, Shadow Word: Death resets, instantly ready to use on their next victim.
Surrender to Madness returns with a wicked twist. On use, the Shadow Priest instantly gains a huge spike of Insanity and casts Void Eruption on the target. Over a long duration, Insanity-generating abilities grant 100% more Insanity, and you can cast your spells while moving. However, this power comes at a terrible price—if the caster fails to slay their target during the buff window, they succumb to the shadows and die.
Throughout WoW’s history, Rogues have always had a broad utility toolkit for damage, control and survivability. But, during the development of Legion, we felt a need to distinguish each of the specs from each other and give them a unique identity. This resulted in us dividing up much of the core Rogue kit amongst the three specializations, making each feel a bit thinner than before. For Shadowlands, we’re working to correct this problem by restoring many iconic Rogue traits to the base class, while preserving much of what’s novel about each specialization.
The three specializations of Rogues share the teachings they’ve learned while mastering their vicious skills. Assassins teach the basics of Poisons, allowing Subtlety and Outlaw to once again coat their blades with Instant, Crippling, and Numbing Poisons. The lost art of a well-placed Shiv in a target’s side allows a concentrated version of poison to infect the target for a short duration. Pick Pocket will frequently uncover new ingredients that can be mixed into their Crimson Vial, augmenting its power the next time the Rogue drinks it.
Assassination Rogues continue their mastery of poisons with the returning Shiv ability, providing a moment of increased Nature damage on the victim, mirroring the gameplay of Toxic Blade (previously a Talent). Their poisons will be stronger and apply to their blades faster than other Rogues, along with always infecting targets when attacking from Stealth. Assassination once again has access to Ambush as an option for their initial attack from Stealth.
Blindside (Talent) has changed to give the Assassin a chance to allow access to Ambush even while out of stealth, with a higher chance on lower-health targets. Shiv gets access to another an upgrade through Toxic Blade, reducing its cooldown to provide more frequent assaults of increased Nature damage.
Ever resourceful and hungry for an edge, Outlaw Rogues have traded in the Combo Point requirement of Roll the Bones for a modifiable cooldown which can be manipulated to line up with their staggering finishing moves. Frantic combat will reduce the cooldown of Roll the Bones through Restless Blades by spending Combo Points. Kidney Shot returns to Outlaw’s toolkit, with Between the Eyes making their foes more susceptible to their critical strikes instead of stunning them.
Evasion returns as Outlaw’s defensive ability, with Riposte becoming an upgraded Talent option. Retractable Hook (Talent) now also increases the speed of the Rogue’s Grappling Hook, getting them where they need to be faster than ever.
Always looking for an advantage in combat, all Subtlety Rogues have mastered the art of Find Weakness (previously a Talent). Attacking from stealth and other abilities allow the Rogue to bypass their target’s armor, but also causes additional Shadow damage when they are struck by an Eviscerate. Find Weakness can also mark a large number of targets when needed to setup for their new area-of-effect finisher, Shadow Vault, which also assaults targets with their Find Weakness for additional Shadow damage.
Shadow Dance gains the power of Dark Shadow (previously a Talent) to increase all damage active, at the cost of less frequent dancing. Rupture returns as Subtlety’s damage-over-time bleed finishing move, instead of the shadowy Nightblade—however, they’ll still have access to movement speed reduction and healing reduction through Wound and Crippling Poisons.
As a class, Shaman have long had some of the most distinctive categories of spells in the game—Totems, Shocks, Shields, Weapon Imbues, and Chain spells—but over time, some have become the domain of specific specializations. In Shadowlands, we're giving these types of abilities back to the entire class. As a player levels up, they'll be exposed to the many ways a Shaman can interact with the elements to overcome challenges. Over time, the Shaman will discover which of these tools they have the strongest affinity for, and which abilities they’d like to focus on as they master the elemental forces.
In Shadowlands, Chain Heal, Chain Lightning, Healing Stream Totem, Flametongue Weapon, Flame Shock, Frost Shock, and Lightning Shield will be available for all Shaman to use regardless of their specialization. Searing Totem also returns as an ability for all Shaman to use, which bombards nearby enemies with fireballs for a short duration.
The Maelstrom resource and accompanying bar have been removed, returning Elemental Shaman’s to their former cooldown management playstyle. When we added Maelstrom to Shamans in Legion, we wanted to improve affordance around the use of Earth Shock and Earthquake in their rotation. But the addition of the resource had the side-effect of converting the spec into one with “builder/spender” abilities, which comes with certain built-in expectations on the payoff of its spenders. When an Elemental Shaman presses Earth Shock and it consumes most of their resource, the expectation is that this moment is the peak of their rotation and there should be a big payoff. But we want the focus of the rotation to be about managing your Flame Shock debuff on multiple targets to maximize the potential of Lava Burst through Lava Surge procs. Lightning Bolt, and consequently Earth Shock, are meant to be a flavorful but secondary part of the single-target rotation. As such, we are returning to a design that relies on building stacks of Fulmination to determine when to insert Earth Shock into the rotation. Similarly, Chain Lightning and stacks of Seismic Thunder will serve to enable Earthquake.
Echoing Shock is a new Talent that blasts a target for significant damage, and makes it so the Shaman’s next healing or damage-dealing spell casts a second time shortly afterward without costing additional resources.
As with Elemental, the Maelstrom resource and Maelstrom bar have been removed from Enhancement Shaman. Enhancement will return to a specialization based on managing a number of cooldown abilities with high points built around repeat casts of Stormstrike. In Shadowlands, Enhancement Shaman who chain certain abilities in combat will see their efforts rewarded when the time is right (and the elements will it) with the capacity to unleash a powerful cooldown dealing devastating damage. . Maelstrom Weapon returns, giving each attack a chance to grant a stack of a buff that can be used to make your next healing or damage-dealing spell instant. Flametongue Weapon and Windfury Weapon can once again be applied to Enhancement Shaman’s weapons, imbuing them with the power of the elements to suit the situation at hand.
The passive bonus provided by Hailstorm has been redesigned so that it resets the cooldown of Flame Shock and Frost Shock when a Shaman uses Stormstrike. Searing Assault metamorphosizes into a powerful fire attack, striking the foe for significant Fire damage and causes their Searing Totem to cast incredibly fast. It also triggers Flame Shock to rapidly dish out its damage-over-time burn effects to melt enemies.
Overcharge now generates five stacks of Maelstrom Weapon instantly and another stack every second for a short duration. Stormkeeper will make your next two Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning spells instant cast and deal bonus damage. It also benefits from Maelstrom Weapon, lowering Stormkeeper’s cast time so the Enhancement Shaman can chain powerful abilities together to pummel down foes quickly.
Elemental Blast is now a Talent option for Enhancement Shaman, giving this melee-focused spec access to a powerful spell to destroy foes from a distance. It also benefits from Maelstrom Weapon’s effect, which can reduce its cast time or even cause it to become instant cast.
Once Restoration Shaman step into the realm of the ancestral spirits, they will find new ways to tap into the elements’ powers. Earth Shield can now be used by all Restoration Shaman without needing to select it as a Talent. Surge of the Earth is a new Talent that expends a few charges of Earth Shield to significantly heal the current Earth Shield target and several nearby allies.
When designing Warlocks for Shadowlands, we had a few core goals. As part of our effort to distinguish classes as a whole, we’re bringing back Curses that Warlocks can use as proactive, situational tools—satisfying to use in special cases, but not something they should feel obligated to use when fighting every enemy. Abilities like Demonic Circle offer unique ways to interact with the world and combat spaces.
Spec-wise, we’re making relatively minimal changes to Demonology and Destruction, as we feel their core rotations and talent options fit well with our goals for Shadowlands. With Affliction, we’re making larger changes to bring the specialization’s gameplay more towards managing damage-over-time effects, rather than saving up for a major burst moment.
All Warlocks will be able to afflict their foes with Curse of Tongues, Curse of Recklessness, Curse of Weakness, and Curse of Doom. In addition, Warlocks can manipulate space with Demonic Circle.
Tongue Tied is a new Talent that empowers spells lobbed at targets suffering from Curse of Tongues, causing them to seal the victim from receiving healing effects, forcing them to succumb to all incoming damage for a moderate amount of time
Unstable Affliction sacrifices its stacking effect to torture its victim longer, and all without consuming a Soul Shard. Soul Wrack is a new channeled ability that ravages the foe’s spirit, empowering Warlocks’ periodic spells to deal a significant amount of bonus damage to an enemy afflicted by this dark magic. Affliction Warlocks can exacerbate the malaise they sow with Malefic Rapture, a new ability that causes their periodic spells to tick significantly faster while the victim is suffering from the malady.
New Talents will be available for Affliction Warlocks to more effectively drain away the life from their victims. Sow the Seeds will now embed two additional seeds into nearby enemies which—combined with the new Malefic Rupture ability—can make for explosive results. Finally, Doom is now available for Affliction Warlocks to use, and deals more damage with a shorter damage-over-time duration. If Doom kills the target, there is a slight chance the Warlock will summon a Doomguard to fight for them for a period of time.
Dark Pact will now scale with Spell Power to deal more damage than ever before. Demonology Warlocks will also discover that the Dark Fury Talent has a new effect—in addition to the cooldown reduction it provides, it empowers Shadowfury by increasing its area of effect as the spell crashes down on in the battlefield.
Fire and Brimstone is getting an upgrade in Shadowlands, as it now generates 2 Soul Shard Fragments for each additional enemy struck by the Warlock’s empowered Incinerate.
Clad in heavy armor and wielding brutal weapons, it’s often forgotten that Warriors are also hybrids, equally adept at dealing damage and protecting their allies on the frontline. We want to restore utility to all three Warrior specializations by bringing back many iconic abilities that are useful across the game. In addition, several Talents have undergone revision for each spec to increase build diversity and gameplay variety.
Execute, Hamstring, Ignore Pain, Shield Block, Shield Slam, Slam, Spell Reflection, and Whirlwind are now available to all Warriors to use regardless of their active specialization. Furthermore, Challenging Shout and Intervene are returning, and all Warriors can use them to turn the tide of battle. Shattering Throw is also back, with a new twist—it will deal devastating damage against foes protected by an absorption shield.
Lastly, Double Time and War Machine can now be utilized by all specializations as a Talent.
The armies of Maldraxxus have inspired Arms Warriors to return to several key martial tactics and abilities.
Piercing Howl can now be used by Arms Warriors, giving them another way to stop enemies in their tracks by dazing them and significantly reducing their movement speed for a short duration.
Cleave (Talent) has been redesigned—after striking three targets with Whirlwind, the Warrior can use Cleave to strike all enemies in front of the Warrior, inflicting Mastery: Deep Wounds—a scaling bleed effect. The Deadly Calm Talent has also been redesigned, and will completely remove the Rage cost of the next four abilities, and includes a passive effect that increases the Warrior’s maximum Rage by a moderate amount. Dreadnaught now takes on the Seismic Wave Azerite Trait, empowering Overpower to deal damage to enemies in a line. When Overpower hits two targets with Sweeping Strikes, Dreadnaught causes two devastating seismic waves.
Fury Warriors will find themselves at home in the Shadowlands and will be able to perform feats in battle that were previously unfathomable.
Fervor of Battle is a new Talent, where the Warrior loses themselves to their bloodthirst during Whirlwind and also Slams their primary target and gains additional Rage. Warriors will also be able to learn Onslaught, in which an Enraged Warrior brutally attacks an enemy for a large amount of damage and generates some Rage.
Frothing Berserker has been reimagined—now, when the Warrior reaches 100 Rage, they gain Haste and movement speed over a few seconds. Wrecking Ball returns as a Talent, which gives the Warrior a moderate chance for their next Whirlwind to deal a devastating amount of damage. Fresh Meat now causes Bloodthirst to always Enrage you the first time you strike a target with Bloodthirst.
In their shining armor, Protection Warriors are seen as stalwart defenders, but behind the shield stands a coldblooded tactician. Protection Warriors can now tap into their brutal side with some reimagined Talents. Best Served Cold increases the damage of Revenge, with the damage bonus increasing significantly after a successful dodge or parry has made Revenge cost no Rage. Menace has also been redesigned with this theme in mind, empowering Intimidating Shout to cause all enemies to cower in fear for a substantial amount of time, knocking back those that are not the primary target. Indomitable will passively increase the Warrior’s maximum health by a moderate amount, and spending Rage while the ability is active will heal their wounds. Never Surrender increases Ignore Pain by either a moderate or significant amount based on missing health.
Shadowlands class updates are still in development and subject to change. Keep an eye on worldofwarcraft.com for the latest.
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