Listening Music: Tool's Schism. I remember when this first came out -- so many unique meter changes.
Overpowered classes are overpowered. First of all, it's beta. Things are subject to change. Some classes appear to be incredibly strong at the moment. Here's a video of a warlock dueling seven different classes. (NSFW, some written profanity.)
Hopefully, Blizzard developers will remember the ridiculousness that was season five. Ret paladins and death knights were far more overpowered in Wrath beta than anything I've seen in Cataclysm beta so far, but there is still tons of opportunity for improvement. Let's also hope they continue on with the philosophy of making swift changes so things don't get too out of hand early on in the new expansion.
Spoiler alert: I was originally going to write an article on bad momentum and how to shift from losing to winning mid-arena match. I suppose that article will have to wait, because I'm excited to write about Cataclysm. With 4.0.1 hitting the PTR, I imagine now is good a time as ever. So if you're not into spoilers, stop reading!
Resilience and you
I had very mixed feelings about this change when I first read it. It's taken me quite a while to figure out where I stand on it. However, I've come down soundly on one side of the fence.
I like it.
It allows specs that value crit highly to be effective in arena. Hunters, rogues, fire mages ... all will be getting a needed facelift in Cataclysm, which is great for PvP diversity. Crit gemming might also be a viable option, which will be sweet.
The change is also welcome because it will still allow burst damage to be a part of the game -- maybe a lucky string of crits will lead to a game win here and there. I'm not against the random number generator (RNG); I'm against its determining the outcome of matches a large percentage of the time -- the occasional match is fine.
It might lead to damage's being easier to balance, perhaps even to the point where damage is toned down more than it was in The Burning Crusade. After all, Blizzard knows very well by now how many PvPers hated the burst-friendly environment of Wrath. It will be interesting to see how they approach this angle, especially with casters getting 200 percent baseline crits.
Click-to-move is awesome. I had no idea how much fun it would be to tell my little buddy to hide behind a pillar for a little while. Players have been petitioning for this functionality since vanilla; it's amazing to finally see it in game.
Scaling issues also look like they're being addressed. Pets have comparatively more survivability and are easier to summon once they die. Both of these qualities are incredibly important, as a pet class without a pet is gimped from the get-go.
Also, this isn't really an arena thing, but pets feel more like individuals now. Imps feel more impy with a huge escape jump. They're also far more useful now that they have a defensive dispel.
Moving away from felhunter dominance is needed -- warlocks should have pets that are very good at doing one thing and choose what that thing is. The felhunter was pretty good at a lot of stuff, but because it was universally great, it couldn't be improved much at all without balance issues.
Now, pets can be tweaked to give their masters exactly what they need. Instead of an 8-second defensive dispel, imps can be given a shorter cooldown dispel or have the dispel hit more than one magical ability. Likewise, the felhunter can dispel more things offensively and not run into GCD problems with Spell Lock. The succubus is still a little weak. Seduction is dispellable, and her knockback is very fun but feels a little out of place. The voidwalker could also be given more utility to compensate for it just being a buff 90 percent of the time.
Hunter pets will benefit from additional scaling and increased survivability as well. The extra pet slots and other perks incoming are exceedingly welcome, but there's still a lot left to be desired.
Outside of quaffing phoenix downs, hunters need an easier consistent way to get their pets back and change pets once within arena. Warlocks can choose the right pet for the job, hunters should have the same access come Cataclysm.
Most of the pets have received awesome revamps of iconic abilities. Awesome.
Ghouls have gone from ridiculously overpowered (season five) to laughable (season seven) to an average pet that isn't really feared or thought about that often. Today, many arena players don't bother killing ghouls, because their damage isn't threatening. Cataclysm is bringing a host of changes to ghouls.
Dark Transformation can only be used after a death knight uses Death Coil five times. It lasts 30 seconds and is just plain sweet. I don't expect season five dominance ghouls from this, but it will definitely help unholy death knights feel more like a pet class. Cooldowns and energy cost will probably be adjusted, don't worry.
Yay for guild perks!
I hope all perks that can create an advantage within PvP are disabled when participating in arena and battlegrounds. I know the mount speed increase achievement specifically says it doesn't apply in arenas or battlegrounds, which is awesome. Hopefully that trend continues for any other guild perks that might sway the battle in a contestant's favor.
Among all the old school titles we've come to know and love (anyone rank 14 reading?), Blizzard has added a gladiator-style title to the battleground rewards.
OK, so maybe it's not the most eloquent title. We'll probably be seeing variants on the "hero" keyword in later battleground seasons. Victor of the Horde? Warchief of the Horde? Whatever it is, it's nice to see new unique battleground titles that are similar to arena.
In the same vein, notice that there is no mention of a No. 1 title for battleground players. Perhaps this is the end of the No. 1 title in arena, as battlegrounds are set to be the focus of PvP in Cataclysm.
As someone who's experienced multiple No. 1 titles within arena, I have very mixed feelings. The titles take time and skill, plus they're awesome to show off, but many people have said it cheapens the experience of getting "regular" gladiator from season to season. I personally think gladiator is an awesome achievement, and no one should feel sour over achieving it; only 0.5 percent of the player base gets there! PvPers who go for No. 1 often lock themselves down into particular team compositions and have a hard time getting out to play for fun, too.
I wouldn't mind if they added No. 1 titles to the game for the battleground ladders, but I doubt it will happen. Too much drama is associated with the title, not unlike drama associated with legendaries in a raiding guild.
Whatever happens, Cataclysm is looking very exciting. Hopefully we'll be able to see much more soon -- new arenas, specifically!
Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing Donkey Kong? Read Blood Sport for pointers on arena play. Don't miss our interviews with successful arena PvPers, and see The Art of War(craft) for the inside line on battlegrounds and world PvP.