Everyone has a different idea of what the perfect rogue consists of. I know plenty of rogues that wouldn't play the class without its subterfuge and stealth tactics. Other rogues focus entirely on our combat mechanics and couldn't care less about our burgeoning bag of parlor tricks. There are PvP-focused rogues that will never Pick Pocket their targets, and there are PvE-centric rogues that have no idea that Shadow Walk was ever introduced.
The question is what makes us play rogues? What would make new players try out the rogue class? Every player has their own reasons for picking the rogue over the other classes. What changes could be implemented that would bring in more players? Ghostcrawler has indicated that the relative power isn't correlated with our population stats. If cranking up our damage by 20% wouldn't increase the number of active rogues, what would?
Class aesthetics and animations
I am not drawn to the rogue class for its aesthetics. I really don't mind that Adrenaline Rush and Vendetta are visually bland. Our most exciting animation is Killing Spree, and it's a pain more often than not. My obsession with the class is focused around its mechanics and its tricks. I don't really care if my daggers are made of lightning or if my shoulders are spewing fire. When Ghostcrawler hints that we might be seeing some new animations, I'm not that excited.
I'm not every player. A large part of the WoW population enjoys classes with fancy animations and flashy abilities. I can admit that it's pretty cool to watch a warlock transform into a demon. I am somewhat envious of the wings from Avenging Wrath that let you know up front that a paladin means business. If we want to see the rogue population numbers grow, then the class needs to appeal to a wider variety of players. Even Aldriana, who I assumed was one of the most math-focused rogues, wants to see Shadow Blades do something cool visually.
When we're bumping elbows with the rest of the melee classes in the melee pile, it can be easy to get lost in the mix. Most of our current animations just involve a simple purple or yellow streak following our attacks. A few cool animations could be enough to generate interest in the class and to keep it exciting as we continue to use those abilities while leveling, PvPing, and raiding. I am actually looking forward to getting to use Smoke Bomb in raids in the upcoming patch, as its visual is awesome.
If you look at holy power and chi, it's easy to make comparisons to the rogue combo point system. We build up points with our generator abilities, and then unleash these points with finishers. The concept isn't revolutionary, and in fact has been around since the original assassin in Diablo II. The last few power systems that Blizzard has designed are player-centric, in that the points stack on the player, and not on his target. Combo points seem to be the outlier, and rogue-centric combo points has been an oft-requested feature.
I think that combo points are fine exactly as they are. In fact, with Anticipation and Redirect, I am very rarely finding that combo points being target-centric is holding me back in any way. I actually like the concept of picking our targets carefully. When combo points do force me to make a tough decision between losing points and switching targets, I am challenged and I find these types of decisions exciting. I think that making tough decisions is an important part of any class' mechanics.
Switching combo points to be rogue-centric really doesn't fix any problems or make us any more exciting. Most PvE situations will remain exactly the same, and it's not like Redirect wasn't already available for us to move our points around. When I'm playing my monk and when I was playing my paladin, I never really felt "this is how rogues should be!" or anything like that. In fact, I found myself looking for Redirect on my monk more often than I'd like to admit. Combo points are a big part of our class, but having them be rogue-centric wouldn't change much.
My rogue's action bars are pretty cluttered. I have a ton of abilities and macros to accommodate any situation. We've got dozens of buttons for both PvE and PvP usage. However, there are still a lot of former rogues that are looking for something new to bring them back to the class. Rogue rotations haven't changed much over the years, and the core of the class remains the same. What could Blizzard possibly bring to the table that would entice people to come back to their rogues?
I get a feeling that most of the rogues asking for new stuff are actually just dissatisfied with the energy and combo point systems. Mages spend most of their time casting Fireball, just like they always have. Hunters are still pumping Arcane Shots into their targets. While the rogue experience hasn't evolved, why should it? Don't the mechanics make the class? If rogues were played differently, would they still be rogues?
I don't think a couple of new buttons would bring any rogues back. The only thing that's going to grab their attention is a massive paradigm shift from the rogues that we know, like combat turning into a tanking spec or a dramatic reinterpretation of subtlety and Stealth. Unfortunately, I don't think anything this dramatic is likely to happen in the middle of an expansion. If you didn't like rogues for the last few years, you're not going to like them now, and a few new abilities won't change that.
Sneak in every Wednesday for our Mogu'shan Vaults guide, a deep-dive into the world of rogue rotations -- and of course, all the basics in our guide to a raid-ready rogue.