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Massively goes to WAR: Spotlight on the Goblin Shaman

Michael Zenke

Sitting down with Josh Drescher and Adam Gershowitz to discuss the classes in Warhammer Online is somewhat like getting to sit next to the director during a feature film. They're so intimately tied to the game that every race, class, and locale in the game has an associated story. We had the chance to get the director's commentary straight from the source, and the result is a wealth of knowledge about the 24 different in-game classes.

The first class we took for a tour was the Goblin Shaman, the healer/DoT specialist for the greenskin race. Though nothing was said beforehand, the tiny gobbos with the big sticks are this blogger's favorite class. It was therefore especially enjoyable to check out the numerous tweaks to the concept, look, and UI of the little healer. Read on for the full Waagh!

Gallery: Warhammer Online | 166 Photos

Bonus Trivia: During our time in the Greenskin starter area, newly added lighting elements added a lot of snap to the surroundings. The designers noted that the new look isn't even the final lighting model, which should be added in late this month. Complicating this is that each point of light is placed by hand.
Overall the concept of the class hasn't changed very much. The tiny green dynamo still provides healing and blasting in equal measure, mixing it up with the lads. What has changed is how that's accomplished. Adam notes that the concept they've drummed up for the Shaman is shared by the class's 'twin', the High Elf Archmage. The mechanic is still called Waagh!, but instead of just one type of Waagh! the caster now channels two flavours of righteous fury. The two flavours are Gork and Mork, each named for one of the nasty, brutish deities the greenskins worship. Two sides of the same coin, the orcs are always getting them mixed up.

At the bottom of the Shaman's screen, just above his action bar, is a pair of stylized orcish heads. One represents Gork (who is fighty but cunning) and the other represents Mork (who is cunning but fighty). When you're blasting out DoTs, nukes, and other offensive spells, you pay homage to Gork. This makes Mork highly jealous, and he begins to offer you incentives to come back around to his way of thinking. IE: casting heals. This builds up your Mork meter, making the Mork head more visible and highlighting your Mork spells. This can be built up to four levels of bonus. The result is a variety of effects, depending on which spell you choose to 'spend' your Waaugh. Some spells will simply be more powerful, some will last longer, and some will cast in a fraction of their normal time. Casting the spell associated with the built-up Waagh! resets both meters to 0.

Previously there was only one Waagh!, which incentivised nuking then healing. With this new system, even the guy keeping the lads going in the background is somewhat dangerous. Rushing him can result in a might blast as he looses Gork's fury in one single blow.

Mastery paths have also been added to the diminutive spellcaster. He originally had just 16 abilities, and now (with mastery) he has some 28 spells and powers to choose from. These masteries flow along three line: The Path of Mork, the Path of Gork, and the Path of Da' Green. These paths follow the character's primary mechanic. Mork mastery abilities improve healing. Gork path abilities increase nuking and DoTs, and 'Da Green' (which they admit might be a name they change) tackles everything that falls outside of that (like buffs).
Bonus Trivia: Persisting at your character's feet is a UI targetting ring. Solid arrows point to groupmates, while red arrows point to objectives.

Given the dichotomy of the class, this seemed like the perfect sort character to dabble in multiple trees. In fact, the designers note that they have seen elements of that in-game. Players will travel up one side of the tree or the other to obtain a few toys, and then head up the other for some general bonuses. What the designers don't want is the case where an ability at the far end of a tree is required to be an effective representative of the class.

Says Mr. Drescher, "The idea here is to give people the opportunity to look at the tree, and decide which powers within the tree best fits their style of play. Because of the way we scale ability and the character's power over time, you can do that. We didn't want a character to be effectively useless if he didn't go all the way up one tree. Now, there will obviously be styles of play where if you don't have a given ability you might be less effective than you would otherwise."

Adam offers that the difference can be seen in broad strokes. A character that goes all the way up the healing line will roughly be twice as effective as your 'standard' Shaman. Characters with no points in Mork will have to use a heal twice to get the effect of one Mork-favoured heal. He uses the example of the long heal that each healing class has. Every healing class has a lengthy 3-second long heal. For Shamans of Gork, their 3-second heal is only as effective as the 'medium' heal for a Mork Shaman. All that said, they noted that choosing one mastery over the other significantly shifts gameplay.
Bonus Trivia: The UI auto-assists in targeting and spellcasting. If you're targeting a buddy and cast an offensive spell, it will fire off at your buddy's target.

Abilities are affected by these mastery choices as well. By default, all of your purchased abilities level up with you, but at a slower pace. Adam's character during the demo initially started with no Masteries, and was character level 40. Most of his abilities were only listed as level 40. By buying up mastery in Gork to full, all of his destructive spells then read as level 40 equivalents. This allows them some flexibility in item bonuses.

As Adam put it, "High level item sets may level up a single ability. For example, you may get an item that just say '+1 level to Brain Burster.' That ability is now one level higher - even beyond level 40. You might get a suit of armor that says '+1 mastery to the path of Gork.' Or even +1 to all masteries." This level of itemization is what we'll see in some of the end-level elements.

Players can choose to mix and match equipment to emphasize one particular area or make them broadly powerful across the different masteries.
Warhammer Online Coverage Did you enjoy this? Make sure to check out all of our previous Warhammer Online coverage, and don't miss any of the rest of the articles in this series as Massively goes to WAR!

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