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WWI '08 Panel: Warlock


Warlocks got a few mentions at this morning's WWI class panel, not only with confirmation of some previously mentioned spells in the form of Demon Form and the Demonic Circle, but in relation to the Mage, confirming the eternal struggle that seems to go on between the two classes. Still, what these mentioned changes do for the class, I believe, is mostly unclear.

Demon Form and Damage

Demon Form, otherwise known as Illidan form to the dev team, is something that a lot of Warlocks having been asking for for quite some time. Admittedly, it's pretty cool. Being able to morph into a Demon and gaining temporary access to a whole new skill set to devastate the enemy with? Yeah, I can't see that not being fun. But the question remains: How will it perform?

Gallery: Worldwide Invitational 2008 | 196 Photos

Turning the Warlock from a spell caster into a melee-spell hybrid fighter, even for 45 seconds, seems to have the strong potential to become a gimmick with no real power. How do you determine how much attack power the demon has for meleeing? Will you make Demonology Warlocks carry a melee weapon with them for Demon Form or will they fight bare-handed like Feral Druids? How do you balance the fact that a Warlock suddenly changes to a whole new set of spells, and can you properly balance them so that it's worth losing access to other Warlock spells in return for these 3 or 4 abilities?

In short, while the idea of spamming AE Shadow Bolt is cool, Demon Form feels like something we need to know more of before we decided if it's really worth it.

The Demonic Circle of Life

One of the biggest complaints Warlocks have in PvP is that Fear is their only escape mechanism and Crowd Control against other human opponents. Since pretty much every serious PvPer has at least one method of breaking a Fear, and many have more, there's not many ways for a Warlock to escape from a melee beat down once his Fear is broken a couple times. Demonic Circle, in this case, should help, since it provides an instant egress for the Warlock. If the circle can be set far enough away that it's not just a case of, say, a warrior simply intercepting or charging over to the warlock to engage him again immediately, it could definitely shore up a major weakness of the Warlock class in PvP -- that is, the lack of a meaningful way to escape from meleers.

The Seed of Corruption Conundrum

One last Warlock issue came up in the Q and A section of the panel, via the question of Mage viability. Tom Chilton said Mages were meant to be the kings of AE damage, but Warlocks sort of ran away with that crown because of how good Seed of Corruption turned out to be.

I'll be honest, I can see it. Seed of Corruption is an amazingly powerful spell. There really are few PvE highs have had higher than the pure joy of chain casting SoC in order to bring down 10 orcs at once in Shattered Halls, or to obliterate Illhoof's imps. You just can't match it. At the same time, I can understand that Mages, who really do have a bit less utility than a Warlock, deserve that get a bit more damage. All I really ask is that you don't nerf Seed of Corruption too hard. Don't take the rush of seeing 10-20 "Killing Blow" messages pop up in rapid succession at the end of a massive Paladin tank pull away from me. Just let Mages be even better than me at it. Then we can team up and really raise some hell.

Final Thoughts

As far as the whole Soul Shard issue goes in the afternoon Q&A panel, I have to admit that I'm happy to hear we may get some emergency shard generation abilities, but I also can't say I'm eager to see sweeping changes to the system either. I suppose I should add a fair disclaimer that I don't raid on my Warlock, but I find that in the process of doing a quick round of dailies, I can easily get enough shards to last me through any 5-man dungeon run -- and if I run low for some reason, I simply make sure to dial off the DPS a bit at the end of a couple battles and apply a Soul Drain. Admittedly, I do not raid on my warlock, so I may be missing how much more difficult it is for raiding Warlocks. But for the most part, I find the Soul shard system a minor inconvenience at worst, and the possible addition of an emergency shard generation ability should at least make it impossible for any warlock to find themselves completely helpless.

Demon Form looks like it will be fun, but it'll take some work to make sure it's more than a gimmick.Demonic Circle looks like it could be a pretty significant boon to Warlock PvP. Overall, I'm going to split the difference and be cautiously optimistic about what we learned today -- although I'm still praying for Seed of Corruption Rank 2, a Paladin tank, and a big old dungeon of level 80 elites for me to play with.

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