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Lessons from WOW: Shadowlands that Ashes should be considering

XeegXeeg Member
edited December 2023 in General Discussion
I started playing WOW again (stopped at Panda expansion) when my buddy was trying to rekindle the good ole days. It was about midway through the Shadowlands expansion. There was a ton of content and we had alot of fun.

There were a few different systems that stacked player power:
  • The main class spec trees (sub/assa/outlaw rogue, etc.)
  • Covenant abilities (necrolord bone spike, etc.)
  • Covenant soulbind trees (increasing character ability power)
  • Player equipment (haste/crit/mastery)
  • Legendary items (greatly increasing the power of specific abilities)

When we joined, you could change your spec and covenant at will. Didn't like Sub rogue? Just click a button and choose outlaw, and redo your tree. Didn't like your covenant? Go to an NPC and ask them to change your covenant. Wanted to change from crit gear to haste gear? Click your saved gear set from haste to crit, or pvp haste or raid haste sets.

There still were some hurdles, for example you still had to farm half a new covenant to get your trees all the way down, which you only had to do once. You still had to farm the different gear slots and have them in your inventory in order to swap them. You still had to farm the legendaries, etc.

But the point was, other than your race and class (Orc Rogue) the other player power boosters were relatively easy to change and play around with.

Compare that to the start of Shadowlands. If you changed covenant you had to start all over from scratch. You could only change soulbind trees like once a day or something.

The problem was, with so many compounding player power systems it was impossible for Blizzard to balance. So if you arbitrarily picked the wrong covenant at the start, your character could be massively gimped by the time you had spent all the time working towards completing your trees to see your character at full power. People were pissed to find out that their characters sucked compared to others who had arbitrarily picked a different covenant. What should they do? Redo all the work to farm up the "meta" covenant just to find out that blizz patched it and now its nerfed? It was ridiculous and people were rightly outraged.

Eventually blizz just made it easy to change and continued balancing. By the end of Shadowlands the game was in a pretty good state IMO. Even if it takes a PHD level of effort and intelligence to actually be good at the game.

Now let's talk about Ashes. With over 8000 flavours of abilities due to the augmentation system, balancing is going to be next to impossible. I don't care what anyone says about the meta, there WILL be some builds and team synergies that are objectively better than others in most scenarios.

Ashes has many compounding systems.There is your primary class, your secondary class, your primary class tree, your secondary augments, your weapon, your weapon trees, your equipment, possible node buffs, possible racial modifiers, possible religion/etc modifiers... It's a big list.

Please don't go down the route that everything has to be "meaningful decisions", and by that the devs mean that you are locked in forever once you make the decision. The more compounding systems you have, the easier it should be for the player to change and play around with them.

I had a blast trying out different covenants and playing around with the skill trees in Shadowlands. Coming up with unique builds and different ways of doing things. But if I had joined at the start, I probably would have quit once I realized how hard it was to test different builds.

Sure, race and primary class are locked in, fine. But talent trees? 2ndary class? Augments? Weapon skill trees? All of these should have varying levels in how easily the character can change them. Augments likely should be changeable outside of combat. Talent tree, maybe you need to be in town. 2ndary class, maybe you spend a few hours/days to unlock each 2ndary class but then you can swap them in town. Weapons, should be able to swap anytime. Weapon trees, again in town probably.

You should be able to swap out most things and test them out in town dueling or with friends or against a dummy to see how it feels. If any effort/time is spent it should be a FUN one time adventure thing to unlock it and then you are free to test and swap.

Whatever you do, don't have players make "meaningful decisions" about arbitrary and unbalanced abilities or you just gimp them and create a lot of angry players. With 8000 ability flavours plus weapons, nodes, religions, etc, its going to be unbalanced.


  • So far AoC only requires a visit to a village NPC to reset skill augments and no mention of cooldowns.
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