Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Adios Aoe?

So they decided to remove Volley from the game all together. When I first read about its removal I thought it was just one of many, many odd bugs in Beta. But then a blue post verified that Blizzard actually intended to remove the spell entirely as it wasn't especially hunterish to begin with and competed with Multi-Shot.

It of course started an outrage among hunters, no one wants to be the schmuck left without an aoe nowadays. I know that everytime I level a char that gets their proper aoe far into the game, like priests and rogues, I get annoyed since I just can't win damage done in instances no matter how well I play. When I recently discovered the change to Fire Nova they've made for shamans I was happier than I've been for along time (wow, that makes me sound like a sad person, but I was just really happy :P). I just started leveling a litte shaman (that's how I noticed) and I spam that spell everywhere I go. I even buy expensive mana potions of the AH just so I can use Fire Nova more when instancing, it is so much fun! Now I even win damage done over thunder clapping warriors and consecrating paladins! As a shaman! Who'd ever have known. Hunters also seem to have forgotten that they still have Explosive Trap, and with the Trap Launcher I've heard rumors about it might in combination with Multi-Shot replace Volley just nicely.

But it also made me think, what has AoE become? It didn't use to be so important, but has turned into this abomination. Everyone wants the best AoE spell. Yes it is fun being able to dish out 20k+ dps on trash, but is it really necessary? Will that make you or the raid have an easier time later on LK hc? No of course not. Well actually Lk is one of few raid boss fights where good aoe does become very handy at times, but overall aoe is for killing trash. It is really a very secondary spell, and yet we put so much into it. So what if you didn't win damage done on trash? who cares really? I am sure no RL with any competence would.

AoE can come in handy when leveling. Being able to pull together a bunch of mobs and then kill them all at the same time is of course very comfy. But is it necessary? As a rogue, killing mobs one after another is the way you have to do it (unless you're combat in which case you can pull maybe three mobs at once!). And you don't hear them complaining? Apparently questing and leveling can be done well even without a good AoE spells. Sure it's handy, but that's still a long way from necessary.

I've often complained about the fact that instancing today is about spamming one button, especially if you're dps. Just use your aoe and your set, there really isn't much else to do in heroics today. Is this how we want it to be? It is only in Wotlk that aoe has gotten this prominent role in our dps rotation, well it's not even a rotation is it? It is mind numbing spam. It has often annoyed me that people think they're so damn cool because they can win dps by spamming their aoe. It's not like it's difficult! The hunt for aoe has even made me invent my own aoe as subt rogue, by using Shadowdance and applying Garrote on every target I can to have my own, pretend-aoe.

And yes it is fun to see 30 crit-numbers flying over your screen and feel like an allmighty god. Looking at the trashpulls in ICC it's not really something you'd want to have to kill one at a time either. Blizzard seem to have put themselves and us in a kind of evil loop of aoe. They give us strong aoes, then packs big enough so that we have to aoe them and then more aoe so that we can aoe them. Looking at the raid instances we have today, few of them actually have trash that are aoe-friendly. Naxx perhaps, Ulduar doesn't really and ToC doesn't even have trash at all. So where does this aoe frenzy come from anyway? The answer is of course - heroics.

I don't think Blizzard had planned, intended or even anticipated what heroics would turn into after giving us all the awesome gear that we have become. In the beginning there were very few heroics where people just aoe'd their way through. It's hard to believe but heroics used to be difficult once upon a time, they used to be heroic. Now a heroic instance is like a walk in the park for most people. The trouble is, you couldn't do anything else than aoe even if you wanted to nowadays. Try to get your rotation started on a mob and it'll be dead before you reach your third spell. Aoe is the simplest way to deal with mobs, because they're too easy to deal with in any other way. And somehow this spamming of aoe in our daily randoms have made us believe that we actually need our aoes. That they're among our best spells. That a class without an aoe is like banana split without bananas (I love tasty metaphores). Sure you'd have the ice cream and chocolate and all but there's no banana! It's not worth eating!

The truth is that aoe is no banana. It is not that important. A class without a proper aoe will do just fine. The single target damage is what has downed those difficult bosses and will most likely still be in Cata. The Aoe is an illusion. No wait, it's a lie.

What do you think AoE has become in Wotlk, and what changes would you like to see?

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