Tuesday, August 16, 2011

No threat

Just now Blizzard has announced that WOW is pretty much getting rid of threat as a relevant game mechanic.

  • Hotfix: The threat generated by classes in their tanking mode has been increased from three times damage done to five times damage done.
  • In an upcoming patch: Vengeance no longer ramps up slowly at the beginning of a fight. Instead, the first melee attack taken generates Vengeance equal to one third of the damage dealt by that attack. As Vengeance updates during the fight, it is always set to at least a third of the damage taken in the last two seconds. It still climbs from that point at the previous rate, still decays at the previous rate, and still cannot exceed the current maximum.

You can see the full announcement on mmo-champ Here.  Basically what this means is that players in any serious raid situation will have absolutely no chance to pull a mob off of a tank.  As soon as the tank lands 2 attacks the mob will be stuck to them forever - the only possibility of threat being an issue is healing threat or extremely overzealous dps on mobs that have just appeared.

I like it.  For healers of course this won't much affect their gameplay except in that dpsers will randomly pull aggro and die a little less often.  For dpsers it means that they can stop being forced to download mandatory UI modifications and can pay attention to their abilities, rotation and fight elements and not threat.  I think that change is a good one.  It never felt particularly good to know that your only job is to do more damage to kill the boss faster and you cannot do that because the tank isn't letting you.  It is nothing short of infuriating to know that getting that last upgrade is irrelevant because you simply aren't allowed to do more damage - might as well /dance in festival gear.  For tanks this means that threat stats on gear truly are irrelevant and you can focus entirely on positioning, cooldowns and rotation.  Beyond the first 5 seconds of combat there should be no reason at all to be concerned about how much threat you make so long as you are hitting your buttons.  I think this is also a good change - tanks already have plenty of things to do without staring at a threat meter.

Blizzard also stated that this change is there to help pickup groups with new or badly geared tanks.  It sucks to be throttled as dps and it sucks to have mobs running around out of control as the tank.  When your only recourse as the tank is to ask the dps to suck more it isn't much fun for anyone.  It is good for the game and for the population of tanks in the queue to make sure that new tanks have a good experience even when paired with better geared people so for this purpose the change is very much a positive one.

From a roleplaying perspective I like it too.  We are here trying to beat the Giant Evil Dragon for some reason, so shouldn't we be trying to kill it and dodge the fire that it breathes?  It is immersive to be staring at a meter that tells me whether or not the dragon is going to decide to come kill me next instead?  Shouldn't I be focused on surviving and killing the dragon instead of a box in the corner of the screen that I had to mod in?  The answers are clear:  Threat isn't immersive and mostly people don't enjoy it.  Clearly if the tank is ignoring the dragon then I have no problem with it ignoring him but as long as we are all doing our jobs I think the dragon hitting the tank by default is no problem.

There are plenty of challenges in WOW that make the game hard so in my mind it is a good thing to remove any components of the challenges that are annoying, lack immersion and which have negative ramifications for random PUGs.  Dodging fire and stabbing are fun (and if they aren't for you, don't play WOW!) so having those be the challenges that people face is a grand plan.

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