Deciding what to play in Cataclysm

Anyone else still weighing up options for what to play in Cataclysm? (“Everything!” doesn’t count as a choice.) How about figuring out what class to pick in a new game?

Well, I’ve found some inspiration on that front from a couple of other bloggers recently, and they both give very different approaches to the basic problem of knowing your own preferences before you’ve even had a chance to play the new class/ expansion.

I find that it’s very easy to feel pigeon holed. “Oh I always play a bow using class,” or “I always pick a healer with HoTs” which may blind you to alternatives that you’d also find fun. And also, even if you do always play a tank, that won’t help choose if the game offers several different options in that role.

It’s also easy to get very pragmatic. “I’ll pick the hybrid with the most role options,” is fine on paper, but might mean you’ll miss the class/ spec that would be the most sheer fun for you to play.

Play lots of other games — what do the games/ classes you enjoy have in common?

Zubon posted about how playing offline games helped him to work out that he prefers cooperative games (PvE) to competitive ones.

The great thing about this type of comparison is that you don’t need to know WHY you prefer one form of game mechanic over another. Just to recognise that there’s a common element in games you have most enjoyed. And that common element might not be what you think.

For example, classes I have enjoyed playing most were my minstrel and sorceress in DaoC, burglar in LOTRO and the warrior/ resto druid/ affliction lock in WoW. Not all that much in common, but a lot of those classes have crowd control. Also I have a soft spot for melee classes with good utility, possibly including stealth, and for classes with high mobility (affliction used to when I first liked it). Interestingly, although I do identify with my tank, I’m not that tied in to the role and I’ve mostly preferred utility classes.

To really learn and refine your tastes in any media, you will need to consume a lot of it. It took a lot of  geeky books and games to make me the fan I am today! And sometimes trying completely new or different types of game will lead you to new preferences that you didn’t even know you had.

So this angle says try as many games or classes as you can. Then think about what you most enjoyed, and see if you can draw any parallels. Maybe your preferences are nudging you to try a new class or spec that you hadn’t considered before. It could become your new favourite.

Stick with your core

Big Bear Butt Blogger has another take on classes. He notes that he has a lot of alts in WoW, something he has in common with many other players.

Ignoring my placeholders, I have 8 characters, and of those characters I’ve got 11 spec playstyles to know.

Where am I going with this?

Of those 11 specs, there is only one that, when I log in no matter how long it’s been, I don’t have to ask myself, “How the hell do you play this character again?”

He makes a good point. It’s very easy to make a stable of alts, and rush from one enthusiasm to the next without ever playing any of them for large amounts of time.

In Warcraft at the moment, you can level a character and kit it out at max level in a few months (less if you are hardcore about it). That can hardly compare with the several years in which I’ve played my warrior.

Add in the fact that class changes can totally change the playing style every other patch and you have to put a fair amount of time and effort into the game just to keep current with your main, never mind the alts.

For a player who puts a lot of time into the game and raids with several alts, it’s perfectly possible to do this. But some things won’t happen unless the time and work is sunk first. And however well I play my resto druid, the fact that it hasn’t been played at progression  raid levels for months will mean I’m not really up to scratch compared to people who have done that.

But aside from that, there are a lot of class changes going into Cataclsym. Don’t assume that you will be able to master all of your alts at once. Likewise, even if you pick a hybrid, don’t assume that you can master all the specs at the same time. It will be faster and easier if you pick just one and focus on that first.

Maybe that character will be a current and well beloved main. Maybe like BBB you already have one character into whom you are sunk so deep that playing it comes naturally, and adjusting to any changes will come naturally also. Or maybe it will be a new character or alt who was sidelined in this expansion.

I still am not finally decided which way I’ll jump. I find that tanking has gotten less fun for me over the course of this expansion; I’m just not sure yet whether that is down to game design issues or me burning out on it. But a goblin warrior chick would be adorable …

25 thoughts on “Deciding what to play in Cataclysm

  1. You’ve taken a perspective of game-mechanics, interesting.
    My first parameter is always around the role in terms of group dynamics, which makes me want to tank since I’m into control and responsibility. If I wasn’t tanking, I’d be healing for the same reason.
    Second parameter is playstyle, and here again I look at it slightly differently: if I wasn’t healing or tanking, I prefer ranged dps to melee. I like to see the game field when I’m dps’ing.

    • I think this control + responsibility side is why I am more of a CC player than a tank. It’s just that tanking is the most effective CC in modern games. But you need to actually play crowd control classes to really see that.

      The other thing you bring up with the group dynamics is the pragmatic view of ‘I want to be able to get groups easily’. This is the kind of thing which I think can lure people away from picking classes that they’d find more fun to actually play. For example, you mention that you like healing because it’s responsible and important. But how much /fun/ is it compared to tanking or ranged dps for you? I find that players tend to feel an obligation to be pragmatic about their choices (eg. pick optimal race, class, et al), but that’s just one side of the story.

      Sure, being able to find groups easily is a different type of fun. But that’s less of an issue with the LFD tool now.

  2. Much like Gravity I prefer tanking or healing roles, and so all that I know for sure now is that I am going to be leveling Kadomi to the new cap, and one of my healers. Which, I don’t know yet. My shaman I have tons of experience on, but lately I am really enjoying the different playstyle of resto druid and learning to master it. As resto druids will change a lot with treeform turning into a CD, I am curious about the playstyle change.

    I am going to pick up blogging again soon, and I want to post this long diatribe about tanking in Wrath. Often I feel that we have lost so much in the course of the expansion, based on the lack of any form of scaling in 5-man content, and that’s definitely made tanking lots less fun for me. But I am also hoping that Cataclysm is pulling the brakes and slowing down the game again, so that tanking will be a lot less frustrating than it currently is.

    • I’d be interested to read that diatribe. I know that I have found tanking increasingly frustrating/ dull over the last part of the expansion.

      I wasn’t sure if it was just burn out or whether there was something more than that which other people are feeling as well. I feel more and more that I’m playing a very different game to most of the playerbase, and the game I liked only lasted for about a month at the beginning of the expansion (and maybe a month after each new instance was patched in too.)

  3. I genuinely enjoy healing and tanking. I find them fun, and more importantly for me: fulfilling.

    The factor of fast LFD is not weighted for me. I’ve healed since L60, then did ranged dps (mage/hunter) for a lot of L70 later finding tanking love with my Paladin, which I’ve been doing since, albeit swapped to DK for L80 since I hated mana at L70.

    I healed both resto druid and holy pally. I even enjoyed healing as a pally in L70 content when it was just a single-spell spam, which says a lot.

  4. I’m a big fan of Druids, and a lesser fan of Hunters… but I’m pretty sure I’ll fire up a Paladin for a while in Cataclysm. At least a month’s worth of one, anyway, mostly just to see what the cataclysm did to Alliance starting areas. Then I’ll probably go back to my Tauren Druid for a look around Horde side. The bigger question for me is whether I try Prot or Ret… since I can’t dabble any more. Thanks, talent revamp. *raspberry*

    • I’ll be amazed if they don’t give people access to dual specs much earlier and much more cheaply than in the current expansion. It might not be what you’re after but I think people who want to have a choice of specs will be able to do that.

      • Agreed. I can easily see them making Dual Spec available at 20 for pretty cheap… but then, that may just be wishful thinking. 😉

        If they do have that set up, I’ll definitely try to level Ret for a while and crawl around some dungeons as Prot. I really want to give tanking a fair shake.

  5. After over 5 years of WoW for me there is a strong element of “what haven’t I done before?”. Thus in Cataclysm I will play a goblin hunter and a worgen warlock. Trying to overcome my dislike of pet classes, you see. 🙂

    • This is really why I’m torn. I like my warrior a lot but I know how to play it now ….

      Trying to figure out whether it would be more fun for me to pick a new class or something different.

  6. Pingback: Cataclysm, Classes and Characters « GEE IT LALDY!

  7. My chars are either something like Yvain, the Knight of the Lion or a vile sorceress like Morgan le Fay.

    See, no pet for me, as Warrior classes usually don’t get pets in the wretched MMOs of today!

    I absolutely have a problem with arrow flinging and rogue char types, they don’t tickle my fancy.

  8. I play MMOs with 2 other people (always launch with them) so we try our best to make up the holy trinity 😛 As for how we choose, well this time my buddy knows he doesn’t want to heal and really doesn’t want to tank. I couldn’t care less, and my fiancee doesn’t really want to tank, but she’ll heal. So, that leaves me with tanking 😀 I’ve tanked on a DK and a Paladin before, but never a Warrior, and since I’ve never leveled Alliance before, I’ll be making a Worgen Warrior.

  9. I fully expect to level my Paladin from 80-85 the way I got to 80: Holy, baby!

    That’s my intention, at any rate. It’s entirely possible that I’ll start playing it and hate what Blizz has done. I don’t expect that to be the case, but you never know….

  10. With the change to the old world, I think I’ll take some time and level a couple of characters to get a feel for it.

    I’ll definitely continue with my shaman to 85. Ele or Resto. Whatever is needed at the time. I’ll slowly level up my other characters as well. Mainly for extra gold, mats, and access to crafting professions.

    I still haven’t decided on a pvp alt. Hopefully something will catch my fancy.

  11. I’m just going to do everything, that way I don’t have to decide anything. I’ll try every new race/class combo and fill up every slot possible. Then, after a few months, I’ll narrow it down, maybe delete some to open more slots, and continue to play the two toons that I have at 80 now. Very original! But maybe, just maybe I’ll fall in love with something totally unexpected…like a Worgen or Goblin Anything.

  12. I find it interesting that people who aren’t in the beta group are coming to decisions now about what they will play.

    I plan to play my current main, my several alts, start some new characters and follow my fancy. I don’t know where it will lead or when I’ll get to the new end-game, but I know it will be fun.

    • But isn’t that the problem? Expansions should not be driving the decision regarding what class/character you are going to play, yet with every expansion in WoW has come nearly total redesigns of every class and massive game mechanic over-hauls. Every expansion makes WoW a virtually new MMO. And I find that disturbing. Expansions should be adding content and perhaps minor over-hauls. Players should be choosing the class they love the most and play it because of the enjoyment factor, not IMO based on the willy-nilly ministrations of Blizzard.

  13. I’ll be playing my Druid as my main and my Paladin as my main alt for certain. I’ve played every class except Priest to end-game at one point or another and the Druid class is by far the one that I enjoy the most. The only real decision I have to make is what spec to concentrate on. In WotLK it’s been Balance with my off-spec being whatever I needed it at the time. I’ve done tons of healing as Resto and tons of soloing older content as Bear. I’m considering concentrating on Feral Cat in Cataclysm though.

  14. In TBC, Team Ratshag raided with ranged dps. In Rash of the Itch King, we initially went went with a tankadin, then took a raiding break, and now are in ICC with a dps Death Knugget. Through it all, I has been banging heads and holding aggro so me small group of RL friends can do what they do, as best they’s can, wherevers we happens ta be. Come Cata, is a good chance the primary team raider will be a healer. There may also be a goblin hunter and a worgen mage and a dorf shammy. And I will continues ta bang on the bad guys’ heads and keep thems distracted, so me friends can do they’s thing unmolested. Somewhere.

  15. I’ll undoubtedly start a new alt, which will most likely be a Mage or a Warlock – the two classes I don’t have at max level yet. While I generally prefer hybrid classes that can do a bit of everything, I get really bored unless I’m doing something new.

    When I get tired of that I’ll go back to Druid, my perennial favorite.

  16. I have decided to try the one class I haven’t yet played – Priest. And I have decided to stick with my Horde kin and go goblin.

    I have even reserved a name for her – Uneconomical.

  17. I want to retry some of the playstyles I’ve liked but not succeeded at leveling… specifially rogues, hunters, and locks. I’ve always enjoyed those classes but fizzled out at a fairly low level. I’m thinking goblin hunter, troll lock, and… I don’t know, goblin rogue is so overdone and we can’t even roll them yet! Maybe I won’t level a rogue after all.

  18. These comments really gave me food for thought and added to the post itself! Thanks to all of you. I will eventually level my druid to 85, as she’s my oldest toon, but I’ll skip healing with her (sad sad tree) and stick to tanking/boomkin. I want to dabble with a worgen but I have no idea if that will happen, nor what class I’ll decide on, as I intend my first new roll to be a human hunter. For the rest… I have 6 different 80s and I’m not sure what I’ll stick with. I’m really worried about the state of healing, and my current primary raideres are all healers with viable offspecs as needed. I don’t want to dps in order to heal :/

  19. I’ll start by getting either my pally or my priest to 85, then while I’m trying to find a guild that raids at a sensible time I’ll check out the goblin starting area (not sure what class yet), and then in between raiding I’ll be levelling up my hunter alt (sitting at 25 atm) so I get to see all the changes to the old world!

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