Saturday, May 31, 2008

Just How Heroic is a Hero Class? Part 1: Unlocking.

A lot as been made of the Deathknight, Blizzard's first Hero Class; what are its core mechanics, what are its key strengths, what are its counters etc. Discussion remains somewhat limited whilst Wrath remains in F&F Alpha and only 6 of the 10 classes have new spells and talents, but what I'm going to attempt to extrapolate is what Blizzard considers 'Heroic' about this class.

Unlocking the Deathknight

At Blizzcon 2007 the designers threw out a few ideas on how they envisioned the unlocking mechanism of the Deathknight Class. Most of the speculation had been based around the principle of your character 'becoming' a Deathknight and then being redeemed, breaking him/her from the will of Arthas and regaining their identity (whilst continuing to have access to the abilities of a Deathknight). This promising (fan-envisioned) idea was watered down somewhat - the idea that the designers themselves floated was you performing a quest chain at a high level with one of your characters which unlocked DK creation. That's not necessarily as strong in Lore as the fan idea (but then, is it ever?) but it still had a lot of potential.

Fast forward around 10 months and Blizzards ideas have solidified into a working plan, and some are bound to be disappointed. Now all you need to do to unlock the Deathknight class is reach lvl55. Yep, that's all, reach lvl55. Frankly, I have to say that this sucks, and I can only think of two reasons for Blizzard to do it:

  • Their account management system prevented them from being able to do it, i.e. there was no way for quest completion status to feed back into the procedures used to manage characters, or
  • They want to make it as inclusive as possible, and a simple character level threshold accomplishes this.

  • Either way this waters down some of the uniqueness of the Deathknight class, and no matter if you are casual, hardcore or some combination thereof reaching lvl55 surely can't be considered 'Heroic'. That they are intending to have a Deathknight-specific area for starting in with a whole raft of class specific and quests and lore is great so long as they are sufficiently dense (3+ levels worth) and make it to release. Right now it looks suspiciously like you get dumped next to Fordring at lvl55 in full gear and go as normal from there... yippee. At this moment in time the only genuinely unique things about DK's character creation is that they start out at lvl55 and you can have only 1 per realm which is, needless to say, far from Heroic.

    So far, Blizzard isn't doing too well. Next... Part 2: Class Mechanics.


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