In the latest talent tree update for Priests, we received a new 2 minute cooldown as Shadow Priests: Dark Ascension. The awkward part is not necessarily how that cooldown works, but moreover that it is coexisting with a nerfed version of Voidform and Void Eruption. The current tree allows us to choose both Dark Ascension and Void Eruption at the same time, giving the player three 2-minute cooldowns if also talented into Power Infusion on top of the baseline 3-minute Shadowfiend. On top of this cooldown overload that is possible in this tree these cooldowns co-existing do not meld well together, especially due to the nerfed version of Void Eruption and Voidform found in this build. In this post I want to go over problems with the current design of Void Eruption and Voidform, Dark Ascension, and how the talent tree offers them up as cooldowns.
Starting with Void Eruption it was nerfed in this build with the following changes:
- Void Eruption – Cooldown increased to 2 minutes (was 90 seconds).
- Void Bolt – Cooldown increased to 9 seconds and damage increased by 23% (was 4.5 seconds).
- Hungering Void – Debuff duration increased to 12 seconds (was 6 seconds). Damage over time extension increased to 2 seconds and 4 seconds on critical strikes (was 1 second and 2 seconds).
With these changes in mind it begs the question of, what is Voidform and Void Eruption’s purpose with all the other changes in the tree? Voidform’s design has changed drastically over the last few expansions, and it looks like Dragonflight will be no exception. This iteration has certainly caused the cooldown to not feel core to the spec with the addition of a new spec cooldown, but the Void Bolt nerf also removes one of the last mainstays of the cooldown. The value of Voidform has been primarily granting you full benefit of your Mastery and access to Void Bolt. It also increases the overall damage done by 20% (replacing Shadowform’s 10%) but since this does not impact gameplay we’ll ignore this for now. After the nerf to Void Bolt, it is no longer a tool used to sustain your damage over time effects on a group of targets. The cooldown was doubled but no change was made to its ability to extend your DoTs. These nerfs leave only one primary purpose of Voidform left: Mastery activation. While this is a powerful tool, it calls into question why this cooldown exists and what Blizzard’s goals are for the Void-style of Shadow Priest going into Dragonflight and beyond.
As a player that primarily started playing Shadow Priest in Legion, I am a little saddened by the state of Voidform. When the Legion rework was announced I immediately fell in love with the spec and have been maining it ever since. Over the years so many changes have altered Voidform to the point where it is hardly recognizable to what we had in Legion. I am intrigued by the modernized version of older Shadow talents coming in Dragonflight but at the same time I would like Voidform and Void Eruption to also be updated to still have a fun place in the upcoming expansion. While it might be difficult to combine the two playstyles together, I think the redesigned talent trees are the perfect opportunity to offer two distinct playstyles and the ability to specialize. The Voidform playstyle might not be for everyone, but with these new talent trees players can pick the playstyle that works for what they want. Whether or not future iterations allow for you to pick Void Eruption with Dark Ascension or not, here are just a few suggestions that could make Void Eruption and Voidform feel better and make it more fun:
- Hungering Void and Surrender to Madness as upgrade points to Void Eruption feel mostly lackluster with the changes to Void Bolt and nerfs to their cooldowns. Removing or reworking these into the base spell would open up these nodes for new options.
- Void Torrent extending Voidform
- Recreates the Legion style where Void Torrent “paused” your Voidform drain
- Rethinking what an Insanity drain style could mean in the current version of the game. Insanity drain is a complex mechanic but it did offer a great skill expression and was a lot of fun to play with ramping haste and DoT damage in Voidform.
- Now that Voidform is not “required” this is the perfect opportunity to rework this into a better version of Voidform that fits in the game without scaling out of control
- Rework Surrender to Madness as an optional talent from Void Eruption to enhance the base Voidform with modern ramping mechanics.Ravenous Frenzy did this for Balance Druids in Shadowlands and something similar could work with Voidform. This could give players an option to talent into a playstyle similar to Legion Voidform without it being the only way to experience Voidform Shadow Priest.
Moving on to Dark Ascension, this cooldown feels quite strange next to Void Eruption and Voidform. Aside from numbers and tuning, the idea of buffing non-periodic spells during the cooldown is an interesting idea but the playstyle and build up ends up feeling awkward at times, especially if you are able to take this AND Void Eruption at the same time. After playing with these cooldowns together and separately, I think changing the tree and trimming down on nodes to allow for a choice between Void Eruption OR Dark Ascension would be healthier for the spec. If the cooldowns exist in a world where you can only get one or the other, the talent tree can focus its time on ways to empower those specific playstyles more, giving players the choice of what they want for each scenario. The way the tree is currently laid out, these cooldowns exist on off branches in the tree and not centralized in the tree like previous iterations, making pathing feel awkward and inelegant.
If the pathing and choices between these two cooldowns could be addressed we could more easily focus our builds in the two distinct styles those cooldowns can give Shadow Priests, without trying to mash two playstyles together that do not fit well together. This would allow each cooldown to offer something different for the Priest depending on the situation, whether thats ST vs. AoE, Sustain vs. Burst, or even Periodic vs. Non-Periodic damage styles.
Having two cooldowns to choose from without getting both at once can potentially give Shadow Priests two fun play styles to choose from depending on what the player wants. This level of meaningful choice has a lot of potential and I’m excited to see where the tree evolves from here.