We’ve definitely heard a lot of feedback from players that bursting down larger and larger pulls has become an overly dominant tactic in much of the game. This is particularly evident in questing and dungeons, which has made it difficult for many classes to find a clear role.
While there are a number of variables contributing to this trend, high burst area of effect (AOE) damage against an unlimited number of targets has made it increasingly possible for players to take down large groups of enemies without the players ever facing a proportionate level of danger. In Shadowlands, we’re looking at changes that would broaden the field of tactical options, and in the process, more clearly differentiate the strengths of classes in a variety of AOE situations.
For example, we’d like to see Outlaw Rogues or Fury Warriors excel in situations with 4 to 5 targets in close proximity to each other, while ranged casters like Frost Mages or Affliction Warlocks perform better in sustained damage against groups of 5 or more targets. To accomplish this, we need to revisit the maximum number of targets that many abilities can hit (also known as the ability’s “target cap”), and adjust them accordingly. In situations where a target cap doesn’t make sense, we’re adding a new kind of damage falloff that causes the damage done to each target to be reduced gradually as the number of targets increases.
Most players who are used to fighting 3 to 5 enemies at a time will notice very little difference with this approach. On the other hand, players who are accustomed to pulling 10-20 enemies at a time will experience longer, more threatening engagements. Sustained AOE damage may become an equally viable option in that situation, but both approaches will put significantly more pressure on the group to survive.