Shadowlands Conduits Update

Starting next week in the Shadowlands Beta, we will begin introducing a series of updates to the Soulbind system to add a persistent collection system for Conduits. Since the Soulbind system was unveiled in the Alpha and discussed in our Developer Update, we’ve heard consistent feedback about the shortcomings of an inventory-based destructible version of Conduits, and we agree entirely.

While we feel it’s important that there be some friction in moving Conduits around, the prospect of the having to re-earn a given Conduit, perhaps by chasing a specific dungeon or raid boss drop, was not particularly appealing to anyone. However, simply removing destructibility without making other changes would have created an inventory management nightmare, especially for players who enjoy playing multiple specializations.

Once this new system is in place, Conduits will work like this:

  • Conduits will continue to be items that can be earned from a wide variety of endgame content (dungeons, PvP, raids, reputations, world quests, etc.)
  • The power of their effects will increase with the Item Level of the Conduit.
  • Instead of placing a Conduit directly into a given Soulbind tree, you’ll bring it back to your Sanctum where you can add it to a permanent collection.
  • There will be more than one source for most Conduits, to increase flexibility in acquisition and accessibility across different playstyles.
  • Earning a more powerful version of a Conduit you already have will simply upgrade that Conduit in your collection.

At its core, the Soulbind system aims to give you the freedom to essentially build your own talent tree for yourself. Each Soulbind offers a range of fixed universal traits closely themed to that Soulbind’s nature, and there are many open slots throughout the tree that effectively serve as wildcards, allowing you to insert Conduits to customize each Soulbind to suit your playstyle and preferences. A given Conduit can only be used once per Soulbind, though the same Conduit can be added into different Soulbinds’ trees without restriction. This does not require earning more than one copy of the Conduit – once it’s in your collection, you can place it as you wish.

If you want to rebuild your Soulbind trees, once per week you’ll be able to clear all of their Conduits, with a separate cooldown per Soulbind. But once you’ve decided on your desired Conduit placements, we want to ensure that the system offers as much flexibility as other existing talent systems, so you’ll be able to switch which Soulbind is active or redirect the flow of Anima through a Soulbind’s tree (essentially respeccing them) any time you visit your Sanctum. And if you have a different Soulbind per spec, or a different active trait path within a given Soulbind, that will be saved on a per-specialization basis, and will automatically change whenever and wherever you change specializations.


We’re hoping to have an initial version of this system active in next week’s Beta, with further updates and a polished user interface in the weeks to follow.

As always, thank you for your feedback! We’re looking forward to seeing everyone play with this new system and letting us know how it feels, and it’s your thoughtful feedback that has helped us make Shadowlands even better.

63 Likes

This sounds wonderful! Thank you!

10 Likes

It’s almost like all the people complaining that ‘Blizzard never listens in Beta’ are actually wrong and you guys continue to do great work. Keep it up!

25 Likes

As someone whose been in every beta since Wrath, they have a history of selective hearing when it comes to feedback in betas. This is the first time in a looooong time that they seem to be actively listening and responding to feedback.

I hope to see this new style continue going forward. It’s fantastic to feel like the devs listen and publicly care again.

21 Likes

As someone who has been in betas since 2004, Blizzard listens to tons of feedback to systems that people almost never saw because Alpha testing wasn’t as mainstream as it is now or they fixed the system before it even hit Alpha.

For instance, Azerite Traits were originally going to be locked forever to that piece, they changed it before it hit us to have the gold-cost respec.

3 Likes

In addition to having the path being saved with specs, can we have conduits saved on a per spec basis as well? I feel like for classes with multiple damage specs it may end up being really punishing if you want to play another spec.

8 Likes

Thats a vastly improvement over the previous version, great change, congratulations and head pats to all of you.

3 Likes

hopefully their intent is to just limit changing per boss or content (not that I agree with that, but that’s another topic) and not changing per spec … in which case I think this is a great idea.

good change though, keep em coming.

Why? Seriously, why do you insist on crap like this Blizzard? What possible benefits are there to restricting it like that, that would outweigh the extremely obvious problems that would crop up? You get a win in the bag, and you just can’t help yourself but throw in something like this, why?

Why can’t you just let players experiment and, ykno, play the game.

This is exactly the same as torments. You have a perceived issue with an extremely small subset of players, and design an entire system to fix that “problem” that impacts everyone negatively. And the people that would play like that, are going to play like that anyways.

41 Likes

Thanks for the update.

This sounds great and not losing Conduits is a big plus.

However, I can’t help but notice that this design is significantly more accessible for hybrid classes than pure DPS classes.

Since the path and soulbind can change per spec, this is great for cases where the soulbinds or conduit choices will not intersect frequently. It will basically allow multiple different builds to be represented and swapped between.

However, for DPS specs where one soulbind is significantly stronger than the others, we will basically be locked into using that soulbind to only one of their 3 specs per week. Otherwise, they are basically stuck using other (probably worse) soulbinds until they are allowed to weekly reset the conduit placements.

I’m not really sure the weekly limitation on swapping Conduits is needed. If players already have to go to a specific location to swap these around, I don’t really see why they shouldn’t be allowed to change it at any point that they return there. That is already more restrictive than Essences which could be changed with a tome in raids and dungeons.

Either way, this just sounds rather awkward if I want to play both Outlaw and Assassination, for example, at the same time.

I think we either need the conduits to save on a per-spec basis or be allowed to change back at our Covenant HQ without the 1 week restriction. Otherwise, this is still just going to be a very frustrating system for multi-spec DPS players.

13 Likes

Is this true of every spec for every dps? For instance, if you go Kyrian you have Kleia who offers 5% crit and the group-wide heal but Pelagos offers 5% vers and 5% mastery every time you use your Kyrian ability. Surely for one spec, Kleia will be better, but for other Pelagos will be.

For instance, Arcane Mage isn’t going to get the 5% vers from Pelagos because it requires casting different abilities in a row (like WW Mastery, but you don’t lose stacks), but Frostmage can very easily keep up the 5 stacks with weaving in Ice Lances. Therefore, the 5% vers + 5% mastery for Frost Mage would be best while the 5% crit + group aoe heal for Arcane would be best. Now you have two distinct Soulbinds you can pick as Mage and can socket Conduits for them.

1 Like

This is a great direction, I’m happy to hear it. I much prefer just having a weekly limit instead of having to repeatedly refarm the conduits. Having a “collected” stash also makes this feel like a real system.

However, I want to call attention to two problems I’m seeing right now with the soulbind system:

  • I can’t help but feel Soulbinds have some imbalance caused by the differing numbers of throughput vs utility vs defensive nodes within each tree.
    • Kyrian: Pelagos has three throughput nodes, Kleia has three defensive nodes, and Mikanikos has three utility nodes (https://shadowlands.wowhead.com/soulbind-calc/kyrian/pelagos/shaman). The same situation exists for every covenant.
    • The facts that conduits scale with item level and that throughput conduits are directly designed for your spec make it seem like we’ll be strangled more and more into the single 3x throughput option for each covenant.
    • I think the problem here is a balance issue more than anything else. I don’t necessarily have a problem with how the system is working.
  • The post says that your path and your selection will automatically swap with your spec, but it does not say anything about the conduits swapping with spec. On Beta, they currently do not swap with spec.
    • This means that if a player wants to dual spec, they will have to devote a completely different soulbind to each spec.
    • Please don’t make these even more inconvenient than Azerite was for dual speccing. We won’t have the option of sacrificing bag slots to solve the problem this time.
3 Likes

Please consider resetting this cooldown if I unlock a new/upgraded Conduit. The act of unlocking something new or upgraded in my Conduit collection should reset my weekly cooldown so that I can freely choose to use my shiny new thing. The biggest drawback to this new system, (and I do like the new system), is that if I get a shiny new conduit, I may have to wait until the weekly reset before I can actually slot it into place, which is disappointing. I would really like to have the freedom to know that if I get a new Condruit today, I can freely go and slot it in without worrying about locking myself out of slotting in a new conduit drop that I may get tomorrow.

This will be particularly important in the first few weeks, as we will likely be getting lots of conduits from lots of sources, and the state of our trees will be in a bit of a flux, and we will quickly run into a situation where we are locked out of using new conduits that drop for us.

9 Likes

Definitely a better option, but why timegate it? Why not just make a farmable currency to swap conduits? Timegating stuff like this just makes players apathetic towards playing the game and trying new stuff. Just have it cost something like the Tidal Cores in 8.2/8.3 that is used to craft low level gear the first week or 2 then is useless for the rest of the patch. Make them drop from dungeons, raids, pvp, weekly quests, etc.

I’ll never agree that something like this should be timegated.

8 Likes

i think if you upgrade it, it just upgrades? I hope?

For a new one, it could at the very least have 1 special use per soulbind that lets you use it once, per soulbind, even if you are mid-week? does that make sense?

100% better than what we had before, but the 1 week cooldown is bad. Why must the players always have to fight the game? Why not just let players play the game? Please consider respeccing freely. Having to physically go to the covenant base of operations to respec a soul conduit is inconvenient enough.

10 Likes

You are correct, if you upgrade a conduit you already have and are using, it should just upgrade in place and no action would be required. However, what if you upgrade a soulbind that you aren’t currently using, and the fact that you upgraded it makes you want to use it now, it sucks that you can’t. Sometimes getting an upgraded version of something is just as impactful as getting it for the first time, if the version of it that you already had is really old and worthless.

I also considered being able to use just that conduit for one time only, but that can be weird too. In order to place it, you have to remove another conduit. But what if you want to keep that conduit, but move it somewhere else? I think that changing soulbind conduit layouts is rarely going to be a 1:1 swap, I think that changing one thing is generally going to cascade a wave of changes as you shuffle everything around to have it just how you want it. This is why i think it would be best if it simply allowed you to wipe the soulbind clean and reapply your conduits as you see fit if you improve your conduit collection.

I look at it this way: I am all for meaningful choice. I think meaningful choice is a great addition to the game. I think that choosing your soulbind / conduit loadout is a great example of meaningful choice. However, choice is only meaningful if it is informed, and when you improve your conduit collection, you gain new information, and with that new information, you should get the opportunity to re-evaluate your choices.

3 Likes

Making choices is playing the game.

When you play Monopoly, and you land on an unowned space, the banker asks you “Do you want to buy it or put it up for auction?”

It would seem silly to respond with “Why are you even making me choose? Why must I constantly be fighting against the game? If I decide to put it up for auction and I don’t like the outcome, why can’t I just go back and change my mind?”

Games are all about choices, and asking players to make choices is not asking them to “fight against the game”, it is asking them to play the game.

5 Likes

Yes, making the choice is. Being stuck with it adds little though.

Picking a Conduit because it sounds cool, then realizing it doesn’t work with your build or doesn’t work how it seems like it should, then having to wait until next Tuesday to try something else is not particularly fun or engaging gameplay.

It really just encourages people to ask others what they should use because of decision paralysis and fear of failure. “Obsessive simming” as Ion has put it or asking on Discord just becomes required because the lockout is too punishing to the average user.

Freedom to pick your Conduits and customize your character is the expression of choice. Tossing a large cooldown on it encourages risk-averse cookie-cutter choices and limits player expression and experimentation. Limiting how frequently you can make choices doesn’t make things better by default.

Absolutely a good point, because pure specs are basically going to be at the mercy of luck with this one. I’m sure some class/spec combos will have a great layout available where they can freely swap, and other classes will be hamstrung by it.

Not really any way to avoid that, though, since the Soulbinds are generic for all classes. It’s bound to happen both ways, depending on the class. So some classes will get the short end of the stick and other classes won’t care. Which is kinda why the detriment to some classes feels so unfair.

11 Likes

Every single system is like this though. Even if we had no power systems in place, the natural imbalance of the classes just means we get a Classic-era meta where “sorry Druids, you guys deal 30% less dps than everyone else, you don’t get to raid”.

Trying to find the perfect balance is impossible. A middle-road like this is the best of ‘both worlds’.