One of the most contentious changes planned for the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion Battle for Azeroth might be getting a few tweaks. Blizzard Entertainment announced changes to how the global cooldown (GCD) would work on certain abilities back in March.
While some abilities in World of Warcraft have their own cooldowns, many abilities share a character-wide cooldown, known to players as the global cooldown. In vanilla WoW, most abilities were on the global cooldown, but that's changed drastically since then. Most of the abilities on the global cooldown are ones that Blizzard doesn't want players to spam together, while those off the global cooldown tend to be reactive abilities, like offensive and defensive buffs.
The change announced in March put many of the offensive buffs on the global cooldown again. This included key abilities like the Shaman's Bloodlust, the Warrior's Recklessness, and the Paladin's Avenging Wrath. World of Warcraft game director Ion Hazzikostas originally explained that Blizzard found that most players planned the use of these cooldowns, so the team decided to put them back on the GCD.
"With them off the GCD, talenting into such abilities often just becomes a matter of adding another line to a burst macro without any additional gameplay as a result. In endgame raid and dungeon situations, stacking all possible cooldowns has an outsized impact on someone's total performance, while in PvP, the fact that major damage amplifiers can be applied simultaneously with an outgoing damage ability heavily limits counterplay and makes worst-case burst damage more severe," said Hazzikostas at the time. "Thus, we're putting most activated offensive cooldowns, along with On Use offensive trinkets, back on the GCD. We will tune these effects around this change."
WoW players weren't happy about the change and there's been a bit of a sustained backlash to it. Some have explained that the issue is that putting buffs on the global cooldown means that you frequently have to wait for your next move, which isn't all that enjoyable considering many buffs are timed. Hazzikostas tackled some of the backlash in statements during a live Q&A session today.Watch Live Developer Q&A with Ion Hazzikostas from Warcraft on www.twitch.tv
"It's with an eye towards the long-term health of the game. There are short term changes we can make that feel good, but cause imperceptible harm in other areas. Taking those things away is always going to feel objectively bad in the short-term," he began.
"We made this change expecting negative feedback. We're already making a couple of changes to things that have gone out in the beta. In one of the upcoming builds, players will see abilities like Heroic Leap and Infernal Strike back off the GCD. Disengage for hunters as well. We’ve made some changes to Fury Warrior BloodBath to give it some upfront damage components so it actually feels like it's doing something instead of just a button that's empowering your future actions."
Most offensive cooldowns will remain on the global cooldown though. Hazzikostas pointed to Fury Warriors as one class that relies too heavily on offensive cooldowns for burst damage. The team wanted the GCD to determine the game's overall pace and the more abilities that are off the global cooldown, the less potential decisions players are making. Hazzikostas did note that there probably won't be more abilities added to the global cooldown outside of those that have already shifted over in the Battle for Azeroth alpha.
"From an overall class balance perspective across all facets of the game, we're trying to pull back the importance and power of multiple, stacked cooldowns. It was such a no-brainer choice that they manipulatively scaled with each other, and the damage you did during your cooldown window was so dominant compared to what you were doing the entire rest of the time," said Hazzikostas.
With the beta for Battle for Azeroth beginning today, there will likely be more incoming changes on the road to the expansion's August 14, 2018 launch.