****If you do not want ANY information about Legion, and don’t want any spoilers about anything at all, please don’t read this blog post! I will be talking about the Restoration Shaman levelling experience (without giving quest details away) and will be sharing some screen shots. Proceed at your own risk!****
Regular readers will know that one of the main reasons why I was hoping to get early access to Legion was to test out the levelling experience as a healer. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to do this, as it has really given me something to think about. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do when it comes to levelling my shaman through Legion. So I’m using this post to not only give you guys some insight in to the experience, but to also talk through my thoughts about what I’ll do!
Background (or, why does it matter if you level as dps or healer?)
There are a couple of factors that made deciding whether or not to level as a healer a difficult decision. Firstly, there’s how it plays. Secondly, there’s the artifacts. So I’m going to break this down a bit.
Dps-ing as a healer has always felt weak and slow. And it’s understandable – we are built to heal and care for other people, not destroy enemies. For Legion we have been told that healers will have their damage increased so that they feel more comfortable dps-ing mobs and levelling up. But will it be enough?
The artifact effect
With Legion we are getting artifact weapons. These are superpowered weapons that you can “level up” to grant extra abilities, stronger spells etc. They are spec specific, they have their own quest/scenario experience to obtain and they are quite simply freaking AWESOME.
We get our artifact immediately after completing the Broken Shore scenario, and are unable to get a second artifact for a different spec until at least level 102 (as per testing on Alpha at the moment). As you level, you get quest rewards to boost the power of your artifact or to give it relics etc. This is where healers are starting to get worried. Is healer damage going to be strong enough to be able to level as a healer and power up our healer artifact? Or do we need to level as dps and then panic about getting our healer artifact later in the game and getting it levelled up in time for raiding?
How does it play out?
I’ve levelled my restoration shaman to about half way through 102. Not very far, but far enough to have spent a reasonable chunk of time out in the world levelling and experiencing quests etc. I’ve also dabbled as a holy paladin doing the Broken Shore scenario and holy paladin artifact scenario, but I’ll focus on the resto shaman here.
I will be honest – I still feel weak. But worse than that – it’s slow. It still takes a long time to kill mobs as a healer. The longer the mob is up, the more damage I take so I have to heal myself up, and so it takes even longer to get the mob down. There were times it was taking so long to kill a mob that they would respawn almost immediately after killing them. And if you were in a gauntlet style area, you were really in trouble.
It was also really disheartening seeing dps smash through mobs so much faster. It’s to be expected, I know, but it makes you feel bad.
The restoration damage rotation is very basic – flame shock, lava surge, lightning bolt and chain lightning. There are some talents you can take to make life easier – I took:
- Torrent for the level 15 talent – just makes quick heals on yourself a bit stronger.
- Gust of Wind for the level 30 talent. It’s bloody brilliant! I love this talent so much! So helpful for getting out of damaging abilities quickly. And you can do it in ghost wolf form, too!!
- Lightning Surge totem for the level 45 talent – stuns the mobs around you (very helpful if you’re getting overrun) (Voodoo totem can be good too, but it has the same rules as Hex and only works on Humanoids and beasts, which means no demons. And there are a lot of demons!)
- Earthen Shield totem for the level 75 talent – helps with mobs that are dishing out too much damage. Just helps shield you a bit
- Echo of the elements for the level 90 talent – gives an extra lava surge which can be nice
- Wellspring for the level 100 talent because the other 2 are no good when you’re levelling and doing damage (also, it looks cool!!)
Overall, the spells are fine. However I did find it difficult when there was more than 1 mob hitting me. Chain lightning just didn’t feel like enough. If Flame Shock were a little stronger and didn’t have a cooldown, it might help to just dot up all the adds and then chain lightning them all. Maybe?
Firstly I just want to say that this is such and amazing feature of Legion. I love that a zone will have purpose and provide a challenge, no matter what level I’m at!
Most of my resto shaman levelling was in Azsuna (which I’m going to share a picture of because holy heck is that place STUNNING!!!) I will say that I felt a shift in my damage when I got to 102. I felt a bit stronger and the mobs dropped a little more easily. Given everything scales to my level I don’t think it really mattered that I was a higher level, but perhaps the way it’s scaled at 102 makes my damage a bit better… I don’t know.
The other thing for me to keep in mind is that I will start with much higher gear than what I’m using on the Alpha at the moment – when making a new 100 on the Alpha you get kitted out with level 680ish gear. I’ll be much closer to 740 at launch so that will make it easier for me. The scaling for the zone is purely based on character level, so if you have higher level gear, life will be easier for you. This will help to a point – eventually the world will catch up and the gear will get replaced. But it will help for some time.
Does the artifact help?
Nope. The restoration shaman artifact has no damage increasing traits on it at all, so doesn’t give you any bonuses at all. Other than the fact that it looks AWESOME.
What do to, what to do?
The way I see it, there are a handful of options here.
1. Level as a healer and suck it up
This a route that a lot of people will take. Having their artifact weapon raid ready is most important to them, so they’ll just level as a healer and deal with any frustrations they may feel. This is one of my personal choices.
The added benefit of this is that I can also go straight in to dungeons as a healer, with a nicely levelled healer artifact.
Also, I feel this is the intended path Blizzard want us to take (which truthfully I appreciate, but isn’t a deciding factor for me).
2. Level as a healer and group up with people
A reasonable approach, but not one that I will take. Levelling for me is one of my favourite things in the game. And I am slooooow. I like to read all of the quest text. I like to stop and take loads of screenshots of the beautiful world around me. I like to go exploring on strange paths. People who are keen to get to max level get really fed up. And I get fed up at being rushed. So this is not an option for me – levelling is always a solo adventure for me!
3. Level as dps and worry about your healing artifact later
A viable approach for some. Levelling as a dps will definitely be faster, giving you more time at max level to sort out the healing artifact and powering it up with world quests etc. However, it’s not something I’ll be doing. Even if I’m dps I’ll still be slow! And I don’t want to worry about my healer artifact being behind, nor do I want the pressure of getting it up to level if I’m starting off behind.
4. Level as dps and change loot specialisation before completing quests to get healer artifact loot
Now this is the real option to think about! While you are levelling you can get artifact power and relics as quest rewards, and sometimes as world drops. From what I’ve experienced so far, the world drops are generally the artifact power (which look to be able to be applied to any artifact, not just the one you have equipped), whereas with quests you can get both the power and relics. However if you change your loot specialisation, the quest rewards (relics etc) will change to suit that spec – not just the artifact you have equipped. Which means that I could level as elemental, with the elemental artifact (that I won’t power up), but keep my loot specialisation set to restoration, giving me restoration artifact rewards. When I am able to get my restoration artifact at level 102, I can immediately boost it with all the stored up relics etc. So in the end I get a faster levelling experience by being dps, and I get a powered up artifact.
I doubt this is what Blizzard has in mind, but again, that’s not a deciding factor for me – being raid ready as a healer is most important (and my sanity).
The downside to this option is that I don’t know for sure if this will be possible in Legion. i.e. will this approach survive alpha/beta? And is this available in all zones, or was I just lucky in Azsuna? This is something I will be doing further testing on in the coming weeks.
Honestly, my preferred option would be for healer damage to just be stronger so that I could level as a healer. I’d like a “world buff” that makes all my damaging spells 500% stronger when I’m out in the world, so that I can damage things properly without wasting 5 minutes killing a mob of 3. I don’t want to fiddle with work arounds – I’d like it to work as intended.
At the moment the levelling is still slow and frustrating. Perhaps it will be different in other zones (I haven’t levelled healer anywhere else except for a handful of quests in Highmountain). I’m also mindful of end-game content such as World Quests – I don’t want those to be a burden because of slow damage (hence the buff being a world buff).
It is better than current healer damage. So if you’ve been ok with your current healer damage and wanted it a little stronger, you will be quite pleased. I have also read comments that Discipline Priests smash through content (surprise surprise!!). (Holy Paladin damage in the Broken Shore scenario was awful, to put it bluntly. But I’ll do a separate post about that later).
So those are my healer damage thoughts so far. Has anyone else seen anything about healer damage? What do you think? Is it viable?