We continue our early look at class and specialization design with the Priest. In these blogs, we’ll be exploring class identity, discussing Legion’s new designs, and presenting core combat abilities for each specialization—laying out the foundation upon which talents and Artifacts will build further. With that in mind, let’s delve into what it means to be a Priest in World of Warcraft.
Priests have a strong identity as spiritual practitioners who harness divine power to inspire and protect allies, heal the injured, and cure the ailed. But while this clearly holds true for Holy Priests, these ideas are less fundamental to Discipline Priests—and the ideals and beliefs of Shadow Priests are antithetical to those of Holy Priests.
Despite these differences, Priests of any spec share one key thing in common: unwavering faith in something from which they draw great power. What delineates specializations is the source of that power. In Legion, we’re going to explore that dichotomy in greater depth than ever through the gameplay for each specialization.
After spending much of their lives in temples studying ancient doctrine, preaching the tenets of their faith, and pledging their full devotion to the divine powers they follow, the most adept priests leave their houses of worship to serve on the battlefield, as shepherd to flock. There, they use their holy powers to bless allies and mend wounds. And while most stay behind the frontlines to aid their comrades, these holy champions are also capable of smiting foes and carrying out sacred justice. They’re also morally opposed to the use of Shadow and Void magic—rather, they are exemplars of the incredible grace and power of the divine and the Light, and even death cannot fully stop their healing capabilities.
"The most adept priests leave their houses of worship to serve on the battlefield, as shepherd to flock"
Given the innate purity of the spec, we want to ensure that Holy Priests continue to have a large repertoire of compelling healing spells. The Chakra system was cumbersome, requiring additional setup to optimally use most spells and restricting how much you could fluidly shift between healing methods. We have removed it in favor of a more dynamic play style focused around Holy Words. New Holy Word spells are designed to feel absolutely miraculous, having huge effects balanced with long base cooldowns. The new passive effect of Serendipity allows those long base cooldowns to be reduced, letting you use them more frequently. Finally, in keeping with the resolute beliefs of the Holy Priest, they can make no use of Shadow spells. Smite, Holy Fire, and Holy Word: Chastise are the instruments used by Holy Priests to inflict damage upon their enemies.
The Light in which many priests bathe is brilliant and effervescent, granting them immense divine power. But the brightest light casts the darkest shadow—and from within this blackness, a rival power dwells. Shadow priests fully embrace this opposing polarity, their faith equally resolute as their holy counterparts—but focused on shadowy magics and mental manipulation. Like all priests, they dedicate much of their lives to worship—but they derive their power from the Void, straying dangerously close to the domain of the Old Gods. To truly understand such ancient, corruptive influence is to be driven mad. This is the state in which these dark priests thrive, embracing insanity and feeding off of the minds of their opponents to reach terrifying new limits.
"These dark priests thrive, embracing insanity and feeding off of the minds of their opponents to reach terrifying new limits"
We’ve long alluded to the Old God influences of Shadow Priests in their spells and abilities, and we’re making that more distinct in Legion.
A new resource, Insanity, provides a better fit for Shadow, having more granularity and gameplay that emphasizes the immense but fleeting power that the Void offers. Mind Blast, Shadow Word: Pain, and Vampiric Touch will build Insanity. Reaching maximum Insanity will transform Shadowform into Voidform, giving the Shadow Priest access to stronger Void magic, but it is unable to be maintained indefinitely. This should make for interesting gameplay as Shadow Priests try to maintain the height of their Insanity as long as possible to prey on the minds of their enemies.
While not under the effects of Insanity, Shadow Priests continue to rely heavily on abilities that inflict sustained damage over time. Finally, having turned away from the Light, Shadow Priests eschew such spells as Heal, Flash Heal, and Prayer of Mending. Power Word: Shield and Shadow Mend are their primary healing tools.
Some priests pride themselves on pragmatism. They understand that light casts a shadow, that darkness is defined by light, and that true discipline stems from one’s ability to balance these opposing powers in services of a greater cause. While these priests possess many holy virtues to aid their allies, they also dabble in the dark arts to debilitate their enemies—always exercising immense discipline to keep themselves away from the brink of insanity. Many would say the ends justify the means; scriptures both virtuous and vile should be studied and understood to protect the congregation.
"True discipline stems from one’s ability to balance opposing powers in services of a greater cause"
The power of absorption mechanics has created a gameplay issue for healers that we’re looking to address in Legion. Discipline Priests have been so effective in their role of preventing damage that it has sometimes left other healers yearning for an opportune time to throw out a clutch heal. To alleviate that issue, we’re tempering Discipline’s emphasis on shields in lieu of a reimaged Atonement mechanic.
Discipline Priests are now more clearly defined by their use of both Holy and Shadow magic, and that extends to how they function in combat. Sacrificing a portion of healing ability and having a reduced focus on absorption spells, they gain a significant contribution in damage. Still filling a healer role in group content, they aim to strike a balance between healing allies and damaging enemies in a unique gameplay style. Discipline Priests have strong cooldowns with Power Word: Barrier and Pain Suppression, along with Rapture, a new cooldown that temporarily removes the cooldown of Power Word: Shield.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this early preview of our approach to Priest class and specialization design in World of Warcraft: Legion. We’ll continue our review later today with a look at Mages.
Return to the overview for the full class preview series.