We continue our early look at class and specialization design with the Paladin. 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 Paladin in World of Warcraft.
Paladins have deep roots in Warcraft lore as holy knights, protectors of the people, and dispensers of justice. Where a Holy Priest serves as voice of the Light, preaching to the downtrodden and disillusioned, the Paladin serves as hand of the Light, defending the faithful and enforcing divine law like a righteous hammer.
The niche of the plate-wearing holy crusader is well established in Paladin gameplay, with one key exception. Whether Paladins are mitigating enemy attacks, aiding their ailing allies, or delivering punitive justice, it’s in their nature to serve in the thick of the battle. But while Holy Paladins possess the heavy armor and strong defensive ability themes, in practice they spend most of their time behind the frontlines with the more fragile healers. In addition to shoring up the identities of Protection and Retribution Paladins, we’re adjusting Holy Paladin gameplay to bring them closer to the front, where they belong.
Like priests who serve the Light, holy paladins are devout in their faith. After spending much of their lives in hallowed halls studying divine doctrine, those who pledge themselves to a holy order become beacons of the Light for their allies in conflict, taking up the heavy armor and weaponry of justice. Holding the unwavering belief that any battle waged to eradicate evil in the world is righteous, these paladins stands on the frontlines in service to all others dedicated to the cause. The truth and virtue of the Light imbues these sacred knights with the power to revitalize their comrades. If necessary, they even lay down their own lives to serve as martyr for the greater good.
"The truth and virtue of the Light imbues these sacred knights with the power to revitalize their comrades"
We love the unique identity of the Paladin healer and are modifying the gameplay to better support it. Single-target healing from Beacon of Light remains their marquee ability, but other abilities and talents have been adjusted to encourage Holy Paladins to be near the people they want to heal—including melee characters, when necessary. This is incentivized by Lightbringer, a new Mastery, which increases healing on allies near you. This is further reinforced by the addition of a row of Aura talents that provide a variety of localized beneficial effects, and refinements to some spells, such as Light of Dawn returning to being a cone.
Talents will also provide players with options to incorporate offensive capabilities while healing. When allies are in need, Light of the Martyr allows the Holy Paladin to rapidly heal them by sacrificing personal health. Finally, we’re addressing gameplay restrictions caused by Holy Power—in which players often feel forced to use abilities in specific orders or ratios—by removing it in favor of making Mana the primary resource.
The paladin’s tools of war lay bare their motivations. Clenched in one hand is the weapon, a deadly device for exacting righteous judgment. Locked in the other hand is the shield, a symbolic and literal barrier protecting good from evil. Stalwart and steadfast, these protectors are ardent defenders of the Light and all that it touches, and are rejuvenated by its radiance in return. So dedicated they are to their cause that they consecrate the very ground upon which they battle corruption.
"Stalwart and steadfast, these protectors are ardent defenders of the Light"
The Protection Paladin arsenal is already closely aligned with its theme. The primary change is the removal of Holy Power, which didn’t have a lot of depth and mostly amounted to limiting use of only a couple of abilities. Instead, these abilities now have cooldowns to allow for better interaction with other abilities.
We’re also addressing an awkward control issue with Crusader Strike and Hammer of the Righteous. To improve control and depth, instead of two functionally identical (apart from the AoE) abilities, we’ve switched to one that conditionally triggers the AoE while standing in Consecration. Judgment is a good example of an ability that is staying simple—baseline—so as to provide a strong platform for talents and other effects to build upon. For defensive buttons, we’ve replaced Word of Glory with a self-focused spell, Light of the Protector, allowing it to be much more interesting and impactful.
To serve as instrument of the Light is to hold an unshakable faith. Oftentimes the most dedicated paladins become fanatical in their devotion, instruments of retribution against those who dare defy the laws of the divine. These paladins are vengeful guardians of the weak—crusaders judging and punishing the wicked. Their resolute conviction in the divine order of all things assures them that victory is inevitable—but they will fight to the end to ensure that the Light prevails.
"Oftentimes the most dedicated paladins become fanatical in their devotion"
We’re making several tweaks to Retribution to amplify their character. In particular, we’re refocusing most of their core abilities on short-range combat. So many of the Retribution Paladin’s abilities were ranged spells that they started to feel more like a caster than a melee crusader. A new ability, Blade of Justice (along with several new talents) will impact gameplay significantly, bolstering the inherent Retribution themes. Separating them from the other types of Paladins, Retribution Paladins continue to use Holy Power, serving as a strong mechanic for building interesting gameplay.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this early preview of our approach to Paladin class and specialization design in World of Warcraft: Legion. We’ll continue our review tomorrow with a look at Warlocks, Death Knights, and Shaman.
Return to the overview for the full class preview series.