Shadowlands Alpha is here and along with it Blizzard is sharing information on what we can expect to see in the next expansion. We have gathered a few rogues here to talk about their thoughts on what we are learning. Remember, this is Alpha, nothing is set in stone so don’t be surprised if some of these details change.
Part Three: Outlaw Updates
Blizzard announced these in this post: Shadowlands Class Updates.
For reference, Wowhead’s datamining is here: New Class Abilities and Class Changes – Shadowlands Alpha Build 188.8.131.52978.
Ever resourceful and hungry for an edge, Outlaw Rogues have traded in the Combo Point requirement of Roll the Bones for a modifiable cooldown which can be manipulated to line up with their staggering finishing moves. Frantic combat will reduce the cooldown of Roll the Bones through Restless Blades by spending Combo Points. Kidney Shot returns to Outlaw’s toolkit, with Between the Eyes making their foes more susceptible to their critical strikes instead of stunning them.
Evasion returns as Outlaw’s defensive ability, with Riposte becoming an upgraded Talent option. Retractable Hook (Talent) now also increases the speed of the Rogue’s Grappling Hook, getting them where they need to be faster than ever.
Roll the Bones changing to a cooldown is an interesting idea, but is predicated on the buffs being significantly more balanced than they were in Battle for Azeroth. Interested to see where this goes, but will reserve judgement until a significant tuning pass on the buffs happens. (Note: With the buffs as they are now, this change would be very negative. Basically all the buffs need significant reevaluation given the other Shadowlands mechanical changes.)
Slice and Dice coming back is going to give Outlaw something to juggle which should mostly replace the rerolling we already were doing. Good change.
Blade Flurry changes seem generally fine in the context of the AoE changes in general. The interaction with Restless Blades seems like this should have full uptime, so the loss of charges should not be too impactful.
Between the Eyes changes are mixed. Loss of the stun is somewhat expected, but generally have mixed opinions on the crit target debuff in place of the large baseline crit damage multiplier. Not sure if juggling a target debuff is really what the spec needs right now. Potentially makes target swapping awkward; Roll the Bones+Slice and Dice buffs along with Opportunity procs seem like enough going on tracking-wise already.
Evasion baseline instead of Riposte is a strict downgrade, given that Evasion has very little non-solo application. Outlaw is already pretty squishy, so this doesn’t seem great.
Don’t quite understand Nightstalker being placed on a non-DPS talent tier. Going to assume this is not finalized. Nightstalker for Outlaw is potentially exciting though.
Ghostly Strike needs to be revisited, especially given that it doesn’t work with Blade Flurry at all.
Iron Stomach is very weak already and was reduced implicitly by the baseline Crimson Vial changes. Needs some love.
Killing Spree needs to be revisited to some degree. It has been a DPS loss over no talent at all to use this ability for most of Battle for Azeroth.
Poisons are fine, but really have no interaction with Outlaw mechanics.
Unsure what is happening with Acrobatic Strikes. Would be very missed for Outlaw if it goes away, but have heard this may become baseline as well. This would be a good change as it fits the gameplay style pretty well and the increased range just seems correct given the toolkit and lack of DoT abilities.
Not super excited so far. Yes, rerolling [Roll the Bones] was not the most interesting gameplay. But it was kind of what outlaw had in BFA, even if it only had quite a marginal effect on DPS it had a huge effect on playstyle. I foretell that making it a cooldown will either lead to a lot of frustration when you get bad rolls or the ability will be watered down and just become another fire on cooldown and forget.
[Kidney Shot] change is welcome, having more control over your crowd control feels good. The remaining changes might have some affect of the feel of the spec, which surely is welcome.
I am so conflicted on these outlaw changes, and I’m going to type way more than I’m expected to on it because I’ve been such a huge fan of it ever since the launch of the expansion. First impressions are these changes are overall a nerf, and a lot of them are going to feel incredibly awful to play with especially going from how almost perfect it is in BFA in my opinion.
Firstly, the change to RTB is probably for 2 reasons. They probably don’t want us having 4 finishers in BTE, Dispatch, Slice & Dice, and ALSO RTB, the other reason is to probably tackle some concern related to the spec rerolling way more than they want them to. This is going to be overall for the worse for another 2 reasons: one is that this is going to greatly exacerbate the issue of “the spec being too RNG.” Without any further tweaks to the values of the buffs this is going to be a massive damper to your ability to do damage, and the general bad feeling of “I can’t do damage without good buffs” since it’s stopping you from just forcing yourself into good buffs for good damage.
One way to make this at least more interesting rotationally is to make the buffs actually change your rotation somewhat, something could be like “Finishers at max combo points do bonus damage” this would force you to overcap combo points which we don’t really do. Another idea could be a buff that basically works like ferocious bite, where it takes extra energy to do extra damage, this would force energy pooling into our rotation which we don’t bother with.
I think the BTE being a stun, that procs prey on the weak was just too strong of an interaction, especially when all of our azerite in BFA has forced us into pressing it on cooldown. This is just way too much control, and damage amp giving to 1 spec that already does incredible damage by itself. The change still makes us press BTE on CD essentially but I think keeping that in is great, it’s a great way to leave a lot of spec fantasy in. BUT, I think applying a debuff to your target is an awful mechanic. A lot of the power in outlaw is target swaps, no damage ramp or anything, buffs are on your character, you have no bleeds or anything so you can swap to targets in raid, in M+, even in PvP and INSTANTLY be doing your full damage right away. This change is going to feel awful in M+ first and foremost. BTEing target 1, and then it dies, and then having to reapply to target 2 it just feels yucky, having to potentially pool energy or sit on BTE just to be able to target swap, just feels yucky, having to swap to targets in raid on a fight like Raden, or N’zoth and having to now have a damage ramp just feels yucky. A very easy change is to just make BTE a buff applied to yourself and not a debuff on your target which I think goes an incredibly long way to making it feel better.
I’ve talked a lot so far, so hopefully I can keep the last blade flurry section pretty short, overall I think the change is fantastic (ignoring the target capping thing). Rebuffing it for the loss of wits is already a great start, and with it being added to the restless blades list, you end up with 95-100% uptime of blade flurry pretty easily which is basically just like the toggleable version back in pre BFA but without the energy loss, but also please take blade flurry off the GCD, it feels so gross.
Overall, I’m VERY hopeful they do a lot of work to outlaw because so far I’m pretty lukewarm, the BTE change NEEDS to be a self buff, and the RTB buffs need numerical changes to be much more balanced.
I am really happy to finally see the concept of Roll the Bones change. Making it a cooldown instead of a buff upkeep finisher has been a suggestion for years now and they finally did it. This is a very good direction in my eyes. Roll the Bones every 45s and then get buffs to react to. Right now, the buffs and their randomization seem to be unchanged. Personally, I’d like to see them go further and maybe go for single buffs that affect a part of your rotation more noticeably. Nevertheless, it is a solid start. Returning Slice and Dice to the base toolkit goes hand in hand with the change as it will resume its original place as a maintenance buff.
The next interesting change is the return of Kidney Shot alongside Between the Eyes, the latter now providing a crit and crit damage increase instead of a stun. This may be a bit controversial as I see both positives and negatives. Having a rotation ability that stuns can be healthy because stuns often help and you don’t have to go out of your way to use it and it is easier for new players who tend to forget about some utility. However, we all also remember every single time we stunned an add in a Sanguine pool or caused diminishing returns on stuns too early because it is part of our rotation. Shifting the stun finisher back to Kidney Shot certainly adds back more control (at the cost of damage) which also has clear advantages. I think I’m pretty neutral / slightly positive about this change overall.
Last big change is about Blade Flurry. Instead of two charges on 25s we now have a single 30s cooldown that is affected by reduction from Restless Blades. It is also capped at 4 enemies so you have a total AoE capacity of 5 targets. I would love to try this on Alpha for a comment as I am not sure how much uptime can be expected with Restless Blades affecting it now. As far as the target cap is concerned, I am not at all upset about Blizzard adding them across the board for many specs as long as this helps to make balancing easier – and let’s face it, >10 target pulls, as much fun as it can be, are pretty ridiculous.
(Disregard this paragraph if Acro Strikes are still in, information is conflicting on this) Oh, and I have to mention the loss of Acrobatic Strikes. The best Quality of Life talent Outlaw ever had. I guess i can partially understand why it will be removed but it was soooo convenient that I am sad and wonder if Nightstalker in its place is just unintended or a placeholder.
|Roll the Bones||Is now a cooldown||Rolls remain the same which makes the variance very high (not good)|
|Blade Flurry||target cap, 1 charge, cdr||Seems fine, hence everyone gets those caps now.|
|Between the Eyes||stun removed, now increases the critical strike chance/damage against the target||Sound good from a pure dps standpoint.|
|Acrobatic strike||removed||Its still present in alpha but talent trees seem not finished. It removes the potential to cheese mechanics and potential interactions with BF if removed.|
The most noticeable change comes from RTB. The direction of the change is right but the current roll system probably need further improvement.
The changes to Roll the Bones are intriguing. RtB is an interesting concept but it has always needed a little tweaking. I’m reserving judgement until I can try this out. Overall, I’m glad it’s not just going away. While i preferred the old Combat spec to the new Outlaw version, RtB has made its mark as an iconic Outlaw ability.
The Between the Eyes/Kidney Shot change in interesting. Having a stun as part of the base rotation always seemed odd and moving it back to Kidney Shot certainly allows for better control. I think this is a good change despite the move towards homogeneity which I’m still on the fence about.
Blade Flurry, gotta see how this plays. If it smooths the AoE rotation I’m all for it. Having a target cap seems wise.
I really hope they don’t remove Acrobatic Strikes. I love my ranged rogue.