blizzard have been dragging their heels on reverting a deeply unpopular change which added many class cooldown abilities to the global cooldown. However, in the latest build on the shadowlands beta, it looks like there could be light at the end of the tunnel.
What is the global cooldown?
The global cooldown, or GCD, is a shared cooldown between abilities in World of Warcraft which activates when you use an ability. At a base of 1.5 seconds for most classes (with exceptions), it is a mechanic which stops all your abilities from being cast or used at once, and enables you to form a kind of rotation to your abilities – the basis of all combat in World of Warcraft.
If you want my opinions on why adding so many abilities to the GCD was a bad thing, check out my post on the matter from a while ago.
What is changing?
Earlier today, Community Manager Kaivax posted that Blizzard were taking some abilities known as “burst cooldowns” off of the global cooldown in the upcoming build. This is an enormous step on the right direction of righting what was -in my opinion – one of the worst choices that developers have made in recent years when it comes to the player experience.
So, what’s a burst cooldown? Essentially, a burst cooldown is any ability which you press in order to directly increase the damage your character does. A Paladin pressing their wings cooldown to start bringing the holy ass-whooping, or a Feral Druid going berserk to shred their opponent to pieces. These abilities are purely there to let rip on the damage meters.
Kaivax highlighted some abilities still having a cast time on them as working as intended – abilities such as Stormkeeper for the Elemental Shaman. The ability has a 1.5 second cast where you raise your weapon to the sky and get infused with lightning. As a result, your next 2 Lightning Bolts to deal a lot more damage, and your next 2 Chain Lightning or Lightning Bolt casts to be instant. It has a very cool casting animation, and a palpable effect on your damage output, so the cast time makes sense.
Which abilities are changing?
|Class||Abilities coming off the GCD|
|Death Knight||Pillar of Frost, Empower Rune Weapon|
|Druid||Berserk, Celestial Alignment, Incarnation: Chosen of Elune, Incarnation: King of the Jungle, Ravenous Frenzy|
|Hunter||Aspect of the Wild|
|Mage||Arcane Power, Icy Veins|
|Paladin||Avenging Crusader, Avenging Wrath, Crusade, Holy Avenger|
|Rogue||Adrenaline Rush, Shadow Blades, Vendetta|
|Warlock||Dark Soul: Instability, Dark Soul: Misery|
What’s the verdict?
It’s true that there’s still more to do – players are highlighting already that Holy Paladins get three extremely powerful abilities off the GCD (Holy Avenger, Avenging Crusader, and Avenging Wrath) and that other healers should get the same treatment – Monks getting Mana Tea off the GCD, or Druids getting the same treatment for Innervate.
These points are very valid, and should be taken on board by Blizzard as they further develop before the Shadowlands release date at the end of October. Nonetheless, this changing is massive. Blizzard have been stalwart on their stance, but have made a step in the right direction to addressing the negative feedback. It would be hard for them not to – they’ve been listening to it since it went live 2 years ago.
I hope Blizzard build on this and add some more abilities to the list, while reclassifying their definition of a “meaningful key press.” Abilities are meaningful when they do something meaningful, and there’s nothing more meaningful for a damage dealer than cranking out the damage. Developers are on the right track and, if this theme of positive communication between beta testers/players and developers stays this way, it looks like Shadowlands is going to be incredibly fun.