WoW Insider’s Robin Torres asks ‘should each class go the druid route and gain a fourth spec’ in this week’s Community Blog Topic. Aside from what I imagine would be a whole new nightmare to balance, I think it would be a great addition. If nothing else, it would give new players that many more options both while leveling and at endgame, and would offer veteran players a new view of classes they’ve known for a while, a reason to revisit toons they weren’t able to get a handle on playing (I’m just no good with a priest, for example), and maybe a reason to revisit both toons and content they might have gotten burnt out on.
There are a couple ways this could be gone about. Blizzard could go through and create a spec for everyone specifically for PvP, although to do so they’d have to not just contend with creating dps/heal specs all in one talent build (similar to the old druid Feral bearcat branch) but also with the fallout from the PvP community when it was announced that, say, Frost was no longer a PvP choice for mages and they were going to be forced into Fire.
Option two would be taking a serious look at the lore and saying “what are we missing?” for each class. Paladins have no ranged combat spec; hunters don’t have melee, etc. You’ll quickly note that I’ve thought about some classes more than others.
Druids of course already have a fourth spec, so:
Death Knight: Somewhere out there there’s a death knight that’s soul-weary of the destruction she sees around her. She quietly retires from the field of battle after the Lich King’s fall, determined to make a difference. After years of working with the Argent Crusade at Light’s Hope Chapel, she’s discovered a way to reverse the effects of the damaging spells she already knows in order to heal wounds, knit bones, cure people. A new sense of purpose sends her back to the battlefield, this time to build rather than destroy. A healing spec actually makes a certain amount of sense here, unlike with warriors (see below). Blood has decent self-heals; add bloodworms to a second spec and create a few frost-based healing spells. If you can apply diseases you can cure them, and so on.
Hunter: I really only see the name Ranger working for a fourth spec here (anything else and the forums will implode), but it’d almost have to be a melee spec, which isn’t ‘Ranger’-flavored in any of WoW’s history that I could find. I really don’t know of a way they could add a fourth ranged spec to hunters and not have it utterly redundant. Maybe change MM or Surv. to Ranger and the 4th spec could be Sentinel or Scout?
Mage: Easy, battle-mage. Melee attacks, spellarmor to counteract the absolute squishyness of their cloth armor class, infuse their weapons with magic to deal DoTs.
Monk: Tinker? Random gadgets to deal damage… I’m not really sure what else is out there for monks, and tinker seems like a class version of engineering. Maybe a second dps spec… but what?
Paladin: Ranged holy spell-slinger; an anti-warlock, if you will. Has the advantage of adding a second spec that uses Int plate. Has the disadvantage of duplicating priest’s role.
Priest: Similar to mages, add a melee spec, though I don’t know how they could do it without feeling too akin to pallies.
Rogue: Aside from the game feeling like it’s being moved away from dodge/parry, I think a tanking rogue could be a really interesting direction to go with the class. Create a hard cap of 65% dodge/parry combined, use talents and spells for active mitigation of the other 35%. To remove ‘spiky’ incoming damage, make the passive mitigations lower incoming damage rather than block it altogether, but don’t let A/M depend on timing (no sense making high latency force raid wipes more than necessary).
Shaman: Well, they already 1H/shield wield; adding a tank spec seems like a fairly obvious choice.
Warrior: Jokes aside, I’m not really sure where a fourth spec would fit for warriors. Oh, I could imagine a healing spec, where a warrior does the Gummi Bear thing and bounces around the battlefield applying bandages (not First Aid ones, those suck) as they go. A battle Shout could be added that works similar to Devotion Aura of paladins, reducing raid-wide (physical?) damage (and now that I’ve said that someone’s going to point out one exists). An Intercept/Charge-like move, Healing Rush(?); leap to the lowest ally and apply a HoT… there honestly aren’t a lot of healing ability options that don’t already exist on established healer specs. Imagination, though, doesn’t translate well to reality sometimes (this is why I’m not a game developer). Maybe a ranged DPS spec, giving Warriors back their ranged weapons? But that creates a “hunter wearing plate” issue.
Warlock: Another easy one; demon hunter. It provides a game feature that players have been asking for pretty consistently over the last several years while answering the ‘but warlocks have all the DH toys already’ argument. It’s not a big jump lorewise from ‘controlling demons’ to ‘learning to control demons in order to destroy them’, and it plays into the widely-suspected Burning Legion expansion. It’s also not out of the bounds of possibility that it could also be built as the tank spec that a lot of people seem to want to see in a ‘lock.
So there’s ways to do it, as well as potential issues for probably every class. I’d like to see it happen, even if I don’t think it *will*.