Me and my friend would want to share some extensive feedback we’ve been both working on for quite some time. It’s coming from a guy who’s never changed his spec (Feral) since Vanilla WoW, and me - who loves the spec and wants it to be better. We both got a few Cutting Edges as Feral. The new talent trees and new expansion on the horizon is a great time to change things. I know it’s a lot of words.
1. THE Berserk Problem
Berserk is a cooldown that has been suffering for quite some time - before SL it was said to be not impactful enough, which is true numerically, in SL on the other hand we’ve seen a rework. I, personally, hate it as a cooldown and I feel it’s still not in the state it should currently be baseline. In the new talent tree a new idea is proposed - the whole “build your own CD” thing. There are many, many problems with that, but let’s start with the one I’ve already mentioned: Berserk is NOT a fun cooldown. Yes, fun is relative, there are for sure some enjoyers of its current state.
I think the biggest issue here is its lack of energy cost reduction. From a big, 3 minute CD you should expect being able to blast everything into oblivion, especially with that sweet red-thunder animation, yet you find yourself sitting and scratching things with auto attacks, because oh well, you didn’t get an Omen of Clarity proc, you didn’t get a crit or anything similar. I know it’s bandaided now with the current borrowed power and the sheer amount of stats we get, but it will run into its usual problem at the start of the expansion again. It’s a total feel bad moment. On top of that Berserk lacks AoE benefits (now it’s not that visible because of our current tier set). Add to that the psychological element of expecting that your 3 minute CD will be BIG and poof, a recipe for a bad spell has been invented. For me it has been a big deterrent since Beta and my SL Beta feedback post.
Secondly - the baseline version we easily get through talents is a stripped-down version of what I described above. To build your Berserk to the state it is currently in, you have to go through your tree, sacrificing lots and lots of valuable points, taking stuff you don’t even need in, let’s say, single target. The talent placement needs a MAJOR rework here if we want to continue with the “build your own CD” kind of stuff. Improved Shred, Improved Prowl, then going through the whole left side of the tree to pick Jungle Stalker, and then you have the faulty version that is currently live. You may add Incarnation to the mix, but the 20% energy cost reduction isn’t that meaningful at all, especially when the talent competes directly with Convoke. It doesn’t feel good - in fact, it feels like the problem isn’t and hasn’t been recognised at all. These talents are, in my humble opinion of a Cutting Edge type of raider and M+ gamer, a subject to removal. The power loss and the sacrifice you have to do to regain it to even have that CD in any playable state is just too big.
2. SO MUCH… ENERGY!
In our DF talent tree we’ve got exactly 9 talents that directly or indirectly impact our energy, be it energy bar itself or cost of the abilities. Listing:
Max Energy (3!! points),
Omen of Clarity (it’s fine),
Improved Tiger’s Fury (another 3 points - why, just why? Just have it baseline),
Scent of Blood (finally it may see some play, actually! I don’t have anything against it, unless it makes us lack that 1 point to finalise the tree well, but it’s out of the way so it won’t be a big issue, I bet),
Savage Roar (return of the classic - on the right side of the tree, I feel it should be placed somewhere else;),
Moment of Clarity (nothing against it again - it’s not a big offender, like TF talent or Max Energy one…),
Cat’s Curiosity (2 points; feels bad a bit again),
Soul of the Forest (mandatory - actually the best feeling energy talent ever),
aaand Incarnation (which competes with Convoke and gives only 20% energy cost reduction).
I feel like the main focus of the tree was to get rid of our energy problem we run into at the start of the expansion. But do we really need SO many talents to do that? I feel like I spend half of my points to just bandaid the issue and bandaid the feels bad Berserk we get. It’s 15 points. 15. Points. I get that I don’t have to take everything, but I also feel it’s just way too many. Waaaay too many. The biggest offenders here are the 3-point talents (Improved Tiger’s Fury and Max Energy). It’s always like that: 3-point talents just feel bad for any class, any spec. I don’t think we need more explanation for that.
Feral in general should be based on pooling energy and using it wisely outside of cooldowns. It’s nice to have more energy, but I think it’d be fair to get rid of soooo many talents here or at least reduce their cost. For now it seems someone’s trying to make an energy-based spec just interact with it the least. Improved Tiger’s Fury is placed well on the tree though - right near the kitty on the background image; it makes it cry. You got a sad kitty that isn’t even being pet by anyone.
3. Swipe and Slash! No, it’s not a video game genre
Let’s start with the positive thing - we can have both Primal Wrath and Brutal Slash. It’s VERY good for our AoE/mixed setting issues which we currently struggle with a bit. Also it opens up the potential extraordinarily nice interaction with Bloodtalons - it’s way, way nicer to press Brutal Slash, Thrash and Swipe than to fill the 3rd combo spell with something like Rake or Shred to activate Bloodtalons in AoE setting. I think this interaction, this thing should stay like that.
One of the biggest pain points of the Feral tree is the fact that Brutal Slash (that you will choose to access the entire right side of the tree) replaces Swipe. Let me translate: choosing Brutal Slash has always meant volunteering to do no AoE at all. Brutal Slash is too limited in its AoE use due to its lack of damage overall and its 3-charge system. It’s actually like hitting a few targets with a wet, long spaghetti noodle that survived the consumption process and now flows in the water in a sink, waiting to be crushed into oblivion by the force of a sponge. Since BfA Brutal Slash has taken the spot of an effective energy-to-combo point gained-rate generator for single target and that’s its primary role. It replacing Swipe makes us deal basically no AoE, so in any raid setting that doesn’t demand big AoE (like 99% of the bosses, other classes just do it better) we default to the single target Brutal Slash setting and completely ignore it. I don’t think it should ever be like that, and Swipe being replaced by Brutal Slash fortifies the issue. I know historically the Feral’s niche has always been great single target, but why is it so restricted? It also completely deletes the right side of the tree from AoE use. It’s food for thought - which spec actually loses a whole part of their tree in any situation? It should always be playable. And instead, you will just use your Brutal Slash charges and then what, Rake, Shred in big AoE? With all that energy Ferals receive in the talent tree, spending it on such abilities due to a bad interaction and/or bad placement of one talent makes me lose words.
4. Predatory Swiftness and the Combat Rescue Breathing
It’s a definition of something that is so baseline that we find ourselves just randomly shifting out of Cat form to cast Regrowth when we don’t have it. This passive, allowing us to help with healing slightly, allowing us to have a filler spell that helps the group, is just deeply rooted in our usual gameplay and having it as a talent, especially in a bad place as it is now, is not the greatest idea in the world in my opinion. This should be 100% baseline. It’s always been a nice passive, not overpowered, not underpowered, that we’ve always been playing with, that has always made playing Feral (a hybrid spec) a bit different from just a rogue.
What can be done with Predatory Swiftness? First, I’d make it baseline. And I’d make it affect Rebirth too. Because Ferals, for some reason, are the only druid spec that needs to go out of the Cat form to cast a battle ress. Imagine someone dying during your Berserk - it was always a feels bad moment when you are assigned to CR job and you just have to leave your Cat form to cast it, then spend a global cooldown to be back in action. Complete rhythm negation. Predatory Swiftness working with Rebirth would make it feel a bit better, but Rebirth could also be castable in Cat form - just like owls can do it in Boomkin form, and bears in their Bear form. Predatory Swiftness with Rebirth could be a very nice quality of life improvement (and trust me, in many guilds boomy, warlock won’t always be that eager to cast that CR xD), whilst keeping some restrictions in place. It shouldn’t be that much of an issue - Restoration Druids sacrifice some of their throughput to get that instant Nature’s Swiftness Rebirth, right? It’s still better for them to hard cast it. I know it’ll be much stronger than Nature’s Swiftness, though. I think it’s worth considering though - either Predatory Swiftness working with Rebirth or just making Rebirth castable in Cat form.
5. Watering the Blood in the Water
As you may guess, it’s about bleeds. The title may remind you of the old Blood in the Water talent, which caused Ferocious Bite to refresh the Rip duration when used in execute window. I think Feral’s spec fantasy has too strong of a connection with bleeds and therefore there’s no reason for them to be so badly underpowered. For now bleeds are in a state of “use them IF the target will live for a whole duration”, otherwise just use other generators. And other generators aren’t any strong at all, which tells a lot. There’s one main thing about Feral right now: Ferocious Bite. Some people like the playstyle and some don’t. At some point though in the WoW development, a completely unique spec - Feral - was transformed and homogenized and instead of working in its own way, it just resembles so many other classes and just slightly modifies the whole playstyle. That’s a bigger point to discuss, though, and I don’t think it’s that relevant, so let’s leave it at that.
Reading Dreamgrove discord, speaking with many fellow Ferals and listening to the voice of my own gamer heart, I really feel it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring back a true bleed playstyle with the addition of new talent trees. The tree could be way more expanded, like with other specs, some of the energy talents could be transformed, Berserk talents that I mentioned before could be modified around bleeds, there’s tons of possibilities to do it now in Alpha. Or the whole middle branch (which lacks the identity a bit) of the tree could make bleeds way more powerful, left side would be AoE then and the right side would be ST focused, as it is now. And no - multidotting the bosses in raid on a council fight wouldn’t be a big issue (though I understand that after Eternal Palace devs are a bit afraid of this). It’s a Feral druid. It won’t do that much spread cleave. In AoE it wouldn’t be overpowered too - it all revolves around burst, but why not at least do constant pressure on all targets in an unique way? For now it’s underpowered constant pressure completely overshadowed by other classes, like Windwalker and similar, so it doesn’t work at all, but what if bleeds were much stronger? Some initial ramp, then constant slappage. Fun!
On top of that, Adaptive Swarm has always been problematic due to bleeds’ tuning. It’s very fun to play it on Restoration druid, I’m not going to lie, especially with Circle or Draught legendaries combined with the covenant one that makes the swarms spread around and constantly jump. But for Feral it definitely lacks. Stronger bleeds would make the Adaptive Swarm playstyle a lot more appealing for sure. The one thing I’m worried about is Adaptive Swarm in single target. Adaptive Swarm without 2 points invested into the legendary effect talent (or just legendary as it is on live) actually adapts your brain to do a complete brainiac rotation with it, there exists a whole spreadsheet how to do that, when to cast what to maximise the uptime and I think the mind of 99% of players, including me, just lacks the ability to do it in meaningful content. It’s completely NOT easy at all. In AoE though? Just use Resto druid’s swarm weakaura and press it on friends when their party frames highlight themselves to maximise uptime. Still, it promotes lots of degeneracy, exactly like Owlweaving which should be completely gone. But that’s more of a problem with Adaptive Swarm, if it ever ends up being worth picking in single target setup for Feral, bleeds reworked or not.
I think going with bleeds as a general design idea for Feral would bring back many, many, many old players and interest some new ones. Bleeds always demanded some engaging management - snapshotting, multidotting, tracking of Pandemic duration and so on. I understand it won’t make Feral easier, but well, Feral has always been underplayed so it wouldn’t change a thing. And if Feral is actually good, even casual players that don’t spend half of their life on M+ and raids would at least try to pick it. Because bleeds are fun. Unique. Working with class fantasy.
6. Problematic talents
Here I will list talents that I can give feedback about, but I won’t connect them with other things unless necessary - just pure talent-per-talent feedback. I am really bad at figuring out the new possible connections and such, though.
Max Energy and Improved Tiger’s Fury - refer to point 2 of the feedback post,
Improved Shred - one of the unnecessary talents to work only during our Berserk; “craft your own CD” that feels displaced from it,
Improved Prowl - why 2 points for that? Additionally, it makes Improved Shred be worse, because with the usual tuning Rake is always worth casting from Stealth, never Shred (unless it’s Berserk window which works like Stealth when it comes to Shred/Rake),
Sabertooth - why not go for the Blood in the Water original design, make it an execute, all Ferals I know complain about it; go for bleeds, not bite all the way!
Berserk talents - refer to point 1 of the feedback post,
Brutal Slash - refer to point 3,
Lunar Inspiration - definitely a single target thing, it’s totally out of place. What if Savage Roar was in place of Scent of Blood, Lunar Inspiration in place of Savage Roar and Scent of Blood in place of Lunar Inspiration? Makes more sense, but probably a way better way to deal with it would be to just rework the connections between nodes,
Predatory Swiftness - refer to point 4,
Bloodtalons - just out of place definitely,
Adaptive Swarm - refer to point 5, I couldn’t hold myself from mentioning it with bleeds :O!
Incarnation/Convoke choice node - definitely doesn’t work with the nerfed Incarnation we get in DF, I don’t think it’s a choice to make, there’s just a vast discrepancy between both,
Soul of the Forest - I think it should stay, but as a talent that we pick on our way to mandatory stuff, it’s just very nice to play with,
Infected Wounds - I actually made a sheet with every slow available in game and no class, no spec has a slow that is applied to single target only with the press of 1 button. 20% slow is both meaningless/not even noticeable, every class and spec possessing such a rotational slow has it naturally work in AoE or cleave scenarios. Take Heart Strike, Remorseless Winter, Flamestrike as examples. I personally also think Infected Wounds should be out of the way and shouldn’t demand us to talent into it as it’s practically of no use at all, just a waste of a point, and if it stays in a different place in our talent tree, it should be buffed - to like 50%, maybe.
Thanks for reading, if you made it to the end. I hope the feedback reaches whoever it needs to reach and we can make Feral better. And please, the community will help you with it, just reach out to us!
Riveth and Tremeow from Silvermoon, EU.