Game Rant speaks with World of Warcraft senior game designer Graham Berger about how the Augmentation Evoker plays both alone and in a group.
World of Warcraft is about to release Dragonflight Patch 10.1.5. In addition to the Dawn of the Infinite megadungeon, several quality of life updates, and new overworld activities, this content update is adding the Augmentation specialization to the Evoker class. This Black Dragon-themed spec brings a twist to the DPS role with its ability to buff other players as a part of its rotation. While other classes have done so before, Augmentation Evokers take this idea to another level entirely.
Game Rant spoke to World of Warcraft senior game designer Graham Berger about how the new Evoker specialization works. As a support DPS class, Augmentation Evokers bring a completely new playstyle to the game for the first time ever. Berger revealed how World of Warcraft made sure the Evoker was satisfying to play, regardless of whether players are solo or in a group.
The Impact of the Augmentation Evoker
Despite being referred to as a support specialization by World of Warcraft, the Augmentation Evoker is still a DPS at heart. “Augmentation is a damage dealer,” Berger asserted. “You queue as a damage dealer for dungeons or for PvP, and it fills that role.” The class has some truly unique tools at its disposal, but it cannot replace a healer or a tank, nor is it a new role entirely. “We didn’t want to add a fourth role that suddenly the whole game has to consider. This is meant to just be an option [for DPS].”
However, it is important to note that Augmentation Evokers won’t be putting out as much raw damage as Devastation or other DPS specs. Even so, Berger explained that the goal is to make the new spec’s impact roughly the same as any other DPS class in World of Warcraft. “Whether you’re with one person or five people or twenty people,” Berger said, “you are still worth about one other DPS player.” That said, their presence in a group will be different from a traditional DPS, so players may have to get used to looking elsewhere to see their contribution towards the party’s success.
“For Augmentation, because you’re buffing others, their damage shows up under other people’s bar [in damage meter add-ons]… But, that is something players should recognize. Like, ‘Normally when I’m in this dungeon, I do 80k DPS, and now I did 100k. What’s different? Ah, I was getting a bunch of buffs from this player.’… [Augmentation Evokers] have some abilities that will directly contribute to another player’s damage… So other players, under their breakdown, will see Inferno’s Blessing, x damage.”
World of Warcraft is making sure Augmentation players still feel their impact on a group. “When you throw out your buffs, you actually see them in the battlefield as floating combat text,” Berger explained. These new UI elements will allow players to see exactly who is getting what benefit, and will ensure their abilities are not simply adding what Berger called “invisible math behind the scenes.”
In the past, certain highly-desired buffs in World of Warcraft like a Priest’s Power Infusion could cause debate and jealousy over who received them. According to Berger, early iterations of the Augmentation spec started to fall into the same trap. “We tried a mechanic that was sort of like the Paladin Beacon where you put a marker on an ally and a lot of your stuff would automatically target them,” Berger explained, “But, what happened was… they were not interacting with the Evoker, not even caring they’re present because they’re not buffing everyone else in the group.”
By adding abilities to help tanks, healers, DPS, and entire parties, Berger and his team made sure everyone in the party felt the presence of the new class archetype in World of Warcraft. Tanks can benefit from their Blistering Scales ability to increase their armor and deal thorns damage, healers can get a buff to allow them to cast while moving, and entire teams can get increased speed and stats. “That group-minded altruistic focus felt way better… It doesn’t matter who you are in a dungeon, what role you are, everyone gets to feel the Augmentation Evoker’s presence.”
How Augmentation Evokers Work in Solo Play
One of the biggest concerns about playing a DPS who contributes damage by buffing others is how they play solo. Many healing specializations lack robust offensive options, prompting players to switch to tanks or DPS while playing alone. “If you like the aesthetic, if you like the rotation, any reason – we don’t want you to feel like you have to switch to Devastation to solo effectively.” Berger wanted to make sure playing Augmentation Evoker was rewarding in all facets of the game.
Interestingly enough, WoW‘s new Augmentation Evokers actually play more like a tank while soloing. “The way Tanks play in the outdoor world is to pull a bunch of enemies, group them together, and AoE them down,” Berger explained. Though they lack the DPS output of comparable classes, its unique utility gives it powerful survivability mechanics rare among DPS classes, including ways to cheat death and raise their defensive stats.
“Augmentation plays similarly; pull a couple of things, then use your Breath of Eons to fly over with your Deep Breath equivalent, and spam Upheaval and Eruption – your big Black Dragon explosion AoE effects – to nuke all those enemies down while you’re taking reduced damage… So, they’re much more survivable, but they don’t put out the same direct throughput that Devastation would.”
An Augmentation Evoker may shine while being able to throw its buffs on high-damage allies, but Berger explained they still benefit from many of them while alone. “A lot of your buffs, you can apply to yourself, so, instead of giving your friend Critical Strike, you can give it to yourself.” This means Evoker players who prefer the Augmentation spec should be able to play solo without having to switch to Devastation.
This Evoker specialization breaks new ground in World of Warcraft. Its playstyle brings a truly unique spin on DPS, and gives players a way to bring out the best in their allies. “We hope [the audience] embraces Augmentation and will really enjoy it, and enjoy buffing their friends and making them as strong as they can be.” It is no exaggeration to say Augmentation is bringing a new paradigm to the DPS role that will change the game forever, and Berger is eager to see how players feel about it. “We’re very proud of it. It’s very different, it’s a little scary, but it has been a journey, and I’m really excited to finally get it into players’ hands.”
World of Warcraft is available now for PC.