DPS and HPS Cooldowns on the GCD
Thank you for the feedback. This set of changes reflects an experiment in the latest Alpha build. Some context and explanation follows.
The "global cooldown" was so named because it originally was nearly universal. In the early days of WoW, virtually all abilities were on the GCD, with some of the only exceptions being "on next swing" attacks like the old Heroic Strike and Maul, which didn't have an immediate effect when activated. For melee players especially, with mostly instant abilities, the global cooldown was the metronome that governed the rhythm and pacing of WoW combat, including the agile Rogue being able to act more quickly than others. But over the years, more and more abilities have been taken off the GCD, to the point that, depending on class, spec, and talent choice, it's possible in Legion for someone to have 10+ abilities in their spellbook that ignore the "global" cooldown.
Recently, we took a step back and surveyed the landscape of what did and didn't respect the GCD, looking to justify each of these decisions anew. This process is still ongoing, and further changes may come.
Aside from setting the overall pacing of combat, abilities being on the global cooldown can create potentially interesting choices: If you're in an arena match and are low on health being melee attacked, but so is your target on the enemy team, do you use your next GCD to try to finish off your opponent, or to get yourself out of harm's way? That's a nuanced decision, where a skilled and experienced player is more likely to intuitively make the right read of the situation. If your defensive/escape tool is off the GCD, then there is no decision: You simply do both.
But on the other hand, taking something off the GCD improves responsiveness, and opens up avenues of reactive gameplay. Until Wrath of the Lich King, most spell interrupts were on the global cooldown. Back then, someone tasked with interrupting a boss (Reliquary of Souls in Black Temple was notorious in this regard) would often stop using any abilities at all when it was their turn in the rotation, lest they find themselves on cooldown and unable to interrupt. That's technically a decision, but more of a nuisance than a satisfying choice. Similarly, trying to use Lay on Hands to save the day in response to a sudden dip in your tank's health, only to have the spell fail to cast because you'd executed a standard part of your rotation a half-second prior, simply felt bad. We have no plans to put either of those abilities back on the GCD.
This brings us to a broad category of abilities that are off the GCD in Legion: Offensive burst cooldowns. These are almost always pre-planned and not generally used in response to an unexpected situation. With them off the GCD, talenting into such abilities often just becomes a matter of adding another line to a burst macro without any additional gameplay as a result. In endgame raid and dungeon situations, stacking all possible cooldowns has an outsized impact on someone’s total performance, while in PvP, the fact that major damage amplifiers can be applied simultaneously with an outgoing damage ability (e.g. Battle Cry/Recklessness -> Avatar -> Mortal Strike) heavily limits counterplay and makes worst-case burst damage more severe.
Thus, we're putting most activated offensive cooldowns, along with On Use offensive trinkets, back on the GCD. We will tune these effects around this change (see, for example, the increase to the duration of Recklessness in the latest Alpha build). Abilities like the Elemental shaman's Stormkeeper have demonstrated that an offensive cooldown that takes the place of another spell (and even has a cast time) can still feel very potent.
Finally, while we wouldn't make a gameplay change solely for this reason, there is some additional upside to being able to better telegraph the activation of a major cooldown via animation and visuals. For example, Battle Cry/Recklessness has a warcry animation associated with it, but in practice that visual is virtually never seen, since it's usually overriden by an attack animation milliseconds later.
When you're used to a specific ability being off the GCD, there is some learned muscle memory that will make for a jarring experience when that changes. Or abilities that have always been macroed together may now need to be split out into two separate keybinds. Thus, we realize that initial reactions to the change are likely to be mixed at best. But we're making these changes with an eye towards long-term improvement to the pacing and feel of combat, as outlined above.
Please play around with these changes, and let us know what you think: Are there any specific offensive cooldowns that we've changed in this build that feel especially bad? Are there any abilities that are still off the GCD but don't need to be? Watcher
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