If the Legion invasions have taught me anything, it’s that melee is an ever-aging design mechanic. Aside from an MMO, what multiplayer game has anyone playing melee combat in open spaces? (Slight side note, why do bosses give such big chunks of XP and nothing when dead? It means you’re safer tagging and hiding.)
Whether it’s indicative or not for Legion bosses going forward, invasions are incredibly anti-melee. There are rings of death everywhere, and most have range issues, so that you need to run away from the boss for periods of time. I’ve done it on my Monk, Hunter, Warlock, DK, Druid, and Shaman now and woo-boy does it suck with a DK (monk at least has some self-healing).
Wildstar has very few massive AE attacks, and those that do exist impact ranged as much as melee. Honestly, it sucks evenly for everyone. FF14 takes a similar approach, where attacks are either cone based (tank dancers) or massive AE that fill the screen. Why does WoW still focus on AE mechanics that are within 20 yards?
Hell, more importantly, why do melee attacks have such a small range/hit box? Positioning, I can get that. Anyone can face the cone behind a boss. But short-ranged AE attacks, or AE pulses that require 2-3x more time for melee to get out of, and that you deal zero damage… that’s just punishment. Playing recently makes me remember why I shelved all my melee players – my Rogue in particular, due to the dumbness of the melee penalty. Did I mention that bosses are bigger, hit boxes are smaller, so that you can barely see what’s going on?
You can certainly make an argument that it makes thematic sense to have melee combat. You could also make the argument that spell casting loses accuracy/power the farther away you are from the target. Yet the mechanical implementation is where the trouble begins. Other games are able to find a viable balance, where the benefits of range are offset by the sacrifice of cast time (FF14 in particular with a 2.5s GCD). It certainly was that way in vanilla – even the hybrid tax made sense in terms of time investment. (Makes no sense today, since you can level an alt in a couple days).
But over time the ranged folk were upset they were losing uptime due to mobile mechanics and class homogenization starting taking hold. There’s honestly very little difference between the classes now, you press 1, 2, 3 then 2 again. It’s just that some of the classes are going to eat dirt way more often.
Demon Hunters seem to exemplify that to me. They are highly focused on movement, almost like an early apology for what’s coming.
Perhaps it’s more that I’ve been playing games where there was a balance between melee and range, and that the lack of it in WoW is so jarring. Maybe it’s expectations that with a new expansion that rejigs many mechanics is somehow not fixing one of the key gripes since the game launched 12 years ago. Hell, maybe I’m just too old for this.
Either way, looks like I’ll be benching my melee squad.