Asmongold criticizes Blizzard’s changes to spell variance in WoW Shadowlands

But we just got rid of corruption.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Many World of Warcraft players have taken issue with the amount of randomness that features like corruption do to a player’s damage in retail WoW.

With “corruption” abilities being passive traits and some having proc rates that heavily relying on randomness, the perceived skill involved in doing massive amounts of damage was effectively taken out of WoW in its most recent patch. 

Blizzard’s new expansion set to release in the fall, Shadowlands, was supposed to fix that, though. One might have expected that coming into the next expansion, Blizzard would have changed titanforging and corruptions after numerous player complaints.

While Blizzard has said it is getting rid of those types of features in Shadowlands, it announced today it will implement a small amount of “spell variance,” making it so that abilities have a chance to be a little bit more or less effective to the tune of 5 percent.

Reading the news on his stream today, WoW’s most popular content creator Asmongold expressed a high degree of skepticism to any addition of randomness to the game, and in the process, went on an extended rant about the issue.

According to Asmon, the “problem” that Blizzard is trying to combat by adding randomness is the way some players mathematically simulate their characters in an attempt to maximize their potential output.

This follows a larger assertion that Asmon has repeatedly expressed to viewers that Blizzard is disconnected from its player base and doesn’t know what players are looking for in their WoW experience.

“This would be find in a vacuum, but it’s not,” Asmon said. “It’s in the context of them doing as much as they can to … muddy the waters and make it harder for people to sim in their game. Blizzard has identified simming and theorycrafting in the game as a problem.”

Asmon added that while Blizzed might believe RNG will solve a “problem” it sees, the problem it is solving isn’t one that players have. In fact, based on recent issues with things like “corruption,” it appears as though, less randomness in output would be seen as a positive for most players.

In a post to their forums, Blizzard tried to make the upcoming beta build changes seem less impactful than Asmon seems to believe it will be, but due largely to recent history, he is wary of what the word “variance” could lead to.

“This was standard behavior in WoW for many years (and has its roots in familiar mechanics from many RPGs), but recently was lost as a side effect of some under-the-hood mechanical changes. We’re restoring this behavior now to bring back the small bit of texture, and avoid the result where using the same spell repeatedly results in exactly the same 3- or 4-digit number every time,” Blizzard’s post said. “We’re keeping the amount of variance small (5% currently), so that the impact on total performance, over the course of a combat with many events, is negligible.”

Even if Blizzard is truly returning WoW to a state that it was in for many years, its reintroduction doesn’t seem like it will come without at least some degree of kicking and screaming.

During his soliloquy earlier today, Asmon noted that Blizzard adding “corruption” stemmed from the developer’s belief that players were too tied to the idea that “item level” was important. 

“They solved the problem of item level,” Asmon said. “But they made the game worse in the process. … They identify problems that they perceive because they are game developers, and the player base identifies problems that they perceive because they are players. There is a problem at meeting in the middle and understanding what the players want. This is a situation of, in a way, the customer is always right.”

Though Asmon continued to say that any particular individual customer’s opinions aren’t “always right,” but instead, the majority opinion of the people actively playing the game is something that needs to be responded to by Blizzard.

In its post to the forums, Blizzard did not identify when it intended to make these changes nor did the developer say the changes would make it into the expansion’s final product.

Based on the strong response by Asmongold, who regularly speaks as a voice of the player base at large, it wouldn’t be surprising if Blizzard was more careful moving forward with introducing, or even re-introducing, randomness in WoW