We’ve recently been having some long discussions that essentially started as, “OMG Dungeons and Dragons 4th Ed. is just WoW!!!11!” I was very surprised when I was reading the 4th Ed. preview books I saw an acknowledgement of the influences of recent games like World of Warcraft on the tabletop genre. Dave’s number one response to any complaints about this is that good design elements help games, no matter where they’re taken from. What you have to remember is that WoW definitely isn’t the first MMO game, it definitely did not invent much of the aspects it uses, and the entire genre of MMO games were invented based on ideas presented in MUDs and before that games like D&D.
What I’d like to do now is look at many of the elements which are causing people to think that 4th Edition is just ripping off of WoW, what they will add to the game, and how they existed even before MMO’s started using them.
- Identified Class Roles: Including in the basic rules suggestions that a party include classes which fill basic requirements – Defender, Striker, Controller, and Leader. This existed in 3rd Edition, it was simply an implicit factor of the game design and now they are improving the mechanics by including it. You can’t tell me that Challenge Ratings were set up to be balanced for fighting a group of 4 Wizards.
- Tieflings essentially look like Dranei: The Tiefling race has had their devil-like features exaggerated.Tieflings are half-devil humanoids with horns, tails, etc. Dranei are half-demon humanoids with horns, tails, etc. Who ripped off of who now?
- Talent Trees: Classes will have the equivalent of talent trees in addition to feats, etc. D20 Modern and Exalted used Talent Trees before WoW ever came out, but also Diablo used them even before WoW and Blizzard simply re-used a good mechanic. Not to mention the fact that 3rd Edition Feats relied heavily upon the same concept, it was again just implied instead of featured. Good mechanics ARE good mechanics, there’s not much escaping that.
- Racial Feats: Whether you pick Human, Eladrin, or Tiefling there are now racial feats that open up as a character levels which provide unique and racially significant abilities.I suppose a lot of the players complaining about this just love the fact that their 20th level Dwarf can be exactly the same as their 20th level Elf except for a few immunities and vision differences. Dragonborn can gain wings or a breath weapon as they level, humans gain increased versatility, dwarves gain toughness and resistances, and Elves gain speed and agility as they level. These options make the selection of race a bit more interesting, and thus improves character creation and adds to interesting choices throughout gameplay.
- Warlock as a base class: An evil-inclined spell casting class that uses curses, hexes, and high damaging abilities.Clearly WoW invented this concept fresh from their braintrust also. Consider the Sorcerer class was included in the base books for 3rd Edition and essentially stopped most people from ever thinking about playing a Wizard again, I’d say the inclusion of the Warlock is a natural way to include another spellcaster who can fill the damage dealing quota (assuming you lack a Rogue in your party) but also has aspects of the Controller (if you lack a Wizard). It also provides a choice that grants access to different spells and abilities instead of just being a Wizard-redux.
- Fighter as a “tank class”: The Fighter class is now officially in the ‘Defender’ role, with abilities that hinder monster movements and encourage them to attack the warrior (essentially taunt abilities).Yea, because Fighters in any other version of D&D had the same number of hitpoints and the same AC as every other character, and thus were expected to be attacked the same amount as the Wizards and Druids. Also a shock that they’ve now decided to give Fighters skills and abilities which now make them BETTER at doing what they’ve been doing the whole time. The designers have gone out of their way to say that if you want to create a Fighter who does not defend at all and attacks a lot you’re more than welcome, but when the rest of the party is dead you’ll be having quite a lot of fun just playing with yourself.
- “On Hit” effects: Now many weapons and classes (such as Warlord) have abilities and effects that activity on a successful hit.I see no way this can do anything but add to the game of D&D, there is always a huge let down when you’re rolling tons of dice in a combat and when you finally do hit you roll a ’1′. On hit effects simply make combat more dynamic and make the entire act of rolling dice to hit more interesting. As far as the Warlord, many of his class abilities will be activated on successful hits which not only encourages them to get into combat, but provides the player with various choices once they have hit their target – adding a strong level of interesting tactics to what could otherwise be a boring hack and slash melee. If the only reason you don’t like this mechanic is because it is “stolen from WoW”, then you probably shouldn’t like WoW or anything else that’s been created in the last 10 years.
Many people have been very vocal about the fact that Wizards seems to be simply ripping ideas off from World of Warcraft,many going as far as saying there’s no reason to play D&D in favor of games like WoW. If the ripping off is a factor, than stop playing WoW right now because it is just a bastardized hybrid-spawn of Diablo and Everquest. When someone says that WoW accomplishes everything that D&D does, I just have to laugh thinking about them farming trash mobs for uncommon drops, running the same instance 30 times hoping to get one piece of equipment that will be useless come next expansion, or playing boring as broken rounds of Alterac Valley time and time again to get enough honor to purchase a piece of epic equipment that will ALSO be obsolete in a few months time. Not to mention the fact that the epic quest line they’ve just completed must feel super relevant when the unique monsters they killed repop after 30 seconds, or maybe the quest line is even awesome enough to drop off without any real end in the anticipation of a coming expansion sometime in the next year.
Let’s not forget how expensive D&D is, considering the base books will cost around $100 total and last you for anywhere between 4 and 8 years. How much does a year of World of Warcraft cost? Oh, right…$144 at its cheapest. Per year. Super good!
Next week we’ll discuss the aspects of 4th Edition that have already been announced which will make it a better game than 3rd Edition, oh and let’s not forget better than WoW.