Okay, so yes. GCD, there's a lot of parts to this, we've talked a bit about it on the forums when the change was first rolled out and has been discussed extensively internally since then.
First off, broad philosophy, comments that are probably not at all getting to the heart of this, but sorry. Why would we ever make a change that people don't like, why would we ever make a change that doesn't feel good? I think the first post that I made when the first changes were rolled out in Alpha said something to the effect of we know that the initial reaction to this change is going to be negative, we made the change expecting that, why would we ever do that as game designers? At the end of the day, of course we want good feedback, we want everyone to have fun, to enjoy the game, to feel good about playing it. That's why we do what we do, to create fun experiences for everyone around the world. It's with an eye towards the long term health of the game in a lot of ways. There are short term changes that we can make, there are things that can be done to the game that feel good but cause imperceptible harm in other areas. And taking those things away is always going to feel objectively bad in the short term.
Random example, years and years ago back in Cataclysm, in capital cities, there were portals to every zone around the world and guilds had a guild summon spell that could also summon you right to the entrance of any raid zone. One or two people from your guild had to go to the zone at the start, they could just push a button, everyone got ported there instantly and a lot of the time, players just log in, you're in Orgrimmar or Stormwind, you get ported to your raid, you finish raiding, you log off for the night or if you wanted to go out in the world and do something, you just port to the zone you're going to. Those are all conveniences certainly. Taking those away, there was a lot of negative backlash and a lot of feedback on the removal of guild summons or things that made travel less convenient but that also led to a sense of the world feeling so much smaller of.. just this sense of I'm actually not really in this connected MMO anymore, I'm just porting around. And that's not a direct 1-to-1 example, it's just the first thing that came to mind but there are times where we see broader negative effects from a set of changes and we know we need to pull back some seemingly quality of life improvements with that long term goal in mind. And so that's one of the things that's interesting and challenging when we approach feedback on that change, because we know it's going to be negative in the short term. We are expecting that the initial reaction of course if on live you're used to hitting your cooldown macro and then instantly hitting a damage ability and having that go off, there's that jarring moment of like, I did the muscle memory that I have and the expected result didn't happen and this feels bad, this feels broken, this feels worse and that's going to take some time to overcome regardless.
That said, that doesn't mean well we made this change expecting negative feedback so we're going to ignore negative feedback and there's nothing that you can do to influence us and well too bad, you just have to deal with it. We're already making a couple of change to things that have gone out in the beta. I think, in one of the upcoming builds, players will see abilities like Heroic Leap and Infernal Strike back off the GCD, Disengage for Hunters as well. We've made some changes to abilities like Fury Warrior Bloodbath to give it some upfront damage component so it actually feels like it's doing something instead of just a button that is empowering your future actions and we're looking to make other changes to class abilities along the way.
So moving on to Part 2, the first part of the change we made was all about offensive cooldowns and I think there that was mainly aimed at two purposes. One was, from an overall class balance perspective, across all facets of the game, trying to pull back a bit of the importance and power of multiple stacked cooldowns. Especially in a world where you can talent into new ones, it was just a no-brainer choice, they multiplicatively scaled with each other and the damage that you did during your cooldown window was so dominant compared to what you were doing the entire rest of the time, that had some negative consequences. In PvP, whether that may be, you blow somebody up and we have to tune around the worst case burst potential which then means that when you don't have your cooldowns up, you feel utterly ineffectual and you're just kinda biding your time playing defensively, stalling until your cooldowns come back up again and it feels like what's the point in even hitting your abilities or trying to apply pressure when cooldowns aren't there. But in raiding and dungeons, elsewhere as well, you know, ask any number of DPS players who pop all their cooldowns, then get targeted by a random boss ability that disrupts their rotation and takes them out of the game, that is super frustrating because you realize that if you're somebody who cares about good performance, you want to beat your own best mark from last week, your parse is completely shot if you lost your potential from your cooldown window and there's nothing you can do for the next several minutes of the encounter to make up for the fact that this 8 second window got disrupted. That's also a problem and there's also not much extra gameplay coming it from when you talented into one of new abilities, you weren't modifying your playstyle in a meaningful way for the most part, you were potentially just adding an extra line to a burst macro that you already had on your bar, you are pushing the keybind you were before you got that talent just having it have greater effect. So that was one of the big reasons why we started by focusing on those offensive cooldowns.
Now, that said, that's just a start. This isn't a change that we see ourselves making and then just walking away from and leaving the classes intact and shipping in the state that they're in. There's further modification that has to be done in light of this. And that's why we wanted to get it out there early and the best feedback we're getting and the most useful stuff to keep talking about is not "revert this stupid change, I hate it, it sucks," it's "these things about my spec feel really bad right now, this feels awkward." We've all seen, I've seen many many times the fury warrior gif of "cooldown, cooldown, cooldown, cooldown", this is Fury Warrior playstyle in BFA. Of course we don't think that's good, none of us are sitting around saying "oh yeah that's totally fine, mission accomplished, that's what we were trying to create". The problem there partly is that Fury Warriors had too many offensive burst cooldowns that did nothing but empower their future actions and the fact that you could combine all of them into a single Swifty macro wasn't... yeah that was making the problem not actually really a solution there. Some of the changes I talked about with Bloodbath already are things we're looking at, we have some other changes to Avatar that will be coming out in the near future and then more broadly... Fury is something that is still very much on our radar. In the class update that was posted the other day, we mentioned a few other specs that were specifically and clearly... missing holes in their talent tree, coming soon talents, those specs obviously have further work, but all specs still have rotational adjustments that are on the table and that's the feedback that we're looking at, that's the sort of things we're talking about when we say we're curious to hear what feels awkward, what feels frustrating, what feels uncomfortable to use as you're playing your class, as you're playing your spec in the BFA beta. And then, tuning and pure numbers will come a bit further down, that's kinda the last stage of the process. Anyways, that's where we're at on cooldowns offensive burst stuff.
Second category of things that we changed were some utility buttons and some movement buttons. This really comes down to a question of what sort of game World of Wacraft is and contrary to some of the talk we've heard, things we've seen said, no we're not trying to slow the game down further overall. WoW is ultimately a fast paced game especially on the class you're playing, spriest, rogue, feral druid, whatever, you are hitting 50, 60 buttons a minute if not more, not counting movement, not counting other things that you're doing. Obviously, if you have longer cast time spells, your number of actions is going to be lower but we see WoW as a series of rapid fire decisions. I think skill in WoW gameplay are about evaluating the circumstances around you and figuring out what you're going to do with the next few seconds and you have a second and second and a half to commit to your next action over and over again and the difference between a good player and a less-skilled player is just the rapidity of which you make those decisions, your instincts, your intuitions about what the right call is and the more things that are off the GCD... and the GCD is what kinda sets that pace for the whole game. The more things that are off the GCD, the more they either remove potential decision making because instead of choose whether to do A or B, you are now just doing A and B and a decision point was gone or we're making skill more about twitch reactions and those are things that are more subject to latency, internet connection and that sort of thing and that's not... well WoW is a fast-paced active game, it's not an arcade twitch reaction type game. That's not what skill in World of Warcraft was set up to be.
To use a random example, pretend you're a dungeon healer, a resto druid healing a dungeon and your tank is super low on health, critically injured at 10% health, might die at any moment. You yourself are at 40 or 50% health, not critically low but definitely pretty badly injured and suddenly the boss you're fighting or trash mob drop a patch of fire under your feet. Now you have a decision to make. You need to heal your tank because they are on the verge of death, but you are also injured and standing in fire. What do you do? There are a few options here and pretend Swiftmend is on cooldown. So, you either winding up a Regrowth to cast on the tank, quick cast time heal but then you're standing in fire, immobile, potentially dying in the process as you try to get that heal off. One option. Maybe you start moving out of the fire immediately and throw a Rejuv on the tank, to do something at least to tie them over a little bit until you can actually get some proper healing on them once you are out of the fire yourself. Maybe you Wild Charge out, instantly getting out of the fire and then do something after whether it's a Regrowth or an instant cast time heal. But if you do that, you're safe for sure there's now way you're going to die, but now your tank isn't getting any healing. In a world where all those abilities are all on the Global Cooldown, that's a semi interesting decision space. That's literally one second of time, that kind of thing happens in World of Warcraft over and over and over again and one of the differences between a good experienced player and a less skilled player is just the intuition and the instinct to make the right call based on your read of the situation, based on exactly what health they're at, knowledge of the encounter, whether you or the tank is going to take any further damage in the next few seconds and so on and so forth. Your better player will probably make the right read more often but in a world where Wild Charge is completely off the Global Cooldown, there's actually a strictly superior option, you just do both. You both blink out and simultaneously begin casting your best heal on the tank and in that world, the difference between two players in terms of skill is more a question of reaction time of did it take you two tenths of a second or three tenths of a second to realize that you needed to move and hit those two buttons, internet connection and other stuff notwithstanding. Is that what WoW should be about or should it be about making decisions and planning your actions in a one to two section timeframe? So that's sort of the broader philosophies that are motivating this.
That said, all of these things are still under evaluation, still under discussion. We're not really looking... I can't think of any other abilities that we're still discussed that might be put back on the Global Cooldown at this point, we think we've gone as far as we're going to and there are some that we are taking back off like Heroic Leap and Infernal Strike. Particularly there because reticle targeted abilities, there's a certain level of awkwardness where you try to use the ability, it fails because you were still on cooldown, then you need to re-aim or replace your reticle, that feels bad. On the Hunter side, there most classes in the game have to choose ranged classes have to choose between movement and damage. One of the quirks and perks of Hunters is they can do both simultaneously so there's something distinctive about being able to Disengage out and fire off a shot mid air just after you've done that and that's something that's valuable to preserve. Reestablishing the Global Cooldown as a baseline also means that there's room to break those rules where it makes sense and to add different flavor and differentiation between classes and specs. Things like Charge or Dash, those are on the Global Cooldown even if it's a shorter one whereas a Rogue who Shadowsteps can do so instantly with no GCD because that's part of like the ninja-like flash movements of the Sub Rogue and so that makes Shadowstep even more special than it would have otherwise been in a world where everyone has these instant abilities.