That all said, I think it’s clear that enough people enjoy Drain Soul’s feel, thematics, mechanics, or visuals that it was worth keeping around. Drain Soul will return as a talent (in the currently empty lvl 90 slot), that replaces Shadow Bolt as your filler. It will deal bonus damage against targets below 20% health and generates a Soul Shard if the target dies while you’re draining it. It didn’t seem right to have all 3 of Shadow Bolt, Drain Life, and Drain Soul simultaneously, as Drain Soul overlap with both of the other ones a bit, so that’s one of the reasons why it replaces Shadow Bolt.
This has been the second of the two biggest Affliction debates internally: How should Affliction interact with the Soul Shard as a DPS resource mechanic (if at all), and how exactly should Unstable Afflictions be cast and work. I’ll again say that we went into 8.0 development thinking we were going to go back to Unstable Affliction having no cooldown, but being Limit 1 per target (as essentially all other DoTs are), and Soul Shards doing something entirely different from being a resource to spend Unstable Affliction/Seed of Corruption with.
When we started to go down that road, we got some difficult to ignore feedback that Unstable Affliction being able to stack up multiple times on the same target was good uniqueness and flexibility, and that flexibility provided power in a way that was special to Affliction. For much of the spec’s history, it wasn’t good at burst damage or single-target damage, and being able to stack up to 5 Unstable Afflictions on the same target was actually a decent way to fix that. You get more Soul Shards with more targets through Agony, but instead of covering all targets with a no-cooldown no-cost UA,
Additionally, with Unstable Affliction now having the Contagion effect baked in (You deal 10% increased damage to targets with Unstable Affliction), the natural and intended way to play is to maintain Unstable Affliction at 100% uptime on 1 target, but still giving you the flexibility of saving up multiple Soul Shards and putting out some focused burst damage into a single target, which Affliction for a long time couldn’t do as well.
We haven’t been focusing too much on damage tuning, especially tuning of spell vs. other spells on the same spec, since that usually comes later, after design changes have been more solidified. However, looking at our data, Unstable Affliction damage seems to have fallen off a bit on single-target, so I’ve given it a 25% bump up. In general, we don’t want to be spending too much time tuning things like this (unless something is way out of band) while it’s still early enough to be making design changes/improvements, but this is still great feedback to receive.
Note: Agony’s Soul Shard generation rate has been increased by 15% in a single-target situation compared to Legion (not sure this has been mentioned anywhere), and that the spec is intended to be able to maintain Unstable Affliction in a single-target situation with 100% uptime.
The idea with Deathbolt is that you could have your usual DoTs rolling/at high duration on the target, load up on a few UAs, then payoff with a high amount of burst damage with Deathbolt. We realize in practice this doesn’t work as well with targets that don’t live a long time. The more concerning feedback is that Deathbolt isn’t satisfying because it doesn’t feel like you fully maximized it, because by nature of having to refresh one DoT, you’re letting another DoT tick down its duration unsure if this is psychology players will overcome or not. Another concern is that you don’t know how much damage Deathbolt will do because its tooltip doesn’t tell you. The thinking there was after casting it a few times, you’d get a feel for its damage potential.
We’re going to try Deathbolt being Instant Cast with less % damage (as its damage was accounting for its 2-sec cast time), and keep an eye on this talent moving forward.
I wanted to point out that Deathbolt calculates its damage at time of cast, not time of its missile landing. This was to be nice to the player and not penalize for travel times of its missile equating to damage lost from DoTs ticking down, and necessitating standing at point blank range. Thinking about that more, we can probably make its damage calculate at time of missile cast and at time of missile land, and take the greater of the two, so if you go to refresh a DoT after casting Deathbolt, you don’t miss out either way. Also, Deathbolt synergizes with the new Summon Darkglare baseline ultimate quite a bit.
Anyways, Summon Darkglare will be the spec’s new baseline ultimate:
3 min cooldown, costs 1 Soul Shard
Summons a Darkglare from the Twisting Nether that extends the duration of your damage over time effects on all enemies [within 60 yds, not tooltipped] by 8 sec. The Darkglare will serve you for 20 sec, blasting its target for Shadow damage, increased by 10% for every damage over time effect you have active on any target.
Some additional things to come along with some mentioned above:
Dark Soul: Misery is coming back as a talent (similar to Destruction’s Dark Soul talent), granting 30% haste for 20 sec n a 2 min cooldown
New 15-sec cooldown Soul Shard spender AOE damage talent that also snares, replacing Soul Harvest