Now that RMT promoter Tobold has returned (kidding), he linked some good blog posts about the upcoming Deathknight class, and what could possibly be done to implement them correctly without pissing off other classes, particularly warriors. All good reads, so head over and check them out.
My comment on the issue goes a little broader than talking about any one single class or skill tree. The main issue with WoW currently is that Blizzard is taking a PvE game and attempting to morph it into an e-sport PvP game. Warriors in a PvE setting were fine, as they were the optimal tank selection for raiding and the tougher 5 man stuff pre-BC. The reason this worked is that unless you went hardcore PvP and grinded out a high rank, all the best gear was only available though PvE. TBC changed all this, making top tier stuff available through PvP. Now anyone could solo their way into full epics without the need to join a guild or run any group content. Solo classes benefited most from this, while group dependent classes suffered; hence the abundance of hunters and warlocks and the shortage of tanks and healers.
As difficult as it is to balance PvP, it becomes impossible when you also have to consider PvE into that balance. The most successfully balanced PvP games (DAoC pre-ToA, EVE) succeeded more than most due in part to somewhat ignoring PvE balance. If PvP is your main focus, being overpowered compared to NPCs is a small price to pay. The NPC will never make a forum post complaining they are underpowered; they will happily respawn and get owned again and again. Blizzard continues to enrage both sides of their community by attempting to balance both PvP and PvE at the same time, and complicating the formula with a new class and more abilities won’t help.
Most curious to me is why Blizzard feels the need to pursue a PvP focus. They have clearly shown that they can craft a masterful PvE experience, and through that mastery gain 10 million customers. Do they sense the next ‘big thing’ is PvP, and feel that if they don’t adapt now they will get left behind when AoC and WAR hit stores? Are they switching up WoW now in preparation of a PvE-heavy World of Starcraft? It’s a very risky gamble to think they will retain more players based on WoW e-PvP than they would if they continued to cater to their core base, the casual PvE crowd.
Luckily for all MMO fans, should WoW turn into the looming disaster that is e-PvP, we have some promising looking options coming out shortly, ones that will hopefully cater to everyone disillusioned by Blizzards new direction. Does Blizzard have some big surprise coming that will make sense of this new direction, or has WoW simply run its course and is being prepared for the MMO cash cow pastures?