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Dragonflight Preservation Evoker Hands-On Impressions and Analysis

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While it's very early in Dragonflight Alpha's lifespan, we have an in-depth first impressions article to present, as our Holy Paladin guide writer, Team Liquid's Myth, has taken on the Evoker healing spec! It's a big one, so without further ado, let's get started!


With the recent release of the Dragonflight Alpha we have gained access to the new healer specialization, Preservation Evoker. While it is extremely early in the development cycle and much of what we have access to now could change, there are some clear strengths and weaknesses to the class. While I will mostly be talking about some of the downsides in the article, as those are the areas I feel Blizzard should focus on and our feedback should point out, let me start of by saying that the class is extremely fun to play. With some of the best animations in the game, a very powerful and fun feel to the playstyle it is a great addition to both healers and the game in general.

Empowered Abilities

In order to get the best understanding of how the class plays, I believe we should first understand some of the flaws of the current design - without a doubt the largest being the extremely long cast times for Empowered abilities.

Breath1.png

While each level of a spell has different cast times, the longer you cast the stronger the spell is, which means that you will almost always want to channel an empowered spell to reach its max empowerment rank. Rank 3 is the default max rank and takes 2.5 seconds to cast, and if you were to talent into Font of Magic, this would increase the max rank to 4 and the cast time to 3.3 seconds. Even at 2.5 seconds, these casts would be among the longest ones existing in the game and will have the class feeling quite slow compared to others, simply based on how many abilities are pressed per minute.

Breath3.png

When you consider that you will be casting Dream Breath every 15-20 seconds and Spiritbloom every 30 seconds, this can definitely contribute to a slow feeling. In some cases, casts like these aren’t practical as not many raid encounters and Mythic+ pulls will allow for a player to stand still for over 2.5 seconds to finish a cast.

Bloom.png

Even when you are able to get the casts off, you may have had to cancel the cast once or twice to now be in the position to finish it. The easiest solution to make these casts less risky and dangerous, as well as increasing the pace of the class, would be to make the abilities scale with haste, meaning that the more haste you had, the faster the abilities would cast, making them easier to cast and causing the playstyle to be a bit quicker. It is important to keep in mind that despite the fact that Empowered casts aren't reduced by haste, this is a likely area that Blizzard would look at to make changes in the Evoker kit. The class has only been testable publicly for 24 hours, so many areas of the class are likely to be changed as feedback is given (which is exactly the point of this article).

Breath 4.png

While these casts may feel slow and clunky at times, you can definitely feel the power behind them. Each time you cast Dream Breath and Spirit Bloom, they feel strong and powerful to cast and the current number tuning also backs this up. These abilities are exceptionally strong compared to other areas of the kit, making them feel worth it to cast and also adding a bit more of an immersive feel when you begin to channel an extremely long spell and it ends up healing for a very high amount.
 

Range

Another likely issue with the Preservation class will be its range. In previous interviews Blizzard has talked about how the class will be a mid-range class, somewhere in between ranged and melee, and this has led to Evoker having 25 yard range on all abilities. In many instances this might be fine to deal with and you may encounter zero problems healing all your allies with your abilities.

Breath2.png

However, fights like Halondrus do exist where the entire raid is extremely widespread. Even healers with a full 40 yard range are unable to reach the full raid. Having a 25 yard range would make Evoker nearly unplayable, as even though they may be able to reach some party members to get their abilities off, there will be a portion of the raid who remains outside the Evoker healing range, putting them significantly more at risk due to having one less healer in their range.

Problems like this are rare and may end up not being a long-term issue if Blizzard designs fights in a way to better suit a mid-range playstyle, but they still exist and this should be a concern. You never want to run into a situation where your class is simply unplayable because the range of your spells is too low. Shaman has suffered in the past due to raids being too spread, and Evoker will suffer similarly if fight design calls for huge spreading.

 

Single Target Healing

The final complaint/piece of feedback with preservation Evokers comes in terms of their single target healing ability. One of the biggest issues with the current Holy Paladin playstyle is that despite having both a single-target and AoE holy power spender in Word of Glory Word of Glory and Light of Dawn Light of Dawn, in a raid setting you are using Light of Dawn 90% of the time because it does more total healing. While both types of healing are useful, you are forced to choose between one or the other. Preservation Evoker has now implemented a similar system with you having to choose between casting your AoE ability in Emerald Blossom or your single-target heal in Echo.

Emerald2.png

In almost every scenario it will be better to press Emerald Blossom. Having two abilities that cost the same resource but are wildly different in power can feel quite bad at times. In Mythic+ and PvP the class will have no issues as Echo will be extremely strong in those settings, where it will function similar to Renewing Mist Renewing Mist, allowing multiple targets to be healed at once with a single-target heal.

But in raids, Echo will likely fall behind Emerald Blossom, resulting in a huge difference in how much each ability is used. In order to prevent issues similar to Holy Paladin, having Echo on another resource or adding another powerful way to do single target-healing (maybe an empowered single-target heal) could help to reduce the problem. It isn't very fun to have abilities that are almost never used, especially ones that are meant to be powerful.

Echo.png

The class doesn't have an overly large problem with its single target abilities as Living Flame, Reversion and Rescue can get the job done quite well. Reversion being a powerful HoT and Rescue a quick instant heal on an ally in danger (even if it does cause you to leap to them). Living Flame is a spammable button that has great interactions with some talents such as Essence Burst, giving Living Flame a 20% chance to make the next essence free.

These three abilities are all quite strong and play well into the kit. The sole issue with the single-target healing comes from having to choose between a very strong AoE heal that will likely have many talents increasing its ability and a single target  heal that is not nearly as impactful in a raid setting. Having Echo on a separate resource or a different ability entirely would remove you from having to make that sacrifice, and instead allow you to simply choose the best type of healing needed in a situation. It wouldn't feel bad to cast a single target heal and lose overall healing, and it would encourage healthy gameplay and healing people who are truly in danger rather than spamming as many AoE heals as possible.
 

Utility and Mobility

Flight2.png
Dream Flight

One of the largest deciders as to which class to bring to raid or Mythic+ has always been utility. Evoker has some of the best utility out of any class. They provide multiple raid buffs in the form of Time Spiral, Zephyr , and Rewind. Time Spiral will help your allies gain their movement speed cooldowns back faster. Zephyr can help some of the classes with weaker defensive cooldowns. And finally Rewind will be exceptionally helpful in keeping party members alive during very high damage windows.

rewind.png
Rewind

spiral.png
Time Spiral

Outside of these major cooldowns, Evoker has solid damage abilities that can flow naturally into the class's rotation, allowing preservation to do decent damage while still outputting good healing.

Deepbreath2.png
Deep Breath

Firebreath2.png
Fire Breath

Living Flame is a core rotation spell that contributes to both healing and damage. Many fun movement abilities such as Glide, Leap of Faith, and Wildcharge have made it into the Evoker class, allowing its mobility to rival the most mobile healers. In terms of utility, Evoker has received enough to rival the best healer specializations and will help it to insert itself into the raiding, Mythic+, and PvP meta immediately.

Communion.png
Emerald Communion

While the class may have some large flaws, many of them are likely to be ironed out before the expansion launches. At its core, the class has a very unique playstyle that could help players who may feel bored of current healers. It has extremely powerful and fun abilities, it is incredibly mobile, it has the cooldowns necessary to make it viable at every level of play, and it flows nicely despite long cast times. Regardless of your initial feelings, the class is definitely worth giving a shot once it hits retail.

Anomaly.png
Temporal Anomaly

Conclusion

To reiterate, despite these issues, some of which may likely be fixed by the time Dragonflight hits live servers, the class still remains incredibly fun to play. It has some of the best spell animations in the game, it feels incredibly powerful to play, and has many fun abilities such as gliding from DH, leap of faith from priest, and wildcharge from druid. Its core abilities may take a long time to cast but they feel incredibly strong and impactful, making the long cast feel worth it.

DeepBreath.png
 

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