It’s one of those things that seems unavoidable; when I played Star Wars: The Old Republic (SW:TOR) beta, the first thing I rolled was a Sith Sorceror. Guess you can’t deny your true nature – and now that the game’s out, my Sith Sorceror is almost level 50, so time to do some comparisons on playstyle between it and my favorite pastime: the Shadowpriest.
Look and feel
The theme of the Sith code is very strong, and is represented in everything a Sorceror does. Dark sided social options, quests that promise *unlimited powerrrr* and Lightning as primary source of damage. Every second of play, every encounter with NPCs, underlines that you are dangerous and unpredictable, demanding of respect. It’s really well done, and mirrors my earlier post about class design: a strong theme, a strong feel makes half a class.
I am currently playing a hybrid between the Lightning and Madness trees, but you could go for more Madness (more DoTs) or fully into Lightning (more Direct Damage). Strong points of the Sorceror are their mix of healing and damage (even the healers deal damage to keep their Force regeneration up), ability to shield allies and their good CC. Whirlwind allows you to keep an opponent out of the fight indefinitely, and you can talent it for a reduced cooldown or CC’ing more than one mob at a time.
Damage-wise, there’s a lot of synergy in talents. Lightning Strike (Say, Shadowbolt) ups your Force Regeneration. Affliction (SW:P) makes your Force Lightning tick faster. Thundering Blast crits automatically on targets with Affliction on it and feels a lot like Mind Blast currently is. Force Lightning is a dead ringer for Mind Flay – it even has the Slowing component. All in all, people who play Shadowpriests will find that the Sorceror is a wealth of rediscovery.
When playing solo, the Sorceror plays a bit like a Warlock, using your companion Khem Val as a tank and healing him while you blast opponents to pieces. This is quite challenging to do, because Khem Val is not so bright and has a lot of AoE, breaking your careful CC. You can turn off his AoE abilities (he has a full pet bar) but to be honest it seems to spring back one every time (most likely a bug).
You have a lot of short-term control (as do most classes). You can Interrupt, you have a Stun (Electrocute) but even your Shock will stun weaker targets. If you are swarmed, you can knock your foes back. All in all, an enormous toolbox of abilities. Like the classic Shadowpriest, you also have quite some healing power – and be expected to use it. A Flashpoint can be healed even without a healing spec, but it will be a challenge. More to the point, you will get a lot of healing practice keeping your companions up on some of the more challenging class quests.
The flipside of the Sorceror (the Assassin) is my girlfriend’s weapon of choice – a combination of Death Knight, Rogue and (TBC-style) Tankadin. All in all ironic since her main’s been a Paladin since TBC, and she instantly recognized the playstyle from way back when. In fact, a lot of the feel of the classes and abilities are reminiscent of TBC-era World of Warcraft. And here too, a tank/healer combo is the bomb. Between the two of us, 4-man quests are relatively easy because we carry healing power, enough CC to control 2-3 targets and 2 additional companions.
Mind you that you will need it – this game is definitely more challenging than WoW. Mobs will need CC, positioning is important and the game does not pull punches in your class quests. Adapt or die, seems to be the buzz word.
For players of a Shadowpriest, the Sorceror feels like the Shadowpriest should: dark, powerful, commanding respect. There’s a lot of support for your group, and a lot of ways to screw over your enemies. The only complaint would be that you have too much to do, and are fighting bar space to fit it all in.
For Blizzard, I’d recommend a similar treatment for the Shadowpriest – don’t be afraid of the CC (we lack it anyway), the stuns/control (smart players need a challenge, on either side of the fence) and damage potential. In the end, the feeling of the class determines its popularity.