Wrapping up them wild things – Class Challenge Three – Druids

So the druid challenge has come to an end. Of all the three class challenges I think the bard is still my favorite but the druids had a lot of fun times to offer and in similar fashion to the necromancer they had a solid solo option. Unlike most of the necromancers they were welcome in groups either as a support, dps or healer. In World of warcraft you even get the option to play a big fluffy bear tank!

Of all the three classes so far Druids come in number one for flexibility in games.

So the games, the ratings and the ramblings:

As always ill rate the game on the following:

a. Feel of the class – how true its it to the general tropes of the class

b. Easy of play – intuitive for someone who hates reading instructions

c. Type of play – solo friendly, group based, tough support class etc

d. Fun – is it fun to play

e. Its place in its world – does the class interact in a special way with the world, is it shunned, revered, killed on sight or have a special club it gets to hang out in.

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DC Universe

a. Feel of the class

For a super hero game DCUO gives a nice option to make a nature based character. Its not really a druid but hey it was close enough and its always fun to throw in a few games that I dont play often.

The druid gains core powers slowly so that by the time I had finished my rambling through DCUO I had two skills: A range vine that pulled a creature towards you and di some damage and a healing spell.

Combined with the basic staff melee attack it was fun to pull a enemy with the vines – like  a leafy death grip for those of you who have played World of Warcrafts Deathknight.  The character felt like a super hero first and a druid second. The ability to fly around and beat on evil apes perhaps causing part of this feeling.

b. Easy of play

The controllers on mouse/keyboard do take a little longer to get use to but on the whole the game flows well. Combat is a little clunky, it can be hard to tell when you are actually in melee range of a foe. There in game tutorial does an ok job of giving you the very basics of the game but some form of template builds like rift has for the talents/skills would have been great.

c. Type of play

The druid has a dps branch and a healing branch. I went healing and was able to solo without any problems. Your primary attacks are not based on your class but the weapon you use.  I did not get to do much grouping and when I did it was for questing and healing was never required.

d. Fun 

It was fun to get into a non fantasy game and my son who is four absolutely loved it. He actually kidnapped my character and flew all over the place with it. He also insisted we make Waterman and Larvawoman for him to play. As it is a free to play game the community is a bit hit and miss – it was full of general spam and offers to buy currency for real money.

e. Its place in its world

Being a nature talent super hero had no impact on the general games story – it focuses on the superhero aspect rather than the details of who you are.

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Everquest 1

Everquest has been celebrating its 15 year anniversary – many happy returns to it!

It also released a instant boost to 85 for characters which I took advantage off. I was very tempting to boost a druid and perhaps I should have. But instead I went with a necromancer and cleric.

The druid I continued playing through the tutorial and although I did not finish it I reached a lot further than I did with necro or bard.

a. Feel of the class

With most classes in Everquest the druid is true to the basic D&D class it is inspired by. The druid has a selection of nature based damaging spells, debuffs and entangling snares to throw on enemies and a reasonable selection of healing power to back it up and keep my mercenary alive during a fight. The druid in Everquest1 is a spell caster – it has low melee surviablity and needs to dot, root, snare and direct damage behind a mercenary to level.  Like any of the snare classes it can snare kite.

One unique and slightly annoying aspects of the druid is that a section of their spells are only usable outdoors. This is very druid like but I can see it being frustrating if you actually wanted to group up in a dungeon. There could have been talent choices in the vast alternative advancement trees that modified this but in the beginning this is definitely an issue.

b. Easy of play

Its actually easy to play the druid at the lower levels. This might be because I have been playing a lot more of Everquest1 so the old style of game play is starting to make more sense to me. The class has a good solo skills outside of melee range. You can root a mob and flee more often than not.

c. Type of play

The druid solos very well and duo with a mercenary tank(npc follower) is very good at questing at the lower levels. I did not boost it so I cannot say how it is at the higher levels but the general chatter was that druids were a bit of a solo class and not particularly welcome in groups when a cleric, shaman or bard were available.

d. Fun

I really enjoyed the druid. It was a little slow at the start but once I had enough cash to purchase a few more spells the class felt strong, independent and fun.

e. Its place in its world

Druids seemed to be treated like every other class in the game. Although there are some quests around being a druid and you do get the ability to teleport to druid rings which is very cool. The flavor of spells are all very nature themed which means that solo you are going to be out in the wilderness killing animals for the most part which I guess is druid like – keep the balance of those wolves etc.

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Everquest 2

a. Feel of the class

I had a play with both druids, the fury and the warden and they were both great classes. They are both solid healers with the fury being great at adding a little more dps than the warden and the warden being a little more of a healer. Not enough that you would always pick one over the other however.

The warden has melee attacks and a couple of attack spells coupled with healing over time, aoe emergency healing over time and several direct healing spells. They shape-shift into a wolf as well as bring a wide variety of useful buffs to a group/raid.

The fury has more magical attacks – including direct damage lightning, insect swarms and star-fall like attacks coupled with a small selection of melee attacks, healing over time and several direct healing in a near mirror of the warden. Fury get to shapeshift into great cats.

b. Easy of play

Both are very easy to play, solid in questing and as healers sort after in groups. Of all the classes I tried at 85 the warden was only bested by the paladin for its ability to solo heroic mobs. Of course with skill I am sure other classes would out solo a warden but as a pickup and go test the warden out shone the rest. The fury seems a little more complicated to master, my level 85 instant fury had a much harder time soloing heroic mobs.

Given that the class is a healer it does mean that if you are invited into a group situation you will be expected to be the primary healer 9 times out of 10.

c. Type of play

As mentioned above the warden especially is a rock solid soloer and the fury is not far behind it. In a group they are both capable healers, the wardens use to be the best healers but patches and expansions have evened the field out a lot. Its hard not to like Everquest2’s implementation of druids, their abilities, heals, look and feel are all solid druid without the horrible limitations of everquest1.

d. Fun

If you are wanting to play a druid you would be hard pressed in my mind to go wrong with Everquest2’s versions. The warden for me slightly “out-funs” the fury although I was happy to play both. The shapeshifting counts as both a buff and an illusion so you can turn off the illusionary form while maintaining all the benefits if you dont want to always been a cat or dog.

e. Its place in its world

Apart from the standard class quests being a druid has no special options in the world.

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Rift

a. Feel of the class

With the Fae pet the druid tree of the cleric soul actually feels a lot different to the other cleric branches. Perhaps its the pet class or the synergy between druid, shaman and inquisitor that combines to make a very well balanced druid. Druids primary melee with either a tank pet taking agro or a support (heals, dps) pet supporting them.

b. Easy of play

As with most pet classes the druid is easy to pickup and when you master the class you can solo incredibly well. When I first started playing the druid I used my fae tank to protect me but as I learnt the roll I swapped to a healer sprite and just wading in pulling bunches of mobs and hacking them down.

c. Type of play

A very solo friendly class that comes in as a dps class in groups. Combined with the option of a tank pet, healing pet, ranged or melee dps pet the druid can add a little more options to a group than pure dps.

d. Fun

In solo play the druid shines. It carves its way through questing with very little down time. The pet options gives you a little more wiggle room to play with different styles of play which can keep the soul entertaining to tweak. In groups a druid cannot be a main healer and its not recommended to combine druid with any of the other healing souls to attempt to make one.

e. Its place in its world

As mentioned in other Rift class challenges the fact you are an ascended is the only interaction you get with the world – your souls are interchangeable so it makes sense not to have those be a focus.

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Vanguard saga of heroes

a. Feel of the class

The druid in vanguard is a dps class with a  small amount of healing and useful buffs thrown in. They have a resource counter that builds up and can be used to either increase a damaging spell or a healing one. The general theme of the spells are nature, storms, fire and poison with buffs based around the D&D barkskin increase to defense and elemental resistances.

b. Easy of play

The druid is very easy to pickup and play and it plays a little like a combination of Everquest 1 and 2 druid. Managing its resource can be a little tricky early on but at level 10 you get a resource building ability which helps a bit.

c. Type of play

At the low levels at least I had no problem soloing quest mobs. The addition of a few healing spells and good solid magical attack spells means that you can hit hard and recover from fights quickly. The druid has a few nice buffs for groups but would fight for a spot along with all dps classes. The additional heals are not strong enough to be a main healer but could help out in a pinch.

d. Fun

Early on it can feel a little clunky, you really need to get above 10th level to open up play to what I would consider a fun level.  At 14 level you get shapeshift into a wolf for an hour, who doesn’t like shapeshifting! I generally prefer healer druids to play but the vanguard druid is a good fun solo class.

e. Its place in its world

I didn’t see any specific druid areas or quests etc during my play time.

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World of Warcraft

a. Feel of the class

The Warcraft druid is a leather wearing hybrid class that can fulfill the role of a tank, melee dps, ranged dps or healer. This ability to cover off all the primary game roles gives them a lot of options when it comes to how you want to play them. WoW does a good job of making your spells and abilities feel druidic in name and animations. In order to switch into 3 out of the 4 roles the druid needs to shapeshift into an animal/natural creature.

Tanks shapeshift into bears giving them a big armour and hitpoint boost and allowing them to use agro generating and survival based melee skills.

Melee dps shapeshift into cats which gives them stealth and a selection of biting, claws, rakes and pounces. (and a swishy tail when you walk)

Ranged dps shapeshift into the wow version of a D&D owlbear. In this form they can cast magic attacks based around stars, moons and other celestial events.

Healers use to shapeshift into trees but since cataclysm their tree form became an emergency heal that lasted a short duration. Their healing spells are based around regeneration healing over time rather than instant heals. They are one of the few healers that have good movement and healing options.  There is a glyph (special buff) in game that allows the restoration druid to stay in treeform illusion.

b. Easy of play

Like most classes in world of warcraft the druid is easy to pickup and offers enough choices at higher level to take a while to master. Tanking and healing like a lot of games has a larger learning curve than dps does.

c. Type of play

Because you have a wide choice of play styles you can cover all the types of play with the druid. Generally when questing the bear or cat roles are concidered easiest although I had no problems leveling as a restoration druid in cat form thanks to a special ability that allows restoration druids to swap their intellect (primary healing attribute) for agility(cat dps attribute) when in cat form

Tanks are always in short supply so if you have a thick skin (channel bear here) and want to run dungeons quickly then bear role will give you the quickest queue time for random dungeons.

Healing can start off feeling a little weak – with healing over time you can struggle to cope with heavy spike damage until you have a few more spells to aid you.

d. Fun

Druids are a load of fun. they are so versatile in their ability to swap roles that if you ever get bored of one play style you can swap to another. Of course at later levels gear becomes an issue and most if not all druids would have a primary focus role and perhaps one other they can use well enough as backup. Druids also get to shapeshift into various creatures for movement bonuses – they can change into a seal which gives them water breathing allowing for near unlimited exploration undersea (just avoid the large fish and deep water) .

e. Its place in its world

Druids have their own mini zone that they receive an ability to teleport to at level 14.  Other classes can fly there but druids are the only ones that can instantly port there. In the original game this was where druids trainers were located.

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