Covenant Abilities 1: Limitations and Comparisons

Class wide

The first and most obvious limitation is that the abilities are all class wide. This heavily limits how closely you can tie them into spec mechanics while still keeping the ability the same for the entire class. An example of where they’ve tried to tie an ability into a spec mechanic, or maybe just lucked into it, is Flayed Shot(Venthyr ability for hunters). For Marksmanship, this gives them more frequent to an ability they both care greatly about and have talent interactions with: Kill Shot. Meanwhile the other 2 specs basically end up with just a button that does damage and lets them press another button that also just does damage.

75% don’t have the ability

Next is the issue that, if Covenants succeed in having roughly equal appeal, only 25% of players will have access to each ability. Now, if you take an ability that only 25% of players have access to and make it a core part of the playstyle of the class/spec, that means 75% of players have a gap in that spot. If you make them all fill the same spot in the core playstyle, you’ve failed at differentiating them. Looking at the abilities that exist currently, they range everywhere from a long DPS CD (Necrolord for mages), a short DPS CD (Night Fae for druids) or even all the way to a rotational ability (Kyrian for warlock.

Gone after Shadowlands

Similarly to the previous problem, after Shadowlands 0% of players will have the abilities. Assuming Blizzard wants to stay true to their philosophy for Legion of trying to get every spec into a spot they’re happy with and then be done with reworks. Once again this means that they can’t make the Covenant abilities core to the way any spec plays, because after Shadowlands it’ll be gone, and thus require reworking of the spec to fill that void.

The obvious comparison: Essences

The most recent similar system to Covenant abilities is the BfA Essence system added in 8.2. This also gave you access to new abilities, but it had a similar problem as the Covenant abilities. Essences were completely generic for all classes (with a few exceptions), meaning they also couldn’t be a core part of your spec’s playstyle.

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