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Is Monk Just the New Druid?

World of Warcraft Columns - By Garrett Fuller on August 23, 2012

Is Monk Just the New Druid?

With Mists of Pandaria around the corner this Fall many WoW players will be jumping in to start their own Monks, the game’s new class. The Monk is an iconic class in any fantasy genre starting out with First Edition D&D and now making its way into the largest MMO on the planet with World of Warcraft. Warcraft and Blizzard have had a historical love affair with the kung fu masters. Let’s be honest anyone watching the classic Kung Fu films of the 1970s does, but how does the Monk stack up in WoW? The first class since the Death Knight to enter the game has a lot to live up too.

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So my question stands, is the Monk the new Druid for the game? The reason I say this is because the class can truly spec three entirely different ways. Not a bad thing necessarily, but I have to call into questions a few WoW trends that people may or may not agree with. First is the diluting down of the game into a very base format, especially in regards to character format. Has the game been dumbed down from its 2004 roots? Some say yes, I think more than anything it has been streamlined to offer players the best choices for their characters in the easiest way possible. I don’t think the phrase dumbed down is fair. I do believe that the days of faction only classes like the Paladin and the Shaman are long gone, unless Blizzard suprises us with the next expansion which will hopefully take us to level 100 as well. But I sure miss those days.

But enough of that, Monk and Druid: the break down is pretty simple. Both classes can tank, dps, and heal. The both go up to leather armor (which makes perfect sense). Even though they can use a variety of weapons, I really only feel like the theme of the Monk should use Fist Weapons or Staves.  Too bad Blizzard didn’t add fighting sticks as a One Handed Weapon for Monks to use is a dual wield style. Regardless I do think the Monk stacks up pretty damn close to the Druid in many ways. It is just a matter of play style and design choice, but the core game mechanics are too similar to ignore.

I guess that is just it, Warcraft really has become too big and too streamlined to make any drastic changes to the design. The Monk in my opinion reflects this philosophy perfectly. Please understand it is not all negative. I do love the idea of a Monk class in any game and Blizzard is introducing it in the right way by taking players to Pandaria. I know the Pandas have been around long before Kung Fu Panda came out, but it really is a bad comparison now-a-days. All of that said, I do like the class. I played through the starter zone in beta and had fun. And while I’m griping here, I do like the versatility of the class.

One of the main issues though is that starting a Monk puts you at level one. This was not the case with the Death Knight and if you had a top level character you could start at 55. I know the Monk’s not a “Hero Class”, but if Cataclysm is an excuse to have players go back and level up from 1-60 all over again then you are asking a lot of the old players. Esepcially since the game is not really re-inventing itself at all. You will be grinding your Monk all the way through the game in order to play catch up. I really just don’t think that is fair to do to veterans.

Overall the Monk class is a decent addition to WoW. Is it amazing, not really, I am sorry but the Death Knight was amazing. The opening levels were very cool and the class had some original new specs to use. I just think the Monk offers nothing new to players in the game by hitting all three specs at once. We’ve seen this before. The animations are cool, the idea is solid… but the actual mechanics have been done. Am I missing something? What have you MoP Beta players noticed with your monks?

On a final note, I think leveling a character from 1-80 is a lot to ask most folks that have played WoW for ages.  Why not let there be an option to start at 60? Hell, even 70 at this point?  In a time where upcoming games are literally trying to change the MMO genre as a whole, Blizzard seems to be on rinse and repeat mode in terms of game mechanics for World of Warcraft. Hopefully the next expansion will really bring the game into the next decade, but by then it may be too late. During a recent quarterly report, Blizzard explained that the loss in WoW numbers was due to Diablo 3, I wonder what they will say after Guild Wars 2 comes out?