One WoW: Dragonflight Specialization Is Now Dominating In Both PvP And PvE, And Players Aren't Happy
Retribution Paladins have gone from zero to hero, but expect more nerfs soon.
World of Warcraft: Dragonflight patch 10.0.7 brought with it a much-needed rework to Retribution Paladins in order to improve their performance. However, Blizzard may have gone too far in the other direction, as what was once one of the MMORPG's lesser-played DPS specs has now skyrocketed to the top of the PvP and PvE charts, much to the frustration of non-Paladin players.
In many ways, a rework for a specialization in the middle of a content season is almost unheard of, and is something typically reserved for major milestone patches or new expansion launches. In an interview with GameSpot, game director Ion Hazzikostas said the Retribution rework that came with patch 10.0.7 was an "exceptional" circumstance and not something that players should expect to see happen with other specs over the course of Dragonflight.
The fact still remains, however, that the Retribution rework has brought a major shakeup to both PvE and PvP in the middle of season. The spec is now among the most played in the game in terms of its appearance in endgame content. A look at Mythic raid statistics from the week of March 28 shows Retribution Paladins at the top of high-level Mythic raid play when it comes to overall damage done, and is the third most-played spec for the week behind Beast Mastery Hunters and Havoc Demon Hunters. On the Mythic+ dungeon front, statistics reveal Retribution Paladins were found in nearly 14% of all Mythic+ dungeon runs for the week of March 28, an impressive number considering it is just one of 25 damage specializations currently in the game. For context, the week before patch 10.0.7 arrived, Ret Paladins were only found in 1.68% of Mythic+ dungeon runs.
While some players may be happy to see Retribution Paladin mains get their moment in the sun when it comes to PvE content, those on the PvP-side of the equation are less enthusiastic. In PvP, Ret Paladin went from below a 5% pick rate in all forms of rated-Arena content (according to WoW Arena Logs) to pick rates in the high teens (or in 3v3, high 20s). Most Arena matches now include at least one Ret Paladin, and due to their power levels right now, it's leading to a lot of frustration among players who were trying for one final push up the PvP rankings before the end of the season, only to be continually stomped on by Retribution Paladins. One glance at the WoW forums or the WoW PvP subreddit reveals dozens of threads with players complaining about the high burst damage and high survivability of Ret Paladins in PvP at the moment.
Among Blizzard's goals with Retribution Paladin was to make the spec less reliant on stacking modifiers and instead deal more steady, consistent damage, while also improving the specs notoriously bad survivability. It looks like Blizzard has succeeded on that front, so much so that the developer is now looking to bring the spec back down a notch.
A recent hotfix nerfed Ret Paladin damage by 3% across the board and targeted a number of the spec's potent defensive talents. That is in addition to a PvP nerf that went live for Ret Paladins just a few days after patch 10.0.7 that downscaled the effectiveness of a large list of talents and abilities in PvP. Ret Paladin doesn't seem to be overperforming too much when it comes to damage done in Mythic+, raids, or even in rated PvP (it is on average higher than before patch 10.0.7, but not majorly so). However, many players feel the nerfs have yet to go far enough and are waiting for Blizzard to take further action.
Dragonflight's next major patch, Embers of Neltharion, is set to arrive on May 2, with Dragonflight Season 2 kicking off the week of May 9. Patch 10.1 will bring with it a massive new underground zone in the form of the Zaralek Caverns, along with a new rotation of Mythic+ dungeons, a new raid, the long-awaited arrival of cross-faction guilds, and the continuation of various expansion storylines.