For this feedback article, I am going to switch things up. In the past, I have given feedback on the base rotations for a spec, its talents, and artifact traits. I chose that format to cover as many bases as possible, but the more articles I did the more I felt that some categories looked tacked-on in comparison to the others due to bugs or simply not being provocative enough for me to talk about. Instead of giving nitty-gritty feedback on every little thing, I am instead going to approach this article in the form of a general review, discussing the things I really loved about the spec as well as what I hated. I may not return to this format in the future, but I hope you will bear with me and enjoy this article as much as I enjoyed the Outlaw Rogue.
The thing about Outlaw Rogue that really sold me was the smoothness of the playstyle. Energy normally inhibits the constant usage of abilities, which is what usually turns me off of energy classes, but Outlaw has many passive effects that ‘grease the gears’ and make you forget you have energy. The Pistol Shot proc from Saber Slash added to this concept greatly, granting you a way to generate free damage and a combo point without requiring energy, thus allowing you to spend that energy elsewhere next GCD. Quick Draw was a great talent to pair with the ability, not only to help boost Pistol Shot’s terrible damage but to also further speed up the rotation with an additional combo point. The Pistol Shot proc mechanic had a great supporting cast of passive abilities and artifact traits, some the most major included Combat Potency, Ruthlessness, and your artifact’s off-hand baseline trait, Dreadblade’s Fortune. All of these abilities together accomplish something I am happy to see Blizzard doing more; making specs feel smoother, more intuitive, and fun. Outlaw represents the Rogue at its simplest state, relying on classic combo point generating and spending rather than getting caught up in sluggish setup scenarios. It may be simple, but all its aspects are turned up to eleven and it is more fun because it doesn’t try to be something that it’s not.
Outlaw identity and theme are the other things that really sold me on the Outlaw spec. Many abilities were changed or removed, and some new ones added, to help Outlaw fit more snuggly into the new fantasy Blizzard was trying to achieve with the spec. Long-time Rogue mains will get angry at me for saying this, but I loved the changes they made to the spec’s abilities as well as the new ones that were introduced. Some abilities saw more changes than others, but even the smallest of changes amount to a huge overhaul of the spec. Run Through might seem like an Eviscerate re-skin, but the added range of the attack is a cool addition that helps build the character of the class. Weaving in Pistol Shots from procs between your melee attacks is fun and makes you feel like Errol Flynn. Many of the swashbuckler-themed talents like Grappling Hook, Cannonball Barrage, and Roll the Bones fulfilled Outlaw’s fantasy for me, even if I had some qualms with them. I was also happy to see old classics like Blind, Gouge, and Slice and Dice be made exclusive to the Outlaw spec, since I always felt they fit more of the swashbuckler fantasy anyway. I know I have probably lost most of the old Rogue mains by this point, but hear me out: the entire point of all the changes to Rogue specs is to give each their very own distinct fantasy and playstyle. Just because Subtlety lost some abilities does not mean it is doomed, it just means there is now more room for new abilities that fit the fantasy better. I think Outlaw is one of the best-developed specs in terms of fantasy and fun that I have played in the alpha so far, and I attribute that to the hard choices Blizzard made in re-doing the specs, even if that meant shaking up everyone’s favorite abilities.
To end my ‘likes’ section of Outlaw, I want to discuss the artifact, The Dreadblades, because they are a large reason why the Outlaw playstyle and fantasy feel so developed. In terms of pure aesthetics, these weapons are matched by very few other artifacts as of right now. I love how Blizzard took the saber look from classic swashbuckler movies and gave it a very distinct Warcraft flavor. The curvature of the blade and the handguard very much feel reminiscent of those classic pirate swords, but that fantasy is turned up to eleven with the ornate gold trim and lining, so combining all that with the deadly vibe of the red glow, spikes, and skulls, you get a weapon that captures the essence of the source fantasy while simultaneously breathing new life into it and making it Warcraft.
The artifact’s personality is very much felt within gameplay, as well as through the procs and passive traits. I liked the fact that Blizzard gave each weapon a separate proc from the other because it really helped develop the identity of each weapon while also living up to the lore behind the Twin Blades. Fate‘s proc went somewhat unnoticed by me because how infrequently it triggered, but Fortune‘s proc was something I noticed immediately, even if I had to see it fall off without using all the stacks. My favorite trait of the swords is Curse of the Dreadblades, although I have seen much pushback against it within the Rogue community. I loved the gameplay since it was great for single-target and helped bypass the Blade Flurry penalty in AoE, but I also felt the health drawback was appropriate for the sword’s fantasy and added a nice flavor. I mentioned how smooth the Outlaw rotation felt, and that is greatly enforced by the artifact traits Fortune Strikes, Blade Dancer, and Fatebringer. These traits might seem simple and mundane because there is no active interaction, but these traits help accomplish the thing I wish other artifacts did; enhance the spec’s core playstyle overall rather than add random benefits to niche abilities you might notice once throughout a fight. Not all artifact traits can be as unique, dynamic and cool as Havoc’s Demon Speed, but more could be like Outlaw’s traits.
While I loved most of what I saw in Outlaw, I do still have some qualms with the spec, mostly in regards to the talents and some of the abilities. I enjoyed Blade Flurry as Outlaw’s answer to AoE for the most part, but I still would have loved an AoE-exclusive ability to use and I am not sure if Death from Above is a good answer to that yet. Killing Spree has a unique effect if you use it during Blade Flurry, and I think Pistol Shot should get a similar treatment for both fantasy and gameplay sake. Pistol Shot benefits from Blade Flurry oddly enough, but I would love to see Pistol Shot turn into some kind of grapeshot-shooting blunderbuss ability while it is active to reconcile the fantasy between the two abilities. Cannonball Barrage and Killing Spree both work as a good button to press during AoE as well as single target, but I am worried that the choice between the two abilities will come down to a spreadsheet, depending on the boss fight. I think Killing Spree works great as a Bladestorm-esque ‘big AoE’ ability, so I think Cannonball Barrage could find a new role for itself with a lower cooldown suitable for hectic add fights, similar to how Retribution Paladins use Holy Prism.
There are also some talents that just seem completely useless to me, such as Marked for Death and Alacrity. I am not a Rogue main, but when I was testing Outlaw, combo points came so fast that I did not see a use for Marked for Death. Rogue mains feel free to correct me, but the ability feels useless and it is a shame that Outlaw loses that top-tier talent spot for it. Alacrity I am pretty sure is useless regardless of being a Rogue main or not; When I first took the talent I thought it applied a stack for each combo point you spent, but in actuality, you only have a 20% per combo point spent to gain one stack. I tried to make the ability work on dungeon bosses, but even using Curse of the Dreadblades and Adrenaline Rush together did not allow me to get max stacks in a timely manner. Roll the Bones was my favorite talent in the entire tree because of the fun I had with the incredibly powerful buffs, but I do not think anyone is going to take this talent in a progression raiding scenario. Although the boost is indeed powerful, boasting buffs such as 35% damage dealt, 40% Haste, 40% Crit, and 88% Main Gauche chance, the fact that you have six different potential buffs adds a huge random element where much of your power is tied-up in. RNG talents are often ignored by raiders because their power is unreliable, and as much as I love the fantasy and power of this talent I do not see anyone using it if they cannot have some degree of control over the results without dumping 20-or-so combo points in recasting it.
Overall, I loved Outlaw and think Blizzard is doing a terrific job realizing this spec in both the fantasy and gameplay department. Outlaw is one of the few specs where the Artifact is a great enhancement of the fantasy and playstyle rather than just a disconnected addition of random passives and buffs. I am glad Blizzard took a chance on breaking up many of the classic abilities and identities that long-time Rogue mains have held sacred, in order to create a much stronger sense of identity for each of the specs. Seeing what Blizzard is doing with Outlaw and Havoc has restored much of my faith in them, and I hope they can make Subtlety just as fun and cool.