For those of you that haven't seen it, the World of Warcraft development team recently went through a Q&A session about upcoming Warlock changes.
While most people seem to be pretty down on warlocks at the moment, as my original main class, it remains the class that I love the most. So I was pretty excited to read about some of the developers longer term plans for the class.
Sounds like they've got some interesting plans in store for the use of soul shards that will change them from being something that needs to be farmed to something that is a lot more fun and impressive when the warlock decides to burn a shard. They're looking to "make shards fun and remove the hassle" having them "provide a combat boost when needed without becoming a resource that needs to be farmed". From the sounds of it, it seems like the need to use soul shards for summoning or for creating soulstones or healthstones might go away, but they'd becoming more a part of the warlocks combat rotations ala Soulfire. As long as warlocks maintain those utility features, it should be a great change.
There were a few questions in the Q&A about the level of threat that warlocks generate in PvE and how vulnerable warlocks are to stuns and to melee classes (rogues in particular) in PvP. Both of these questions got a dodge that would have made a politician proud. At the end of the day, I'm guessing that the current view of the development team is that both of these things are just part of the trade off for playing the class.
There's also a discussion about increasing pet survivability, particularly for PvP, including a mention of giving pets resilience!
Finally, the last piece of the Q&A that had me particularly excited was the mention of the possibility of warlock class specific flying mounts. Flying demon riders anyone? They did mention that we'd have to go back to Dire Maul to get it, but then said they were just kidding - but honestly, from a lore perspective, that's actually not a half bad idea, especially now that most warlocks haven't had to do the Dire Maul runs in the first place in order to get their epic mounts.
There's a few other things out there that are also pretty interesting including a discussion around giving warlocks green fire (they're thinking about it), the ability to customize the way your pet looks (maybe my felguard would be in a better mood and stop insulting me so much if he had a better hairdo), and providing a little more burst for afflicition (via Haunt).
All very interesting stuff and worth a read! http://www.wow.com/2009/07/02/warlock-qanda-with-ghostcrawler-and-pals/
The changes to soul shard mechanics could have an interesting impact on leveling if things like soulstones and healthstones no longer need shards. Also, improving pet scaling and increasing their survivability will only further increase the ease with which warlocks can level.