For the most part I stay out of any general debates for or against mod use in WoW. As a guild we ask that DPS have a threat readout and everyone who raids has a boss timer mod, and I STRONGLY encourage anyone who wants to raid heal to get custom raid frames, but otherwise we leave it up to the individual player. That being said, I have always been a big fan of the mod mini-game.
Although I have been heavily inspired by full mod packages (most notably the Tapesty UI), I usually rip out any specific mods and textures I like but do everything else myself. When the time came for a change in Cataclysm, however, I took a chance, nuked everything, and installed RealUI, a very unique-looking headsup minimalist package that advertised itself to be equally useful for both healers and DPS.
I chose RealUI for two reasons. First, I am a bit of an information junkie and RealUI promised to put all these combat details on the screen in a very organized way. Second, after six years I have a lot of characters. Usually I create a very healer- and raid-focused setup for Liore and then frankenstein it a bit for the needs of other DPS or leveling specs/characters, so the idea of a UI that could change to suit all of them was very tempting.
Installation for the first and every subsequent character was easycakes. Load the game, answer a couple of questions about what specs you use, and then.. tada, it works right out of the box. Most of the UI elements are centered, so they’ll work on almost any screen resolution. So, let’s look at healing with RealUI (click the image for large size):
Take that, Horde!
Things I modified: Almost nothing! I made the health percentage arrows turn green-yellow-red according to health percentage. I turned the target bar into the target’s class color. I would like to darken up the background of the target’s target window, but I haven’t figured that out yet. I made the target’s target’s debuffs smaller. I also added a few small quality of life and auction mods, but those don’t count. Otherwise, everything is included: Grid, DBM settings, threat meters, etc etc.
I think I’ll have to filter the buff and TOT debuffs a bit more, but it’s not far off my ideal.
Pros: Look at that heads up display. I mean really.
Specifically, though, the chakra timer (seen to the left in more detail) is a game-changer for me. As I’ve written here before I’ve had a hard time managing chakra and this timer bar makes it much, much easier. The debuff timer bars (showing Piercing Howl on me and SW:P on my target) are brilliant. Debuffs have become much more important to raiding in Cataclysm, and I love having a clear mid-combat indicator of what is on me or on the tank and how long it will be there. The buffs are clearly marked, but I haven’t learned all the symbols yet so it’s still a bit inscrutable.
The promises of one UI to rule them all have thus far held true. I was able to flip from healing on Liore to bashing skulls on Lunedi with no changes. RealUI is very good at hiding things until you need them. There are even features you might not expect, like a reputation meter or a raid marker menu, that only pop up when useful.
Plus, let’s not forget that it’s all remarkably pretty, particularly for a typography nerd like me. Look at the map indicators! Look at them! They’re SO TEXTY. I want to hug them.
Cons: Utilizing the automatic DPS/healer setup changes means using the version of Grid included with the package. That meant I had to set up my Grid preferences again, which is ugh, and I feel like this new Grid is not accurately displaying the last 20% or so of someone’s health (it seems to go awfully quickly). Admittedly this is likely a Grid problem, and in its defense RealUI is simply using the newest version of the mod.
Having such a unified package means making little tweaks is more difficult. I haven’t figured out how to make the package stop overwriting some of my changes (like font size for chat), and I can’t find settings for the target’s target bar opacity. However, there are limited options built in to the RealUI administration, and if you have some basic understanding of LUA anything is technically possible.
This isn’t really a big con, but the package definitely takes time to get used to. I ran heroics and battlegrounds all weekend trying to get a feel for the new display and while I now feel marginally ready to raid on Tuesday, I am still frequently flustered and not sure where to look for things. That will get better with time, though.
Overall, I am extremely impressed with RealUI, and I plan to stick with it — and I never thought I’d say that about a package! I love having all this information at my fingertips, displayed in an organized and non-intrusive way. I love having a very functional, attractive UI that will suit my raiding healer or my level 12 warlock equally. I think eventually this mod package will make me a better player.
If you are not too intimidated by change and enjoy ‘hands-on’ mod usage, I recommend you check out RealUI!