Last night fan sites were busy data-mining the latest beta build which includes the new talent system. The new talent system is designed around 31 point talents only, basically the same amount of talents as vanilla wow. Also at level 10 you are now forced into choosing a spec, and you stick with it until you put 31 points into that tree.
But all is not lost regarding hybrid builds, they still exist just need to meet the original 31 point requirement. Once you choose a tree at level 10 though, that’s where the real fun begins. All of the changes that are coming I personally think are great and make this change truly the cat’s pajamas, but lets investigate some of the specifics…
Feeling Like Your Spec Earlier
One of my biggest issues with the current talent specs is that its boring, you never feel like your chosen spec until you get 51 points into that talent tree. You never differentiate yourself from the other specs until you get that 1 or 2 defining talents that make you truly that fury warrior or enhancement shaman.
Well all that is changing. At level 10 now you get a choice of which spec you want to focus on. Upon making this choice you automatically get a few cool abilities that help you instantly feel like your specialization. At level 10 and the opening of the talent trees Fury Warriors get dual wield, Arms Warriors get 2h weapon specialization, Feral druids get cat/bear forms are just some examples.
Finally people may continue playing more past level 10 and not get bored of doing the same old, same old. In Cataclysm new classes will finally feel like the spec they want early on, making the game I think much more fun and engaging than it has been for the past 5+ years.
Taking Out the Trash
With the removal of so many talents and slimming the trees down, Blizzard is finally able to get rid of many of those passive boring talents that you felt obligated to take just to get to that new cool talent at the next level. One of the biggest things Blizzard mentioned at Blizzcon 2009 was that they wanted talents to feel cool and not just provide some passive stats that you were forced to take. Well with WotLK the trees became so bloated that it would have become near impossible to have Blizzard redo every single talent to make them cool.
So instead they gutted the trees and gave us only 31 point talents, essentially giving lipo to all the character and spec combinations. This should bring new life into the trees and let you take only the most fun talents. Of course there will most likely be the cookie-cutter “best specs” to maximize your dps, tanking or healing, but I am hoping that this opens up each class to be a bit more creative with their talent choices.
This could be one of the best class changes in Cataclysm. Removing confusion, increasing immersion in one’s character earlier on, and making talents a fun mechanic/in-game event. This change makes me excited to level up a new character. I always disliked leveling a new character because I felt like the spec I chose wouldn’t bear fruit until level 60 a minimum. But now also my high level characters will be more focused on important fun talents than getting filler talents just to get to that next level.
Blizzard always said one of the biggest hurdles was getting people to get past the level 10 mark, and I think with this change they may have at least part of that equation solved, basically leaving a starting area and entering an engaging specialization system.
To look at all the current (read this as it may change) fun stuff you get when you open up talent specs for your classes check them out over at this wow.com post. And feel free to play with the not 100% fully implemented 31 point talent trees at MMO-Champion’s talent calculator site.