Thursday, July 8, 2010

Trimming the trees

No, I'm not talking about pruning session or suggesting that resto druids are too fat and need to get fit. I'm talking about the last Blizzard announce about talent trees. While the fires started by the real name appearing on forums are still raging all over the internet Blizzard has made a new announce that will impact gameplay (and I hope this time it's for good)

The fun stuff
For some time Blizzard has been stating they want to get rid of "boring" talents that just pump up your dps/healing/avoidance/etc and just keep what's "fun" in a spec. The problem I saw was what they consider "fun", because most "fun" talents in fact are dps/healing/etc boosters, the only difference is they have a limited time span and add some animation (like Slow for arcane mages). Then they're on cooldown for some minutes until you can use them again. Knowing when to use these skills/spells is the key here, but I don't see how this makes somethign "fun", specially hen you face a given fight for the second or third time. Once you know a boss fight (I'm leaving out leveling and questing on purpouse) using that special talent just turns into something automatic for most of the times,s o I don't see much "fun" in that.

The big pruning
But Blizzard surprised everyone with the announce: taking a lot of talents from every tree, leaving only the core ones and these that add some extra spice to the class, reducing from typical 51 point talent trees to 31, locking the other two trees until you spend 31 points in the main tree and giving a lvel 10 character that just spent the first point in the talent that will become his spec a signature skill/spell (Mortal Strike for arms warriors, Divine Storm for retribution paladins, Shield Bash for protection warriors, etc). While I was skeptic of the "leaving only the funzors" I really like this change. Getting a good spec has turned harder and harder as new levels, talents and skill/spells have been added. Also minimal changes in a talent could mean having to respec so you could have the optimal talent tree for your class, specially if you're a raider. Spotting the core talents you really need for your class must be easier now with this change.

On with the chainsaw!
But I'm wondering... why stop here? If all prot warriors are going to have the same core talents, why bother us in having to spend points on them? I suggest Blizzard reduces trees even more and take out the core talents, making them into learnable skills/spells you'll be able to train as you level up, leaving the trees with side skills that will affect the way you play but not your role effectivity. Of course tat would mean trees aren't anymore a sign of class specialization but as specific class diversity. This way you could have prot warriors that prefer to invest in shield skills while others may prefer other talents that will help them in the tanking job, like shouts, ways of dodging/parrying a blow, mocking the target... so not all prot warriors play the same way, the same way a prot warrior and a prot paladin have different playstyles. Both do the tanking, but paladins excel at aoe aggro and dealing good damage, while warriors generate better single target aggro and have more survivality tricks. Now imagine a warrior that relies more on using the shield while another prefers different defensive stances (kung-fu style) so he can dodge or parry more, while a third warrior prefers to invest in toughness and resilience so the blows he receives do less damage.

The forest
Anyway, the new changes look good if well executed or if they aren't dropped like the Path of the Titans. We'll end having lots of different spec trees instead of what we have nowadays: either a specific tree 98% of the players use or a cookie-cutter where you have like 5 or 7 points to spend where you want, so there's hardly any difference between players. Maybe it will be harder for us to choose which secondary skills suit best our gameplay or are funnier, but at least we'll have different flavours for a given spec on a given class.

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