BlizzCon 2011: New WoW Talent System
World of Warcraft’s designers have never been satisfied with the talent system. When I saw lead designer Tom Chilton speak at GDC 2011, he spoke to this sense of unease. Talents, according to Chilton, were not designed with the end-game in mind, despite the fact that the game has become infinitely more complicated since it was released in November 2004.
Talents were intended as “a set of choices a character would make that would make that character seem different from another character in the same class,” according to Chilton, but the WoW team was dismayed by the popularity of “cookie-cutter” builds that accomplished the exact opposite of their intentions.
In its forthcoming “Mists of Pandaria” expansion, World of Warcraft will debut “Talents 2.0,” a system that intends to right wrongs and a provide some actual variation going forward. The cookie-cutter builds, first of all, have been replaced by “specs.” Each class now has a choice between three specs that closely resemble the talent builds/trees of old — Warriors will still choose between Arms, Fury, and Protection for example.
Here’s where it gets interesting: instead of unlocking spells via talents, players will now be awarded them automatically. Some spells are class-specific — all warriors will be given Heroic Strike — but others are spec-specific — only Holy-specced Paladins will get Hammer of the Righteous.
Talents, by contrast, are special abilities available to all specs within a class. Every 15 levels, (at 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, and 90), players will choose one (and only one) of three talents, which are intended as bonus abilities that give uniqueness and personality to a chosen build. Some 2.0 talents are adapted from previous talents and spells, opening up new combinations that were not possible before. Others are brand new. The important thing is that none of them are mandatory anymore (you can’t gimp a build by not picking one), and you’re unlikely to see another character with exactly the same talents you have. Even if you, they can be swapped on the fly! In a sense, it’s not unlike the highly customizable skill system in Diablo 3.
Hit the links below to feast your eyes on the 18 new talents available for each class! The numbers, Blizzard assures us, are only temporary. We’ve also got lots more BlizzCon 2011 coverage!
Take a look at our other BlizzCon 2011 coverage!