This will be the first in a series of posts aimed at discussing the new announcements to WoW and its next expansion that have been announced at Blizzcon. The first thing that I want to talk about is the planned changes to the talent trees. To make it simple for me I’ll keep the discussion to rogues. In short, the talent trees are to be replaced with a series of choices that will be the same for all specs. So you can still choose to be a combat, assassination or subtlety rogue, but these builds will be all set in stone, the same for everyone. Your choices, which will be universal for all three specs, will begin at level 15 and continue every subsequent 15 levels. This is all still in development stage and subsequent to change.

Here is a link to the changes for rogues: Thanks MMO Champion.

I’m not going to examine all the choices here, that can come at a later time. I want to talk about the change itself. A lot of bloggers don’t like this at all. Eric over at Elder Game is particularly dismissive. Now normally I agree with Eric, he is certainly one of the bloggers in this field that I look up to. But I think that I’m going to surprise a few of my readers here:

I think that this is not only a good change, it’s a much needed change. In the last few months a lot of us have blogged about two topics: fun and choice. We have said that games need to remember that they are fun, (while arguing repeatedly on what the definition of fun is). We have also said that there needs to be choices in the game, and meaningful choice at that. Interesting choices is the generally agreed standard here.

The old talent tree system had choices, lots and lots of choices. But they were not fun to the average player. I realised this when I played Age of Conan for a short time. That game also has a talent tree system copied straight from WoW, but it was a source of endless headaches for me. Because I didn’t know anything about the different choices, and I was unable to locate good information about them. So even though I was choosing I was aware that I was most probably choosing badly, but there was nothing that I could do about it. I didn’t know what all these different talents really did, hell I didn’t even know the difference between the trees. It was not only not fun, it was somewhat stressful. And I suddenly understood how new players must feel with WoW.

Back to WoW and its old talent point system. A big argument against the new system is that players don’t get a choice every time they level up. But lets look at those existing choices. If I am to be totally honest, there is no real choice with each talent point that you gain. If you are a combat rogue then you have a cookie cutter spec, so put the point where the chart tells you to put it. That’s not a real choice. And for new players who don’t know enough to go searching online it’s a trap, as they will undoubtedly pick the wrong talent and be ridiculed. No matter how expert each of you are now, you know that you were a total noob when you started.

The other point is that many of the existing talents are filler to get somewhere else. A talent that just lets you do a flat 2% more damage is not an interesting choice. It’s something that you have to take. So if we all have to take it why not just make it standard or get rid of it? Well, that’s what they’ve done. You have 18 talents spread across 90 levels and they almost all look meaningful. They will be 6 interesting choices, and it will be fun. Balancing should also be a lot easier with this system, as will be the possibility of fixing mistakes once it has been launched.

So I’ll say it again, I think that this is a good thing, a needed thing. Am I going to play the next expansion? Well, more on that later. You know you can’t wait to hear me talk about Pandas now can you?