Last night's look at the class talent system was, frankly, a revelation. It was as if the constraints of the current talent system finally hit the developers like a brick and they chose to do something they should have done years ago. Don't get me wrong, I believe the tree revamp for warriors was successful in the main and particularly so for Protection - lots of choice and lots of cool game changers.
But the fact remained that there were still some junk talents, cookie cutter specs didn't go away (ostracism being rife for certain skips) and many talents just weren't a choice - thinks like Warbringer, Bastion of Defence and Devastate were more levelling "rites of passage" than they were compelling decisions.
Essentially, the new system looks like this:
- Choose a spec at level 10 as now, get some abilities as now.
- Depending on spec, you'll get an ability every couple of levels.
- You will ONLY have access to that spec's abilities and not the other specs (there are some "core abilities" such as Heroic Strike that are commonly available).
- Most of the abilities that took a talent point like Raging Blow or Devastate are now levelling up abilities for their respective spec.
- Every 15 levels, you get to choose one talent from three options.
What this actually does for the game is pretty revolutionary for World of Warcraft, and somewhat reminiscent of how Diablo 3 is going to handle talents. The choices you get to make are now almost entirely optional and, roughly speaking, provide different ways of doing the same thing. Everything you NEED to play your spec will be part of the levelling abilities, so they don't need to be chosen at all; your talents are literally up to you.
This does have some implications that many players won't like.
It's a spurious complaint, but I did see a forum whine about the end of hybridization. Such a complaint seems bizarre considering the access to every single talent in the game regardless of spec, but you won't be able use Fury abilities if you play Arms. Sheer volume of choice outweighs this, though.
The streamlining I've prayed for is about to happen with many of the situational abilities that seldom see use about to bite the dust. Those abilities, however, are flavour for many people who'd hate to see 'em go. This is a considerably bigger problem in PvP than it is for PvE.
Stance-dancing may well be a thing of the past. It's already close to being there as it is, but tree-specific abilities lead me to think that there will be next to no point in swapping. Abilities that were available in other stances will probably not be available at all in MoP.
Game balance across specs should end up at an all time high. There is now literally no reason for certain specs to be able to find clever workarounds for mechanics that make them overpowered in certain situations.
All that said, it's impossible to downplay the significant changes this is going to make to long term players. It's equally difficult to predict how it's all going to shake out in the short, medium and longer term.
But I, for one, think the changes are overwhelmingly positive and can't wait to (HOPEFULLY) get hold of a beta pass and start testing some things out.