WoW Wednesday: Talentless in Pandaria
By Meredith Watson, OnRPG WoW Specialist
There are many changes coming with Mists of Pandaria. Blizzard is giving its World of Warcraft players new zones, a new race, a new class, and more raid and dungeons, but one of the most significant is the revamped talent changes. It isn’t so much that they are revamping the talents as doing away with them completely and instead we are left with a handful of perks.
Blizzard has always been full of noble intentions when it comes to giving their players want they want or trying to improve the game; however, they admit themselves they fell short with the 41 talent revamp. Their goal has always been customization. What they hope to achieve with this talent revamp is to give the player more customization and putting the choices in the player’s hands. Often times, they hope, those choices will be difficult yet interesting to make. Blizzard wants the player to make apples to apples decisions about their character’s talent choices. This new approach is a lofty ambition by any stretch. If history, where Blizzard and the World of Warcraft are concerned, has taught us anything it is that Blizzard struggles with getting the balance right and its players’ desires. Already players are taking sides being for or against the changes. There are plenty of forum posts about this topic spread over many sites. This undoubtedly will continue to escalate once the Mists of Pandaria talent changes go live which will likely be sometime shortly after Mists of Pandaria gets a release date.
The players that are for this change are excited about having all the class abilities while being able to access abilities from other specs. For example, all rogues can have shadowstep not just subtlety rogues or any spec of druid can have Force of Nature. So called useless talents have been removed and the idea of changing talents on the fly is very appealing for those that are fans of the new talent trees. It does seem to be that the pro change players are in the minority.
At the other end of the spectrum are those players that are adamant that these changes are destroying their classes and encouraging cookie cutter builds even more so than previous expansions. There is concern that players are losing any individuality when it comes to their character’s builds. There is also concern over pigeonholing due to some talent tiers seemingly being PvP versus PvE. The biggest argument continues to be that this talent revamp is a continuation of the dumbing down of the World of Warcraft.
“The new "talent" system is a joke. It has effectively made every toon of a specific class a carbon copy of each other. The "choices" you get to make levelling up aren’t really all that great anyway and they really don’t have an impact on how the character plays. My assassin rogue is now identical to every other assassin rogue in game except for the six meh choices in the "talent" tree.”- Recoan, 85 undead rogue
What we need to do is look at the same class in both expansions to illustrate the differences with regard to talents and spells. As of Cataclysm, the mage, like all classes, gets a new spell every two levels. In MoP beta new spells come anywhere between two and four levels with a talent point every 15 levels. The Cataclysm mage before level ten has six spells learned with those six being integral to the mage rotation for levelling (or should be if you are playing a mage correctly). So by level ten the Cataclysm mage player has essentially learned the basics of the class and everything else is added on top of the fundamentals. The Mists of Pandaria beta mage starts with one spell and that is frostfire. By level ten the mage has acquired four other spells: frost nova, counterspell , fire blast and blink. Level ten sees the Mists of Pandaria beta mage has learned to spam frostfire and hopefully use frost nova and blink to get away. Sound like fun?
Things improve slightly at 85 assuming the player has the patience to get there with the minimal motivation that is now being offered in Mists of Pandaria. Our arcane mage has a couple of nifty frost spells that she wouldn’t have had access to in Cataclysm but that isn’t the only change. How has the lack of real talents versus the new perks affected our level 85 arcane mage? It isn’t pretty. If we take our two mages and strip them of all of their gear but keeping their talents (for the Cataclysm mage this means a standard arcane spec with a couple points in frost and a couple points in fire) what we see is surprising. Base crit is significantly reduced in Mists of Pandaria while mana and combat regeneration are significantly higher as well as mastery. Is that important in the grander scheme of things? Only time will tell. At any rate, the changes in our classes will be significant.
There are those that love nothing more than number crunching their talents just as there are those who prefer the standard cookie cutter builds (created by the number crunchers no doubt) and with that in mind it is concerning that Blizzard is taking away that choice as to how a character is built. It is clear to see what Blizzard is trying to do but at this point it doesn’t seem as if it will be the solution they are hoping for. The talent revamp feels nothing like freedom, customization and making choices. It is uninspired at best and a disappointment. Is it dumbing down the World of Warcraft? In a word, yes. There is no real thought involved when deciding what talents to choose. Even if the player did choose badly it is easily corrected much like Blizzard corrected Wrath of the Lich King mistakes with Cataclysm and surely how they will fix the mistake that is the talent revamp of Mists of Pandaria with a future expansion. No harm, no foul right Blizzard?