[Cataclysm] Specialise or die

Blizzard have spoken before about plans for the classes and talent trees in Cataclysm, but now with a new beta patch, we have some actual talent trees to study.

So the way this will work is that at level 10, you will pick one of your class talent trees in which to specialise. The other two will be locked out to you until you have either spent 31 talent points in your primary tree or bought dual spec. When you pick your primary talent tree, you will also get some extra abilities which are associated with that tree.

For example, Protection Warriors get Shield Slam, Vitality (improved stamina) and Vengeance (the stacking damage ability which is common to all tank specs). That means that no non-Protection warriors can ever have Shield Slam, as opposed to now where it’s a baseline skill. Similarly, only Fury warriors can dual wield and only Arms warriors get 2H weapon specialization. So if you want to dps as a protection warrior, you’ll need to do it via sword and shield.

So none of this is finalised yet but I think it’s the clearest picture that we’ve had yet of where the devs plan to go. And it’s somewhere that, “An Arms warrior can throw on a shield and tank an instance,” has no place. It’s also somewhere that you’ll get some of the most iconic abilities for your talent tree as soon as you pick it, rather than at much much higher level.

That at least is a boon. But less so when it means the other specs lose a baseline ability to make it happen.

This mostly affects levelling. It has been fairly common up until now for players to level in a dps spec and still find themselves well able to tank/heal levelling instances. I remember healing a lot of instances while levelling my druid as feral, for example.

That may change. It’s difficult to know yet if there is still the intention to let players heal/tank as offspecs while levelling. But if not, expect longer waits on the LFG. Although many players who intend to play healers will happily accept slower levelling speeds in order to have their healing spec, far far more will decide to just learn to heal later on and go for the fast levelling instead.

And alternatively, there may also be plans to bring down the cost of dual spec (a long long overdue change) and make it available at a lower level.

21 thoughts on “[Cataclysm] Specialise or die

  1. The baked in talents are, frankly, a very welcome change. There’s a lot of specs that, for the most part, don’t actually exist for 50 or 60 levels, like every type paladin, Enhancement shamans, assassination spec rogues and so on, because the core talent that makes them function is all the way up their talent tree.

    • Oh I think it is a good thing.

      But I’m looking at a class which is actually having existing hybrid functionality (shield slam) removed from the baseline in order to do this.

      • I suspect that for the non-tanking classes, tanking is mostly going to resemble tanking before 40. Lots of spamming of high threat moves.

        They’re not going to able to tank heroics, but I suspect normal instances shouldn’t be too much trouble. Shield slam is handy but it’s not that vital for lower level content, beyond taking a bit of pressure off the threat meter.

  2. I don’t know… I’m really biased about the trees I am seeing. As a pvp-lover I fear these trees are very much hurting pvp as it is because unlike PVE where you must specialize to be the best at your role, in PVP you must be as versatile as possible and combine tanking(survivability) with healing(if applicable) with dps(burst).

    Which means usually going deep into the secondary tree to take some benefits that will complement your primary tree. As of right now you can only go 10 points into the secondary tree (that’s limited to Tier 2 talents) making this pretty much very weak.

    As an example, the new frost mages will have to give up Improved CounterSpell which is currently Tier 3 Arcane. Assasination Rogues have no chance of Getting Preparation – which was essential in the arena for that second Vanish.

    For PvE it is all fine and dandy (as in, nothing much will change), but I really dislike the place things are heading for PVP

    • I highly value versatility. It’s why I play a Druid. I really don’t like the straitjacketing of this design… but I can step back and admit that it’s at least consistent with Blizzard’s insistence on the combat trinity and a “theme park” controlled experience.

      It’s probably a good choice for WoW, but not something I personally like.

      • I am pretty sure most WoW players would be happy with a dual caste system in real life. xD SCNR…

  3. I guess I am one of those few players who is not happy with the way this is going. I prefer my trees to be complicated and the freedom to choose which tree or trees I use to play with. This level of paternalism shown by Blizz I find very stifling and I don’t see why this is necessary to restrict the trees this way. This is not progress; it feels like regression. I see no redeeming qualities about this. And perhaps come Cataclysm…I’ll quite be looking for a new game to play – I’m not paying them to throw a straight jacket on me…

    …sorry, my extereme apologies…I guess this is the best I can do without sounding like a nerd raging troll. I probably do. It just how frustrated I am about this. 😦

    • I don’t have a whole lot of interest in WoW anymore, to be honest. But, looking over the Druid trees it looks like a lot of the fun I had in making an “odd” character will be gone. One thing I really enjoyed on my Druid was being a Feral that could pop out and do a bit of spot healing when needed. I wouldn’t get into a top-flight raiding guild with that spec, sure, but it was fun for me and probably saved the mid-tier guild I was in a few wipes.

      It seems like there’s a lot less choice, at least according to the talent trees Spinks linked. Feral spec for Druids only has 2 options at the first tier, so you have to take all your points in both of them to open up the next level. Maybe it’s easier to deal with, but it’s also a lot more boring.

      Anyway, maybe the final versions won’t suck as bad as I fear. We’ll see….

    • It’s very doubtful that any level 80 will look at the new trees and see the light. But you have to understand that this is mostly to make the 10-60 experience more fun, by giving iconic abilities right at level 10.

      If you only have a level 80 character than these changes probably won’t change much. But if you – like me – have a ton of alts then these changes are awesome.

      • That’s one of my biggest issues, Regis…is infact leveling that I feel leaves very little wiggle room. Especially if you want to run concept characters (which I do a lot). When levelling an Arcane Mage…I’ve always taken a bit in Frost for survival. Or a Combat/Assasin Rogue…taken a bit in Sub for better stealth. Or BM Hunter, take a bit in Marksman for extra umph. Or a Proc Pally…take a bit Ret for a bit of punch. Those options are gone now. And thus everyone will likely level a toon with the least resistance. Therefore most peeps will roll Frost Mages, Sublety Rogues, BM Hunters and Ret Pallies when they level. And then change it when hit max level to which ever tree does best dps or tanking or PvP’ing. So peeps will likely be cookie cutting right from the get go. How is that suppose to be fun?

      • I kinda feel the opposite. I am putting my Hunter on hold to Cataclysm comes out now because I actually want to level Survival, but it’s kinda silly since you don’t get Explosive shot until so late. Now, I can level the way I want to.

      • I think Gordon (We Fly Spitfies) had the most balanced reply to this. And yes it’s the potentail pigeon hol’ing I have the most serious issue with.

        That being said, I’ll make a partial retraction to what I stated…since I don’t know much about the new system well enough to comment. And I have to wait till the polishing and second passes are done with before I become informed. There’s some stuff about it I found interesting and positive as well…so I’ll keep an open mind….

        …so my apologies with shoot from the hip views I posted. 😦

    • I think WoW has become a game for bored and jaded gamers that like to be lead around the world on a nose ring. But for some reason simply do not get bored of that!?!

      The new “protection from your own stupidity” archetype system system is for greater control of your optimum play experience.

      Comrade Blizzard cares for you, in the best MMO evar. Be happy and… you are still playing WoW?

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  5. I’m not too worried the heal/tank trees will find levelling slower. Just from a quick look in the priest and shaman trees, there seems to be a few talents that actually encourage healers to DPS, for example the resto shaman talent that increases the effectiveness of your next heal by 30% after casting one of your shock spells, or for priests, the Evangelism and Archangel talents.

    Likewise for tanks, the Vengeance thing should help with killing stuff quicker solo.

  6. As a warrior tank…. they finally figured out something smart to do with Vigilance, YAY!

    The only other thing that they could add to it that would make it perfect is allowing it to proc revenge too, then all Warrior OT issues are pretty well solved.

  7. I think that Blizzard has gotten a lot of things right with this build. I’m still worried about some of the talent trees, which will hopefully still be iterated on (Feral Druid feels particularly tight, and Holy Priest needs more DPS-oriented stuff so that not every priest feels Disc>Holy until 85, maybe), but given how much things changed since the last build, I have high hopes for the success of this design.

    Gone are the days of spending 5 levels to get +10% armor, and then the next five levels to get +10% one-handed weapon damage, then the next five levels to get +5% dodge, and then the next five levels to get +5% parry. It was ridiculous, and I think it was unnecessary. Very, very few trees in the current game let you make many cool decisions until you hit max level. Even fewer trees offer you any abilities to teach you more about the spec you’re working in until 40 or 50. Sure, it felt kinda cool to build up to “Finally, I learned MS!” But until that point, I was stuck with what, rend and HS? lame.

    As for off-specs of greater than 10 points, I can honestly see Blizzard’s argument. If you look at the trees now, there are a lot of really powerful talents at tier3, and Blizzard can take advantage of the fact that no one can ever pick up both that and most of another tree: if you want to go past tier2 in a tree, you need to spec into that tree. Given that, there’s still lots of off-spec talents in the trees to allow for versatility (druids still get their healing boost from agility, plus offspec for a huge boost to Rejuv), but I think it’s a sound argument that “if your bottom talent doesn’t attract you to the tree, then Blizzard hasn’t done its job.” It may not be my first useful attack, like MS, at the bottom of a tree, but it still should be a goal for anyone playing that tree.

    But, as I said, there’s iteration yet to be done. More choice needs to be added, and many of the talents are still in their old formats – they need to be updated to reflect that they’re worth two levels of progression. -1maul and swipe cost every other level? Yeah, that won’t stay around. But if you want some good examples, check out Elemental Shamans or Protection Warriors: those trees seem fairly well-designed, with a good amount of choice while still encouraging players to max out the tree. The last few points are also very interesting: do you take Deep Wounds or Blood Craze for Prot, now that the latter can be activated by any of that incoming damage?

    Lastly – Blood and Thunder. Are you serious, I can use Rend again? Holy crap. I’ll probably break tons of CC by putting a physical bleed on every target for 18seconds, but damn that will be fun.

    • I’m with you, I thought the prot warrior tree looked pretty good. Or at least it doesn’t break any of the things I like about my warrior plus adds a few fun tweaks (thunderclap+rend= warrior pestilence etc).

      I’m trying to not say too much about that yet since I figure talents will change a lot in beta.

      • The few trees I have played around with, most specifically prot warriors, all seem to have one thing in common; it is VERY hard to make a bad build. Anything you can do with prot, for example, will be viable, just some ways will lean more towards damage/threat, others will lean more toward AOE, or others would be more about survivability, but even if you put every point in prot, and the last few points wherever, you still wouldn’t have a bad build, just a jack of all trades build. Threat wise, you would probably only be 5-10% off a specialized build (Survivability could matter more, depending on how healing works out), instead of the HUGE difference you could make now by not knowing what you are doing.

  8. I like the concept and I’m all for giving classes their necessary spec abilities as soon as they pick the tree. It’s going to help leveling up tremendously (*cough* Priest *cough*) and will also sort out a lot of balance issues because the devs no longer have to worry about players getting enough points to obtain core abilities from more than one tree.

    Still, as you said, it does present the isue of pigeon holing people pretty badly. I can only hope they drop the dual spec facility down to level 20 and make it dirt cheap.

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