I’ve discussed what I would do to change the way classes work in WoW. Now, I want to discuss how the talent tree should be altered. First let me say that the so-called talent tree being introduced in Mist of Panderia is a complete joke. It’s not a “tree” per se. It’s picking similar abilities that make the developers’ lives easier when it comes to balancing out each class for PVP purposes. Glyphs are even worse, but that’s an entirely different story.
The thing is that a talent tree really should be a skill tree, something similar to what was done in the original two Diablo games. Skill trees simply are putting points you get from levels into a particular talent/ability to enhance the flavor of it. The problem with WoW this entire time partly has been attempting to balance out PVP. The other problem was creating so-called talent points that really did nothing special for a class, except boost a statistic here and there.
Having a per-level skill point is a great idea in that it can be seen as a reward for reaching a new level. Otherwise, leveling is just a chore to unlock one ability at a time. Since MoP will have 90 levels, not every level will have meaning. Instead, leveling will be just a longer chore that only provides health and a few additional stats.
What a real skill/talent tree could do is take a class’ existing talents and enhance them. For instance, take a mage’s fireball spell. It’s considered a core spell for a mage using the fire tree and certainly is part of their rotation. The current way things work is that certain talents may reduce cast time, or proc another ability, etc. But all that leads someone into a rotation, which for the most part is boring and just another chore to learn.
Instead of forcing people into a rotation, the way a real talent/skill tree would work is focus on a few abilities, enhance those and provide a smoother game play. Compare for instance the way an arcane mage’s rotation works against a demonology warlock. You can’t because demonology warlock’s are horribly complex at the moment with too many things to deal with while an arcane mage only needs to worry about one button for the most part.
I think what would be better is focusing on certain abilities and providing various customizable options. Let’s go back to the mage’s fireball spell example. Right now, the biggest issue with fireball is the cast time. In the case of a fire mage, they have a talent to reduce the cast time as well as certain talents that help proc the fireball. But I think making an ability dependent upon the chance another occurs is kinda silly. Instead, what I would do is provide say 3-5 options for the fireball that a mage can spend points into like reducing cast time, reducing aggro, increasing damage, increasing the critical strike chance, leaving a DoT on the target, exploding into a radius, etc. Say the mage put everything into all these talents. So the mage has one powerful ass fireball. But say that there’s a talent for shields. As a result, the mage is left vulnerable because they put all their eggs into a single basket.
Or what if we went back to some of the older hybrid specs like the Shockadin (a paladin that used holy shock as a DPS rather than healing option). A retribution paladin could then perhaps have holy ranged attacks that compliment their melee assault.
If we did things in this manner, we would have to define a way for scaling talent points. Some games double points each time they’re increased. Since WoW has only 85-90 levels, it would be hard to do it this way. Then you also run into problems where powerful abilities unlocked at higher levels might have multiple areas people were saving points for a long time. In those instances, you’d either limit the number of points people can place or limit abilities available overall to several core abilities and make talent points the method for evolving an ability.
But I like this idea. I think that there’s just too many buttons being mashed and most of them are pretty much meaningless versions of damage, healing, CC, etc. I really liked the idea of Diablo where you could put tons of points into a firewall spell and create massive walls of flame that last for longer periods as you continued putting points into that ability. Right now, you get an ability and that’s pretty much it. Sure in MoP, glyphs add special effects, but those are just visual. I want the ability to customize how those effects can work depending on my game play style.