Friday, July 2, 2010

Cataclysm Talent Tree "Bloat"

Blizzard's stated goal in revamping the talent trees for Cataclysm and adding the Mastery aspect has been to remove a lot of the "required" talents from the trees and leave players with some options for utility talents.  They know they can't eliminate "cookie cutter" specs, but what they want is for those specs to include the sentence "spend the last 5-10 points anywhere you want".

So far, they are failing.

The Cataclysm NDA lifted with the beginning of closed beta this week, and we've all gotten open access to the talent trees in the current beta build.  They are all obviously under heavy progress and subject to great change, but we can see that they've already done substantial work on some trees, and so far I'm disappointed, especially with the Death Knight talent trees.

You can play with the talent calculator here:

You may want to open it up just to follow along, since I'll be naming talents but don't know of a way to link tooltips for them that are up-to-date with the latest Cata beta build.

Try building a frost death knight dps spec, taking only talents that give a direct DPS boost.  Not only can you do that quite easily, but you can't even afford the one point in Hungering Cold without a dps hit!  The other two trees present similar conundrums, as do the current warrior trees and many others.

When people complain about "bloat" on the forums, the devs have been known to respond with "Just because you can't get everything you want doesn't mean the tree is bloated."  That statement is true on its face, but unfortunately isn't true in practice right now.  Most trees are actually bloated because there are so many dps talents (or healing, or mitigation) that you can't take a single utility talent.  None of these trees leave the player with a choice between utility talents.  Elitist Jerks will not be advising these classes to "put those last 5-10 points anywhere you want".  Instead, the cookie-cutter specs will be as rigid as ever.

This is fairly easy to rectify by removing some dps/healing/mitigation talents and adding more utility talents.

In the case of the death knight frost tree, it's a bit more complicated.  All of the pure dps talents there also effect the playstyle of the tree, causing them to favor Obliterate or make sure Frost Fever is applied. 

Start by cutting down a few of the talents that cost a lot of points.  Black Ice, Icy Talons, and Killing Machine are good candidates to become 3-pointers: just pick 2 of them.  Then, consolidate a few talents.  Drop the 4% strength from Brittle Bones and merge it with Glacier Rot as a 2-point talent.  I just freed up 7 points, which is smack dab in between 5 and 10.  I may have made a few of the individual talent points you'd spend overpowered, but I simultaneously made a few other talent points you'd need to spend in utility talents to get down the tree give you zero dps, plus I took 4% strength out of the tree.

Despite the bloat in many trees, one great victory has been the rogue trees.  A class traditionally ruled by spreadsheets more than any other, rogues will now actually be able to take utility talents without gimping their DPS.  Just try to build a combat rogue spec with pure dps talents.  It can't be done.  Instead, I get to reduce the cooldown on evasion and make sprint break snares.  Awesome!

Hopefully Blizzard will use that tree as an example as they continue to work on the other trees.

1 comment:

Pangoria Fallstar said...

I have an issue with the talent trees. I thought they were going to be more about fun talents as opposed to dps increase talents.

You know, things that help change how you play your class, like how Enhancement Shamans get Spirit Wolves, Dual Wield, Instant Ghost Wolf, Stormstrike, Lavalash, Maelstrom Weapon, etc etc.