Rise of Specialization
In addition, we want to focus the talent trees even more towards your chosen style of gameplay right away. We want that first point you spend in a tree to be very meaningful. If you choose Enhancement, we want you to feel like an Enhancement shaman right away, not thirty talent points later. When talent trees are unlocked at level 10, you will be asked to choose your specialization (e.g. whether you want to be an Arms, Fury, or Protection warrior) before spending that first point. Making this choice comes with certain benefits, including whatever passive bonuses you need to be effective in that role, and a signature ability that used to be buried deeper in the talent trees. These abilities and bonuses are only available by choosing a specific tree. Each tree awards its own unique active ability and passives when chosen. The passive bonuses range from flat percentage increases, for example a 20% increase to Fire damage for Fire mages or spell range increases for casters, to more interesting passives such as the passive Rage regeneration of the former Anger Management talent for Arms warriors, Dual-Wield Specialization for Fury warriors and Combat rogues, or the ability to dual-wield for Enhancement shaman.
The active abilities unlocked with the initial talent tree selection are abilities that are core to the role being chosen. Our goal is to choose abilities that let the specializations come into their own much earlier than was possible when a specialization-defining talent had to be buried deep enough that other talent trees couldn’t access them. For example, having Lava Lash and Dual-Wield right away lets an Enhancement shaman feel like an Enhancement shaman. Other examples of abilities players can now get immediately by choosing the related talent specialization at level 10 include Mortal Strike, Bloodthirst, Shield Slam, Mutilate, Shadow Step, Thunderstorm, Earth Shield, Water Elemental, and Penance.
Getting Down to the Grit
The talent trees themselves will have around 20 unique talents instead of the (roughly) 30 talents of today, and aesthetically look a bit more like the original World of Warcraft talent trees. The 31-point talents will generally be the same as the 51-point talents we already had planned for Cataclysm. A lot of the boring or extremely specialized talents have been removed, but we don't want to remove anything that’s going to affect spell/ability rotations. We want to keep overall damage, healing and survivability roughly the same while simply providing a lot of the passive bonuses for free based on your specialization choice.
While leveling, you will get 1 talent point about every 2 levels (41 points total at level 85). Our goal is to alternate between gaining a new class spell or ability and gaining a talent point with each level. As another significant change, you will not be able to put points into a different talent tree until you have dedicated 31 talent points to your primary specialization. While leveling, this will be possible at 70. Picking a talent specialization should feel important. To that end, we want to make sure new players understand the significance of reaching the bottom of their specialization tree before gaining the option of spending points in the other trees. For all intents and purposes, we intend to make sure dual-specialization and re-talenting function exactly as they do today so players do not feel locked indefinitely to their specialization choice.