Following up on some mock-ups, Blizz has started releasing information about the new talent trees for Dragonflight.
The first one that got my interest was Priest – I suck at the first two that they released, and that’s okay, folks, try not to be so judgey.
But I truly perked up and came into my own when they released the specs for Hunter – and WoWHead added it to their simulator (1).
This is not your daddy’s talent tree
First of all, let’s be clear – the talent trees of Cata and earlier are not going to happen. This is a new thing.
There are four key differences.
- There are actually two talent trees, with two “pools” of talent points to draw from. One which is just $class, and one which is relevant to your designated specialization – for Hunters, that is Beast Master, Survival, and Marksman, for example.
- In case it was not clear, each Specialization has its own talent tree, plus a generic $class tree.
- As you may have gathered from (1), there is none of this nonsense of going into a different spec’s talents for a specific talent.
- There are a LOT more talents to choose from, roughly 30-ish for each talent tree (class and specialization), for a real possibility of some fine-grained differentiation(5).
Okay, let me ‘splain (2) a bit. Let me ‘splain it in BM Hunter terms.
Back in The Old Days™, we’d go into the Survival spec to get a specific talent (Clever Traps, if you’re interested) and otherwise focus on BM talents. In the case of Dragonflight talent trees, this is not a possibility – you can’t ‘borrow’ talents from Survival. However, since several talents have been mainlined as simply “hunter” this may change things a bit. Though I don’t see Clever Traps as a talent in the generic pool, that doesn’t mean that that won’t be the case at release date, or that we can’t effectively reach that same outcome with what we have in the “Hunter” tree.
The same applies to other classes as well, though the only one that I am interested in so far is Disco Priest. Yes, I do run an Outlaw Rogue, but since I suck at Outlaw Rogue, I am going to keep my big mouth shut on that topic and stick to what I know.
To start with, Disco has the Disco again, baby. Prayer of Mending has become a baseline Priest ability, and I am all a-tingly over this. I mean, it’s not even an OPTION, you just get it as a priest. I don’t care if I have to share it with Holy and Shadow(3), I am just happy to have it back.
Long-term Beef Time. Ever since they relieved Disco priests of the ability to fling the Frisbee(2) around, I have been pretty emo about it. Disco without the Disco is just wrong. Disco priests should be flinging the frisbee around, and if you don’t agree, feel free to go play FFIV or whatever that’s called. I’ll be here to accept your apology when you come crawling back. And you will.
Anyhoo. I’m sure at this point that there is someone out there dunking on me mentally because I am sooooo hyperfocused on Disco. And that’s fine. I am. Get over it. There was a time that I found Disco / Shadow to be an interesting and provacative dual spec, but once they made Disco survivable on its own, Shadow was kicked to the curb. Good luck being third-tier DPS, guys, I feel ya, but only a little bit since if you wanted to play Afflock you shoulda rolled Afflock. Which I did.
I am not gonna prognosticate on the One True Way for Disco priest or BM Hunter. Not at this point. It’s clear that these talent trees are changing based on feedback, which is as it should be. But, also, I have little in the way to offer until I can actually bring up toons with these talent trees and test them. I am not a mental theorycrafter. I am a grinder. A person that just grinds away at the work at hand until it is done. This was recently presented to me as a compliment, and I accept it in full appreciation of the perspective that informed it. There are people that excel at the theory and make it work for them, and there are people that try the theory out and iterate on it until it works. That’s me. Put me in front of a training dummy, I’ll start to give you some decent real-world feedback. Show me a chart, I’ll tell you it’s pretty.
But I will say this. There will eventually be identified specific cookie cutter talent specs for every class. In some cases there will be multiples. I recall deeply the Destro Warlock variations of yore, which, I must be honest, basically were all the same on the combat logs, but it was great to me to see that there were so many paths to excellence for Destro Locks at the time.
Let me be a bit less apocryphal, in the form of BM Huntery which I am the most invested in.
In the past, there were a couple of different routes to maximum effectiveness for BM hunters. One was a pure DPS spec. I’ve always been of the opinion that that spec was a poor substitute for a MM build that focused more on DPS than anything else, and was less effective. You wanna go MM, go MM, man. Ain’t no thang.
You may be asking, what is there to offer in a DPS spec, other than DPS? And the answer is, utility. This is an ill-defined term that can be used – or misused – in several ways. My own experiences in Karazhan are a good example, as exemplified by BRK’s own example. Basically, one of the things that classic BM Hunters excelled at was utility. You can see this in BRK’s video, which showed him using his pet as an off-tank for the sub-bosses in the Moroes encounter. Using his trapping and pet, he was able to occupy one of those four adds while assisting the rest of the team in burning down the others one at a time. As I mentioned earlier, Clever Traps figures into this largely. BRK was my BM daddy, I admit it. I was nowhere near as competent at this dance as he was, but, given his example, I volunteered to fill that role in the raid, and I more or less fulfilled it. (we will not discuss That Time Grimmy Pulled The Whole Room)
So like I said, there are some cookie-cutter aspects to this, Fer Shur. But I ask you, in the current system, how is that not also true? The whole cookie cutter thing is a red herring.
PS: A few days after I started writing this, I saw one of our “premier” MMO blogs posting about why the new talents were Bad and the tiered talents were Good. Ignoring, of course, that if something with 45,000 possible combinations could be cookie-cutter’d, then something with 30 possible combos could, as well, and would be 10000x more likely to be. But I is not a Big Time Professional Blogger so please ignore me.
Can’t Get There from Here
One thing I’ve noticed from the talent trees is that you can’t get all the top-tier talents, at all. You can get, generally, two out of six or so, maybe three but I’m thinking that won’t happen unless you’re super-focused on those top-tier talents. This in a way simulates one of the features of the Classic trees, in that you had to make some choices along the way and that pretty much set your “specialty”. Nowadays, Blizz is more “tell don’t show” in their approach so rather than having your choices determine your specialty, your specialty determines your possible choices. Funny ol’ world.
I like it
At this time, in this place(4), I like what I see. Sure, there are many unanswered questions, such as:
- Fluidity – as in, right now, the talent trees presented may change. That’s fine. Alpha is kinda like that, troopers.
- Changing specs – will WoW preserve our builds, or will we need an addon?
- Will we be able to save and swap out builds, or will an addon be required?
- Will Specialization be a thing in 11.0? Okay, maybe that’s a long game question. But with the new talent trees, maybe we just chuck that concept. Specializations are, after all, an artifact of the tiered talents we currently have.
- What’s the 11.0 game? Will new talents be added or will the current trees be re-scaled in a form of “level squish” sort of operation?
Some of these questions are abstract, others more relevant to our upcoming experience within the next four and a half months. Most are along the lines of “will I need an addon to get around this possible issue?”, I guess. There’s actually a lot of room for a good addon here, I suspect. I doubt I have the skill to write it myself, though I can see its outline in my mind’s eye.
But overall I feel like this is a step in the right direction. A way to make talents interesting and applicable again. I mean, you can trot out all the arguments in favor of the “tiered” approach, but the relentless unremitting response will be, and always will be, NOBODY CARES. Imma go to Icy Veins and grab my talent specs and that’s the end, because there’s nothing there to tinker with.
I have in the past been critical of “the illusion of choice” vis-a-vis the Legion weapon trees which were not trees and really were not choices other than in what order you went. This here is a different animal, and, while it may devolve down to cookie cutters, there is still the potential to be an individual and blaze a trail, no matter HOW WRONG it might be. As a BM Hunter, Disco Priest, and Demo Warlock, I’m used to people choosing wrong, and forgiving them. It takes all kinds, folks.
- Be aware, there are pending changes to all specs. What you see is not what you get.
- Apologies if I got the link wrong. As previously stated, these things are fluid. Trying to link to future abilities is dicey. Always in motion, the future is.
- I am somewhat intrigued at what a Shadow version of the Frisbee might do.
- As of July 14, the alpha launched, and we are getting, as they say in Mexico, mucho feedback.
- There are actually more than 30, but you get more or less 30 points to spend in each tree.
It is currently July, 2022, and I am concerned about Blizzard’s sense of time.
Let me set the stage.
The next expansion was announced in April, 2022.
Given past performance, everybody with most of a brain expected a 2023 release date.
Yet, apparently, they posted Dragonflight to the Blizzard Store with a “released no later than December 31, 2022” date.
What does this mean to us?
Well, first of all, a little math.
Dec 31, 2022 release date means that the pre-release for Dragonflight, aka version 10.0, will be pushed to accounts around November 26, 2022. That’s right, a full six weeks before the commercial release date. Which is (does fast math) around four and a half months from now.
I am beyond belief that this is achievable. Sure, they’ve bought an entire company. But, as of this date, July 11 2022, they have yet to roll out Alpha.
As of the date of this writing, it is mid-July. If we were expecting a release by end of year 2022, I would expect the Beta to be in full swing. Blizzard’s past performance simply doesn’t jibe with this proposed release date. The only way I can see this working out is that there is yet another wrinkle that we haven’t yet perceived. Maybe they’ve changed how they do things for the testing cycle and we’ll see a game far closer to complete when Alpha rolls. I have no idea. I am well known for having opinions, but in this case the tank is dry. I got nothing.
If you’re a player that plays the long game, you are going to have some decisions to make real soon now. In my case, I have a lot going on in the AH that will change when we hit a certain point before the pre-patch, as will hundreds of other Goblins. There is a point where you shift from “current patch” to “outgoing patch” mode. A large part of that involves dumping things you were saving for use in crafting and so forth. As an example, Jasra keeps one full stack of each kind of cloth, dumping the rest on the AH. Soon that will need to change to “just dump it all” until expansion rolls, at which point we shift that to a legacy mode because we’ll be collecting DragonCloth and Super DragonCloth.
So there’s a dance of sorts that will play out. The interesting part will be, do you bet on them rolling the pre-patch on time, or do you bet on them missing the date completely? To a goblin, this is about maximizing profits, and the discussion about the expansion is only in terms of financial opportunities.
The next two months are going to be so very interesting, because if there aren’t significant events between now and then, the Scandal will be something around the lines of Suspected Missed Deadlines.
People that habitually generate drama wear me out. But apparently game companies doing same do not. Go figure.