When World of Warcraft’s Dragonflight expansion ushers in a significant rework of the game’s current talent system later this year, it will do so with the goal of putting players in control, even if that means letting players make “bad” builds.
Blizzard has outlined its goals and philosophy behind the new talent tree system in a new blog post, giving players of the long-running MMORPG more details on what to expect come the arrival of Dragonflight. Certain core abilities, like basic class-defining combat abilities, non-combat related abilities, and group buffs or spells, will be obtained by each class prior to level 10 without needing to invest any talent points.
As for the rest of a class’s toolkit, players will need to select them via the game’s talent trees, which are reminiscent of the talent trees from the early days of the MMO. One talent tree will be for the class as a whole, while another will be for a chosen specialization for that class. Players will earn their first class tree point at level 10 and their first specialization point at level 11, after which points for each tree will alternate with each level gained. At level 70, players will have 31 class points and 30 specialization points.
That level of freedom will allow for what Blizzard calls “very bad builds,” though the goal is “to keep the player in the driver’s seat of their character’s growth within their class.”
“There are limits and guardrails here, such as those abilities that are automatically given,” the blog post states. “And furthermore, our goal in designing the trees is not to trap players in complicated choices in order to make a functional build; in fact, it’s the opposite–it’s to set up the trees with intuitive paths that lead you to reasonable builds.”
Talents higher in the tree will be more common, while talents lower in the tree will be more specialized and geared towards specific max-level builds. Major abilities or talents that grant powerful utility that Blizzard expects to be major parts of a class or specialization will be easily obtained from the beginning of the talent trees so they don’t constrain other build choices.
Blizzard uses the post to address concerns some players had about having to “re-buy” with talent points certain abilities that were a baseline part of any given class in the game’s most recent Shadowlands expansion. Blizzard says it hears that feedback primarily as a concern over each class having “less stuff,” but that it hopes players won’t feel that way when presented with 61 talent points to do with as they see fit.
“After starting with your basic class and spending 61 points in a tree, will you feel ‘pruned?'” the post reads. “Openly, our goal is that you don’t. We’ll be watching for feedback on this. Our goal is for a Dragonflight character to feel like it has a similar amount of power and complexity–which can be hard to quantify–as a Shadowlands character. The main difference is you getting to choose which active buttons and passive bonuses make up that toolset, and potentially having combinations that were previously impossible.”
Dragonflight is slated to arrive later this year, though the lack of a playable alpha roughly six months prior to the game’s planned release has some fans concerned and asking for Blizzard to delay the expansion to next year.