#1 - June 3, 2016, 10:12 a.m.
The last two Beta builds have included a number of changes to talents for many specs, most of which involved rearranging the talent trees, and/or tweaking some talents to be useful in more situations. I'd like to give a little context about those changes, and discuss the further implications of them.
Goals and Obstacles
One of the goals of talents in Legion is to provide more meaningful choice than before, with a focus on customizing your gameplay to suit your tastes. More than ever before, there are options to add or remove complexity, skew what your spec excels at, or opt into alternative rotation styles.
We've moved away from talent rows containing 3 flavors of the same thing, to choices that are impactful in completely different ways. We're not going back on that, but trying out differences as extreme as we were has revealed some new problems. In many cases, the difference between talents was so stark in common situations that it became more of a 'test', and less of a choice.
The Current Situation
There are no hard and fast rules to what makes a good talent row or talent tree, and there are legitimate exceptions to nearly every idea about good talent design, but one of the biggest sticking points is around multi-target damage. Talents can have a huge variety of impacts on damage, falling on a spectrum that ranges from purely increasing single target damage (such as Pyromaniac), to being awesome in mass-AoE but having no value at all against a single target (such as Fire and Brimstone). The majority of talents are somewhere in the middle, offering solid value in most situations.
In many cases, we had talent rows that pitted talents at opposite ends of the spectrum against each other, such as the Arcane level 15 row, where you had the choice of two purely single-target talents against a talent that offered only a little against a single target, but massive value in AoE. This wasn't an interesting choice, it was just a test of whether you could pick the right talent for the situation, and the difference was so strong that you felt punished for having the wrong one.
The Solution and Further Implications
However, we don't want to go back to a world where a talent row is about picking which slightly different flavor of AoE you want. We've opted to rearrange things such that you have more choices that mix generally useful talents vs the more specialized talents. Hopefully that line between the theoretical best talent and the others will be a bit more blurry now, and the talent you do choose won't feel like a wasted talent point in many situations.
As you may have guessed, these changes are going to require a cascade of other related changes, mostly around tuning. Not every talent row is equally valuable (nor are they intended to be), and with new talents competing with each other, adjustments will have to be made. Talents that moved, and their competition, will have to be retuned to become viable choices. Additionally, the overall strength of some specs in common situations will be adjusted to account for talents now offering more or less in those situations. An example of this is Assassination Rogues, whose baseline AoE damage was low, but had an extremely strong AoE talent in Blood Sweat, creating one of those obvious 'test' problem cases. We opted to remove Blood Sweat, adding choice to that talent row, and will be improving their baseline AoE capabilities instead.
We'd love to hear your feedback about these changes, and what you think about talent choices in general at this point. Thanks!