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Blizzard on New Talent System in Dragonflight

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The WoW development team answered a lot of questions about the new talent system in Dragonflight and clarified how it will work.

The talent system will be completely revamped in Dragonflight. The developers talked more about the system in two blue posts. Let's look at them in more detail!

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  • The majority of nodes are 1 point with some 2-3.
  • Multi-rank talents are mostly passives.
  • At max level, you'll fill out approximately two thirds of the talent tree.

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Hello! We have seen a lot of questions about the talent system preview, here and in other feedback, and want to start answering what we can. Note that it’s still too early for a lot of specifics (including, we can’t post complete trees yet for people to peruse). There is still a lot to discuss about our approach and goals for the system.

Will they be the old style of talents? 1% gains here and there that you put 5 points into, or is each box only 1 point?

Primarily the latter. We’re still experimenting quite a bit with drafting trees, but currently the majority of nodes are 1 point, with some 2-3. It turns out that the game has a lot more custom abilities and bonuses to potentially award in a tree, than it did many years ago. Multi-point passives still exist, although even there, most are more class-specific than simply giving stats. Think of the sorts of passive bonuses that have existed in systems like Conduits, Artifacts, or Azerite. More complex than a plain stat bonus, but simpler than the sort of thing that would currently be a level 50 passive talent or a Legendary. 3-point passives can still have important purposes for doing things like balancing different paths.

What percentage of the tree will be filled out at max level?

Very, very roughly speaking: think something like 2/3. In general it is fine for people to have quite a lot of “stuff”, especially considering that the tree contains many different kinds of things. Some are comparatively basic abilities/bonuses that many players of a given spec will have, some are the more advanced optional bonuses that currently live in systems like Legendaries, as well as optional utility of various kinds. Players need to be able to spend enough points to have some things from all of these categories—having a class/spec that is complete in the way that a current live class is, albeit much more customized. At the same time, enough of the tree has to be left unselected at max level to make the choices between different paths matter, where the points you’re leaving out still include some potentially high-value options. Usual design maxim here: if you feel torn because your last point is leaving out something you’d want, no matter what you do, we’ve probably done it right.

You mentioned being able to save your builds to your character. It would be pretty awesome for a way to share those in the game between players. So someone could just load in someone else’s build and it’s filled in for them.

This is a feature we currently have listed as something we’d like to do, though it’s still too early to say anything more.

Nimox also posted very useful FAQs about the new talent system.

  • The talent system becomes available at level 10 when you pick your spec.
  • For the Evoker, access to talents will be gated behind quests, just like Death Knights work, because they start at a higher level.
  • In the Dragonflight pre-patch, you will have 51 talent points to spend -- 26 in your class and 25 in your specialization tree.
  • In Dragonflight, the number of talents will go up to 61 -- with 31 talents to spend in your class tree and 30 in your spec tree. 
  • You can't spend talents in a spec tree that's different from your current spec.
  • Squares are active abilities, circles are passive effects, and octagons are choice nodes, where you get to pick one of multiple options in that talent node.
  • Talents with multiple ranks require additional points to be spent per rank of the talent.
  • You will be able to save and name many different talent loadouts and swap between them with ease.
  • Thanks to the new system, you will be able to pick two talents that were previously on the same tier.
  • Covenant Abilities, Legendary Powers, and Artifact Traits will be implemented into the new trees.

Blizzard Logo(Source)

In addition to Sigma’s thoughts above, We have gathered several questions (mostly from players on Twitter asking Desvin). Here are our answers to those:

When do talents become available?

  • The talent system becomes available at level 10 when you choose your Specialization for your class. For the Evoker, because they are starting at a higher level, the talent tree will be made available at some point during their starting experience.

How many talent points do you get, and how do you get them?

  • Talent points are obtained by gaining character levels. You gain one point every level, alternating between a talent point for your class tree, and your spec tree. In the pre-patch, at level 60, you will have a total of 51 talent points to spend, with 26 in your class, and 25 in your spec tree. When you reach the maximum level of 70 in Dragonflight, you will have 61 total talent points to spend, with 31 in your class tree and 30 in your spec tree.

Can I get all of the talents in the class and spec tree?

  • No, you will not be able to obtain every talent in these trees. Similar to the current system, max-level builds will have to make decisions about what to include and exclude.

Can I spend points in a spec tree that is different from my current spec?

  • No, you will not be able to spend points in a spec tree different from your own. If you put points into the Restoration Druid tree, and swap to Balance Druid, the effects from the Restoration tree will no longer apply to you. You will have new points to spend in the Balance tree!

How does spending points in the talent tree work?

  • You must obtain talents in the top row of a tree first. Then, after obtaining all ranks in any talent, you may spend points in subsequent talents in the tree (indicated by an arrow). If a talent has multiple arrows leading to it, you may obtain it after fully buying at least one of the prerequisites.
  • Your class tree may grant you 1 or 2 starting talents automatically before you have to start spending points, based on what specialization you are. These do not cost any talent points and are free.
  • Certain rows don’t allow to you progress beyond them until you have spent a certain number of points in talents you have access to.

What do the shapes of the talent points mean?

  • Squares are active abilities. Circles are passive effects. Octagons are choice nodes, where you get to pick one of multiple options in that talent node.

What are the diamond shaped abilities on the sides of the tree?

  • Those are a mechanic that, as of this writing, we are not planning to include. We will give further updates as needed, as we continue making changes to the set of features and mechanics in the system.

What are those talents with a small arrow on both sides of it?

  • Those are talent selection nodes where when you hover over that node, it will present multiple options for you to select one of. These choices can be either a new active ability or a passive benefit.

How do talents with multiple ranks work?

  • Talents that have multiple ranks will require additional points to be spent per rank of the talent. Currently we don’t have any active abilities with multiple ranks, only passive effects. The value of these passive effects may not linearly scale with points invested. You must purchase all available talent ranks of a multi-rank talent to progress further down the tree from this node.

Will some talents be in more than one specialization talent tree?

  • Where this makes sense, yes. For example, both Feral and Guardian might have the Berserk talent in their talent tree, while Restoration and Balance will not.
  • Note: We know that Berserk is not exactly the same for Feral and Guardian, but want to be clear that talents do not have to be exclusive to one spec tree or another because it is in the spec tree, and not the class tree.

Will the class talent tree change at all when changing specs?

  • With very few exceptions, nothing will change in the class tree when changing your specialization. One such exception might be Counter Shot, which will change to Muzzle if you choose Survival. They are both the interrupt button, but are themed differently and have different cooldowns. Keeping that distinction is important.

Is the class tree just utility and the spec tree is where all of the throughput is?

  • No, there can definitely be some throughput-increasing talents in the class tree, but the spec tree likely has the majority of them. One of the main purposes of the class tree is to give you a place to explore parts of your class that are not focused on your main role’s throughput (such as utility, or abilities that are more closely connected to other specializations), so we limit the pressure to make throughput optimizations in the class tree.

Are all talent points new abilities?

  • No, most of them are existing things from the current or past game, but there are also new active and passive abilities in the new class and spec trees.

What about the abilities you gain when you level up in the new player experience on Exile’s Reach?

  • Exile’s Reach is remaining unchanged for the most part, you will still obtain many fundamental class abilities from completing the quests and this content. Your interaction with the new talent system will begin after you reach level 10.

What about some abilities that are super important for gameplay, such as interrupt abilities, that you don’t gain from the starting experience?

  • We are currently trying to focus as many combat-altering abilities as possible into the new talent trees. This can include things such as movement abilities, interrupts, dispels, hybrid healing options, defensive abilities, etc. Our goal is to set up the trees and paths so that there opportunities to choose between different types of utility, but not to, for example, abandon all utility choices entirely in order to maximize your DPS. If you choose not to have an interrupt, it is likely because you traded it out for some other type of utility or CC that you believed would be more useful in the situation. The inverse is also true—specializations that do not have a certain capability in Shadowlands (such as an interrupt) may be able to obtain it by giving up something they currently do have.

Will there be some sort of talent loadouts or preset trees we can swap between?

  • Yes! This is an important tool for you to have when dealing with a more advanced talent tree system. You will be able to save and name many different talent loadouts and swap between them with ease.

Won’t people just go to a website and find a build and just use that instead of experimenting with the talent trees?

  • We’re sure that this will happen. We’re also sure that people will make fun and distinct builds that work for their own style of playing the game.

This talent tree looks very complicated and overwhelming to me compared to the current version of talents in Shadowlands.

  • This is a frequent topic of discussion for us. This new system is definitely more complicated, but also allows for significantly more freedom in you choosing what is important to the activities you are doing while playing the game. There is a cost to this new complexity and depth, but we feel that the benefits of the new talent system are strong enough that it is worth the cost here. We are trying to make sure that new players face a more limited number of choices in the early rows, so that you don’t have to wrap your head around the whole tree until you have spent some time leveling a class. In addition, the easy ability to respec in town means that you don’t have to analyze the entire tree in order to make immediate decisions, as you can simply reallocate the points later if you decide you’d rather be on a different path.

How much of my class is going to be in this talent tree compared to other add-on/extra systems like legendaries, covenants, conduits, soulbinds, etc?

  • We’re trying to put as much class related stuff as we can into this new talent system as a singular place to manage your character. There will still be some abilities that are granted to players from leveling up, but significantly fewer. We recognize that abilities such as Eyes of the Beast, or Astral Recall, or Teleport: Moonglade, aren’t combat altering choices you’re making, and you would be hard pressed to spend a talent point to obtain this ability again. Those abilities are not going away, they are not going to go in the talent tree, they will just be a bonus spell you get while leveling up. Other than that, we’re trying to put as many combat related abilities in the tree as we can, which does mean you are going to have to invest talent points into the system to get your current abilities back.

With the above statement that we have to spend talent points to get our current abilities back, does that mean there is nothing new?

  • Absolutely not! There will be new some new abilities to Dragonflight, as well as returning Artifact traits, set bonuses, legendary effects, etc. The new system also opens up some opportunities for you to get some abilities that were otherwise locked behind a spec choice, or to possibly have combinations that were impossible in Shadowlands, such as multiple talents from the same row at the same time.

Does this mean that I can get talents from any spec on my class with this new system?

  • No, there will still be plenty of things in the spec-specific talent trees. Guardian druids will still see plenty of tanking related things in their spec tree that a Restoration druid cannot obtain, and vise-versa. A Restoration druid can invest more points in the Bear related abilities on the class talent tree for more defensive options just as much as a Guardian druid can invest points into more healing options from the class tree. The new spec talent trees will be heavily focused on your combat role of healer, tank, or DPS.

If a Shadowlands covenant or legendary ability is in the talent tree, and I also have that covenant ability or legendary equipped, what happens?

  • The plan currently is that these nodes will still exist in the talent tree and you can obtain them, but your Shadowlands covenant or legendary ability will override it. You won’t have multiple versions of the same spell to cast, or double stacked legendary effects or anything of the sort. Not every Shadowlands covenant ability, legendary, soulbind, or conduit effect will be staying in the talent tree.

How does respeccing work?

  • Respeccing should work relatively similar to how it currently does in Shadowlands with you being able to swap talent builds around. As far as removing a few nodes and spending them elsewhere, we’re still working on that flow, but want to make it as simple and easy as we can.

What about PvP talents?

  • PvP talents will continue to work the way they do now, there will be PvP talent choice nodes on the new talent UI frame where you choose extra effects while in PvP situations.

What about the API for talents?

  • This is a great question that I’m sure our UI team will work out. You are not forgotten, addon authors or users!

Will (my class) be getting (ability) in the new talent trees??

  • Maybe. There’s a lot of work to be done still, and we need to be careful about how much stuff we’re adding to these trees. If we just put all 21 talents from Shadowlands into the tree, that’s a huge amount of extra stuff your character can get.
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7 minutes ago, Dejo93 said:

aight, looks promising. I'll take this over borrowed power changing every expansion

Shaping up to be a pretty grounded expansion which is fine by me.

I'm good with cool systems like artifacts too though. Guess I'm easy to please lol.

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4 minutes ago, Prophet001 said:

Shaping up to be a pretty grounded expansion which is fine by me.

I'm good with cool systems like artifacts too though. Guess I'm easy to please lol.

eh, cautiously optimistic after the last 2 expansion were disappointing 

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7 minutes ago, Dejo93 said:

eh, cautiously optimistic after the last 2 expansion were disappointing 

Sorry you didn't enjoy them 😕

 

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Hopefully these changes won't negate spec identity and there is going to be enough talents exclusive to them. Wouldn't like the idea if all specs felt too similar with how many abilities/spells they could use.

This, of course, is going to be hard to balance, but it's not like we've got the perfect balance now. What I don't like is how they want to put utility like interrupts and dispels into those trees. This is going to be annoying in pugs and lfr, so maybe they will change their mind (if they are going to listen to feedback, rather than claiming that they are listening to it). Otherwise we are going to get situations like these:

"Rogue, shaman, mage etc. - can you guys interrupt?"

"Nope, didn't spec into interrupt. Max damage!"

"Priest, druid? Anyone? Dispel them!"

"Nope, didn't spec for dispel."

I'm not going to miss borrowed powers, so this is a good change. Would like the mission table gone as well, but I guess it's going to stay.

Edited by Arcling

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Until the next expansion when someone feels that this needs to be incorporated into the base class and we have a new system again ... which is what has happened every other time !

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It's nice that they keep trying, of course there is going to be a "one spec to rule them all" for all the specific occasions.
The previous simplified system was something of a resignation to that fact.
But I like that you are now given more of a choice, so instead of having a "worthless tier of talents with zero significance" you can now get two lower tier talents or something if it comes to it, although judging by the prereqs and forced choice nodes in the tree look, you might have to get it regardless and be unable to combine two same tier things that might have been exciting to have.
Guess we'll wait and see.

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I'm a little confused with these Shadowlands covenant abilities returning, are these just soulbind and legendary passives or do we also keep some of the core abilities such as Fleshcraft and Soulshape? I'd like to keep Abomination limb on my Dk if possible.

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2 hours ago, Darkzarupia said:

I'm a little confused with these Shadowlands covenant abilities returning, are these just soulbind and legendary passives or do we also keep some of the core abilities such as Fleshcraft and Soulshape? I'd like to keep Abomination limb on my Dk if possible.

most likely not all of them will be included usually when they do stuff liek this they add one or 2 that make sense and wont be game breaking if may not be from the covenant u prefer for ur class since what covenant u use wont have any effect when DF launches 

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On 4/21/2022 at 11:35 AM, Arcling said:

Would like the mission table gone as well, but I guess it's going to stay.

Many people enjoy it and...being that it's totally optional...don't see why it should be removed. Don't like it...don't do it.

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23 minutes ago, Calysia said:

Many people enjoy it and...being that it's totally optional...don't see why it should be removed. Don't like it...don't do it.

It's not optional when quests and important resources are tied to it. You couldn't ignore it in those expansions that featured it.

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