The Warrior’s Charge: Will we have too many talents in Legion?
Looking at the Honor talents in Legion, I realized that there are a number of spec specific talents in the Honor trees. So many in fact, that instead of the eighteen or so talents I was expecting, when you add the Arms, Fury and Protection specific talents you’re looking at ten different talents that only Protection Warriors will get, and another ten talents and Fury another seven that are unique to them. So we’re looking at 35 total honor talents that Warriors can choose from, depending on spec and/or role. Some Honor talents are DPS or Tank specific instead of by spec, and currently they are shared by other classes.
When you then consider the 21 talents each spec has access to, and how some of these talents are also spec or role unique (some shared by Arms and Fury, others unique to each spec, and Protection gets some unique talents as well), we’re starting to look at a lot of options. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it did get me thinking about how character power may be switching away from itemization and towards player-chosen abilities like talents.
Between the Artifact weapon (each of the Artifacts has the rough equivalent of an old school WoW talent tree from 2004), the actual talents, and the Honor talents, you’re looking at a lot of potency that isn’t directly related to itemization. You could argue that Artifacts don’t really force you to make choices, since eventually you’ll have every option on the Artifact’s tree, but that ignores that Artifacts are improved by spending Artifact Power to buy these Artifact Traits, and it’s not cheap. On the Alpha I’m level 108, and I’m not even close to having fully upgraded the first Artifact I got, and having recently acquired a second offspec Artifact I’m even further behind on upgrading that. Essentially the Artifact is a talent tree that costs you a great deal of time to get it upgraded.
Warriors have always been an extremely gear dependent class so the idea of uncoupling performance from gear (the stated goal of the Honor talents is to make players less dependent on gear to PVP) has a lot of interesting permutations for us. Some of the talent choices here aren’t that compelling and won’t change much — the second Honor tier is basically three different ways to take less damage in PVP, for instance. That’s fine. It’s also kind of boring, but it’s an understandable choice to make it boring rather than have certain classes with a huge PVP advantage. That’s one of the dangers of making it talent based. In the past we’ve seen people complain about specific class mobility, or abilities like Mortal Strike or Bladestorm. If any Honor talents from a particular class end up too good, players will gravitate to that class.
In fact, that’s going to happen. There’s not really much that can be done to stop it. Players will come up with the incrementally best class and even spec for PVP, and they’ll ride that class into the ground. It’s inevitable. But making it much more about talents in this way — and specific talents, ones that won’t apply in PVE situations — creates at least a chance of a more nuanced game. More nuanced, and a lot less of the “Okay, so get into PVP, prepare to die a lot and finally get geared enough only to get nerfed before you can enjoy it” cycle.
PVP is only one side of the game, however. Our PVE talents are equally diverse. Warriors have a lot of specialization specific talents this time around, and they’re in constant iteration on the Legion alpha, so anything I write about them is out of date fairly quickly thereafter. But one thing I can point out is this — the Warrior class in Legion has some of the most diverse talent choices of any class, and many of these choices are very situational. You’ll absolutely want to switch on a per boss, or even per trash basis. When you combine that with Artifacts you’ll be working to level up — and therefore have had to choose where to put points — you’re looking at an extreme degree of complexity all told.
Think back to the reason we saw Reforging removed from the game — it was argued that gearing had gotten too complex and people were forced to rely on outside sites just to get the optimal setup for their gear. A valid criticism. But are we headed for that in terms of Artifact traits, talents and honor talents?
Especially when some of these talents will perform better for fight A, but then you’d want to switch for fight B, and if you didn’t get the right traits on your Artifact you’re in trouble. Oh, and Fury outperforms Arms on this fight, hope you’ve kept your Fury Artifact up to date and are familiar with not just how to play Fury, but how to choose from the various talents it doesn’t share with Arms. Throw in the hassle of trying to keep a tanking spec current (and its Artifact as well) and things start getting a trifle ridiculous.
Now, I like customization. I like being able to pick between various talents. Some of the talent choices for the various specs are meaningful and not just ‘X talent does more DPS’ — in some cases they change how you play entirely, between using Raging Blow when it lights up vs. having it on a predictable cooldown, to name just one example. But the fact remains, in the tug of war between complexity and ease of play Blizzard is always waging, Warriors have offloaded a lot of complexity on its talent selections.
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