Changes to Talents and Class Mastery Coming in Cataclysm

Below the radar, since all of the discussion these past few days has been around the Real ID fiasco and topics related to it, Blizzard announced some significant changes to the way talents will be handled when Cataclysm comes out.

First of all, you’ll pick a single tree and focus on it from the get-go, instead of the confusion that came from hitting level 10 and having three trees wide open for you to play with (that all eventually boiled down to having one single tree and type of spec to focus on when you were max level) and class mastery will come from a combination of your chosen talents and items that will start appearing in the world as drops when you hit level 78.

Here’s the highlight from Zarhym’s post on the forums about the changes:

When players reach level 10, they are presented with basic information on the three specializations within their class and are asked to choose one. Then they spend their talent point. The other trees darken and are unavailable until 31 points are spent in the chosen tree. The character is awarded an active ability, and one or more passive bonuses unique to the tree they’ve chosen. As they gain levels, they’ll alternate between receiving a talent point and gaining new skills. They’ll have a 31-point tree to work down, with each talent being more integral and exciting than they have been in the past. Once they spend their 31’st point in the final talent (at level 70), the other trees open up and become available to allocate points into from then on. As characters move into the level 78+ areas in Cataclysm, they’ll begin seeing items with a new stat, Mastery. Once they learn the Mastery skill from their class trainer they’ll receive bonuses from the stat based on the tree they’ve specialized in.

This effectively means that everything you know about talents has and will change. First, you choose a tree at level 10 and until you have 31 points in that tree, you can’t start dumping points into other trees. When you have 31 points in one tree, the others are available. Also, Mastery will not just appear on items dropped in the world, you’ll also be able to get it from a trainer when you level. Since there’ll be fewer talent points to go around, it won’t be one-per-level like it used to be; it’ll be one for just about every other level.

Make sure you check out the whole announcement to understand how it’ll change things – this is effectively Blizzard’s way to redoing the way talents are handled in the game, and to try and remove some of the monotony around picking a talent tree and going with it because there’s inevitably “only one right way to spec,” as is largely true today.

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