Today I want to play a bit of devil advocate with Gordon from We fly Spitfires who talks about how he’d rather have the Mist of Pandaria talents in SwTor over more classic talent trees where everyone ends up picking the same. He argues that since we all end up with the same choices, why bother with talent trees? Why not go with MoP system of having the same build with a few talents at every X level for flavor?
Here’s what I don’t buy with this argument. As soon as you have a choice between a number of abilities, either one will be superior to the others and become the default choice or they offer insignificant advantages which make the choice meaningless. MoP talents clearly falls into the former option. For example if I look at the Dk talents, Outbreak is the clear winner for any raiding DK and in the second tier Bone Shield is the default choice for any tank. It’s still a talent tree, but with a lot less choice.
Talent trees offer depth
Yes, if your into min-maxing, your choices in a talent tree will be the same as the rest. But, and this is where it gets interesting, while most of your choices are the same you still have a bit of wiggle room to adjust the spec to your preferences. Gordon is right when he says that being 2% better in swords is not very exciting but maybe that’s what you need. Or maybe you want that Freezing grenade talent because your raid is short on CC or it could be you want a run buff or that a friend covers a critical buff and allows you to choose other talents.
Whatever your need or situation, a talent tree offers you customisation that the simplified MoP model simply does not offer.
Another great feature of talent trees is that it allows for experimentation that sometimes leads to some very original and efficient builds.
The Jedi Shadow tank spec is a good example of this. Jedi shadows are at their core a melee dps class but with clever mixing of talent trees choices, players have found out a viable tanking spec. It’s not something that would have been possible with MoP model.
Edit: That was a bad example which LaralSong pointed out to me. I misread the information on Shadow tanks. However, the point still stands I believe and you could replace Shadow tank with the Unholy Dk of Wotlk for example.
Finally, there’s quite a few players out there that don’t care about optimizing their characters and just want to pick whatever talents they feel is cool or helpful to them. I’d rather give them more choice to experiment with whatever crazy build they want and not restrict them.
I’m not saying that Blizzard and Gordon reasoning are wrong. They’re right when they say that most talent trees end up being close copies of each other. However, even with their new system it will end up being the same because as soon as you put a choice in front of a player, someone somewhere will tell you what is the optimal choice. There’s no escaping that. Knowing that, I’d rather give more options to the players in case they do want to experiment rather than restrict them.