Let's Talk About Talent Trees

I'll start by saying I haven't been able to find much on this topic. I was able to find some information about the classes but nothing as unique talking about builds. From my understanding we have 8 classes planned. You have the option to choose a "main" class that cannot change and then a "sub-class" that you can change. Opening up the possibility of 64 classes. (Apparently you can pick a main class and then pick the same class again as your sub-class.) I'll break my post into two general sections. First I will try to plead my case for the positive values of a talent, or skill, tree system. The second will be to try to argue against counter points to this system.

With that said, I think something has been lost in some recent MMOs with the loss of Talent Trees. There is some kind of charm in the simple progression of a talent tree. A talent tree provides simple things such as a small "carrot on a stick" while leveling on to much greater things such as giving the player the true feeling of customization/uniqueness.

Some of the Pros:

<strong>1) Makes each level-up feel a bit more satisfying.</strong> (Sometimes just little stats increases while sometimes gaining those important skills)

<strong>2) Allows you to individualize your spec.</strong> (I like the idea of making your character a bit uniquely yours. Will you ever truly be entirely unique in skills? Maybe not. But why not provide players that feeling of customization? Letting them explore how combos might work out.)

<strong>3) More Player choice.</strong> (I remember back when Dragon Age 2 had come out. One of the flaws of the game was that it forced players to be Human only, rather than the options provided by it's predecessor. After this had come to be I remember a developer talking about the female dwarf. He mentioned something like less than 1% of all playthroughs used a female dwarf. However they had discovered that players enjoy being given options, even if they don't take them. Meaning that, even if not executed players enjoy knowing that they had the option to make a choice, even if they personally don't choose to take it.)

<strong>4) Nostalgia</strong> (From what I've read in the BLOG and videos released it appears that AoC is trying to "Make MMOs Great Again." Really meaning that the devs feel the genre has gone "off the tracks" and they are trying to bring it back to its roots while expanding upon the genre's strength. With that said, I think something has to be said for players coming back to some concepts they might have experienced in previous games that would be welcome.)

<strong>5. It's worked before and can work again. </strong>(Some of the most successful MMOs have utilized this feature in the past. Many of them during the "golden ages" of the game's existences. Also, when I heard about the "main class" and "secondary class" I can't help but think about another MMO called Rift that utilized a similar feature. So we have examples of where it worked in well know games, like WoW and then also some other variants with multi-class dynamics)

Now I'll attempt to counters some of the Cons I've heard attributed to Talent Tree systems.

<strong>1) Talents Trees only provide illusion of choice.</strong> (My initial response would be to refer back to point #3 of my Pros. But to face this question more directly... The answer is kind of a yes and no. In some ways classes/specs will always have a mathematically superior build for specific functions. However this game appears to be less linear in that regard. For example, what's best for a castle siege is likely not best for dueling, which is likely not best for attacking caravans which is likely not best for defending them. So why not give people the ability to specialize? I should also add that even generic things like stat boosts can add dynamics to the game if needed.)

<strong>2. Impossible to Balance.</strong> (Is this really true? Do we have any evidence that games with talents trees are balanced much worse than games without them? Unless the devs seek to homogenize all classes then intrinsically some classes/specs will perform some functions better. Also, I'd rather devs "go out on a limb" a bit and try to add uniqueness rather than play defensive and make the specs too boring.)

<strong>3. Unnecessarily Complicated.</strong> (I think this can be a good thing. Quite honestly I'd rather the game challenge players intellect rather than seem mindless. This is one of those areas where complexity can be added but not in a way that is so insurmountable. It should also help to build communities as players will have reason to discuss and debate choices.)

In closing, I liked our Skill/Talent Trees and would like to see them in this game. At least in some form. I don't know how much of this has already been decided on the development side but I thought I'd throw this out to see how the community feels on the topic.

What are your thoughts out there in the community?


  • bump* b/c i would like to know as well

  • I think this entirely depends on how it's handled by the developers.

    Long story short, I trust whatever they throw at us as their original design.

    Sure, it'll have it's testing phases, feedback, etc. - but if the classes themselves are done correctly, then a talent tree shouldn't even be needed.

    They have already talked at length about "augments", or ways to augment your different abilities - whether through main class, secondary class, profession, quests, etc.  This, in my opinion, is the way they're going to be successful with skills.  Imagine having to discover the skill augment after exploring a specific path?

    And with everything in the marketplace being player driven - this will even generate competition among professions.  To simplify - imagine there's a really cool profession that gives you the best augment to an ability in the game for what your goal is.  If lots of people choose that, it might drive the market up to make it expensive to get very far in that profession.  Or it might lower the prices of others, and make them more valuable.

    TL;DR - There's so many options and opinions out there - I'm more than happy to see what Intrepid Studios comes out with first.
  • @Glory to make it simple I'm going to agree or disagree with your main Pros and Cons then go into my opinion on the subject
    P1: Agree
    P2: Disagree
    P3: Disagree
    P4: Extremely Disagree
    P5: Agree to Disagree- lol
    C1: Agree
    C2: Slightly Agree
    C3: Disagree

    Now that you see where my stance is I will elaborate. Point 1 is a strong reason why a talent tree is nice working your way through it is fun during the leveling process and makes it feel as if your character is progressing.  Pro 2&3 are basically the same thing worded in a different way. Con 1 makes my point. With how classes work in this game, most subclasses. You already have a ton of choice, each class has 8 option to augment with. This in a way is almost a talent tree in itself due to how you plan to augment your abilities. Coming at it from a PvE perspective you are generally given little to no choice in talent, math always wins, with the exception of utility. PvP wise talent doesn't usually give much choice either. ArcheAge had many talents but b/c you can only pick so many you had to take xyz because zyx from another class made you if you wanted to be relevant in a fight. WoW has moved away from a complex talent tree to a very simple one, but WoW also balances PvP separately from its PvE content because WoW PvP is instanced. Pro 4 makes me cringe, to be honest, the word 'Nostalgia' just makes me think you are looking at old MMOs with rose-colored glasses. Vanilla WoW was trash, in comparison to today's WoW. No one wants to grind for 4 hours anymore to get 4 levels. Bosses in Vanilla where 90% tank and spank, classes where more unnecessary complex than fun. The reason so many people thought it was so great was that it was new. No one had ever been experienced an MMO similar to it. I loved playing in BC -Cata, but changes they have made to the game have bettered it, I think Legion will go down as one of the best expansions. So, all in all, I think that a small talent tree would be fine, such as in WoW, and more for a utility sake. Large talent tree that you found in Vanilla WoW or in Path of Exile would just complicate classes way too much, making them unbalanced with an illusion of choice.
  • Yea,. this original post was pretty far back. I think it is all but confirmed we wont have skill trees in AoC.

    It looks like they opted to use Race/Class mechanics to augment abilities instead.Which is still a cool idea. I just hope we get good variety and choices.
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