- Author: Luxrah
- Date: February 7, 2024
- Updated: February 7, 2024
- Expansion: World of Warcraft
We haven’t heard much more about Hero Talents or other features from the upcoming The War Within expansion since Blizzcon. Today Blizzard shared a look at four of the new additional talent trees that are being added to the game, including three that we haven’t seen before.
Keeper of the Grove is one that we’ve seen before, but now we can see it in much more detail. This is a tree for Balance and Restoration Druids which focuses on the Force of Nature ability and other nature-themed talents. We also see the other new Druid trees in the mockup:
- Druid of the Claw for Feral and Guardian
- Windstalker for Feral and Restoration
- Elune’s Chosen for Guardian and Balance
- Keeper of the Grove for Restoration and Balance
Dark Ranger is a new talent tree for Beast Mastery and Marksmanship Hunters that revolves around a new ability called Black Arrow, which deals shadow damage and buffs other abilities. We can see the layout of the other Hunter trees in the mockup as well:
- Dark Ranger for Beast Mastery and Marksmanship
- Pack Leader for Beast Mastery and Survival
- Sentinel for Marksmanship and Survival
Frostfire, as you might expect, is available to Frost and Fire Mages, and utilizes some new buffs called Frostfire Mastery and Frostfire Empowerment. The other Mage trees are mapped out in the mockup as follows:
- Frostfire for Frost and Fire
- Sunfury for Fire and Arcane
- Spellslinger for Arcane and Frost
Oracle is the last new tree that has been revealed, and is accessible for Holy and Discipline Priests. You would expect this tree to offer a lot of healing-related talents, and it does, but interestingly, the core of the tree is a new set of buffs that can be given to your party members through the Premonition and Clairvoyance abilities. We can also see the other Priest trees in the mockup:
- Archon for Holy and Shadow
- Oracle for Holy and Discipline
- Voidweaver for Shadow and Discipline
In addition to the mockups and explanations of each talent tree, Blizzard have included several interviews the developers did with World of Warcraft content creators about each of the talent trees. You can watch those videos and see the entire contents of the talent trees below.
The War Within expansion introduces Hero Talents as a new update to World of Warcraft classes. They are an evergreen form of character progression for each class specialization that introduces new powers and class fantasies. Feedback is critical to us as a part of creating an impactful and fun addition to the game, so we are sharing our goals for Hero Talents with the community to get first impressions of them and learn how well we’re meeting those goals.
- What are Hero Talents?
- What to Expect from Hero Talents
- Maintaining Freedom to Choose
- How We Chose Hero Talent Concepts
- Gameplay and Hero Talents
- Show us the Hero Talents!
What Are Hero Talents?
Hero Talents are new, self-contained talent trees that players unlock access at level 71. Hero Talents build on the abilities and talents of current classes and specializations. Players can choose a single Hero Talent tree to activate on a character and these talents can be changed in the same way class talents can be currently changed in the game. There are three Hero Talent trees for each class (excepting druid with four and demon hunter with two). Each specialization has two Hero Talent trees they can choose between, and each of these trees is available as an option for two specializations.
For example, warriors have three Hero Talent tree options: Slayer, Colossus, and Mountain Thane. Fury has access to Mountain Thane and Slayer, Protection has access to Mountain Thane and Colossus, and Arms has access to Colossus and Slayer.
There are 11 nodes in a Hero Talent tree. The first of these unlocks with the system at level 71, and you earn 1 talent point per level from level 71 to 80, so you get every talent in the tree by level 80. Hero Talents will have starter builds available, and your saved builds will save your Hero Talent choices as well.
What to Expect from Hero Talents
Each Hero Talent tree starts with a “keystone” talent that introduces the core mechanic and concept of the tree. This could be a new ability, an enhancement to an existing ability or cooldown, or a new buff you can trigger. The bottom talent of each tree is a “capstone” talent that builds on the core themes of the tree or adds new power to the keystone.
Each tree will offer or modify some class utility and include defensive bonuses that are useful to all specializations. We are aiming for all trees to be about equal in the amount of utility and defensiveness they provide. Trees for characters that can take on a tanking role may have some additional defense bonuses that will be less valuable to healers or damage dealers (DPS), such as bonuses to tank talents or cooldowns. Three or four nodes in each tree will be choice nodes where you can choose between two options.
Hero Talents are meant to add enough damage or healing throughput to be significant without being so important that these new talents overshadow your current class and spec tree talents. Most Hero Talent trees add new visual effects to classes, both to communicate what they’re doing and bring their class fantasies to life. However, these are not complete visual reworks – your class and spec are still the same at their core, and that will continue to come through.
Maintaining Freedom to Choose
We want players to be free to choose the Hero Talent tree that has the gameplay, visuals, or flavor that they prefer. Our goal is for both options to feel similarly effective in raid dungeons, Mythic+, and PvP. We’re working to avoid abilities or bonuses in Hero Talents that could make a certain tree feel “required” for activities where we can.
We know that for some players, prioritizing total throughput is the most important thing to them, even if the difference between choices seems small. That’s okay but keeping Hero Talent balance close is one of our priorities so that players can play what they prefer and still be viable in any content.
How We Chose Hero Talent Concepts
Since we announced Hero Talents at BlizzCon, it’s been great to see all the conversation and speculation surrounding the 39 Hero Talent titles. We’d like to share some of the thinking that went behind choosing those concepts.
Each Hero Talent concept must be appropriate for both of the specs that can use it. Some concepts build on overlaps in abilities or flavors between the two specs that can use it, like Colossus warriors, which are as mighty as Arms warriors and as imposing as Protection warriors. Others create new themes that are appropriate for both specs, like Fatebound rogues.
Hero Talents also retain your combat role and the gear that you use so that you’re not competing for new types of gear. For iconic Warcraft character archetypes, we wanted to be sure that we could deliver on their fantasy with World of Warcraft’s classes. Blademasters just wouldn’t be Blademasters without abilities like Wind Walk and Mirror Image, but those abilities don’t fit in a warrior’s toolkit.
Lastly, there are several iconic character archetypes that are strongly tied to specific races and factions, such as Keeper of the Grove or Mountain Thane. It’s exciting to embody these storied archetypes, but we want to ensure that characters of every race and faction can see themselves as those archetypes. We’re open to feedback on what feels good for your characters versus what is frustrating.
Gameplay and Hero Talents
We have several goals for what it feels like to play World of Warcraft with Hero Talents. Here are some of our guiding principles for how they affect your capabilities, your rotation, what you pay attention to in combat, and your user interface.
We like to say on the team that our goal for Hero Talents gameplay is for them to make you “what you are, but more.” We know that many of you have long histories with your favorite classes, and you play them because you like their gameplay and the spells and abilities that matter in their rotation, whether it’s the spinning plates of Affliction, the cycles of Arcane, or the frenetic reactivity of Fury. Hero Talents don’t override what matters to a class. You should feel like you’re playing your spec with a twist or a boost and not as if the things you care about have become unimportant or been replaced.
A Hero Talent tree might add new behavior or bonuses to an existing ability, like Keeper of the Grove’s bonuses to Force of Nature and Grove Guardian treants. They might occasionally reset the cooldown on abilities or replace spells with more powerful versions. They might make it easier to maintain important buffs or grant additional resources at key moments.
One thing that we’re keeping a close eye on is complexity. Classes in WoW have a lot of abilities and talents, and there’s a lot to learn about each one. We want Hero Talents to add new fun without creating new burdens, either in customizing or playing a character. Most Hero Talent trees do not add new buttons that players will need to add to their action bar or find a new keybind for. There will be additional opportunities for players to express their skill, but we’re trying not to add things like complex maintenance buffs that increase the cognitive load for everyone playing a class. Most of the choices a player will make about how complex they want their rotation to be will continue to be made in their class and spec talent trees.
Some Hero Talents do require you to take certain talents in your class or spec trees to access their powers. This is often because those talents fit the flavor and theme of that specific Hero Talent tree. The Mountain Thane warrior tree enhances Avatar and Thunder Clap, Templar paladin gives extra power to Wake of Ashes, and Elune’s Chosen druids can cast a particularly strong Fury of Elune. However, a Hero Talent tree will only ever require or enhance a small number of class or spec talents. It’s important to us that there still is freedom in customizing your class build.
Show Us the Hero Talent Trees!
Over the coming months, we’ll continue to share full designs for Hero Talent trees from The War Within. We’re excited to hear what you think of them.
Below, you’ll find the Hero Talents for the Keeper of the Grove Druids, Dark Ranger Hunters, Frostfire Mages, and Oracle Priests.
Get more thoughts and insights from our developers along with World of Warcraft creators:
You can also join the Warcraft Priests Discord to dive deeper into more discussions and theory-crafting.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts and sharing more as we progress in development.
Visit our previously published article to learn more about the San’layn Death Knight, Chronowarden Evoker, Lightsmith Paladin, and Mountain Thane Warrior Hero Talents.