With the recent changes announced the the talent system in World of Warcraft, it got me thinking: Is change really a good thing in MMOs? Understandably, there must be some tweaks here and there, and occasionally an upgrade to a system (take the changes made to Age of Conan for instance and all of the combat changes they have made to actually increase the games popularity), but a complete overhaul of a system that has been established in a game for nearly seven years?
Now, Blizzard claims that this change will simplify the leveling system and make it easier for players to create varying builds; however, I just don't see it from the information that they've released at this point. Granted, what information we have gotten is the earliest it could possibly get and is at its most simplistic state, but it just doesn't seem to be the game changer (at least, in a good way) that they are touting it to be. All this got me thinking back to when Star Wars Galaxies initiated its New Game Enhancement. I played SWG before this change and loved the depth of the talent trees and the fact that you could branch off as much or as little as you wanted, dabbling here and there and sampling everything that the game had to offer. It was like going to a buffet and dipping your finger in every sauce just to see what will taste best on your calamari and bacon. But then they took all that away. In similarity it hearkens back to when Blizzard created "specializations" in WoW, causing you to stick with one tree until you had sufficiently filled it to their standards, and only at that point could you then wander off of the path.
In the same respect, games like City of Heroes and Champions Online at one time offered similar freedoms to all of its players. Only when they changed to a free to play model did they limit your customization options to a more streamlined approach. This idea for some reason has settled with me more-so than with other subscription based games; I feel that some of my freedoms can be revoked since I'm not committing myself fully to their cause. But when I'm giving you my money on a monthly basis I believe that I should be able to play the game any way I wish, even if my character can do nothing right.
Ultimately, I blame these unneccesary changes on the vocal minority who create haphazard builds, jumping from tree to tree and choosing abilities at random, yet expect that they will be able to compete with the pure cookie-cutter builds. Now, I'm not asking that a game allow me to do everything to the best that is possibly allowed, I'm just asking that you loosen the leash a bit and let me take a detour every now and then. Don't lead me by the hand like a 3 year-old on a tether, making sure I don't step in any gum as I go along. Simplicity isn't always the best means; sometimes learning is what makes a game fun! Researching what the best skills and abilities are that will compliment not only your character but your friends as well. Figuring out how I would like to play my mace-wielding cloth-wearing rogue and what I must overcome to make this work. Sometimes, I like to just play a game without being told what I need to do next.