Blizzard provided World of Warcraft players with a sneak peek into the forthcoming Hero Talent system, set to debut with The War Within expansion.
Although the expansion The War Within is scheduled for a Fall 2024 release, Blizzard offered a preview of four Hero Talent trees applicable to Paladin, Evoker, Death Knight, and Warrior players. Hero Talent trees are a big deal in the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, The War Within.
With a level cap of 80 and various tweaks for WoW’s 13 classes, these talents provide players with more options. Each class has as many Hero Talent trees as specializations, and each specialization can choose two out of three Hero Talents specific to their class, with some overlap. For example, Holy and Protection Paladins can both go for the Lightsmith Hero Talent tree.
The War Withinexpansion introduces Hero Talents as a new update toWorld of Warcraftclasses. 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?
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 iconicWarcraftcharacter archetypes, we wanted to be sure that we could deliver on their fantasy withWorldof Warcraft’sclasses. Blademasters just wouldn’t be Blademasters without abilities likeWind WalkandMirror 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 playWorld of Warcraftwith 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 toForce of NatureandGrove 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 enhancesAvatarandThunder Clap, Templar paladin gives extra power toWake of Ashes, and Elune’s Chosen druids can cast a particularly strongFury 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.
First The War Within Talent Trees
As World of Warcraft players progress from level 71 to 80, they earn a Hero Talent point at each level, filling their tree. Upon reaching the level cap, they can choose a capstone talent. Some trees also feature three or four choice nodes, providing players with more options for their class and specialization.
In the upcoming months, Blizzard will reveal complete designs for The War Within. Share your thoughts—we’re eager to hear! The publisher shares the initial Hero Talents for San’Layn Death Knights, Chronowarden Evokers, Lightsmith Paladins, and Mountain Thane Warriors.
SPECIALIZATIONS:BLOOD AND UNHOLY
San’layn are death knights who have mastered the vampiric arts of the darkfallen. They consume the vitality of their enemies to protect and restore themselves. Their endless hunger only strengthens them.
Vampiric Strike:YourDeath CoilandDeath Strikehave a 10% chance to make your nextHeart StrikeorScourge StrikebecomeVampiric Strike.Vampiric Strikeheals you for 3% of your maximum health and grants youEssence of the Blood Queen, increasing your Haste by 1.5%, up to 7.5% for 20 seconds.
SAN’LAYN ROW 1
Choice Node:Newly Turned & Vampiric Speed
- Newly Turned:Raise Allyrevives players at full health and grants you an absorption shield equal to 20% of your maximum health.
- Vampiric Speed: Death’s AdvanceandWraith Walkmovement speed bonuses are increased by 10%. Activating Death’s AdvanceorWraith Walkincreases 4 nearby allies movement speed by 20% for 5 sec.
Blood-Soaked Ground:While you are within yourDeath and Decay, your physical damage taken is reduced by 5% and your chance to gainVampiric Strikeis increased by 5%.
Choice Node:Vampiric Aura & Bloody Fortitude
- Vampiric Aura:Your Leech is increased by 3%. While Lichborne is active the Leech amount is increased by 100% and affects 4 nearby allies.
- Bloody Fortitude:Icebound Fortitudereduces all damage you take by up to an additional 30% based on your missing health. Killing enemies that grant honor or experience reduces the cooldown ofIcebound Fortitudeby 3 sec.
SAN’LAYN ROW 2
Infliction of Sorrow:WhenVampiric Strikedamages an enemy affected byBlood PlagueorVirulent Plagueit consumes the disease dealing 200% of the remaining damage. While Gift of the San’layn is active, Vampiric Strike no longer consumes your disease and instead extends the duration of your disease by 3 sec and deals 20% of the remaining damage to the enemy.
Frenzied Bloodthirst:Essence of the Blood Queenstacks 2 additional times and increases the damage of yourDeath CoilandDeath Strikeby 5% per stack.
The Blood is Life: Vampiric Strikehas a chance to summon aBlood Beastto attack your enemy for 10 sec. Each time theBlood Beastattacks it stores a portion of the damage dealt and when theBlood Beastdies it explodes dealing 50% of the damage accumulated to nearby enemies and healing the death knight for the same amount.
SAN’LAYN ROW 3
Visceral Regeneration:YourHeart StrikeandScourge Strikehave a 3% per stack ofEssence of the BloodQueento refund a Rune.Vampiric Strikedoubles the chance to refund a Rune.
Incite Terror:Heart StrikeandScourge Strikeextend the duration ofEssence of the Blood Queenby 0.5 seconds.Vampiric Strikeincreases the extension by 100%.
Choice Node:Sanguine Scent & Pact of the San’layn
- Sanguine Scent:Your Death Coil and Death Strike have a 15% chance to triggerVampiric Strikewhen damage enemies below 35% healthand it is guaranteed to critically strike.
- Pact of the San’layn:Your store 50% of all Shadow damage dealt into yourBlood Beastto explode for additional damage when it expires.
Gift of the San’layn:WhileVampiric BloodorDark Transformationis active you gainGift of the San’layn.Gift of the San’laynincreases the effectiveness of yourEssence of the Blood Queenby 100% and replaces yourHeart StrikeandScourge StrikewithVampiric Strikefor the duration.
SPECIALIZATIONS:AUGMENTATION AND PRESERVATION
Chronowardens can manipulate time and see into the future. By specializing in Bronze magic, they are slightly unstable due to the vast amount of knowledge available to them. They are precise, erudite, and organized individuals who seek to understand the world through careful study.
Chrono Flame: Living Flameis enhanced with Bronze magic, repeating 15% of the damage or healing you dealt to the target in the last 5 seconds as Arcane, up to a fixed amount.
CHRONOWARDEN ROW 1
Warp: Hover now warps you through time and space and its cooldown is reduced by 5 seconds. Hover continues to allow Evoker spells to be cast while moving.
Temporal Burst: Tip the Scalesoverloads you with temporal energy, increasing your Haste, movement speed and cooldown recovery rate by 2%, ramping up to 40% over 20 seconds.
Reverberations: Spiritbloomheals for an additional 30% over 8 seconds. Upheaval deals 30% additional damage over 8 seconds.
CHRONOWARDEN ROW 2
Choice Node:Interdimensional Phase & Motes of Acceleration
- Interdimensional Phase: Warp reduces damage taken by 30%, starting high and reducing over 2 seconds.
- Motes of Acceleration: Warp leaves a trail ofMotes of Acceleration. Allies who come in contact with a mote gain 20% increased movement speed for 30 seconds.
Threads of Fate:Casting an Essence ability duringTemporal Burstcauses a nearby ally to gain aThread of Fatefor 15 seconds, granting them a chance to echo their damage or healing spells, dealing 15% of the amount again.
Primacy:For each damage over time effect fromUpheavealorSpiritbloom, gain 3% Haste, up to 9%.
CHRONOWARDEN ROW 3
Choice Node:Careful Contemplation & Time Convergence
- Careful Contemplation: Your Intellect and Stamina are increased by 10%, but your cooldowns are increased by 10%.
- Time Convergence:Abilities with a 45 second or longer cooldown grant 10% Intellect for 15 seconds. Defensive abilities grant 10% Stamina for 15 seconds. Essence spells extend the duration by 1 second.
Choice Node:Master of Destiny & Golden Opportunity
- Mastery of Destiny: Empower spells amplify all your activeThreads of Fate, increasing their power by 100% for 8 seconds, stacking up to 2 times.
- Golden Opportunity:Echo & Presciencehave a 25% chance to not incur a cooldown. Echo has a 25% chance to not cost Essence.
Instability Matrix:Each time you cast an empower spell, unstable time magic reduces its cooldown by up to 15 seconds. Echo has a 25% chance to not cost Essence.
Afterimage:Empower spells send up to 3Chrono Flamesto your targets.Chrono Flameshave a small chance to grant youEssence Burst.
SPECIALIZATIONS:HOLY AND PROTECTION
Lightsmiths are paladins who have developed such masterful control over the Light that they are able to wield it tangibly, employing constructs to empower their weapons and defenses and to protect their allies.
Holy Armaments:Will the Light to coalesce and become manifest at a target location as aHoly Armament, which may be wielded by you or your allies. Alternates between Holy Bulwark and Sacred Weapon. Lats 20 sc after being cast. Max 2 charges.
Holy Bulwark: While wielding aHoly Bulwark, gain an absorption shield for 15% of your maximum health and an additional 5% every 2 seconds, stacking up to 30%.
Sacred Weapon: While wielding aSacred Weapon, your spells and abilities have a chance to deal additional Holy damage or healing.
LIGHTSMITH ROW 1
Choice Node:Rite of Sanctification & Rite of Adjuration
- Rite of Sanctification: Imbue your weapon with the power of the Light, increasing your armor by 5% and your primary stat by 1%. Lasts 1 hour. Weapon imbue.
- Rite of Adjuration: Imbue your weapon with the power of the Light, increasing your Stamina by 3% and causing your Holy Power spenders to sometimes unleash a burst of healing around a target. Weapon imbue.
Solidarity: If an ally picks up anArmament, you also gain its benefits. If you pick up anArmament, a nearby ally also gains its benefits.
Choice Node:Divine Guidance & Blessed Assurance
- Divine Guidance: For each Holy Power ability cast, your nextConsecrationdoes additional Holy damage or healing split across all enemies, up to a fixed total.
- Blessed Assurance: Casting a Holy Power spender increases the damage and healing of your nextCrusader Strikeby 100%.
LIGHTSMITH ROW 2
Laying Down Arms:When anArmamentfades from you, the cooldown ofLay on Handsis reduced by 15 seconds, and you gainShining LightorInfusion of Light.
Choice Node:Divine Inspiration & Forewarning
- Divine Inspiration: Your spells and abilities have a chance to manifest a Holy Armament nearby.
- Forewarning: The cooldown of Holy Armaments is reduced by 20%.
Choice Node:Fear No Evil & Excoriation
- Fear No Evil: While wielding an Armament the duration of Fear effects is reduced by 50%.
- Excoriation: Enemies within 5 yards of Hammer of Justice’s target are slowed by 15%.
LIGHTSMITH ROW 3
Shared Resolve:The effect of your active Aura is increased by 33% on targets with yourArmaments.
Valiance: ConsumingShining LightorInfusion of Lightextends the duration of any activeArmamentsby 3.0 seconds, or reduces the cooldown by 3 seconds if none exist.
Hammer and Anvil:Judgmentcritical strikes cause a shockwave around the target, dealing additional Holy damage or healing at the target’s location.
Blessing of the Forge:Avenging Wrathsummons an additionalSacred Weapon, and duringAvenging WrathyourSacred Weaponcasts spells on your target and echoes the effects of your Holy Power abilities.
SPECIALIZATIONS:FURY AND PROTECTION
Mountain Thanes embody the strength of the mountains and the power of the storm. They channel thunder and lightning through their reinforced bodies to make them an unstoppable force.
MOUNTAIN THANE KEYSTONE
Lightning Strikes:Damaging enemies withThunder Clap,Revenge,Raging Blow, orExecutehas a 10% chance to also strike one with a lightning bolt, dealing moderate Nature damage.Lightning Strikesoccur 50% more often duringAvatar.
MOUNTAIN THANE ROW 1
Call of Thunder:TheStormstrikedamage or Nature damage your abilities deal is increased by 5%.Stormstrikedamage ignores Armor.Thunder Clapdamage increased by 50%. For Fury only,Thunder Clapgenerates 5 Rage andImproved WhirlwindandMeat Cleavernow improveThunder Clapas well asWhirlwind.
Ground Current:Lightning Strikesalso deal low amounts of Nature damage to enemies near their target. Damage reduced beyond 5 targets.
Strength of the Mountain:Shield Slamdamage increased by 20%.BloodthirstandRampagedamage increased by 10%.
MOUNTAIN THANE ROW 2
Thunder Blast:Shield SlamandBloodthirsthave a 20% chance to grant youThunder Blast, stacking up to 2 charges.Thunder Blastcauses your nextThunder Clapto become aThunder Blastthat dealsStormstrikedamage.
Choice Node:Storm Bolts & Storm Shield
- Storm Bolts:Storm Boltalso hits 1 additional nearby target, stunning them for 2 seconds.
- Storm Shield:Intervening a target grants them a shield for 5 seconds that absorbs magic damage equal to 3 times your Armor.
Choice Node:Flashing Skies & Valarjar Training
- Flashing Skies:Chance forLightning Strikesto critically strike is increased by 5% and their critical strike damage is increased by 10%.
- Valarjar Training:Lightning Strikesreduce the cooldown ofRavagerby 0.5 second.
MOUNTAIN THANE ROW 3
Choice Node:Steadfast as the Peaks & Keep Your Feet on the Ground
- Steadfast as the Peaks:Victory Rushincreases your maximum health by 10% for 5 seconds.
- Keep Your Feet on the Ground:Thunder Blastreduces damage you take by 4% for 5 seconds.
Choice Node:Gathering Clouds & Thorim’s Might
- Gathering Clouds: Your attacks triggerLightning Strikes15% more often.
- Thorim’s Might:Lightning Strikesgenerate 3 Rage.Revenge,Raging Blow, andExecutedamage increased by 15%.
Burst of Power:Lightning Strikeshave a 20% chance to make your next 2Shield SlamsorBloodthirstshave no cooldown.
MOUNTAIN THANE CAPSTONE
Avatar of the Storm:CastingAvatargrants you 2 charges ofThunder Blastand resets the cooldown ofThunder Clap. WhileAvataris not active,Lightning Strikeshave a 10% chance to grant youAvatarfor 4 seconds.
Blizzard mentioned that feedback from players during both the closed beta and early access of The War Within will influence adjustments to each tree.
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