The NDA for the beta of Helm’s Deep has dropped, so I can now write about my impressions. I had “quit” the game months ago, although “quit” is probably too harsh. I just haven’t played it anymore, but especially with my lifetime account, I always have the option of going back. My warden is not at max level yet and I find it quite hard to get back into playing her, because of the way this class is designed. I had little notes stuck to the bottom of my monitors with the skill combinations. You have three skills, gambit builders, that you use in different combinations and depending on the combination, you can then use a gambit finisher. The good thing is that this feature leaves your hotbar quite empty of skills. Most of the class’s skills are executed by combining the gambit builders.
Anyway, the proposed class changes are quite controversial.So far, you can basically mix and match traits from different trait trees (each class has three) as you like. After the changes, this will not be possible anymore. It will be more like traditional skill trees (think old-school World of Warcraft). What I did in the beta was mostly looking at the new trait trees trying to figure out if I can play the way I’ve played my warden most of the time. I mixed between offensive melee traits and defensive ones. I found that this worked best for me. It took ages killing mobs solo, but I didn’t die either and I could also easily pull several mobs towards me and still survive the fights. Whenever we wanted to do 3 man instances, I could tank them easily.
I’m not saying this isn’t possible anymore, since I didn’t test it. I’m going to comment on the impression I got and that others will probably have as well. For years now, traits and builds worked in a certain way. Our skill bars were crowded (except for the warden, of course). A change was welcome. I loved the idea of not having that many skills anymore. Some aren’t needed or skills are very similar in their effects.
But what Turbine did instead seems just bad. It’s not about how the classes and their trait trees will work out in the end. That may even be good, who knows? But if the players look at the trees, try to work with them and are appalled and shocked by the changes… then what good does that do? You can say and argue about how great those changes are, if the first reaction is that of “horror”, your chances are that players will just log out and forget about this game. Unfortunately, when you read the discussion about the upcoming expansion, it seems that several players react just with that horror.
I felt like the devs are putting us into boxes. My warden is either melee DPS, ranged DPS or a tank. But a melee DPS with tanky traits didn’t seem to work anymore. Some skills that you have been using for years now are suddenly locked away in other trait trees. Instead of mixing, e.g., tanky traits with using offensive skills, I now get access to tanky traits and tanky skills with a few offensive skills.I also apologize for not going into detail here, but I can’t access the beta at the moment to check for the skills’ names. ;)
The choice when to use which skills isn’t in the middle of a battle anymore. The choice for using certain skills is now made before you even step into battle. This diversity was what I really loved, together with the ability to choose whichever traits I liked and put them together instead of choosing for a specialization that predetermines which skills you are allowed to use and which ones you aren’t. At least, we’ll get multi-builds. You can make several builds and switch between them when you’re not in combat.
Those changes are drastic and probably a bit too much for the average player to chew on. Only time and more experience will tell if those changes are for the better or not.