RPGs are becoming increasingly popular every year, or so it seems. Heck almost every game now has some form of RPG element. I guess it’s because some elements add more flexbility or freedom. Or something like that.
Today we’ll talk about Talent Trees, one of the common features in RPGs.
Talent Trees, or Skill Trees are pretty common and have a straightforward meaning. To gain new skills or improve upon existing ones. When people say ‘Talent Trees’ the first thing that comes into mind would be the typical +1% critical hit and +3% damage traits. Obviously these aren’t the interesting types of Talent Trees and I don’t know anyone who’s a fan of them. If you played World of Warcraft pre-Cataclysm, you’ll know!
Skills Should Be Exciting!
When you’re presented with a Talent Tree, you should look forward to unlocking each skill, or at least most of them. Let’s take a game nobodies every heard of. Skyrim. This game has a mix of your standard skills and the much more exciting ones. Let’s take the ability to combine two of the same spells into a single, more potent one. That’s something I looked forward to getting. Or the perk that increased your stealth damage with daggers, which made you a master of death. These are the sorts of talents I’m talking about. They change and enhance your gameplay.
Now on the other side, we have the perks that simply increase your damage by 20%. Not particularly interesting, but it’s a noticeable increase.
Let’s take the old World of Warcraft as an example. The Cataclysm expansion was the last one with Talent Trees that offered +2% damage increases for some talents, or +x yards on your skills. The problem with these sorts of skills, especially in a game where end-game is where its at, is that these are pointless talents that should be baked into the class (which is how it’s been since Mists of Pandaria). With useless fluff like that gone, you make way for much more exciting stuff. Like new skills that alter your gameplay.
Now with a game like Horizon Zero Dawn, the game offers a nice balance, much like Skyrim. Not every talent can be “Omg amazing”, which is the case with Horizon Zero Dawn. You have your +15% damage increasing skills to offset the interesting ones. Like time slowing during a jump, or silent sprinting. These are game changing abilities that don’t actually require much investment in (well slowing time during a jump doesn’t at least).
Having Options Can Be Important!
Some games work well with a linear Talent Tree. Personally, I prefer multi-choice ones. Why? Creativity and playstyle. With multi-builds, you can tailor your character however you like and make all sorts of crazy combinations.
Bringing back Skyrim into the discussion, the game is a perfect example of offering multi-builds. You can literally mix and match any tree, with many playstyles. While quantity isn’t always quality, when done well, it makes games that incorporate this level of freedom, more enjoyable to play. This is one of the reasons why the game has been well-received.
I could ramble on about other types, but in fear of making this post too long, I’d rather not! = )
What’s Your Favourite?
I prefer multi-choice Talent Trees. Which game has your favourite type of Talent Tree? Let me know in the comments!