News from the next, third World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm:
“Last week, we gave you an early look at the changes we’re making to the stat system in WoW: Cataclysm, and explained how these changes will ultimately provide players with more interesting gear choices and make stats easier to understand. Today we’d like to go into more detail about a brand-new feature that’s an integral part of this overhaul: the Mastery system, a set of new game mechanics designed to allow players to become better at what makes their chosen talent tree cool or unique. With this system, we want to accomplish three things: give players more freedom in how they allocate talent points, simplify some of the “kitchen sinky” talents that try to do too much at once, and add a new stat to high-level gear that makes you better at your chosen role.
Here’s how the system works: As you spend points in a given talent tree, you’ll receive three different passive bonuses specific to that tree. The first bonus will increase your damage, healing, or survivability, depending on the intended role of the tree. The second bonus will be related to a stat commonly found on gear desirable to you, such as Haste or Crit. The third bonus will be the most interesting, as it will provide an effect completely unique to that tree — meaning there will be 30 different bonuses of this nature in the game. This third bonus is the one that will benefit from the Mastery rating found on high-level (level 80 to 85) gear.
One of our primary goals with Mastery is to give players more flexibility to choose fun or utility-oriented talents rather than make them feel obligated to pick up “mandatory” but uninteresting talents, such as passive damage or healing. (For examples of the kinds of powerful but boring talents we’re talking about, take a look at the talent tier just above the 51-point talent in many of the existing trees.) In a sense, Mastery makes it so every talent in (just for example) a rogue tree essentially has an invisible additional bullet point that says “…and increases your damage by X%.” This way, if you choose a talent like Master of Deception (which reduces your chance to be detected while stealthed) or Fleet Footed (which affects movement), you won’t feel like you’re giving up damage in exchange for utility.”