Quote Originally Posted by Belnavar View Post
I definitely can see the need for the skill and class revamps. There are so many factors involved:

1. Lack of advancement (and the feeling of advancement) - this has been the case with traits since Mirkwood, and many skill upgrades have proved boring. In fact, when Mirkwood launched we only got one skill upgrade initially, which was generally very bland, with a second one for level 64 in a later update. It even got to the stage where RoR only gave us three skills/upgrades, not the usual 5, making levelling even less exciting, since there were larger gaps between a level reward.

2. Class homogenisation - with the need for new skills and upgraded skills with every level cap rise, many classes began to gain similar skills to other classes, and instead of one or two Jack of All Trades classes, all of them effectively adopted this factor. The appearance of morale bubbles for many classes is a good example of this.

3. Skill boat - Anyone who doesn't see this must not be playing the same game. Not only have we received new skills and upgraded skills with every level cap rise, we often received numerous new skills as part of the basic revamps of classes with expansions or updates, not tied to the new levels. A big one is Rise of Isengard, for example. Warden may be the only class where skill bloat is not so apparent, though there are certainly a ton of gambits to remember, many of which are slightly more or less powerful versions of each other.

4. Bland or useless skills - Many of our skills are unexciting, or, in many cases, almost useless. For example, Fighting Withdrawal for Captain. Since Captain deals so little threat compared to other damage dealers and healers, this skill (which is technically an upgrade of an older, even less useful skill) is almost never used by what I assume is most Captains. Sure, it might be clicked once in 1,000 battles, in that very rare and unique situation, but otherwise it sits there taking up space, and when I level up to discover I get something so essentially useless it is quite a let down. Many classes have similar skills. In fact, some times there is almost no difference between a skill, and some only take on a greater importance when their upgraded version provides an additional functionality. Indeed, sometimes we are only using skills because our more interesting/powerful ones are on cooldown.

5. Lack of differentiation between trait lines/builds - While Turbine has attempted to address this over the years, with more or less success, each line for each class provides only a slightly different spin on things. If I trait HoH instead of LtC, so little changes that I might as well be playing the same build. This is not exciting or engaging, and it leads to stagnation with builds, where many of us stick with the same build as soon we hit Moria and unlock all of our slots. Why trait in the CC line if you can CC almost as good in the DPS line? There was one LM in my kin who refused to trait any other way, because there wasn't enough motivation to do so. Sure, part of this is instance/raid design, but when the pro of good DPS comes with very little con, why would anyone try out the other lines? All three lines need to be viable, fun, and unique, while keeping the core gameplay of the class intact.

6. The new player experience - it is easy for many of us to ignore this, especially if we've been playing for years. If we came to the game with Shadows of Angmar, we had far fewer skills to adjust to, but imagine a new player coming to the game now. It is a confusing mish-mash of skills, traits, and blurred roles. Add to this the problem of new players having to grind trait deeds to unlock traits, and we have a big problem. I see so many new players and alts with empty slots, and I ask them why they are empty, and they simply don't have anything yet to fill them. Sometimes they fill them with the only trait they get, regardless of how useless it is to their levelling experience. I have done this with many alts myself. With the new trees we will gain points from levelling, as well as those deeds, so we won't have empty slots if we are a bit slow on the deed count. Likewise, instead of getting traits we will never use (how dull it must be for a solo player to get a group-based trait, for example), or skills or bonuses that we don't want right now, we will have the freedom to pick skills and traits from the tree we want. Do you want to level quickly? Ignore all those useless healing and tanking traits, and focus on DPS. Finding an area a bit tough? Invest in survivability/tanking traits. Have you spent the first 40 levels focusing on soloing, but now want to try an instance? Try and build a group-friendly support build.

7. Balancing difficulty and future-proofing - This is not something we think much of as players, but the class system needs to not become so unweildy that it cannot properly be balanced or expanded in the future. Sure, upgraded skills was working for a time, although some would argue it was working poorly, but we've now come to the situation where we have upgrades of upgrades. Where does this end, and when does it get to a situation where there is simply no more room for upgrades, with all classes essentially doing the same thing with different animations? With several more expansions to go in the lifetime of this game, this is a situation that badly needed to be addressed, one way or another. Not only does it make it easier to keep the classes in check - it makes it easier to make new classes, as one dev comment (in a twitter chat: https://www.lotro.com/forums/showthr...Team-July-2013)) mentioned. Imagine trying to create a new class now, with all the skills, traits, skill upgrades, and so forth required. Imagine how much easier it is with a streamlined system.

The reality is that the game has changed a lot since it launched. The classes we play now are very different to those we played a few expansions ago, and certainly very different to Shadows of Angmar days. Even the traits and trait system we have are very different, with the system changing big time with Moria, and many traits and trait bonuses changing several times since then. An MMO is always a work in progress, and sometimes this necessitates big changes. Many of the things we enjoy about the game today would not be here were it not for the big changes of the past.

-Bel
1. This is true, but is a result of some extremely lazy game design and some frankly lacklustre expansions. New expansions should expand the entire game, not just the map area. One way to handle this would have been to introduce tier 2 class traits that are unlocked when the basic class traits are completed.

2. There is really not a lot of class homogenization, content has just gotten too easy. It is not because Minstrels are suddenly viable tanks that it is possible to do a level 85 Sambrog challenge with nothing but hunters and a mini. If more instances were like Lost Temple T2 this would not be an issue. This is a result of pandering to casual players and a general reduction of the slope of the skill curve.

3. This I agree with, I actually like it when instead of getting another skill you just get upgraded versions of old skills (such as is the case with Rohan).

4. There will always be bland or useless skills. Champions get a slow, in PvE it is utterly useless and I doubt any F2P players have it slotted on their champs, however for moors it is a main stay for champions. Champions get a bow skill, it does very little damage, has a longish CD, however there are some situations when using ranged attacks are actually useful such as Fornost water. The only way we can have good skills, is if we have bad skills to compare them to.

5. This is a problem with the current trait system not giving significant enough bonuses and modifying skills enough. Current traits are more often than not like a cherry, sure it makes a sundae more appealing to look at it and it may enhance the flavour a bit, but a sundae without a cherry on top is still pretty delicious. Traiting should be the difference between a fudge sundae and smoked salmon, sure they are both delicious but definitely not interchangeable

6. How does new trait trees do anything to make this better? they still have to grind traits just the same. They get a few fewer skills but many more traits so it doesn't reduce complexity. In fact most classes I have noticed tend to get their primary role skills early, such as dps for champions and hunters, healing for minis, tanking for guardians etc. So there is more class identity at level 20 than there is at level 60.

7. How is that going to be easier? you have to come up with at least 3 versions of each skill plus (if the mounted combat trees are any indicator) about 45-50 different traits. Class balancing is not only already really bad, it is something that is never addressed and outside the almost guaranteed imbalances introduced by this massive overhaul which will not be addressed any time early after launch this promises to be another 6 months+ of badly tuned classes.

The game has changed a lot, not all of those changes have been for the better. It is too early to judge if this change is just change for the sake of keeping some designers busy and employed or if it will add any value to the game. I do have to say I am cautiously pessimistic based on other major changes to the game over the last 2 years as to the success of these proposed changes. Ultimately I would rather see the tank classes get reworked (warden get nerfed down to the level of the rest of us mere mortals and guardian get reworked so their threat generation is relevant again).