World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Preview

To help tide us over until the inevitable BlizzCon coverage flood begins, Game Industry News has put together a preview of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm based on their time in the expansion's ongoing beta test.
The changes to talents in Cataclysm ARE HUGE! This is the first time Blizzard is lowering the maximum number of talents per spec to classic levels. There is now a total of 41 talent points to spend at level 85 with one talent point gained every two levels. Each talent specialization now has a maximum of 31-points. There is a requirement that 31 points must be spent in your primary spec. This change means many useless talents are gone, but it also means less utility and more focus on what seems to me to be streamlined talents. Also rather than showing the talent trees there is now a summary screen that offers a quick synopsis of what each spec does.

The new talent mastery works with these changes but class mastery stats on gear and weapons won't become available until level 80. The changes to classes and talents are such that it will be hard to tell what the ramifications will be. Will players like it or hate it? Will some classes change from the powerhouses they once were? Will less powerful classes become more powerful? The beta community is giving Blizzard the opportunity to win them over while they work on this, though a lot more work is needed. It's also worth noting that mastery stats weren't available while playing beta so I don't know how they will interact with these talent changes.

All these changes will impact PVP. Players will still have most of their primary abilities, but less of them. For now it seems this means less reliance on rotation and more focus on doing what you need to do to survive and win. This doesn't mean easy victories because you'll still need to learn how to play with the new talents. For example Warlocks will no longer have soulshards. Instead they get a runic-style system of gems that fill up with (soul energies) for limited burst abilities. Hunters no longer use mana, instead they get a new resource called focus. According to my experience, Feral Druids (the class I'm playing extensively in beta) and Assassin Rogues seem to do more damage with the new talent system, as do Mages.