WoW's Cataclysm won't be limited to just the landscape, with the Talent and skill system being completely overhauled for the upcoming expansion. Gone are the confusing 50+ point talent trees, replaced with a less complex 31 point tree and changes to how often you receive talent points.
Additionally players will be limited to one talent tree until a set point in order to reduce the confusion for newer players. This is on top of the already announced changes around skills, where you learn them once and never have to go back to learn the higher level version of each skill/spell.
One of the basic tenets of Blizzard game design is that of "concentrated coolness." We'd rather have a simpler design with a lot of depth, than a complicated but shallow design. The goal for Cataclysm remains to remove a lot of the passive (or lame) talents, but we don't think that's possible with the current tree size. To resolve this, we're reducing each tree to 31-point talents. With this reduction in tree size we need to make sure they're being purchased along a similar leveling curve, and therefore will also be reducing the number of total talent points and the speed at which they're awarded during the leveling process.
Talent trees will have around 20 unique talents instead of today's (roughly) 30 talents, and aesthetically will look a bit more like the original World of Warcraft talent trees. The 31-point talents will generally be the same as the 51-point talents we already had planned for Cataclysm. A lot of the boring or extremely specialized talents have been removed, but we don't want to remove anything that's going to affect spell/ability rotations. We want to keep overall damage, healing, and survivability roughly the same while providing a lot of the passive bonuses for free based on your specialization choice.
You can read the full lowdown over here on the official WoW forums
, including a fairly in-depth explanation of the system and their reasoning for the changes. promoted forum item