Monday, 30 August 2010

WoW: Making Old Gear Relevant

Post soundtrack: “Q baiano” by Zuco 103

One thing about the gear-grind in WoW that tended to irritate me, is that it’s almost impossible to make your character look like something other than one more tier-X-geared member of class Y.  This little proposal is one way Blizzard could give players back an additional degree of personalisation for their characters.

Recycled art FTW!

The idea, at its heart, is a very simple one: give us the means to upgrade the stats on old tier armour to something close to either the current or previous tier of raiding equipment.

Let’s see what we have to work with, using the rogue tier sets as an example.

Tier Set Name iLevel Era
1 Nightslayer 66 Vanilla
2 Bloodfang 76 Vanilla
3 Bonescythe 86-92 Vanilla
4 Netherblade 120 BC
5 Deathmantle 133 BC
6 Slayer’s 146-154 BC
7 Heroes’ Bonescythe 200 LK Naxx
7 Valorous Bonescythe 213 LK Naxx
8 Valorous Terrorblade 219 LK Ulduar
8 Conqueror’s Terrorblade 226 LK Ulduar
9 Conqueror’s Blah 232 LK TotC
9 Triumphant Blah 245 LK TotC
9 Heroic Triumphant Blah 258 LK TotC
10 Shadowblade 251 LK ICC
10 Sanctified Shadowblade 264 LK ICC
10 Heroic Sanctified Shadowblade 277 LK ICC

That’s a total of 16 sets (10 if you exclude colour variations).  Yet in game at the moment you’re unlikely to see anything less than the top two tiers, especially when raiding.

There’s several approaches that could be taken to achieve this, but the simplest is to offer upgrade tokens purchased with emblems rewarded by dungeons and raids.

Let’s look at the rogue t1 chest, as an example.

Nightslayer Chestpiece, drops from Golemagg in Molten Core.  Look at those lovely stats:  10str, 29agi, 20stam, 10 fire resist, and 14 crit.

Now, imagine if you will, a ‘generic’ set of stats for each armour slot, not quite as good as the highest tier set you can buy with each set of emblems.  As there are two tiers of emblems being awarded from dungeons and raids, let’s see what they can buy:

Conquest: Garona’s/VanCleef’s Breastplate of Conquest (ilvl 232)
Frost: Shadowblade Breastplate (ilvl 251)

Now, apply 95% of the stats from each of those, and you have two upgraded items that wouldn’t be out of place in a (starting) raid today.

Upgraded Nightslayer Chestpiece (purchased with normal emblems):
Stats: 95agi, 114stam, 68 hit, 76 crit, 137ap
Heroic Nightslayer Chestpiece (purchased with heroic emblems):
Stats: 136agi, 136stam, 91 hit, 151ap, 76 armor pen

Working from that premise, let’s create our pair of tokens.  One that is purchased for standard emblems, and one which requires heroic emblems (that two-tier system being the standard for cataclysm, last time I checked).

The upgrade token, when used, replaces the tier item with a new piece that has the same model but with modern stats, which makes the item wearable for (non-progression) raiding.  For balance reasons, the upgraded tier sets would have a standard set of bonuses and sockets for each class, shared across all upgraded pieces that a player wears.

There would be limitations, of course.  Upgraded pieces would be bound to the person upgrading, and players could only upgrade useable tier pieces (which are limited to their specific class – no Pallies in cloth T1).  If desired by Blizz (who like to have things for players to spend their badges on), items could required a new upgrade token with each new raiding tier.  Perhaps allow players to sell unused upgrade tokens, which would offer another source of income for players who save their badges, and another gold-sink for players who want to spend their gold.

(While a similar scheme could work for pvp gear, it would likely be considered too much work for Blizzard, and not just because it’s almost impossible to acquire some old sets (and would make it hard to judge a player’s skill by their gear), but the likelihood of complaints skyrocketing on the forums about rogues wiping the floor with season-8-geared players while wearing upgraded Field Marshal’s Vestments could get messy…)

This would also act as an incentive for players to revisit old content (to acquire the tier pieces to upgrade), and give us a new way to invest ourselves in our avatars (which has been lacking in this new age of identical players in tier gear from running heroics).

Now, I don’t really see this ever happening, to be honest – for whatever reason, Blizz is quite happy to let old content go to waste (both raids and gear – when was the last time you heard of a successful pug Naxx run?) while they implement the new shinies in the form of higher tiers of raid content and gear (and we’ve seen how well they put the raids together in Wrath…  sigh…).  But I for one would love to be able to step into the Cataclysm raids wearing an upgraded set of the awesome t5 on one of my priests.