Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Something Old and Something New, Something Green and Something Blue

they also came with mounts I'll never own
Currently on beta, it's possible to create level 100 characters for testing. They of course come equipped with gear - the lowest ilvl piece sits at 586 and the highest piece is 603, some items seem to be quest rewards with no level requirement, some of the pieces have a level 98 requirement, with an average ilvl of 591. 

If you've been raiding siege of orgrimmar for the last year, you'll notice how close that is in level to current gear. In fact, a fully upgraded piece of heroic warforged gear is 588. There are people who are a few points short of 590 on live, right this moment. On beta after completing a few quests on my copied level 90, I saw that the initial reward items really weren't even close to upgrades. What I'm getting at is, it looks like a lot of us may be using most of our current gear further into Draenor than we may have expected.

people went crazy looking at these bad boys
If you played back at the release of The Burning Crusade, we saw greens and blues that replaced ZG and AQ gear from the first quest chain. Even if you had tier 1, the jump in stat allocation for the gear available immediately within the first two zones was probably still higher, unless you were one of few people to have a large amount of tier 2 and 3 quality raiding gear. 

The only class I recall not replacing everything within a few zones was my hunter, who had a mix of high end gear. There was a separate problem with my hunter altogether, however, in that they did not seem to put a lot of effort into providing gear that was useful for him in the first place. I actually had dragonstalker's shoulders until level 70.

Every expansion has had the same TBC phenomenon. If you didn't have high end raiding gear from the previous expansion, the gear in the starting zones were monumental upgrades. If you did have high end epics, you probably fought against the reality that your meticulously min/maxed, perfectly itemized raiding gear was worse than this green quest item you received 20 quests into the expansion. Losing your hard earned purples with the top of the line, expensive enchants and all your sockets to a piece of green gear always feels kind of crummy - it's felt pretty crummy the last four expansion releases. 

It looks like Warlords may lessen this phenomenon. One item slot we may see lasting an intensely long time will more than likely be our legendary cape, and I can see holding onto trinkets and tier set bonuses for awhile. Of course, Warlords epics and possibly blues from dungeons will probably be unarguably better - the gear you start out with on the premade characters looks specifically tuned to be incredibly low end on the just-hit-100 scale. I remember a few key items being good enough to keep from the previous expansion for just awhile - but even legendaries see their end relatively early in an expansion. 

There's no question that we'll replace our level 90 epics inside of heroic dungeons and the first raid tier, but this is about the leveling experience. Some of the gear on the premade level 100 characters are just barely better than my level 90's current gear.

They stated one of their intentions with the stat squish was to streamline the gearing process through older expansions, removing the huge ilvl jumps when moving from older expansion content into a newer expansion. I believe their intention may have been to bring the Warlords leveling experience into this mindset right away - or at least just cut down on that huge boost right after loading the new zone of the expansion. 

After replacing mostly all my gear by the second zone for the last four expansions, I'm actually looking forward to possibly being able to use some of my gear that I put effort and time into obtaining as a boon to leveling my character in the expansion. We are well aware of the extraordinary leap in ilvl just within this expansion alone - my best geared alt is only sitting at around 540. My worst geared is 505. My main character is at 579. A boosted 90 starts at 483 - 100 ilvls lower than what decked out heroic raiders are sitting at, and we started the expansion at 463 ilvl for heroic dungeon gear. 

The gear obtained in the first zone of the Warlords expansion will no doubt be an upgrade for people starting from the bottom, and how quickly you replace your heroic warforged gear actually becomes irrelevant quickly after you hit level 100. The thing is, they can't make gear too significantly lower ilvl than SoO gear because people going into the expansion with a 586 average ilvl won't get upgrades until their first heroic dungeon or worse, raid. If they were to completely streamline the transition from Mists content into Warlords content, they'd have to change it after the expansion's already been out. They are probably using boosted toons being at 483 as the take off point - considering anyone who buys Warlords, new or old player, will start at that level if they choose to level their free level 90 right away rather than leveling an alt through the old content.

They don't want people to blow through leveling with overpowered gear, which is why I feel they had gear be so significantly better right as you started during previous expansions. They are trying other ways to artificially lengthen the time it takes to level, but regardless a lot of people will still burst through the leveling experience. The issue of whether or not someone experiences the content the way Blizzard wants is something they can try to control, but at the end of the day some people are simply going to play the way they want regardless. You can't force someone to enjoy a game they way you want them to - and if someone's playing a game they don't enjoy in the first place, well, that's a separate issue altogether. 

In addition to the heirlooms they added for defeating Garrosh (which by the way will be a 100% chance to get your first one if you haven't received any yet before 6.0), they seem to be okay with giving people a little boost to leveling if they have been working on their gear sets during our long content drought. This also helps motivate people to continue to play and raid while waiting for the expansion to come out. I know I will still be working on my gear as much as possible in preparation for it to help me level once November 13th comes around.

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