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Editorial - Are Heirloom Items a Good Thing for the Game?

Posted Sun, Sep 28, 2008 by Messiah

With the expansion to the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King many things in the game are changing. One of the recently announced and talked about changes is the addition of a new type of item. These items are 'bind to account' or 'Heirloom' items. They are items that can be equipped by a character and then transferred around between your characters on that same realm and account. This week's editorial looks at these items and tried to decide: Are Heirlooms good for the game?

The Alliance Heirloom Vendor in Dalaran

Before we go to far into the question at hand, let's look at a few know facts about Heirlooms.

  • They are items that bind to your account and server
  • Their stats change based on the level of character using them
  • Their type can change based on level. Example: Plate items become mail below 40, Mail items become leather items below 40.
  • They are purchased for the new heroic badge from a vendor in Dalaran.
  • So far weapons, shoulders and trinkets are the only available item types, this may change tough.
  • The shoulders grant a 10% boost to experience gained from killing creatures.

Those are all pretty cool things to consider with Heirlooms. How will they change the game though, will they make it any better or worse?

The Upside

The main thought behind heirlooms seems to be that once you have a level 80, you should be able to help your other characters get to level 80 faster by using these items. The shoulders especially will help with the experience boost. Also as long as you have a character capable of using the same item types this should work out as a huge boost.

You can pass down any of the items and they will morph to the right level for that character and be usable. While they are not blue or purple items (their text is a golden brown shade) they seem to be about blue or slightly higher quality at any given level. This could greatly help many players as they level through with a second character. You can get some quality gear for your characters that will continue to be good and not have to worry about replacing it every few levels.

Being able to pass items around on an account will also help with alts that use the same type of gear. If you have a shadow priest, and a mage you could get one set of heirloom gear to pass back and forth as needed. This would save you a lot of heroic badges if you have multiple characters at the level cap compared to buying an item for each character, and allow you to enjoy both characters.

Adding Heirlooms into the game allows you to get more benefit from your work to get a piece of gear. Why should you work so hard to get something and then have it replaced shortly after. If that happens with an Heirloom at least you can pass it down to another character.

The Downside

A 2 Handed Heirloom Axe at 1 and 80

Some players may see this as yet another step in the dumbing down of WoW. Since WoW launched it has been undergoing constant simplification for the casual player. This makes the game less and less rewarding for the skilled or hardcore player. WoW's main audience is the casual player though, so this is not a huge surprise.

While the items change to the appropriate level for the character, and can change type based on level, they don't adjust to the character class. This means all of the other characters that you want to use the item with must be able to use the same type of armor or weapon. This limits the usefulness of heirloom items.

At this point in testing you need to be at max level to get an heirloom item to start with. This means that players new to the game, or not at max level will not see the benefit of the new item type. However allowing players new to the game that have a few characters that they are trying out to have heirlooms may help them out gear wise and to stay with the game.

Messiah's Take On It

The biggest downside to me is the fact that to be useful your other characters needs to be able to use the same type of item. I like the idea behind heirlooms, but if Blizzard was going to make it easier to gear up second characters, then I would say push the whole concept a step further. Allow the Heirloom to morph into the appropriate type for the character that it went to. For example if you bought the shoulders for your Paladin Tank, but now want to pass the onto your holy priest, allow them to morph to the healer version of cloth shoulders for your Holy Priest.

Overall however, I really like the idea of bind to account items or Heirloom items. I think that once you have an item being able to pass it around between your characters should be allowed and encouraged. It makes it easier to level up another character, or have multiple mains sharing gear. Sure, the gear will get replaced eventually by better gear, but it will help for longer since you can then just give it to another character.

That's the Messiah's take on it, what's yours?


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Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Ten Ton Hammer network or staff.

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