The simplification of World of Warcraft is and will continue to be one of the strange decisions that Blizzard made in the continuing development of the game. Why? Well, to be blunt, Diablo or to another extent Dungeons & Dragons. I mean, the whole RPG ecosystem is all about loot. It’s the foundation on which the stat system is built and the major drive to roll out into the world and obtain “stuff.”
For those of you lost in my ramblings, in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm blizzard made the decision to standardize all loot. Each class has a primary stat and a second stat with Stamina being a tertiary stat for all but tanks. What this means is that each piece of loot will contain a class appropriate primary and secondary stat along with an appropriate amount of stamina. All additional stats followed a set formula, with Mastery acting as the thing you switch out for Hit. All numbers were normalized, so that say an ilvl x item would always have y Stamina, x main stat, z secondary stat, etc.
Before this point items had a stat weight and were assigned stats by tossing a dart at a dart board. The reason I mentioned Diablo earlier is that the entire fun of an RPG is the collection of the random assortment of loot and treasure. Some of it is terrible, but provides an upgrade over what you have, while a few rare pieces are unbelievably good. That randomization creates the thrill and the ability for players to min/max creates a wide range of varied players.
The hilarious part of this discussion shouldn't probably be the loot, it should be the RNG of how you could get a single piece of loot off every boss in the Raid Finder or hilariously get nothing.
In Mists of Pandaria Blizzard took it a step further, normalizing mana and a variety of other stats, bringing it to the point where we stand now there is no loot variety anymore. Everything is simplified. If your piece of loot is an ilvl above what you have, it is automatically better. The only min/max territory are on the auxiliary stats.
The problem that a lot of people run into is that variety is the spice of life. In Diablo your goal is to find the best pieces of random loot, shove them on your character, and try to be better at hunting loot and duct taping it to yourself than everyone else in order to be superior. Very few characters are alike, that’s the point of slots and everything else.
Is this simplification a good thing or not? I argue that it’s both. Why? Well, it’s better in the sense that there were these random pieces of loot that people would get stuck with and they were sub-optimal, but they didn’t raid enough or have enough pull in their guild to get a sidegrade to something that was more optimal. It was a frustrating experience.
On the other side of the coin is that there is something to be said about the fun and excitement of working on your gear, on having the fact that there is tons of sub-optimal people running around, and the thrill of min/maxing yourself to perfection if nothing else, the endless carrot on a stick that it provides.
Even older items were affected and follow the same formula, primary & secondary stats, stamina, and then the bonus stats below.
That kind of segues into my discussion about the post patch hype and post patch depression going on right now. As it stands, for a lot of players, it’s a lot simplier to get all of the goodies inside of a patch. Once you have all or most of the gear that drops from a raid, you’re done. There are only certain specific pieces your class can use, optimally, and once they are yours then welp, that’s it. There are very few sidegrades (exchanging an equivalent amount of Mastery for Haste). If your gear isn’t perfect, well reforge it! If you’re hit capped, reforge all the hit on your gear until you’re not, and now you’re done.
Reforging, of course, is a separate discussion, but it obviously plays a minor role.
Part of me wishes that Blizzard would de-normalize and standardize loot. Make it all exciting and fun again. Then again, another part of me doesn’t want to deal with the choice of taking a piece of gear that isn’t BiS and understanding that you can either wait for the BiS to drop (a gamble) or take the sidegrade and call it a day.
How do you feel about the current state of loot? Let us know in the comment section below.
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