A Call for Diversity!
In my now 5+ years in Azeroth, I would be remiss if I did not state categorically that Blizzard has, by almost all accounts, done a tremendous job of making the game more and more accessible. The most recent example of this being the dungeon finder tool which is quite simply perfect. However I cannot help but think that the game is lacking in one critical facet, diversity.
I will explain by first recounting to you, a recent encounter that really brought this to the forefront of my thoughts. Just this week, I resurrected and transferred two very old characters from another server that had not been played in almost 3 years (yes I am an altoholic despite my four level 80s). I did so explicitly to enjoy the new and exceptional dungeon finder tool, released in patch 3.3.
I transferred a 60 human alliance paladin and a 60 horde undead rogue (I am horde for life but back in 04 I had no way of sampling the Paladin playstyle other than to dance with the enemy). The rogue had the original and complete nightslayer set (which was pretty epic in its day) and the paladin had the full lightforge set (not nearly as epic and absolutely hilarious to look at now).
So I set out to sample the level 60 instances, healing my way through the random dungeon finder to the tune of about 35 instances and 7 levels. This has been great fun no doubt, but then it hit me early and often; how great, dare I say amazing, were the weapon and armor sets of days past! All this creative art in the game and yet all but forgotten. Sadly most if not all of this wicked, creative and downright legendary looking gear has little to zero use in the game today.
Most of this old “epic” gear is very diverse, attractive and unique looking while being completely useless, and that is a shame. In fact my lightforge set was so truly worthless now (even at 60) that I nearly tripled my healing power with basic run of the mill outland greens. So this really got me thinking… why doesn’t Blizzard create a mechanic to reintroduce these items into the end game? Think of the effort by the players that went into obtaining these items. Think of the work completed by many talented artists. Wasted? Why?
In fact I saw a guy in one run with the legendary “Thunderfury” sword which if memory serves me correctly was the first actual in game legendary weapon (orange > purple) and took entire guilds months to achieve. This legendary dishes out a pathetic 40dps and is now completely and utterly outclassed even by level 60 green drops. I can only imagine my disgust if I had gone to the trouble and expense of obtaining this weapon for it to not only be unusable at current end game, but even outpaced almost two-fold by a green weapon I can obtain off an outland boar!
Just taking a look at any WoW database you can see that some of the best looking gear in game is now rendered obsolete. What would you do or say if a level 80 Warlock jumped into your party or raid wearing the absolutely wicked looking Season 2 PvP set? You would, at best, laugh your ass off and at worst kick him for being gimp. Indeed, that great looking armor set is now merely a flashing beacon of inadequacy.
The same can be said for all the gear from MC, BT, BWL, AQ, Kara et al, some of which was really amazing looking, now most generally unseen, deleted or relegated to being stored in a bank or an an alt somewhere. Old school Skullflame shield anyone? Now, think of how different the end game would look if everyone could choose their gear and not worry so much about being gimped! I want to see a tank running with an enhanced “Wall of the Dead” shield and a “Hand of Ragnaros” or a Rogue in “Nightslayer” wielding a “Core Hound Tooth”.
So I present a solution. Blizzard, why not create a number of specific NPCs that would initiate a quest line and/or gold sink to “reforge” or “enchant” these items scaling in quest difficulty, time spent and gold cost based upon your current level? In this way a level 60, 70, 80 and so on could bring their “Blessed Thunderfury” or “Hand of Ragnaros” at least in line or perhaps even 1/2 tier BELOW the current “end game items of that level”.
Yes this is possible and no it will not take a ton of resources away from future content. First, the art assets are already in place. Second, even the mechanic is, to a degree, in already in place (see heirloom items). This development could be done at a reasonable resource cost. As a developer I, to a degree, understand what it would take and can tell you that the art is almost always the resource hog (although of course, I am not prevy to their tool sets).
Lets take it even a step further; make the upgrade/enchantment quests involve going back into the raid dungeon from which the gear came from (Black Temple for example) to complete a quest (say killing end boss and getting a trophy) this would have so many benefits to the game:
1. We have resurrected hundreds or even thousands of art assets to be used at end game
2. People and even entire guilds start to run older raids often
3. We have achieved diversity!
4. The new /lfr tool actually has people in it!
It gets tiresome seeing EVERYONE in your class either look identical or know that they are working toward that ONE setup. The idea that in 3 months my Triumph and Frost emblem gear will not be viable leads to dismay. Finally to those that would say thats the point, the treadmill, I am not arguing that, I am just asking Blizzard to give the treadmill another path. Those that like it they way it is are not effected. Those that wish to can sink time and gold into upgrading older gear (perhaps with a small penalty, meaning it will never be quite as good as the “best”).
This will lead to immense diversity and uniqueness which would very welcomed by most. Let each players tastes and creativity be the driving force in thier look, not the linear drive to a singularity.