Friday, January 2, 2009

Insight into Blizzard's Itemization Progression Plans

MMO-Champion's daily blue post roundup caught some very interesting tidbits from the official forums on a topic that many of us are probably wondering about - itemization progression in 3.1 and beyond.

Suboptimal Stats
"We aren't offering the best itemized gear now because we want to have something left for you to work up to. We don't want the next tier of gear to look exactly like this one, but with +2 more of each stat."

All the spirit on mage gear that I spent seemingly half of my gear guide complaining about? Not an oversight or a misunderstanding, but a deliberate feature intended to make future tiers look like more of an upgrade because they're not spending item budget on spirit. I suppose it's not a bad idea in principle, but the problem leads to blurry lines between tiers when an item that accidentally was NOT misitemized comes along.

You will be allowed to live another day (but today you die a brutal death)
"We changed the way we itemized PvP gear between seasons 4 and 5. The largest change is that resilience uses up much more of an item's budget, where previously it was almost bonus. We also stopped adding bonus armor (extra armor beyond what a cloth, leather, mail or plate would have at a certain item level) because it was causing some weird issues for certain characters, like Feral druids."

This is interesting because PVP survivability is a relatively major complaint at the moment. I'm not sure it isn't an issue of sheer damage levels as opposed to mitigation - my HP has shot up from 8.2K to just shy of 14K from late 70 to early in 80, and it still feels like I get torn to shreds quickly in melee, albeit at a "mere" 229 resilience. Then again, some bonus armor and resilience shouldn't hurt. Perhaps PVP survivability will be where Blizzard wants it in season 8 or something, but that's a serious short term issue (and even a long term one, as it will get harder to obtain enough entry level resilience if more and more of it is required).

PVP Gear will get tougher as Raid gear does more damage?
"Later tiers of PvP gear have more survivability but don't inflate offensive stats nearly as much."

Perhaps I'm reading between the lines here, but the implication appears to be that PVP gear will get more and more tank-like while PVE gear gets more and more DPS-like (or tank/heal as you prefer) in future seasons/tiers. The good news is that raiders won't feel as much pressure to arena for raiding gear if the gear isn't good for raiding.

The bad news - if you're in the PVP crowd - is that it appears that Blizzard intends for live server arenas to be the playground of raiders. They don't even offer entry level PVP weapons, so players will already need to raid or settle for rep rewards until they meet the high rating requirement (2030) for Deadly Gladiator weapons. With a greater divergence between PVP and PVE gear, though, it will become increasingly beneficial for players to slap on the minimum of current season, high resilience gear to reach some base survival threshold and then supplement it with the biggest baddest raid pieces they can find. That's an option that the non raider won't have. I guess you can always wait for the next cash tournament if you aren't tackling top tier raid content (which will, presumably, get harder eventually) and you dreamed of a level playing field in the arenas.

Thinking ahead
Overall, I suppose it's good that Blizzard has a plan, rather than no plan. During the TBC era, Blizzard didn't leave any room between 5-man content and T4 raid content for improved loot for solo and small group players, and the result was the T6 quality badge vendor that only raiders farming Kara for badges every week could really afford to use. What the game really needed was T4 quality blue items, but more advanced raiders wouldn't have wanted those, so we got a compromise that made no one happy.

The only question is whether some of the game's current problems are due to plans for future stuff that won't materialize for months. If so, Blizzard's carefully laid plans may need to be tweaked.

1 comment:

Centuri said...

Intentionally designing sub-optimal gear is nothing new. Much of the badge gear added late in TBC was designed this way. It was designed to be an equal item level of T6 level gear but with sub-optimal stats on many peices.

The new changes to arena gear seem to be wanting to make low-mid tier arena open to everyone, even those who raid. I doubt many classes will be able to get by without a minimum amount of PVP gear (rogues & paladins).

Arena gear offering survivability over PVE gear offering more damage seems better than the TBC problem of forcing PVE players into arenas and battlegrounds for weapons.