This mornings post is going to be a little weird. Just getting that out up front. Yesterday I spent some time thinking about the Azerite Item system and how lousy it generally feels, but there was something about it that seemed extremely familiar and it took me some time to place my finger on it. Finally it dawned on me… the system was in effect the same idea as the whole weapon trait system in Destiny/Destiny 2. An item drops with a seemingly random set of traits (less random in Destiny 2) and you wind up having to evaluate whether or not the item is of sufficient light level, but also if the traits on it are worth keeping.
This lead to a lot of generally lousy feeling situations where an item drops of high light level… but has a crappy set of traits meaning that you won’t actually use the item. This is what is also happening with the Azerite trait system, because not all of these traits are created equal and some are very much superior depending on your need. For example when I was working on trying to tank as a warrior, there were three traits that were leaps and bounds better than anything else I could get on an item… and they so greatly effected my survival that I found myself passing on upgrades that didn’t have them just so I could maintain the same build out. Now I am not saying that the World of Warcraft devs borrowed this system from Destiny, because I have no way of knowing that. However there are a bunch of other systems that I would love them to borrow from different games… and now we get into the weird part of this mornings post as I talk about some of them.
The problem I mentioned before with Destiny… specifically year one… was the passing on items that had higher ratings because they lacked reasonable item talents. In Year two they put in a system to largely fix this, and it continues to be viable in Destiny 2 as well. That system is item infusion which effectively takes the item you like and raises it to the level of the higher level item that you didn’t like… by destroying it and consuming some crafting resources. Now this system went through a bunch of iterations but the one that makes the most sense for World of Warcraft is the like items infusion construct, of if you want to raise the item level of a Chestpiece for example… you need another donor Chestpiece to consume and raise the level of the first one. The reason why I think this would work… is because of the way that gear scales now.
Effectively you can get the same item at level 200 as you can at level 273 based on the order in which you do the zone content in Battle for Azeroth. This tells me that these items are not hand crafted but instead made up of a mathematical formula based on the item level of a given item. You can see this with World Quest gear where the same item scales from 285 to 340 depending on how progressed you are through your own gearing process. Effectively that Item Level and the stats associated with it can fluctuate and the item still remains functional, which tells me that they could implement an infusion system without somehow functionally breaking the game.
What this would mean is… you could find a chest piece that you really liked the specific trait package of… consume another chest piece that has a higher item level… maybe throw in some materials like ore for a metal plate and even a little expulsom since that is accessible to anyone via the scrapping machine. There would probably also bit a minor gold charge for using what I am assuming is either an NPC or a Machine to do the item level swap for you… but the end result is the item you like using at a new higher item level. In the Reddit Q&A Ion mentioned that he wants players to use the item with the higher level … but they will never reach a point of equity with these talents. There will always be a better option for specific specs, and as a result a system like Item Infusion might be able to fill that much needed gap.
Bookrocks / Bad Luck Tokens
Another system that I would love World of Warcraft to steal is one that ultimately was borrowed from them in the first place. In Final Fantasy XIV they have this concept of Tomestones or as we tend to refer to them as “Bookrocks”. These are effectively a “Bad Luck Token” system that allows players to slowly and methodically work towards a goal regardless of how good of luck they happen to have in dungeons. They work more or less like the Justice and Valor system used to, but in truth just simply works better. As you do content you get bookrocks of different types depending on the tier of content that you are doing. The number that drops also depends on the difficulty of content within that tier… so raid content drops a lot of them… and dungeon content drops significantly fewer. There are various “roulettes” or random dungeon finder systems that reward bonus bookrocks each day and keep players constantly queueing for the content that you need them to queue for.
At any given time there are generally two types of book rocks available… the bulk currency for items that are now super cheap and easy to pick up giving players a hand up in catching back up content wise. Then there is the rare currency that has a weekly acquisition cap on it and often times requires multiple weeks worth of saving to add up to a new piece of gear. When a new tier of content is released… they add a new rare bookrock and the previous rare offering becomes uncapped and takes the place of the previous bulk. There is a system to cash in older bookrocks to turn them into whatever the new bulk is. This allows someone to come back from a long absence and through running current content catch up rather quickly… or at least reach a level where they are viable for modern content.
One of the major problems with Battle for Azeroth is there just is no point to run most of the content. Islands reward you a currency that only matters if you want to do more islands. Normal dungeons and Heroic dungeons stop mattering the moment you figure out you can survive Mythic… which takes much needed Tanks and Healers from the dungeon finder queue making it all the harder for the dps you are leveling or maybe a few months behind the curve to catch up and actually become viable. Final Fantasy XIV is designed in a way so that it bribes players to do the right thing for the community… which is to queue for content and do so often. Since content now all scales… I would set things up in a very specific way to mimic the sort of systems that Final Fantasy XIV has… and associate daily bonus “bad luck tokens” to them. Here are some examples:
- Leveling Content – a queue that includes all of the normal dungeons from Ragefire through Legion
- BFA Normal – a queue that is all of the normal story dungeons from Battle for Azeroth
- BFA Heroic – a queue that is any of the heroic dungeons from Battle for Azeroth
- Islands Normal – a queue that is the normal islands to help folks who can’t yet do heroic.
- Islands Heroic – a queue that is for the heroic islands
- Warfronts – if your faction currently holds the Warfront… then a daily queue for that too
Effectively there should be two full sets of gear available to help fix the gaps players have in their itemization. In the currently system I would say the bulk gear option should be in the neighborhood of 340 and they could borrow the way the catch up mechanics have worked in other expansion of having a vendor that sells you an item that turns into a piece of gear for your spec. The rare currency would probably be something in the neighborhood of 360 to give you something aspirational for most players to work towards but also not being the best item you could possibly get in that slot. As new content is released, the base level of these items trickles up each time to match what the new normal is, so as the soft cap for World Quest rewards increases so does this. Combine this system with Infusion above and it allows you to keep the item that works for your spec but keep pushing its item level up to match the level of content you want to be doing.
Borrowing is Good
So often I feel like Blizzard wants to make the “Warcraft” answer to systems and often times creates purposefully inferior implementations. Transmog for example is arguably worse than every single game that has a more detailed Wardrobe system. However we deal with it because we were happy to get ANYTHING… even though it is needlessly limiting. Void Storage… was a horrible system… but at the time we were happy to get it because we desperately needed bank space. It feels like each time a new system is implemented… they make it awesome… and then purposefully give it some negative impact. So you can have unlimited pie… but that pie is always going to be your least favorite… mincemeat. A lot of the problems that Battle for Azeroth has… have already been solved by other games. I would love to see them start trying to apply those solutions to already solved problems to World of Warcraft, and give the players are more rich and usable experience as a result.