Today I finally decided to end my subscription and quit WoW’s latest expansion, Legion. It’s not like I didn’t enjoy the expansion, truthfully I did. But the more I played the more I realized something: Legion’s gear system is flawed. The current system rewards luck more than skill, forcing players to spend a considerable amount of time grinding.
This system not only lead to frustration, but caused player burnout. I have experienced both as a raider, quickly becoming disenfranchised. Three factors contributed to player fatigue: the legendary system, artifact weapon/power, and gear enhancements.
Let’s start by looking at the legendary system. This system was the natural evolution of legendary questlines in past expansions. Players now have to grind daily quests, dungeons, raids, and loot tokens for a chance to get a legendary item. However, you’re unable to chose the legendary that drops. This feature is flawed because not all legendary items were made equal, with some specs being dependent on one piece. Even if a player was mechanically skilled, he would often be overlooked for someone that had the proper legendary. This created a barrier, with the only solution being to grind more. After seven months I still didn’t have the best legendaries and often fell behind.
Then there is artifact power, or AP. This system is tied to artifact weapons and is meant to augment their power. However, this also unintentionally creates several barriers. Like the legendary system, AP must be farmed continuously to make your weapon more powerful. This takes considerable time and dedication, especially since the amount of AP you receive is locked behind research that takes months to complete. Furthermore, this makes having an off-spec almost impossible. You have to focus solely on your main spec, locking you into one specialization. Likewise, taking a break means you fall behind, and often means being replaced.
Finally, there is gear enhancements, or the chance for it. Gear in Legion can randomly upgrade with a higher item level, tertiary stats, or a gem slot. This presents another issue as the difference in item levels can greatly influence a player’s spells and abilities, forcing them to spend more time grinding specific dungeons or raids. It also creates an unfair system as players that put in effort can go unrewarded, while casual players can obtain an enhanced item without trying.
Alone these mechanics could give the game more depth and playability, but together they create a complex system that creates a barrier to advancement. Even pro raiders and guilds have fallen due to this, as the time investment required to become competitive is too demanding. Skill becomes replaced by luck, making the gaming experience less rewarding as a whole. It doesn’t matter how good or dedicated you are, it only mattered what dropped.