One more wild speculation post (for now) having to do with the “leak” from yesterday.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS ARE BELOW. THEY MIGHT NOT BE, BUT HEY. ALSO, REAL SPOILERS FOR SOME 7.3 STUFF.
Veil of Shadows, if this holds true, has two themes coming about – the open sea with warships, and the encompassing dread of the void.
We can see seeds of this on 7.3 PTR, where Alleria Windrunner further masters the Void under the tutelage of Locus Walker.
This, to me, perfectly opens up the replacement for the Legion Legendaries.
It’s no secret that Legion’s legendary model has been contentious, to say the least. While the fervor around it has died down slightly as of late since many top-tier raiders have their favored items, it remains a sore spot among the community. Blizzard designers (most notably Ion Hazzikostas) have said that, if they could do it again, they would do a similar system with only utility/survivability effects.
Well, I would be okay with that…but not super okay with it.
What I would like to see is what I will outline today.
Firstly, it’s important to note that they key reason Blizzard implemented this manner of legendary system is to drive player engagement. It’s the key for all the legendary systems we’ve seen starting with Mists of Pandaria. Having a long quest makes you subscribe, log in regularly, and play in some form or fashion. Having the Legion system increases engagement even more, in theory. It’s constrained by drop methods (random occurences with any supported content) and by the item selected being random within your current loot spec, which means it could take very little time or a lot of time to get your truly desired, best-in-slot legendaries. If you’re reading this, you know that, though – and have probably at times been frustrated by this.
I think people would be underwhelmed if every legendary was a defensive effect. They’d be overeffective for tanks and undereffective for everyone else. They’d detract from healer gameplay. There can be limited fun in these types of effects, but they tend to be bland or unnoticeable, and smart gameplay can usually minimize their power.
Therefore, here’s what I would like to see.
Give Me A Gem
Legendary items are cool, and all – but without unique models, and with ridiculous RNG, they lose a bit of luster. If you’re Blizzard, you want a system that pushes people to play, giving them power in exchange for more playtime and more subscribed time. You want a system that does drive this behavior, but with less burnout.
If you’re a player, you want a system that allows you to reliably min-max your gear, adding cool new depth to your rotation and priorities by introducing wrinkles to it – enhancing the power of lackluster abilities, enhancing your power under certain circumstances.
Mists of Pandaria’s first stages of the legendary quest line had it mostly right, in my opinion. You could socket massive primary stats, and a meta gem with a huge effect.
So…let’s say you can have two gems. Let’s just say, for flavor’s sake, you’ve got a Purified Pristine Azsharan Crystal, and a Compressed Void. If you’re Blizzard, you can take these two categories, and divide up legendary effects (maybe even the current ones!).
Offensive effects, well, those are obviously power from the Void. Defensive/utility effects belong to the purified powers of water.
So you’d play, doing whatever content Blizzard labels appropriate. You loot a dungeon boss, here’s a small amount of Nazjatar Sea Water, or something, I dunno. You save up enough of it, and take it to, let’s say…a friendly Naga NPC. He goes, “oh gee, I sure am familiar with this stuff, and I can use…40 of these to cultivate a crystal, removing the Old God and Void-y elements, and here you go!” So now you have an unenchanted crystal, which he can trade with…maybe some trade mats, maybe some gold, I won’t pretend I know what is needed here, but I think some player economy involvement would be good. Trade the crystal, some ore, some herbs, some cloth/leather, enchanting mats, and voila – he lets you pick a finished crystal from the list, choosing the defensive effect you’d like.
Imagine this works similarly for the Void crystal, but maybe different content, or certain dungeons, or whatever drops the fragment items needed. I could see Blizzard limiting availability of the component items for this category. Imagine taking these things to Locus Walker, our friendly Void master, to bring them together to create our finished Void crystal, which is enchanted with an offensive legendary effect of our choosing.
Now, I have one defensive effect and one offensive effect. I can affix these to my gear, enchanting any piece of Veil of Shadows gear (maybe above a certain item level or some such) with a Legendary effect. That is the key to keep in mind – I don’t want primary stats or item level boosts – the gem is to add the legendary effect only directly to the gear.
Suddenly, it checks all the boxes – for Blizzard, it’s a time-limited system, encouraging players to log on frequently, play through content, and push to progress towards their desired gem. You can limit the void drops, allowing offensive effects to be farmed with less regularity, while keeping the water drops more available, ensuring everyone can have a legendary effect with enough work. For players, it’s a measurable, quantifiable goal that allows you to pick the end result and work towards it at your own pace, knowing that such a thing exists and you can someday have it.
Now, with the consumable idea and it just being the effect, you might notice the next part of this – how do you ensure this maintains engagement throughout the expansion?
It’s replaceable, with a limit of 1 of each. If you replace the piece of gear the effect is enchanted on, you’ll need to farm for more mats to get it back. You could use currency with a cap if you’re Blizzard, just to keep people from farming it in advance. You can also introduce new effects with patches, shuffling the metagame around and encouraging people to replace these effects earlier than anticipated. You could also increase the cap – maybe in a second raid tier, allowing two defensive effects alongside 1 offensive would serve well. You could then increase the offensive cap to two in the third raid tier, so people continue to farm. It also allows balancing, in that you can balance the early stages of a tier to not need the full extent of these effects, and then open it up on later bosses, where balancing either brings the fight down in difficulty for having these, or brings the boss within reach of defeat by having them.
I think that, at this point, we know the legendary system as-is in Legion won’t really work going forward, but I would hate to see the cool offensive legendaries go away.
There is a compromise that can be had, and the answer (in my opinion, at least) is to remove the RNG from the acquisition of the effect and just put it into the farm towards the item. Let me see the path, and choose my end goal – and you can allow RNG to make that path as short or as long as you desire.