With the 8.2 PTR in full swing and Nazjatar now up and running, the gear catch-up mechanism for the patch is in full view.
Benthic gear shares some similarities with the token gear of the past – like Timeless Isle, Tanaan Jungle, Broken Shore, and Argus, you can pick up various tokens for each armor slot, which, when used, will turn into an epic piece of armor for the slot the token is for, with a base item level of 385. However, the similarities more or less end there.
Benthic gear can be purchased, with the token costing 5 Prismatic Manapearls, a new currency that is awarded for just about anything you do in Nazjatar. The gear has fixed secondary stats, meaning the days of randomly rolling multiple same-slot tokens for your ideal stat mix are gone, a welcome change. This also means you can now target ideal tokens for your spec first, allowing you to maximize the early Prismatic Manapearl spending to gain the greatest amount of power. With this same currency, you can then purchase one of 3 upgrade tokens – an Azsharan Pearling Kit, an Azsharan Pearling Enhancement, or an Azsharan Azerite Pearling Enhancement.
The first item, the Pearling Kit, gives you an immediate 15 item level jump, bringing the Benthic armor to Pearled quality and item level 400. It sells for 20 Prismatic Manapearls and, like all of these tokens, is bind to account. The second and third items are both used once the item is Pearled, with the Pearling Enhancement used on non-Azerite slots and offering 5 additional item levels to the piece it is used on, with a cap of item level 430 in place. These sell for 10 Prismatic Manapearl. The Azerite Pearling Enhancement sells for 30 PMs, but brings up the item level of an Azerite slot Pearled item by 15, with the same 430 cap in place.
Benthic armor carries one additional benefit, which is that in addition to the fixed secondary stats, it also comes with fun, Nazjatar-only bonuses which also work in the Azshara’s Eternal Palace raid. For example, the cloak gives you a 2% reduction to frost damage taken. Some boost your sea speed, and others offer various other benefits. These bonuses give a clear incentive for upgrading to this gear and may end up being a net positive for the raid.
But I want to call out the other components of this that make the system a huge positive for me.
BoA Means Everyone Can Play
The biggest benefit I can see is that the upgrade items are all bind to account, meaning that you can upgrade rapidly as you please. You can gather Prismatic Manapearls on alts and buy upgrade tokens for your main character, you can cycle through funneling gear to characters in a rotation, but however you decide to do it, you have the agency to make that decision. It ends the bad feeling of playing on the “wrong” character and allows you to set and work towards a gear goal that has a clear beginning and end point, and steady gameplay objectives that can be used to maintain progress towards these goals.
We finally got to a really good place with Benthic items! The pre-defined secondary stats mean that buying multiple tokens for the base level gear and constantly re-rolling to get better secondary stat mix for your preferred spec is done. Now, it is possible that a given piece might just suck for your spec, but at least the system sets that out from the beginning, so you know to not grab that slot first (or ever, depending on how bad it is for you). It also means that your Prismatic Manapearl spending is less wasteful and so if the currency ends up being somewhat limited in acquisition, it won’t feel as bad.
Meaningful Upgrades with an Immediate Benefit and Long-Term Progression
The gear path in Battle for Azeroth has lacked a well-defined endpoint, which has made the process feel somewhat painful. Benthic gear neatly avoids this problem – it starts off immediately impactful, as item level 385 is a good piece of gear for players up through LFR and even some Normal raiders, and the first upgrade option immediately jumps to item level 400, offering a substantial power boost that is valuable to Normal raiders and even some Heroic raiders. Finally, the upgrades past this point bring the value to even Mythic raiders, as an upgrade as high as item level 430 exceeds the current tier Mythic armor by 15 item levels. With 430 being the item level of gear from Azshara’s Eternal Palace on Heroic, this gear will maintain value for raiders through much of the Azshara tier. It gives me everything I want in a progression system – a strong start, quick jump up to speed, slow but steady power gain, and a defined endpoint to work towards, with the value apparent in different ways across my full stable of characters. A+ on that design, Blizzard – sincerely, this makes me happy.
Just a short one here, but I wanted to share – if Benthic armor represents a new direction for the team to go in, I sure hope they continue on this path going forward!