Sunday, June 17, 2007

Goodbye, Vanguard Pauldrons

One of the things that I really like about Burning Crusade – and there are a lot of things I really like about Burning Crusade – is the itemization. As I struggle to level up a Night Elf druid, I’m reminded of how painful the old-game itemization is in many ways. I really love that all the new item suffixes are clearly targeted at particular roles, whereas many old-game green items were a little suspect. (I’m looking at you, “of the Wolf” gear.) As I painfully traipse through the Kalimdor zones I didn’t do while my main was leveling up, I frequently find that I’ll do a long quest chain and end up rewarded with my choice between +Spirit/+Agility mail and a gun or some other improbable combination of rewards.

Burning Crusade is a 180 degree turn from that. Pretty much every single quest reward item is something that I can see someone actually using, and I’ve already sang the praises of the new suffixes. I just recently replaced my last piece of old-world gear, the Lightforge Bracers (terrible for healing) with a green a guildmate found on the Auction House for a steal. If there are any useless rewards in BC, it’s only because some earlier quest gave out better stuff. (A guildmate attempting to gear up for Kara is, as of time of writing, still making good use of a Hellfire Peninsula blue item.) I feel like both my healing set and my soloing set receive regular upgrades, even if my luck with dungeon drops is only average. I’m very frequently stuck trying to choose between two pieces of comparable gear, and it’s only worse with trinkets and rings.

On the other hand, it almost feels too easy. As a long-time holy paladin that never did old-world end-game stuff, I’m not used to having gear actually aimed right at me; it was always a mix of warrior plate, caster jewelry, and coveted “of the Eagle” gear. When I got to Hellfire and saw the rewards that were clearly for a paladin and nobody else, there was almost cognitive dissonance. The magic of getting your hands on a truly great piece of gear is gone somewhat, because it’s all truly great pieces of gear. What do you think? Should gear upgrades be a struggle while leveling, great triumphs when they come, or is that one hassle we just don’t need? Myself, I’m willing to sacrifice quite a bit of new-gear-wonder for some nice +Int plate.

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