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When you earn an item from nearly any endgame source (dungeon, raid, world quest, PvP strongbox, mission, etc.), it has a chance of upgrading its quality. When looking at information on your rewards in sources like the Dungeon Journal or World Quest display, you’ll see these items with a “+” next to their item level, indicating this chance to upgrade (e.g. the Dungeon Journal for Heroic Legion dungeons showing “Item Level 825+”).

While there’s a bunch of math behind it all, this may be a useful way of thinking about it: When generated, these items have a chance to roll a +5 item level bonus. If that roll succeeds, the system rolls again for another +5 bonus. If that succeeds, it rolls again. This process continues until an upgrade roll fails or the global item-level ceiling is reached. That’s it.

And so, in Legion, even if you’re a raider, if your friend is looking for someone to queue Heroic dungeons, you have an extra motivation to volunteer aside from pure altruism. You probably won’t get an upgrade. But you might. Anything could happen.

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I woke up this morning to discover that, late last night, Watcher posted details on how loot has changed in Legion. It has, in a way that is likely to make a portion of hardcore raiders have a moment the like of which you will never have seen in eleven years. Finally, there is no restriction on what loot drops where.

Welcome to the Age of the Global item level ceiling.

“Titanforged” – What’s the Deal?

Titanforged is just a label that applies when an item successfully upgrades by +15 or more item levels. It isn’t really an inherent part of the system itself, but rather something we added midway through development to make it clear when you just got exceptionally lucky.

This is possibly the most significant carrot Blizzard ever baited their stick with. Legendary items can drop from LFR. You could, conceivably, pick up a Mythic item whilst in the lowest form of organised play. The key however, is that you have to play to begin with. In effect, those lovely Shipyard missions that allowed you raid content without ever leaving your Garrison have been re-purposed with the most seductive of new objectives: do group content, and you could win HUGE. Of course, the truth is that the chances of all your gear automatically upgrading to Mythic proportions from low level content is slim to impossible. However, because the chance exists?

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This is supposed to make everyone want to play EVERYTHING and it is so simple in its execution it is brilliant beyond belief.

“Warforged” as you know it in Warlords is gone with Legion, and isn’t a separate system stacked on top of this one.

A “Warforged” item is one that got moderately lucky rolls (+5 or +10 over base). “Titanforged” kicks in once you cross the +15 threshold.

895 is the highest item level you will see while Emerald Nightmare is the active raid zone.

This is a big deal. If you think about it, the iLevel ‘threshold’ that people use to make the assumption that people are only doing a certain type of content will, in effect, be an unrealistic method of assuming competence. The smart people here know, of course, that you never recruited people on that standard to begin with. For some, however, the fact you can get top level gear in low-level content is going to be a slowly ticking time bomb. Because for them, it only matters about the number. What Activision Blizzard have done, in effect, is make that number irrelevant everywhere except where one needs to first enter. 

That’s the key. You won’t be able to successfully complete Mythic content by getting lucky. Your endeavours will still require effort, thought and brilliance on an individual level. For everything else, the gear only matters at the door of your instance. A minimum number is still required for entry, but after that it isn’t an issue (though please note in Watcher’s post he acknowledges the need to ensure organised groups don’t have to worry about the randomness affecting overall progression, and this is indeed being addressed internally.) However, what some people will see, because they won’t take their blinkers off, is the fact that scrubs now get Mythic loot just for turning up.

You just didn’t read the post, did you?

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This is supposed to increase the flow of new players into Raiding. It reinforces the design philosophy that to get on, and to own the best items, you have to work for them. You will manage perfectly well with crafted gear, when all is said and done, but that will only get you so far. After that, your level of commitment is still largely represented by the form of content you decide to indulge in. The bonus with this system is the adrenaline rush that occurs when an item with a 1% drop actually does. This is gambling with your gear, writ large, and the potential to addict some people to the possibility is significant indeed. However the fact soundly remains: if you want the best gear, you need to be running the top tier content, and on that nothing at all has changed one iota.

What is more concerning now is how this is received by the wider Community.

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There will be those who look at this and just shrug and move on, because it has no significance to them at all. Others will undoubtedly decry the continuing disintegration of the game’s original ethos and keep pushing for the introduction of Vanilla servers. For everybody else? Now, you have the possibility of greatness. As to how I feel about this?

Well, I’m beyond happy this has been introduced, and let me tell you why.

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I’ve run three Mythic dungeons since they were introduced. Auchindoun was the last one, and it took a whole evening. I’d only offered to go because I needed a weapon upgrade and I knew the third boss had a chance to drop one, and after at least 10 wipes that’s exactly what happened, with the benefit of my Warforged tag on top. This has lasted me an entire Expansion, in effect. I really felt like I earnt it, and the extra bonus level on top was the icing on a cake I chose. Most importantly I did not go into the Dungeon to get that, I was there in the hope and nothing more. Instanced loot drops are still RNG based, and if you choose to walk this path, having the opportunity for that to upgrade to something better is a lovely additional bonus I am happy to see the Devs making use of.

In effect, this game is what you decide it is. Sure, your raid group might demand certain things of you, but if on a Saturday you decide to casually run an LFR on an alt and suddenly you have an iLevel weapon higher than your main? That’s just luck, it’s not a design fault. The problem with a great many people who play Warcraft is their assertion that this game somehow owes them something for the years of effort and cash they’ve put in. It’s like my national soccer team’s supporters who bemoan how much money they pay to go watch a bunch of blokes that can’t beat a country with a national population of one of our smaller provincial cities. Nobody makes you stump up the cash. If there aren’t any leaders to make greatness, you can’t blame anyone except yourself for the belief that these people are competent.

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Activision Blizzard have provided a brilliant means by which random actually becomes fun again. I know you people who will detest this, and argue it’s shit. I don’t want to listen to either that, or you any more. I LOVE this change, and long may the process continue of those of us who don’t play competitively being given a chance once in a while for being rewarded just for making an effort. Don’t tell me this is the end of Warcraft as you know it, because you did that 1000 times already and every time it happened I never left, and neither did you.

Welcome to a future where loot suddenly stopped being a means to segregate this Community.

4 thoughts on “Chances Are

  1. I love this. I love group content in WoW and play it as much as my poor body, soul, spirit and patience will tolerate, it’s my first choice! Adding a rare RNG boost to gear is a pretty good idea since we’ll be farming for stuff anyways. Y’know, I finally did get that 725 Mana Injector from Iron Docks (VP upped to 735) — it was too late in the expansion to be “meaningful” but it felt pretty good. I ran that dungeon every week.

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  2. This is quite incredible and I’m all for it with perhaps a couple of minor concerns that Ion has responded to. I think the randomness injects an element of excitement that hasn’t been present really ever in this game.

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  3. I also really love this! I really do. I love that it encourages people to do more content, and I love that it has the potential to help people who don’t have enough time to raid mythic level to get mythic level gear, or give those an extra leg up in to getting in to some raid zones.

    And here’s the golden nugget that wasn’t mentioned in your post – the item level is based on what gear is due to drop in that particular zone – it doesn’t upgrade to the higher level looks. So anyone who feels high and mighty that “lowbies” shouldn’t be getting high ilvl gear can rest assured that the looks of some gear will still only be available at particular levels of raids. E.g. mythic skins of raid tier sets will still only be available if you do the raids themselves on mythic difficulty. So people can still “look superior” to show off their skills.

    It really is quite a genius move. :D

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  4. Pingback: Episode #17 : Warcraft Movie! + Developer Q&A’s

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