Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Legendaries

Legendary weapons are interesting items in WoW. Right now, there are three expectations for a legendary weapon:

  1. They will be rare. Not every character who can use a legendary will get one.
  2. They will be very powerful. A legendary is not expected to be replaced until the next expansion, while most weapons are expected to be replaced in the next tier.
  3. They will have a significant quest or lore attached to them.
In the past, these three elements have caused issues with each other. Rare and very powerful means that guilds who can recruit multiple legendaries have a significant advantage. Conversely, guilds who lose their legendary feel resentful and unhappy. There is also significant conflict over who gets the legendary first, because the people later in line may not get one at all.

Legendaries being Best-In-Slot for an entire expansion also means that they can only show up in the last or second last tier.  As well, classes which don't receive legendaries do feel slighted.

The quest attached causes three problems. First, only a small fraction of players will see the quest. Not all rogues will see the daggers quest line. It's restricted to raiding rogues who get the legendary. That seems like a very large set of restrictions.

The second problem is that the questline is a very long grind, because that is how Blizzard limits the supply of legendaries. I suppose it's better than the random chance method that previous legendaries used.

The third problem is that classes and specs which are not in line to get a legendary will not get an epic quest.

I like the quests and lore attached to these weapons. But I really wonder if the first two points are worthwhile. On balance I think those two points have caused more trouble than they are worth.

Can we have weapons with quests and lore without having them be very rare and very powerful?

I think we can. There is precedent here: [Benediction] and [Rhok'delar]. Both those weapons are fondly remembered by their respective classes because of the quest chains attached to them. I'd wager than the vast majority of characters who got those weapons back in the day still have them banked. 

Both those weapons were good weapons, best for that tier. But they were still replaced in the next tier. If all your priests had Benediction, it didn't unbalance the raid. They weren't super rare, but were still worthwhile to get.

I think [Benediction] and [Rhok'delar] are the better model for quest and lore-driven loot. Solid, well-loved weapons, with interesting questlines, but without the unbalancing effects of rarity and power that current Legendaries have.

It would be easier for Blizzard to add more of these, even for more obscure classes and specs. For example, [Fandral's Flamescythe] might have been a very nice questline weapon, even if it isn't as powerful as a Legendary.

In my view, legendary weapons cause more trouble than they are worth. It seems to me that we can get almost as much mileage out good epic-level quest-driven weapons modeled after [Benediction], without the drama and unbalancing effects of legendaries.

18 comments:

Felcat said...

I am in complete agreement on this subject.

Benediction is sitting in my old priest's bank, it's something I'd never get rid of.

The quest to get it was interesting and fun, as it was a trail built specifically around the tool set of a priest. One of the biggest advantages of a Class based quest is just that, you build it for the class, where non-specific quests tend to be easy because they have to be balanced around everyone being able to complete them

Kring said...

Benediction and Rhok'delar were still limited to raiders. But non raider would probably enjoy a good end-game quest line too, if not more.

The required drops came from very difficult to nearly impossible bosses. Onyxia was a challenge for all of vanilla for most raids. And the huge majority of the player base probably has never seen Lord Kazzak at all.

While I agree that legendary weapon are a waste of development time I don't think Benediction and Rhok'delar were much better. They were also limited to a small percentage of the player base.

Elladrion said...

You missed the single best weapon quest chain blizzard has ever done: Quel'Delar. Very involved, amazing lore, anyone can do it and get something useful but not game breaking from it, and it was relatively available (I would have preferred a higher droprate and not be tradable)

I just dont understand Blizzard's position on legendaries in Cata. They removed class quests (that players loved) and said they wouldn't do any more because so few players got to see them, but then they poor tons of rescources into these legendary chains that only a small percentage of a class gets to see? I don't get it.

I've no problem with legendaries in general beyond that except I felt they were a little too common this xpac. Legebndaries should be rare and hard to get, the epic quests should be for everyone, or at least everyone that is willing to commit the effort to see them. No other thing in the entirety of WoW's existence has upset me more than knowing no matter what I do, my main will never EVER be able to elect the new leader of the blue dragonflight, or help out the last remaining black dragon, simply becuase of his class.

Ahtchu said...

I enjoyed this post, and your examples of staff and bow hit the perfect chord.

Klepsacovic said...

I agree, though I don't think they need to be limited to class weapons. As Elladrion pointed out, Quel'dalar had an excellent story to it. Quel'serar wasn't quite as story-filled, but I was quite happy when I finally managed to stab it into Onyxia for the last step. It took two tries because the first time, someone skinned her a little too quickly.

Anonymous said...

Rohan - I am sorry, but I do not agree with your blog on this subject.

First of all, the concept of a legendary in my opinion, is to to remain rare in number and possibly have powers that can only be invoked by a minority of people. The determination of the minority can be by class, stat level, number of hours of grinding, or any other barrier to obtainment and use that can be thought of by Blizzard. To me, the only equalization required for individuals regarding legendaries is time. When will it be my chance to obtain a legendary? When the barriers to obtainment of a particular legendary suit my particular stats, class, hours of grinding, etc.

For the person that can obtain a legendary, is it not exciting and fun to have something that not everyone in the game can obtain?

I feel the real issue here is that people in general seem to become way too jealous that somebody has something that they do not. They then cry foul if they are unable to obtain it by whatever reasoning that they can come up with. Most of the time the reasoning translates into an excuse as to why they are not willing to work for said item or why they feel it is somehow unfair. Legendaries by nature should require work to obtain and nowhere is there any rule that they should be fairly distributed. Why not look at it from the point of view from the proud owner of that newly obtained legendary and be happy for that person?

In the end, I do feel that jealousy has led to a lot of crying that in turn has led to a lot of decisions by Blizzard to water down WoW. Uniqueness is a bad word in WoW. Lets have every healer do AoE healing (paladins lose their uniqueness as spot/tank healers); lets have raid gear available to everyone (everyone looked the same before transmogrifacation); lets have have legendaries available for everyone (legendaries, even if by class, become the new epics)

If everyone gets everything that everyone else gets, the game will be a very bland game indeed.

kadaan said...

The legendary daggers definitely drove home the "amazing content, but only for a super small subset of players" point. My guild let me pickpocket Haggara on my Rogue alt to start the quest, and I was able to complete the first chain to get the 397 daggers. The story was interesting and the stealth missions and special boss were challenging. It definitely reminded me of having to kill the skeletons and heal the peasants for the Benediction quest chain.

The argument that only raiders can see any piece of the step is certainly valid. If anything, I'd like to see the first step of a Legendary chain be like Quel'delar; doable by anyone through time sinks, heroic dungeons, gold sinks, or even through LFR. It could reward a nice normal mode raid level epic, and the last step to turn it into a Legendary could be the generic collect X shards/fragments/gems/blahblah that only drop in normal/heroic raids. By frontloading the lore and quests in the chain, it wouldallow non raiders to experience the "Legendary Content", but still give raiding guilds their Legendary item and status.

Redbeard said...

I have to agree on this.

Another weapon to consider is the Quel'Delar quest line, with the fixed drop rate. Once that drop rate was tweaked, I think I saw that battered hilt drop only once in an Icecrown 5-man. That seemed a decent amount of rarity to make it worthwhile to have, and at the same time for the non-raiders it gave you a chance to have a raid-quality weapon.

flosch said...

I also think that Rhok'Delar (can only speak about Benediction from what read about it) was a very good item/quest combination.

1) It came early enough in the game that, if you raided, you had a reasonable chance to get it in Vanilla.

2) It made you work for your Epic, and you learned a lot about your class on the way if you hadn't already known. To kill Artorius, hunters needed to learn how to kite properly. This knowledge came just in time, because the first boss of the next tier, Razorgore, required hunters to know how to kite properly.

Quest lines like this would probably be a great training ground for newly dinged max levels. Learn more about your class, learn how to use your abilities properly, become a better player solo, so you can afterwards bring in your new experience in group and raid content.

Klepsacovic said...

@anonymous: The problem is not one of jealousy or uniqueness, but that a large guild effort yields only individual gain. It's much easier to distribute ten items to ten people than one item to one out of ten people. I'm not saying that normal loot is drama-free, but it's much easier to distribute when no one is entirely left out. Call it jealousy, or recognize that nine of ten people get little to nothing for their effort.

Christopher said...

I LOVE this idea. Give every class a quest chain that is difficult and time consuming, plays to the strengths and weaknesses of the class, and rewards a raid-equivalent weapon for the tier. Add ways to update it via raids as tiers are added. There are certainly downsides, but transmitting eliminates most of them, and the others could be avoided through intelligent design choices.

The biggest benefit I see is the opportunity to make classes feel unique and important, through storytelling instead of spell selection. Blizzard's approach to raiding, from LFR to ability homoginization to points-based loot systems, has done a lot to improve the quality of life in-game. The costs have been discussed at length, sense of community being the one most often mentioned, but in my opinion immersion has suffered more and has consequences that are less obvious. Giving that depth, variety, and feeling of involvement back to players via quests, lore, and challenges to overcome would add a great deal to the game that I for one have been missing

Anonymous said...

@ Klepsacovic: "Call it jealousy, or recognize that nine of ten people get little to nothing for their effort."

I recognize that people will get nothing immediately "tangible" for their efforts. If personal "tangible" reward is solely the goal, then the 9 of 10 people should not help the individual get their legendary as there is nothing in it for them.

However, I do not believe that belonging to a guild or group should be about personal reward only. Helping a person gain their legendary should help the group/guild as a whole and at the very least, bring about a personal satisfaction that you helped someone else. Helping out for the greater good may lead to a boss kill that you could not get before, allow for easier recruitment into your guild, a building of community within your guild, or a number of other less tangible benefits.

I also point out, going for a legendary is a matter of choice for individuals and the guild that helps those individuals. Nobody has to obtain a legendary. If an individual wants a legendary and requires guild help to get it, this quest does provide a focus for the guild which can be a good thing.

As far as the choice of who goes for the legendary within the guild, well, that is a matter of guild politics. Group politics is a very dynamic issue and is dependant on a number of factors such as the players, history, leadership, and external pressures. However, in my opinion, if the guild group is working well together towards common goals, drama should be minimal when it comes to the next goal - who will get the legendary.

Anonymous said...

I still believe that there should be powerful PvP legendaries rather than tier 2 in the seasons with PvE legendaries (these 'legendaries' are allowed to be purple).
If they add a resilience based divine protection on current t2 it would compensate for the PvE counterparts.

I find weapon quest chains fun. They create additional emotional value to my characters. You made a good point and it got me thinking. The reason why they stopped class chains (not available to everyone) is more true for legendaries than for the classquests (everyone can play class X).

SoonerFan said...

Is it just me, or did I miss the amount of hand-wringing and crying about Dragonwrath? I mean, when every caster in the game got a chance at a legendary, no one seemed to care.

When we rogues get some love (the first since 2.1 and the Warglaives, I would like to add, and that didn't involve anything other than killing Illidan, unless you were a combat rogue and wanted Quel'Delar), everyone and their dog is talking about "removing legendaries" because of "this, that, or the other thing".

We get an epic quest, we have to use every tool in our toolbox (and even that might not be enough), and from that, we get a legendary item. Non-rogues have received how many since 2.1? Yeah, GET OVER IT.

I may or may not agree that legendary items should or should not be in the game, but the timing of everyone complaining is very interesting to me. Something about Blizzard helping out the least played* class in WoW, and people are up in arms.

*Rogues or warlocks, check for yourself, it changes a LOT

Rohan said...

@SoonerFan, Dragonwrath is the problem Legendary, not really Fangs.

There's a huge differential between a caster with Dragonwrath and one without. Some of the high end guilds were fielding raids where almost every caster had a Dragonwrath.

Hunters were significantly behind the other ranged because they didn't have access to a legendary.

Fangs is a lot less unbalancing because it is the very last tier, and its limited to a single class, and that class is somewhat rare these days.

sam said...

simply adding in class quests for epics that "grew" with the character. Something similar to BOA gear would work.

Legendaries will always be a source of contention because most players get very little choice in them. Guild master or raid leader will determine who gets the initial drop. Heaven help the poor guildee who refuses to help on the legendary quest chain. I'm sure anonymous will scream it's their choice but that choice usually boils down to help or find a new guild. I think if everyone got some benefit from helping out on the legendary chain it would be different. Imagine a legendary mount that everyone who helped got. But the devs got sucked into the zero sum game of stopping all complaining so they rush towards homogenization instead of creativity.

Brekkie said...

If a legendary isn't rare, it isn't legendary.

If everyone is a hero, no one is.
That's a fundamental, uncorrectable truth.

Bronte said...

I actually still don't understand the legendary weapons. By definition, these weapons should be extremely rare (they are) very hard to get (they are) and irreplaceable (um, no).