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WoWDec 6, 2016 1:00 pm CT

Legion’s legendary problem

As problems go, I have too many legendaries is a nice one to have, I suppose. Playing Legion, one of the things that I’ve watched and waited to have an opinion on is the proliferation of legendary items. These pieces of gear, gained in chests, random drops from mobs all over the world, and in dungeons and raids, are by and large much more powerful than the gear otherwise available (even getting a buff to item level 910 recently) and more are on the way in patch 7.1.5, which presumably means more folks are going to hopefully get one.

And that’s an interesting process, watching folks go from hoping they might someday get a legendary to wondering where their legendary was to being salty over having gotten a legendary that they didn’t want or which isn’t as good as the one they already have. This all started in Mists of Pandaria, and Warlords of Draenor got it really rolling with the legendary ring, but I think the legendary conundrum has hit a tipping point in Legion.

Legendary ring upgrades now available to purchase with Valor Points

Now, I’m an old grump, but I very deliberately expressed no particular opinion on the sudden uptick in legendary items in Legion because I wanted to watch the system play out. And I feel a little strange commenting on it when we have more legendaries incoming, but I have seen several aspects of the system now and I did want to comment on them, because they’re not all good.


You can’t plan for them

Legendaries just happen. Either you get one, or you don’t. There are already Best-in-Slot lists that include these things but it doesn’t matter if you’re a Mythic progression raider or an ultra-casual player, if you’re not getting lucky, you’re just not getting lucky, and there’s nothing you can do to make a specific item drop for you. Maybe you need a set of legendary shoulders for your spec to really feel like it’s working? Well, you got the ring. Sorry. That leads to the next problem with the system.

They have game-changing effects

Some legendaries are almost required for certain specs. Having one (and remember, they’re utterly random, you have no way of increasing your odds or focusing your efforts to get one) is the difference between performing well and not. What are you to do if it doesn’t drop? There’s nothing you can do. And players are already building talent choices and even class performance expectations around items that you just plain might never get. Among the many consequences of this are the fact that two players can be playing the same class, at around the same level of skill, with roughly the same item level’s worth of gear, but one has a legendary that won’t drop for the other and that makes all the difference. And all of this feeds into my third point.


Legendaries have lost their luster

It’s still cool to get one, of course.

But they’ve lost the feeling of being special that they were starting to lose back in Mists of Pandaria, when it was almost expected you’d get a legendary cape. Warlords did much the same with the legendary ring, but at least both the cape and ring were long, involved and lore heavy quest chains and you could expect to get those items if you worked hard enough for them.

But now? Now legendaries are utterly random, and utterly common at the same time. Players can’t do anything to guarantee they’ll get one, have no idea what it will be, and I’ve seen and heard players actively grouse about the quality of their second legendary. Imagine this. We’re at a point where legendaries have gone from amazing to Oh, God, not that in player estimation.

I’m a little concerned that 7.1.5’s legendary items will exacerbate all of these issues. That more players will be considered weak just because one hasn’t dropped for them yet. That they’ll become more integral to certain playstyles. And that they’ll continue to feel less and less cool, just because of the proliferation of them. Time will tell, but I’m worried it won’t tell us anything we like.

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