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WoWMar 2, 2017 3:00 pm CT

Is it already time for WoW to ditch Artifact Power?

So far, Legion is shaping up to be one of the most well-received expansions to date. Anytime someone mentions Legion‘s quality, it’s always with the caveat that the legendary system is the single greatest shortcoming of the expansion. However, the more and more info I see coming out of the 7.2 PTR, the more convinced I am that Artifact Power is going to end the expansion on a sour note. If you ask me, Artifact Power has worked (well enough) until now, but it’s something that either needs to be reworked entirely or outright removed before 7.2 goes live.

Artifact Power’s original purpose

Before I dive into why I want it removed, it’s good to keep in mind why Artifact Power and the “Paragon” traits (i.e., those past 34) exist in the first place. In a recent post, Watcher addressed a lot of the issues with Artifact Power and the proposed changes coming in 7.2. Will get into changes in a bit, but for now, here’s what Watcher had to say in regards to Artifact Power’s intended purpose:

Originally Posted by Watcher (Official Post)
First, it offered max-level progression that was not entirely item-driven, along with choices and elements of character customization as players traversed their trait trees; second, it was meant to serve as a universally desired, consistent reward from all types of content.

In theory, a max-level progression system like this is nice. You get rewarded almost no matter what you’re doing, and you don’t have a weekly cap pressuring you into getting a certain amount each and every week. But we’re now six months into the expansion and I wouldn’t hate the idea of moving on from Artifact Power as a max-level progression system.

Patch 7.2 Artifact calculator courtesy of Wowhead.com

200 Trillion and one reasons Artifact Power needs to go

In the most recent PTR update, Blizzard updated the Artifact trees a little bit and increased the Artifact Knowledge cap to 50 instead of 40. Here’s a quick breakdown of what that actually translates to in terms of in-game numbers at this point in time:

  • The previous 35th-54th traits have been consolidated into a single, 35th trait.
  • After trait 35, any traits with 3 ranks now have an additional rank. You can put points into a 4th rank in whichever order you like.
    • After trait 35, you may also begin putting points into a “Paragon”-esque branch which ends with a 50-rank trait akin to traits 35-54 on live.
  • There are now 101 total ranks to purchase in order to complete a single Artifact tree in its entirety.
  • After your 80th trait, you start needing more than 1 trillion Artifact Power per trait.
  • For the final rank of your final traits (i.e., point 101), it costs 200 trillion Artifact Power.
  • Artifact Knowledge rank 50 increases Artifact Power gains by 55,200,100%.

Man, where to begin with this? For starters, those numbers are ridiculous. No one is going to go, “Oh boy! I can finally go from  42,460,100% bonus Artifact Power to 55,200,100% bonus Artifact Power!” Those are both giant numbers that essentially mean the same thing: You get a little more Artifact Power. On top of that, when the amount of Artifact Power needed for a single rank (let alone 21 of them) is above 1 trillion, you have a problem.

Sure, Artifact Knowledge now gives you a percent increase that involves two commas, but does that make it any better? From a practical standpoint, no. From a psychological standpoint, still no. I’ve described looking at these numbers as “demoralizing” and I’m pretty sure that’s the best way I can describe it. Even before looking at the mathematical breakdown — which is more depressing, by the way — simply seeing a number that is so large I need to make sure I’m using the right -illion nomenclature is demoralizing. It is not fun. It is not a number I look forward to reaching. I don’t care how much Artifact Knowledge is going to help, a player’s initial reaction to something should not be dread. But that’s exactly what it is for me right now.

The math is arguably even more dreadful

And as I said, the mathematical breakdown doesn’t make it better. Although I’m loath to use a resource from my most evil of colleagues, here’s a few more numbers to put things in perspective:

  • Assuming maxed out Artifact Knowledge (25 now, 50 in 7.2), the total Artifact Power to max out a single weapon requires ~260 Mythic+ dungeons (rank 6-9) on live and ~1,206,518 in patch 7.2.
  • In terms of the percentage of max Artifact Power per Mythic+ dungeon, this translates to ~0.4% of the total cap per Mythic+ on live, and ~0.000083% in patch 7.2.
  • That is roughly 4,800 times as many Mythic+ dungeons in patch 7.2 to max out all traits with maxed Artifact Knowledge as live.

Please keep in mind Artifact Power reward amounts are changing in the patch — these numbers are not what you’ll be experiencing in patch 7.2! Rather, they’re here to give you an idea of how much the numbers need to change in patch 7.2 to be even close to the same as live’s grind.

So how can it be made better?

This is the much trickier part of the whole situation, and I don’t have a perfect answer — that’s where good ol’ teamwork comes in! If you ask me, I would like to see the “Paragon” traits unlocked differently. Instead of being another Artifact Power grind, I think it would be cool if we earned them, much like how we’re earning our class mounts and second hidden Artifact appearances.

That does, however, put us in an awkward place for the 50-rank trait. Personally, I’d be fine nixing it and tuning around the result. Assuming Artifact Power isn’t removed completely, I think between 4th ranks of pre-existing traits and the million other activities players have in Legion, we’ve lost the need for Artifact Power as an ever-present max-level reward. But those are my initial ideas, and I’m curious what you guys would like to see. Regardless, I know one thing: I don’t want to go into 7.2 already demoralized, and that’s exactly what seeing 200,000,000,000,000 of anything does.

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