Azerite Armor brings back gear sets
At last week’s WoW Media Day, Blizzard Watch heard some big news about Azerite Armor during our interview with Travis Day and Jimmy Lo, Senior Producer and Senior Concept Artist (respectively) for World of Warcraft. Travis Day suggested you’ll have to swap Azerite gear for each spec:
Travis: …it is possible you may still have gear pieces that you prefer when you switch specs. And I think that’s kind of an interesting and healthy part of gameplay, right? Is collecting multiple gear sets and having those and having them have specific purposes and roles. [Such as] here’s my PVP set, here’s my tanking set. So I think that’s good.
Once you select a trait on Azerite Armor, you can’t change it — and you won’t get to pick a new trait when you switch specs. If a Senior Producer thinks having different sets of gear for each role is “interesting and healthy for the game,” that suggests we’re going back to having unique gear sets for each spec. While Azerite Armor is only found on helms, shoulders, and chests, those are major pieces and a big chunk of stats — even though it’s only three slots.
Gear switching through the years
Right now, I can switch between Holy, Protection, and Retribution specs, and the only gear I need to change are my trinkets and (maybe) my Legendaries. Sometimes there’s a piece or two which is better itemized, but the difference is small enough that it doesn’t matter unless I’m pushing the limits of appropriate content. The current system works with everything optimized for my main spec, Protection, and I think Azerite Armor will be similar. Some Azerite Armor pieces will be useful in all my specs, like Prydaz is. Some will only be used when I’m Protection, like Saruan’s Resolve.
When Warlords of Draenor introduced gear with stats that changed to suit every spec, it made things easier on hybrids. I welcomed the change. I well remember the days, before the bag space the Wardrobe opened up, when I would have six or seven different gear sets. It doesn’t sound like Azerite Armor will be that extreme, but I can see having a tanking set, a healing set, and a DPS set. It’s the return of an idea that hybrids need to somehow pay for the versatility we bring to raid by being able to fulfill multiple roles.
But I could even see pure DPS classes having multiple sets. Depending on the traits, I imagine wanting AOE, Cleave, and single target sets on my DPS characters.
How Azerite Armor could change our gameplay
I do see some potential for issues. Legion had the limitation of the Artifact and Artifact Power, but after a certain point of Artifact Knowledge, asking a DPS to go heals or tank became a couple of days of World Quests to catch the Artifact up. With the Azerite system, you’ll need to run the raids again, possibly just to get the same drops as before but select a different Azerite trait.
While pure DPS don’t change roles, it’s not uncommon for the top DPS spec to shift over the course of an expansion or even within a tier. If Demonology becomes the best Warlock DPS spec, any armor with Destruction-specific traits will need to be reacquired, and a new Demonology trait selected. In the interim, existing armor will probably be fine for the DPS role, but a hybrid may need some drops before they can fully switch roles.
The big difference between Azerite Armor and Legendaries is you could count on an Legendary being a Best in Slot item, which won’t be the case with Azerite Armor. Let’s say you get an Azerite shoulder with fantastic itemization for Arms, and pick the Arms Azerite trait. You equip it, but the following week, you get a better shoulder and replace it. Instead of putting the first shoulder in your Protection set, you have to vendor it because it has an Arms-specific Azerite trait.
I know I’ve rather gotten out of the habit of having different gear sets, and the Heart of Azeroth/Azerite Armor system looks to be bringing them back.
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