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WoWDec 3, 2018 10:00 am CT

Blizzard, it’s time to decide if you want us to switch specs or not

I’ve been critical of Azerite Armor in the past. So it’s not a big surprise that I’m still critical of it now, but really, I’m more critical of Blizzard’s entire design philosophy for Battle for Azeroth seeming to be let’s make it harder to switch specs. Reading this forum thread where both Ythisens and Bornakk seem to be saying this makes me feel the need for a statement of purpose.

Because that’s how it seems to me, sitting here in December of 2018 and simply not feeling like Blizzard understands what they did in Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor, or Legion to make players feel like spec switching is expected and normal behavior. Making it so plate gear didn’t come in just Int or just Strength varieties, for example, so your Holy Paladin could wear the same gear when he was switching to Retribution is just one example. Another is how Blizzard went from having just the one spec you had to pay gold to change, to having dual spec where you saved a second spec you could switch to at will, to the current system where you have access to all three specs and can switch up your talents within those specs whenever you’re in a rested area.

These are progressive changes that took place over multiple expansions to encourage players to switch their specs whenever they felt they needed or wanted to, and they were by and large positive ones. They allowed groups that needed a tank or a healer in a pinch to get one. And that’s why I find it somewhat baffling to keep seeing blue forum posts saying “I just keep multiple sets, it’s not that big a deal” referring to the expense of reforging Azerite pieces. Because to my mind, it is a big deal compared to Warlords where all you needed were offspec rings and trinkets and maybe a cape, or Legion where I seriously never had to change a single piece of gear between tanking in Emerald Nightmare and/or DPSing in it.

Specialize, young ones

Telling people that the system isn’t meant to support spec switching when the reason people expect to be able to switch specs freely is the past six years of game design seems strange to me. If the intention was to make spec switching something you hesitated to do, that’s a reasonable design goal. I hadn’t seen it communicated, though. I still haven’t seen it communicated, instead I’ve seen repeated here’s how I work around this obvious down side to this system. I don’t feel like Blizzard should be telling me how to work around the down side to a system they implemented on purpose.

Now, both Ythisens and Bornakk are correct in saying that it used to be much harder, and that all you really have to do now is have multiple Azerite pieces per spec, which is a lot friendlier than it was in the old days. You can still switch specs pretty much any time you want without a gold cost, and you can still respec anywhere you can get rested or if you have some tomes to switch out those talents on the fly. It is a lot easier than it was before Mists of Pandaria and I’m not disputing that. What I’m saying is, if Blizzard intended Azerite Armor to make spec switching more of a decision because they felt like that was the gameplay choice they wanted for whatever reason, it behooves them to say this clearly and to explain exactly why that’s the right gameplay choice.

What’s the goal?

Originally Posted by Ythisens (Official Post)

I do this as well. I keep a set for each spec even though I’m likely to only ever use two.

It’s by no means ideal at least from my perspective, but I just treat it like we’ve always done in the past with managing multiple sets. So to be honest I notice very little difference gear maintenance wise other than having to figure out which pieces are better offspec wise when it comes to Azerite traits as its a spec I don’t prioritize as much as my main spec.

It’s definitely a downside to the system and I think we can all agree on that but I don’t see it as a major issue.

If you’re trying to keep using the same pieces for two specs and you’re not liking the cost to reforge them, then you should rethink how you’re handling the pieces and the system itself. You’re supposed to keep multiple items for different setups with different traits. I’ve reforged maybe 3 or 4 times this entire expansion so far while maintaining the ability to play all 3 roles of my class and keeping gear for those specs.

My problem with this is less that this is the party line, although I don’t like that either, and more that I do not feel like it was well communicated at all that the goal of the system was to make you carry around at least two helmets, two sets of shoulders, and two chestplates in order to be able to switch roles. That’s a pretty significant departure from Legion, where I never had to do that — and while yes, I did need to switch which Artifact I was using, I had all three almost from the jump and very rarely had the kind of ilevel discrepancies between them that I can have with my Azerite pieces. I have an ilevel 385 hat all configured for Arms, and the closest second hat I have is 340. Configuring that second hat to Protection and never reforging my first hat is going to be a pretty significant downgrade in performance, much more so than any such decision I had to make with my Artifacts.

Now, if your argument is that this is necessary to make spec choice relevant again, I don’t agree, but that is at least an argument we could have and a discussion that’s worth having. So have it. Actually put forth the notion that it’s gotten too easy to switch roles, that there should be some gameplay around gearing up an offset. Make that part of the discussion, because right now? Right now I just see a system that frustrated and irritated me for years coming back and I don’t see any reason for it. I was perennially frustrated with the costs of switching specs and roles for years — always asked to tank or dps based on a raid’s needs, always having to spend my time and gold getting gear for both roles. If that’s gameplay you’re set to bring back, tell me so I can be angry about that.

Because it’s not been the design goal for years now and so, if it’s a course change, it’s one I’d like spelled out.

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