What will Blizzard do with Azerite gear in the next expansion?
Sometimes, when I write one of these editorial essays, I look at the headline and I think about the questions my brain poses in response to it. What does the headline make me think, what does it make me feel? This is important because I believe the responses you have to an idea are worth exploring. So when I look at the question of what Blizzard will do with Azerite in the next expansion, I find it telling that my first response is me asking back, “jettison it into the sun?”
Because I hate the Azerite Armor system viscerally. I hate it with a passion. It is, by far, the worst system Blizzard has put in World of Warcraft. Ever. I no longer agree with you, Blizzard, I think you’ve actually done it this time. Do not seek to temper or rationally discuss with me its strong points, for I simply am not capable of agreeing with them, even if I accede to them. Yes, it allows for interesting gear interactions. Yes, it’s a progression system outside of leveling and XP. But while those were good things to aim for, I feel like Azerite Armor is the result one would get if they wished for those things on a Monkey’s Paw.
Directly into the Sun
To my mind, Azerite Armor has taken everything I hated about the Legion legendary system, and everything I hated about Artifact weapons, and kept those while hurling everything I liked about both systems into a bottomless, shark filled pit. Yes, there are sharks in the bottomless pit don’t test me, this is just how it works. Now, it’s absolutely true that Azerite Armor got an implementation improvement in patch 8.2. But this post isn’t about if the system is better now than it was at launch — it’s about what Blizzard should do with the system after Battle for Azeroth is over.
And for that, my response still comes back to jettison it into space, or something similar. Azerite Armor no more deserves to continue into the next expansion than the Artifacts and Legendaries did. In fact, while we’re at it, maybe we can also take a look at the need for bringing the Mission Table mechanic into the next expansion? I hesitate to say it needs solar jettison — I reserve that for a relative few things — but I think after the evolutions across three expansions (Warlords, Legion and now Battle for Azeroth) it’s fair to say that there’s little of compelling value in the Mission Table that requires us to bring it forward into the next expansion.
Do not stop on the boat to do a mission, just toss it into the sun
The problem with both Azerite Armor and the Mission Table is that they add a kind of gameplay that’s extremely time intensive for little in terms of fun — all that work you do trying to get the Azerite piece with the best possible powers, and then leveling up your necklace so that those powers activate doesn’t feel fun or rewarding. Having a reforging cost makes it end up feeling punitive when you don’t have them, not like an accomplishment when you do. Making it so players end up carrying two or even three sets of Azerite Armor for different spec roles feels like a step backwards. The system retains the need to go out of the game for the resources you need to even determine what the best combination of powers even is.
There’s not a lot of sizzle here. There’s nothing that makes you feel good about it. There’s no dopamine hit, or feeling of accomplishment. Honestly, unlocking cool new Artifact skins was more rewarding than this, and considering how grueling that could get, that’s saying something. Likewise, getting the perfect Legendary boots or shoulders or whatever for your spec could be a slog, but at least it felt great when you did — Azerite Armor powers are so incremental and underwhelming (if clearly powerful) that they don’t provide that feeling of excitement. I remember when I got the boots that let me Heroic Leap multiple times in a row — no Azerite Armor power has ever made me feel that giddy.
Only the roaring heat of a seething nuclear inferno can cleanse this
We’ve seen the Mission Table follow us for three expansions now, and that’s not great, but it’s nothing compared to what a bad idea I believe it would be for Azerite Armor to do the same. This is an idea that was cool on paper, and could have been done well, but which ended up not working out this time. It’s okay to look at it, see why it failed, and iterate on a new system that will be closer to the good stuff you wanted to do. But please don’t continue Azerite Armor. It’s a failed experiment. It’s literally like those shambling monstrosities in Uldir, reanimated to an unholy plagued existence by the power of the Old God. It needs — dare I repeat myself — to be jettisoned into the sun.
I’m not kidding. Fire up the Vindicaar and let’s do this.
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