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WoWDec 5, 2019 2:00 pm CT

Patch 8.3 is Blizzard’s last chance to get Azerite Armor right

I am not very shy about my dislike for Azerite Armor, but that being said, I’m trying diligently to separate my feelings from my analysis about how Azerite Armor will work in patch 8.3. Is this the best Azerite Armor implementation we’ve gotten? Does it make Azerite Armor something good, or at least not actually detrimental?

And to a degree that’s unfair. Azerite has actually seen a lot of work over the patches — both 8.1 and 8.2 brought improvements, even if those improvements weren’t all they could have been. The system has never been what I’d call good. It’s too complex, it’s too fiddly, and it often chains you to a piece of gear because that piece of gear has the best trait on it well past the point you’d want to keep using it.

Patch 8.3 is taking a novel approach to this problem: Blizzard has thrown up their hands and said Baby wants their best stat? Here it is! Every piece of Azerite gear from Ny’alotha will have what Blizzard feels is your best-in-slot Azerite Trait.

There are problems with this, of course. For starters, what Blizzard thinks is the best trait for a spec and what the players in question think is the best trait doesn’t always dovetail. I certainly don’t feel qualified to speak to that on every spec in the game, but looking at the Warrior traits, I’m not exactly overwhelmed.

But that being said, the idea that these traits are on all the gear that’ll drop in Ny’alotha might not actually be about what Blizzard has decided are the best Azerite traits, or even the most useful.

Making random gear a little less random

No, what it means is that Blizzard has made a baseline. You know, whenever a piece of gear drops in Ny’alotha, that it will absolutely have these traits. You don’t have to guess. You know what you’re getting, at least to some degree, and I think that helps fine-tune the random nature of itemization. Whatever else, whether a gear piece has Corruption, you’ll know that these traits will be there. It’s something you don’t have to go outside of the game to find, something reliable.

That doesn’t mean the traits couldn’t be better. As I said, I’m hardly overwhelmed by how awesome, say, Lord of War is when it buffs an ability on a 45-second cooldown. It could at least buff the cooldown to 30 or something. I’d like it if these traits did more to change up the playstyle a little, but they’re still dependable workhorses that make your abilities work better.

I honestly think this is a step in the right direction.

That said, it’s way late in the game for it, and I’m not seeing anything that makes me like Azerite Armor more, just a change that makes me hate it less. And that’s a big distinction — it’s hard to give Blizzard credit for making something less awful instead of actually making it good. Don’t get me wrong — I’m hoping that patch 8.3 feels a lot better, itemization wise, than the patches that preceded it. But I’m not seeing any changes that really make me look up and say yes, this is Azerite done right, this is a good system. It’s just less bad.

I can’t really say that Blizzard has redeemed Azerite Armor in patch 8.3, but seeing the progression on it makes me hopeful that whatever system we get to replace it in Shadowlands will have learned from this one.

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