We need a solution to Shadowlands’ raid gearing problem
As many have been expecting, we’re getting Valor Points as a way to address problems with loot in Mythic+ dungeons. That’s good, because it really isn’t great to complete a Mythic Keystone run and get absolutely nothing, which is one of the easily foreseeable consequences of deliberately designing Shadowlands so that a lot less loot drops and we don’t have a coin roll bad luck protection system, which I am positive someone handsome has written about before.
So it’s good that there’s a way to extend the life of those drops you do get and increase their ilevel so that clearing a higher level Mythic Keystone means you have a chance at increasing your relative power. It’s not an ideal system to my eyes — it’s a very limited one that only upgrades gear that drops in Mythic Keystone runs, so anything you’re using to supplement that gear like World Quest or raid items won’t be affected by the Valor Points upgrading.
A lot of raiders are very aware that this change won’t do anything for them, and they’ve asked Game Director Ion Hazzikostas about what’s on the horizon for them. And he’s responded on Twitter.
Raid gearing needs help too, but the static nature of raid loot tables complicates mid-tier solutions. We want to get dungeon improvements out ASAP as we continue to discuss the right approach for other gear sources like raiding and world content.
— Ion Hazzikostas (@WatcherDev) February 10, 2021
No solution can’t be better than any solution, can it?
I don’t mean to be cynical but this feels very much like a tacit, “Nothing’s going to change in this raid tier” answer, and I think that’s regrettable. Yes, raid loot is a lot more static than Mythic Keystone gear, that’s absolutely true. But what’s also true is that you can clear Castle Nathria weekly for weeks or even months and get nothing, and that the Great Vault often gives you the exact same items repeatedly or, on the rare occasions where you do get a drop in the raid, provides you with exactly the same item. The loss of the ability to target a specific drop provided in the past by coin rolls does not feel compensated for in any way, and Shadowlands idea that gear would feel more meaningful due to scarcity didn’t seem to take into account that it can feel meaningful in a negative way — that the loss of agency in gearing up in raids would make that same cloak dropping over and over again feel less like a chance to pass it to another member of your raid group and more like a cruel joke since it’s the only piece of gear from Heroic Shriekwing anyone in your raid even has.
And with the Valor Point solution only applying to Mythic Keystone gear, with players who gear up through raiding or World Quests completely unsupported by the change, it definitely feels like we need a way to improve those systems. At present, most of the raiders I know are trying to get into higher Mythic Keystones instead of focusing on raid gearing, as it’s already a superior gearing opportunity — now, with Valor Points, it’ll become a much better option.
But it’s still true that you probably can’t just slap Valor Points and upgrades on raid gear and call it a day — that way lies Warforged gear and the constant running of older content to get upgrades in current tier, something that Blizzard found to be deleterious in previous expansions. Raiding lacks the scalability of Mythic Keystone runs, which are designed for higher level gear to be rewarded for every increasing difficulty. Raiding difficulty is predictable and scales from LFR to Normal to Heroic and finally to Mythic, and it probably wouldn’t work to let players collect Valor points in raiding, and then give them the option to bump their Normal gear to Heroic ilevel if they’d completed, say, an achievement for clearing that level of content.
Maybe Valor Points do belong in raids
I mean, why not?
That doesn’t actually strike me as a particularly bad solution here. Letting some form of currency drop in raids to upgrade raid gear to the ilevel of that particular raid once you’d killed Denathrius on that difficulty level doesn’t seem at all a bad idea to me. Clearly it’s not a solution that is being implemented, but that means there must be a downside I don’t see to it. What would that be? I accept it probably exists but I don’t know what it is.
Likewise, the idea of a currency that drops in raids that lets you buy gear would also seem like a good one to me. I mean, that’s what Valor Points did before, why not let it happen again? Put up a vendor, put some raid-quality items on them, charge a certain amount of Valor Points, again gate the items you can buy based on an achievement — maybe you need to have killed a boss before any item on its loot table becomes available. This time I can actually see reasons why this would be a bad idea, but I still think it would be preferable to what we have now, which is weeks of raiding and no drops. I think all of my Castle Nathria gear came from the Great Vault, and I’m still missing multiple pieces including any weapon drops despite being in there for months now. And I’m hardly alone.
We’ll see what they come up with, but for now, patch 9.0.5 doesn’t look like it will have any relief for the issue of less than exciting amounts of gear in raids.
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