Login with Patreon
WoWMay 11, 2022 10:00 am CT

Blizzard may be bringing back Master Loot (or something very much like it)

Does World of Warcraft need to bring back Master Looter? A lot of players miss it and want that system back, which may come as a surprise considering it’s been more or less excised from WoW since the days of Legion and the advent of Personal Loot. It turns out Ion Hazzikostas and the WoW dev team want to bring it back, too.

What if I told you… I kind of do want to bring back master loot, and the team does? It’s something we’ve been reflecting on a lot in the last year, year and a half, looking at places where we and the community have differed over the years and reevaluating some of our thinking. Loot is a tricky one.

So why did they get rid of it in the first place? In the interview, Ion talks specifically about the reasons — that it was a very difficult thing to balance between two systems, with Personal and Group Loot running side by side, and in terms of the game’s UI it was a big hurdle to keep both working.

In addition, Group Loot — the system that used Master Looter as well as other options — had some pretty big problems for players. Imagine you’re on a raid group with a big ranged DPS component and almost no melee, and the few melee you have are Rogues and Enhancement Shaman, when suddenly a big 2h sword drops. Or you have a ton of melee, and nothing but caster gear and bows drop. You basically just killed a boss for disenchanting purposes, and it’s never felt good. Personal Loot allowed them to tailor drops more directly to the comp of the group, something that we forget was a really big deal at the time.

The persistence of loot drama

We don’t always like to talk about it, but the fact is, in terms of borrowed power systems loot was the first, is the most enduring, and is essentially the heart of a treadmill system that has served to keep people playing World of Warcraft since it’s inception. You may be looking at me sideways right now, but think about it — go back to your first time playing WoW. Maybe you were killing spiders on Teldrassil, maybe you were fighting boars in Durotar, but the first time a better weapon dropped and you equipped it, you got more powerful. That first green drop? The robes that gave you higher armor, more mana, more health? You’re not still wearing those robes — it’s been years at this point, and you left those robes behind. But that’s the essence of a borrowed power system. As you progress, you get better and better gear.

Gear is the most important and most enduring borrowed power system WoW has, the one system everyone accepts. Sure, it had issues — you ended up disenchanting or tossing the treasures of Molten Core or Blackwing Lair or the Black Temple or Icecrown Citadel after a while. Ultimately it was this issue of I earned this awesome stuff and now I have to dress up in a suit that would make Pagliacci embarrassed that helped create transmog. In a way, that made older loot even more valuable — sure, you don’t run old raids for power but you absolutely will run them just to look powerful.

This emphasis on loot and the removal of other, more frangible systems like Azerite Power means that there needs to be as robust a system for ensuring that loot makes it into the hands of players who want it and will use it in a balanced manner. While I personally would love it if every boss killed in a raid immediately dropped all of the loot everyone wants in a high enough capacity that we never have to kill that boss again, there’s a series of mechanical reasons — the longevity of content balanced against the development time of new content, for just one example — why a developer doesn’t necessarily want to do that. Personal Loot absolutely has its pitfalls — think about every time an item has dropped, has been technically an upgrade but which would cost you too much haste to use, and yet you can’t trade it to a player who could and would use it. That’s not ideal, either.

How to bring Master Looter back but not lose what’s good about Personal Loot

So when Ion Hazzikostas was asked about Master Loot — the original system by which a single raid leader could simply decide where a piece of given gear would drop — and why it was replaced by the Personal Loot system, and whether or not Master Loot would return, he gave a very nuanced answer.

One problem with bringing back Master Loot is the idea of returning to that system means by necessity it can’t be as tailored as it currently is.

Yeah, we had our tools, our code, every assumption we made in how we build loot tables from 2018 onwards has gone in one direction, and now we’d need to just turn back around. There’s a lot of questions to figure out also, we should also bear in mind that going back to group loot means you could have a bow drop with no Hunters in the raid, and sometimes that’s a thing that will happen and that feels bad, but that’s kind of ok – it has to be. The thing we can’t have happen is a world where loot is still smart and if you stack a group with like 6 Warriors, you’re only going to get Warrior loot and it’s completely tradeable with no restrictions? That just kind of breaks everything, so we need to just figure out a middle ground going forward, but… that’s something we want to do.

We see a lot of raid stacking in the Mythic raid scene, especially when they’re racing to World First. The Sepulcher of the First Ones even saw raids deliberately farm Normal/Heroic raids for the first days of the race. If we had a Master Loot style system in place we likely would have seen even more, and we’d see it extend down into raiding as a whole. If you think the days of having to run Trial of the Crusader four times a week were bad, imagine having to run an all Plate run, followed by an all Rogues run, then an all Healers run trying to get all of your players kitted out as quickly and efficiently as possible.

I’m hopeful, looking at Ion’s answers, that he and the team are trying to get a nice balance between the systems in place. But it’s not as easy as simply flipping the Master Loot switch to on — there’s work to do to get it to play nice with the current system and how the UI works, and it would definitely not be as tailored and comp friendly as Personal Loot can be. The idea of people stacking raids and just Master Looting all the gear to the characters they want to gear up would definitely be a thing that would have to be dealt with. But I would still like to see it come back.

Blizzard Watch is made possible by people like you.
Please consider supporting our Patreon!


Join the Discussion

Blizzard Watch is a safe space for all readers. By leaving comments on this site you agree to follow our  commenting and community guidelines.

Toggle Dark Mode: