With Blizzcon over and the announcement of World of Warcraft’s next expansion, Warlords of Draenor, behind them, Blizzard are beginning to detail the nitty gritty of the changes coming. In particular, something the team want to do is make loot drops exciting again.
Often you’ll find the armour pieces and weapons that drop in raids are specific to certain classes or not actually an improvement on your current gear, even if the item dropped is a higher level. The effect is that you stop expecting loot to be relevant to you and so lose that anticipation that should come with a raid.
Blizzard are working hard to change all that by dipping their toe in the procedural generation pond. In this case adding randomised stats to gear.
“One of our main intents for primary stats is to make sure that higher Item Level (ilvl) pieces from new content are almost always superior to items from older content,” writes Chad ‘Crithto’ Wingerd, one of Blizzard’s community managers. It’s a depressing state of affairs when you found a particularly good tunic four levels ago and nothing being dropped competes.
“Further, the changes we’re making to primary stats will help make pieces more universal, so groups will find gear drops more useful more often,” Wingerd continues. “As we discussed at BlizzCon, we’re accomplishing this by making it so primary stats for a given piece of gear will change based on your current spec, though it’s likely that only new gear added in Warlords will work like this, as it might be impossible to implement this for all existing gear.”
Blizzard have come up with some rules to support these changes:
Armor pieces will always have some amount of Stamina and Armor value.
Armor pieces always have Strength, Intellect, or Agility as a primary stat. Plate has either Strength or Intellect. Mail and Leather have either Agility or Intellect. Cloth has Intellect.
In the cases of Plate, Mail, and Leather, the primary stat will change depending on your current spec. Specifically, casters (including healers) will get Intellect, and melee or tank specs will get Strength or Agility.
However, with armours’ primary stats changing to match your character’s spec, this leads to a danger of homogenisation: everyone wearing nearly identically statted gear.
To avoid this problem gears’ secondary stats will be set in stone.
Further differentiation will come from buffed item levels, gem sockets, and tertiary stats - like movement speed, life steal, and reduced AoE damage.
“The design intent of these additional qualities on items is to make itemization more exciting and to give it more longevity,” explains Wingerd. “Rather than waiting weeks to get a breastplate, you might get one pretty quickly—but to get a true “best-in-slot” item will take much more effort and a bit of luck.”
What’s particularly exciting about this whole process is the randomisation involved. An item's “properties are determined at the time an item is looted (and possibly even includes crafted gear). For example, if an ogre boss drops two copies of the Bracers of Crithto, one might be a normal version, while another might have a tertiary stat.” Plus, “it’s possible for one item to have all three of these properties [buffed item level, gem sockets, and a tertiary stat], but the chance of that is very small”.
Thus to get the best items you’ll have to raid and re-raid an area, each time chancing a near-perfect item drop.
The same randomisation of qualities, and universality of use, is being brought to weaponry, too. Although Blizzard are giving some weapons spirit and bonus armour buffs to make them more applicable to healer and tank players, “helping to make sure they don’t have too much competition for gear against the more numerous DPS players in a given group.”
That’s an overview of what Wingerd says about items in Warlords of Draenor but for even more detail you should read his forum post.