This is an article in our fictitious series where we imagined a world in which we designed WoW 10.0. Read other articles in this series.
Of all the systems in 9.x WoW, the reward loop is one of our highest priorities for improvement.
What are the problems?
- Too many activities feel like chores
- The amount of reward per time spent is too low for a modern game
- Many frustrating moments are created (great vault, I’m looking at you)
Improvements in 10.0
Deterministic vs Random Loot Balance
The player base has consistently provided feedback indicating loot is too random for their taste. It is time to take that feedback seriously and provide more deterministic loot sources.
Our goal for balance in 10.0 is that players can complete medium (think heroic raiding and lower) levels of content reasonably fast with loot that is not obtained randomly. Random loot (or randomly rolled stats/powers on non-random loot) will be balanced as something for players looking to chase perfect builds or push higher challenges such as mythic raiding or high mythic+ keys. Lucky rolls could allow a player to complete content slightly sooner than players of similar item level, but the main benefit will be for competitive players looking to measure up to the rest of the player base.
Loot Acquisition Rate
Players will be getting loot a lot more often and that loot will be at relevant item levels. In raids, all players will receive loot from boss kills. The item level of the loot will be slightly higher than their current average item level, up to a max based on the difficulty of the content. As outlined in our character progression post, item level controls the primary and secondary stat budgets available to players, but the powers on the gear and allocation of secondary stats will be random. You will still have to chase perfect builds, but you will not go long stretches of time without obtaining items at a relevant item level.
Dungeons are repeatable for loot with no lockout, so the drop scheme needs to be slightly different. Weekly quests will be available, allowing players to obtain items from dungeons which are guaranteed to be item level upgrades, up to a weekly limit. Loot at or below your current item level will still drop from completing dungeons, allowing you to farm for random stat and power rolls as much as you want. The powers found in dungeons will be designed to have maximum use in 5 man content.
A result of this system is that gear slots lagging behind in item level will quickly catch up to your average item level as you run more content. Going weeks without being able to find an upgrade for a particular slot is unnecessarily frustrating.
Currency systems for raids, dungeons, and pvp will exist to augment random loot drops. While you are now going to steadily get drops that increase your item level rather quickly, the random stats and powers on items will remain mostly random. Currency will act as a bad luck prevention system that allows players to target particular gear slots or particular powers and stat allocations. It will take a long time to accrue enough currency to buy a specifically tailored item.
A lower item level item with a highly desirable stat allocation and/or special power can be upgraded to the item level of your current items. This will cost in-game currencies to achieve. In 10.0 and moving forward, gear will not be made obsolete at each new patch release and raid tier. New content will add unique cosmetic designs and additional special powers to constantly vary gameplay choices or introduce new synergy with previous powers. A system to re-roll the secondary stats on items without affecting the random power(s) (or vice versa) may also be added to the game.
Great Vault/Mythic Cache
The great vault/mythic cache proved to be too random, frustrating, and slow. It has been removed from the game. We are truly sorry for all the bad feelings it created over the past years. You will never get 5 belts in your vault, 3 of which you already have, while sporting that -40 ilvl weapon, ever again.
Will the game be easier?
Yes and no. World of Warcraft has been traditionally conservative with loot acquisition rates. Item upgrades are scarce. Collecting sets could take months of raiding. Each upgrade is a very small power increase. This new reward system is turning on the loot faucet, so to speak, compared to previous iterations of WoW. It has become clear that players want to feel their power increase on a more regular basis.
Players do not have the appetite for weeks and weeks of wiping on a single boss encounter. In general, players will be able to beat all encounters for the first time in raids faster than in the past. The new reward system will incentivize return trips to already cleared content in order to chase the most powerful builds. Gear will not be made irrelevant for future content tiers. Optional challenges will be available within the raids to reward the most powerful equipment and powers.