In a recent World of Warcraft Classic session we attempted our second-ever run on Scholomance with our instance group. In discussions about the apparent difficulty we were facing, we started talking about gear we could farm to make the runs easier. Weapons that do extra damage against undead were mentioned, as were resistance armour pieces for specific boss fights.
In principal at least, I really like this kind of gear as it is one way the devs can make the MMORPG feel more like a RPG to me. Having choices to make, and options that need hunting out, is a way to add motivations for replaying content. If the only choice, ever, is to have the highest item level or highest stat gear then that’s not much of a choice. Sadly, the modern game went this way a long while ago: the gear grind consistently has settled on waiting for RNG to bless you with a higher item-level piece. Side-grades or alternatives aren’t a thing anymore.
Back in Vanilla and now in Classic, uniquely almost in the game’s history, there was/is a lot of overlap between items in later dungeons and the end-game content. The whole gear system hasn’t yet started the dizzying upwards-march that rendered earlier items very quickly obsolete, and also threw out the idea of having parallel or situational alternate items. I imagine the game would have had to evolve in a *very* different direction for these types of encounter-specific gear to have survived for broad use. It’s difficult to imagine if a much flatter item level progression and more horizontal progression mechanics in subsequent expansions might have allowed for richer item variety to have been carried forward into the game’s future.
Dungeons & Dragons Online seems to offer a good model here. There is a huge variety of weapon types and armour properties, plus buff spells and items that also add the resistance or damage boost effects I’m writing about here. Carrying a variety of weapons around, and a selection of resistance potions and other items has been a standard for our leveling characters in that MMO since we started playing.
The seemingly super-powered freebie Barovian weapons do rather break this concept, or has done for our progression in that campaign so far. We’ve been in the unusual situation of it never being worth swapping to other weapons because our Barovian gear has so many bonuses on it. Prior to this gear I had a mix of different conjured bolts (fire and arcane) to switch between on my crossbow-focused Artificer character. Other characters in the party have ghost-touch weapons to deal with incorporeal enemies and special weapons for fighting acid-dripping oozes (ooze-bane). As yet, with our highest-level characters at level 11, I cannot attest to whether this is a momentary blip or if item variety ceases to matter in the game’s content after this point.
What do you, dear reader, think of having specific gear for specific opponents, dungeons or situations? Did WoW Classic do this better than the modern game, or vice versa?