Legendaries – The Problems, The Solutions

I haven’t yet decided how to handle my previously-discussed EJ dilemma, so on to other topics until then.

This was initially intended to be a response to Zumal’s comment, but as I was typing it out things seemed to just grow and grow. Before I knew it, I had the foundations for an actual entry, and figured I would refine it into such.

Suffice is to say, the entire concept of legendaries needs to be reworked (in my opinion, that is).
The current model has way too many flaws:
  1. The actual items themselves are simply too strong, and lead to the “haves” and the “have-nots”.
    • Should legendaries be better than their equal-ilvl counterparts? Of course, otherwise half their purpose is gone. It does not mean, however, that they should be tiers above their competitors. Shadowmourne equates to a gain of higher than 500 dps over heroic Glorenzelg, for instance. To put that amount in perspective: that’s stronger than the old 4P T9 set bonus, stronger than 4 points in Desolation, stronger than a third trinket slot, stronger than going from heroic Justicebringer (ilvl 258)  to heroic Cryptmaker (ilvl 277), stronger than race-changing from gnome to orc, and so on. Unless a player with Shadowmourne is all-around poorly geared (weapon aside), is incredibly bad, or has poor RNG (and the other person has good RNG), they’re always going to come out on top. You can’t even try to compare parses between the two. The difference is simply too insurmountable.
  2. Most of the effort in attaining a legendary comes from the guild, not the individual.
    • The issues here are almost too numerous to list! For Shadowmourne, aside from a short little quest when building Shadow’s Edge, all the work is a joint-exercise with others (i.e, the infusion quests and then shards). Although most guilds are happy to assist their members in attaining upgrades, and there’s nothing wrong with that, next to nothing is required from the individual –  little investment (primordial saronite was decent in concept, but can be provided by others or just overlooked with a big enough in-game wallet. A better way to go would have been a BoP drop of some sort which you would have to farm from non-raid Icecrown mobs, perhaps, or champion’s seal, or even just emblems) and little work (show up for raids, and everything comes in time. You don’t have to go out of your way for anything, exception infusions, which is more work for the healers in most cases than the individual) – and yet the vast majority of the benefit is reaped by the individual, not the guild. Individuals should be more involved in what is one of the pinnacles of personal achievement in the game.
      • And, of course: What happens when a member you’re devoting all of these resources into changes guilds, or quits the game, or just doesn’t show for a night (hold the raid in case shards will drop, or just give them to the next person in line even though that will slow your first orange from being made)?
  3. Along with where the effort comes from in acquiring an orange, what the effort actually is that’s required has been primarily rng.
    • Shards and fragments may spread out the rng and thus lower it, but it doesn’t eliminate it. Legendaries should take more than getting lucky on loot drops. An event such as fighting Prince Thunderaan is a good example of what I’m talking about here (if one ignores the fact that Thunderaan was a complete pushover), although there’s many other ways one could tackle the matter. I believe Blizzard recognizes this, and hence the infusions (the problem with those being that they’re just annoying and mere formalities, not difficult nor epic in nature) and gathering souls (which I actually think was an excellent idea… if it was a gate after the shards).
  4. The items aren’t special.
    • Yeah, they’re strong. Yeah, they’re rare. But legendaries (Atiesh aside, and maybe Valanyr) are not unique. They have procs, but aside from being incredibly potent, these procs aren’t different. Many weapons have damage or stat procs. They’re not new, nor do they make one go “wow”. You could tweak the numbers around (a lot, admittedly), and Shadowmourne would become little more than a glorified Bryntroll. This ties into point 1 – legendaries should be impressive, but not just because of their numbers.
With this in mind, how would I manage legendaries in the game’s future?
  1. The actual items would rely less on brute numbers to be legendary
    • Add unique abilities like Benediction/Anathema being able to switch from a dps weapon to a healing one, and vice-versa. Add non-combat conveniences like Atiesh’s portals. Add unique features like that of the very first legendary – Talisman of Blinding Shards. The list could go on.
    • Are the numbers on a legendary still going to put it above equal item competitors? Of course. But that won’t be all that sets them apart, and because of that fact the numbers themselves won’t have to be near as ridiculous as Shadowmourne currently is, Glaives were (in their day), and so forth.
  2. Make more of the effort come from the individual, not the guild.
    • Add personal challenges to the quest line, such is those found in the forming of Benediction and Rhokdelar. Add personal sacrifice to the creation. A person should have to do something to get their orange, more than just be handed a drop from their guild. The idea of gathering souls (if one wasn’t able to farm the beginning trash with just a couple others) and primordial saronite (if they were BoP or couldn’t otherwise be handed to you by others) could have worked well in this regard.
  3. Take away the large portion of RNG in acquring legendaries.
    • I get why it’s there; to keep legendaries from being too easy/quick/brainless to acquire. But there are better ways to go about it. You could have a guaranteed drop off, say, LK which starts the process. Just doing that sets the cap at 1 legendary a week, maximum. You can then have further ‘gates’ in building it,  from a large amount of emblems (which would work even better with Cataclysm’s weekly cap on them) to X kills of a raid boss (which have shards, but have them be guaranteed, and take so many that you can’t get them all in one or even a couple resets).  RNG being the main barrier is so incredibly frustrating. Make it time (via aforementioned artificial constraints). Make it skill (via a gate like heroic LK). Don’t make it a roll of the dice. Perhaps I’m alone, but I would much rather have it take a solid four months to make a legendary, but know that if I do every little thing I can, I’ll have it made in those four months, guaranteed, as opposed to having the possibility of having it done in two months or done in eight, and that I can do nothing to affect my chances of when it will finish during that time period.
  4. Make the items special.
    • Give them unique abilities. Staff of Conjuring is more creative than Glaives and their haste proc, or Sulfuras and its damage proc. Mix it up. Add little auras or conveniences like you did with Atiesh. If one couldn’t tell, I easily consider Atiesh the best legendary – the sole problem with it being when it became available (i.e, shortly before the first expansion, leading it to quickly become invalidated) and the fact of how it was acquired (once again: fragments, although the short quest line and such were nicely done). The fact that it wasn’t pure stats (although its stats were superior to the epics of the time) and that it’s strength lied elsewhere was what made it so great.

Legendaries need work, especially if they’re going to make them as widely accessible as they made Shadowmourne. The old system simply doesn’t work as well as it used to – if it ever did. If normal modes in Cataclysm are as easily done as normal mode ICC, due to initial tuning or some sort of stacking buff over time, then it’s an issue that needs to be tackled.

Until then, what can you do!

2 Responses to Legendaries – The Problems, The Solutions

  1. Angvard says:

    First let me say that I think every single point you make is valid and reasonable, but I don’t always agree.

    1.You state that Legendaries are too powerful, especially Shadowmourne. This essentially boils down to the skill-vs-gear debate, but with the factor of a desired legendary feeling added. Yes, the current implementation of Shadowmourne is ridiculously strong, and might be a bit over the top. However, I think that the general direction of Legendaries giving their wielder a massive boost is great and adds to the feel of the item being special.
    So maybe Blizzard should tune Shadowmourne down a bit, but I personally would like to keep the feel of being just a tiny bit over powered.

    2. My guild is currently building Shadowmourne, and I will be wielding it. That’s pretty much how I see it, of course it is just a single item, but it’s the achievement of the whole guild. What the single Player has to do is trivial at most, and he doesn’t really earn it if you look at the toon. If you look at the Player himself, being the one to get orange requires quite some dedication. You have to be with the same guild for a long time, you either have to save a massive load of dkp or get along really good with pretty much everyone else in your guild. I can’t find a source, but I have read that forming a legendary will be a guild-achievement in cata, that is how I see it.
    For the guild finishing a legendary requires a great effort, especially for the more casual guilds, and having one is a display of achievement.
    For the player himself it is great, but the reward is more the fact that he was chosen to represent his guild and not so much the item itself.

    3. I completely agree, rng shouldn’t be as high as it is today. They already went in the right direction by rising both the drop rate and the number of shards required, but as you already pointed out there are far better solutions.

    4. I think Shadowmourne is fine. It looks great and distinguishable and has a great in-fight effect. More creative item-design would be great, but I would rather have the devs discuss how they can make DK-gameplay fun yet challenging instead of mechanics for a legendary that have to work for every possible class and spec while only a small minority of players is going to get one.
    Overall, could be better, but it’s not that bad and certainly not a priority as I see it.

    How would I do it?

    In short, really powerfull epics for the casuals, pretty much like a less op Shadowmourne. Still a bit of a challenge, but in reach without requiring unreasonable dedication.
    In addition I would love to see “real” legendary Items added to the game. Incredibly hard to get and in a limited quantity on a single server (or worldwide? Being the single player to have an item really would make it legendary). If you keep the legendaries for casuals (instead of ‘epic++’) it would be time for artifacts. Infact, I guess that we’ll see an artifact at the end of cata, along the lines of ‘Fire-spewing heart of Deathwing’. Just a wild guess :p

    In summary:
    The whole legendary “experience” (building and using one) could be tweaked and polished in some aspects, like everything in the game, but I don’t think that it’s in a completely wrong place at the time.
    Cata will fix it! 😉

  2. Zumal says:

    I was just curious, what are your thoughts on going with Blood 2H with Shadowmourne? In terms of competitiveness with Unholy, I mean,

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