Hi friends! I’m a Senior Game Designer on the Systems team. I’ve been working on WoW for 14 years now and I’ve worked through “a few” PTR cycles like this one. In this post, I’d like to talk about some of what we’re doing in Eternity’s End that you’ll see in updates coming to the PTR over the next couple of weeks. We want the return of class sets to be as satisfying as possible, so we’re tweaking different aspects of how you’ll acquire and fill out your Class Set based on your feedback.
First and foremost
From the start of the PTR, we’ve intended to have Set pieces drop from a separate loot table on each boss that drops them, so that you’re guaranteed to see many Set pieces over time. These Class Sets are a highlight of this content update, and we don’t want a run of bad luck to cause a raid team to complete a full clear and realize they only got a very small number of Set pieces. The PTR’s there for testing, and rather unfortunately you all found a nasty bug that doubled the loot tables. Many of you sent in inquiries and bug reports about raid bosses dropping twice as much loot as expected on the PTR, and that assist is appreciated! Once we’ve fixed that bug (again, in the next couple of weeks), you should see the expected amount of total drops from each boss (still with those guaranteed set pieces in a similar ratio to the bugged tables, just fewer total items). Please don’t stop reading here! There’s more.
The Creation Catalyst
We’ve been designing this tier with a future eventuality in mind. If you haven’t heard of it yet, a new in-game gear transformer called the Creation Catalyst will come online 8 weeks after the content update (if all goes according to plan).
The Creation Catalyst will allow you to craft Set gear that you haven’t yet gotten from raid bosses or the Great Vault, and it will also be a swift way to gear up an alt later in the patch. The Catalyst exists as an answer to the problems we’ve had with class sets in the past (where either acquisition was much too fast and threw off content, or painfully slow and annoying). Your voices and frustration with those systems are the reason we’re building the Catalyst today. It’s powered by Cosmic Flux, which you’ll find easy enough to gather for this purpose. Cosmic Flux can and should also be taken to the Runecarver to make Legendary gear.
The Creation Catalyst is going to have an internal cooldown, which is a global charge that accumulates. This isn’t a case where it’s a personal cooldown that you could miss and fall behind – everyone’s got the same number of charges at a given time, so you’re all on a level playing field. This isn’t an arbitrary decision – by putting an accumulating charge on the Catalyst, we avoid making it so that the “right” way to play is to focus on gathering Flux (and not use it for Legendaries, or worry about grinding out as much as humanly possible), so that you can make your full Set the moment the Creation Catalyst unlocks. You’ll be able to make one piece at that time, of course, but then alts and players who come along later in the tier will find that they can create multiple Set pieces right away, which fulfils its role as a catchup mechanism.
We’re switching to tokens
We’ve seen a lot of feedback, both from players on the PTR and our colleagues internally, making the case for Set pieces dropping as tokens rather than discrete items. While both ways of doing it have pros and cons, we’ve decided to have bosses drop Set slot tokens in Eternity’s End. First, let’s talk about the design side of things:
When it comes to designs like this one, we think about all of the different likely scenarios for the player experience. For example, how do Set drops work out for a player who is the only Mage in their raid group? How do we see that going (and feeling) if that person is the only Mage in six consecutive weeks of raiding? What about a scenario where the raid has seven mages? We don’t want it to be more difficult for any particular player in any particular situation to get Set pieces from boss drops (and trades), especially as you go later into the patch and some players who have most of their set are raiding with other players who, for various reasons, have none or perhaps only one.
In addition to the design considerations, there are also technical limitations we have to tackle. Items which are dropped as a token are very different from the perspective of the game code than items which are equippable by a player, and not quite as smart. As a result, some of the work we do to make sure loot was equitable and fair aren’t as effective with them (a lesson we drew from how Castle Nathria played out). As a result, we’d have been sacrificing some important reliability features by using tokens. However, thanks to an heroic assist from our hardworking Engineering team, those restrictions have been removed, and tokens are fully first-class citizens on the back-end.
Tokens aren’t a magic bullet here, but we agree that with these changes, they’ll hopefully feel better and distribute Set gear as equitably (or more so) than discrete item drops would have. This is another experiment – we’ve done tokens in the past, but never with the full structure of parallel loot and the safeguard of the Catalyst. But until we try tokens, we won’t know how successful (or not) they are in that world. So you should see the switch over to Set token drops in next week’s PTR update, and we’ll be listening to your voices as 9.2 progresses.
We really appreciate all of the testing and feedback we’ve seen so far, and we’re looking forward to your reaction to these coming changes. We want to hear everything you have to say about the tier ecosystem – obtaining tier, their effects (many of which have changed already!), trading – both what you like and what you don’t like. It’s immeasurably helpful to us.