Game Director Ion Hazzikostas recently answered some Battle for Azeroth questions submitted by the Greek WoW community before the expansion came out and here’s a summary of the Q&A. We learn more about the removal of Master Loot, Warforging/Titanforging and the stat squish system.
The team is excited about Mythic+, but at the same time they realize the incentive to run Mythic+ content with a lower barrier of entry has somewhat affected raiding in general and they’re going to continue adding new benefits that are distinctly compelling to make sure raiding is still popular.
They wanted to disable gear swapping in Mythic dungeons sooner but felt like doing it in the middle of an expansion in Legion would be bad. An entire Mythic+ dungeon is viewed in a lot of ways just like a single boss encounter, meaning no gear/talent swapping even when you drop out of combat over the course of the run.
They’re always looking for each spec to have a unique combination of strengths and weaknesses in PvP and that’s hard in a game with 36 specializations.
If you’re Class is highly mobile, it’s going to have less survivability.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you can expect to be tankier if you have less mobility.
The team mainly focuses on increasing strengths as opposed to mitigating weaknesses. The alternative of always trying to bolster weaknesses leads to a state where everyone’s kind of average at everything and that’s a less interesting game to play in their opinion.
With work done to the stat squish system in Battle for Azeroth, future stat squishes should be fairly easy to execute. They’ve overhauled every single spell and creature from 2004 through 2018 to complement the new system. No stat squish is needed for at least one expansion. Stat squishes are there to prevent numbers from spiraling out of control when there’s no gameplay value out of it.
Paladins and Druids in the Legion environment already bring plenty of utility, so they decided not to bring back Blessing of Kings and Mark of the Wild in the end. They’re going to add more abilities to Classes whenever there’s a need for differentiation.
Years ago, loot was much harder to come by. Over the years, the game moved away from a space where you just kill a boss or run some content week after week and never see the item you want. Drop rates are now higher across the board, so you’re effectively spending less time getting the item you want.
Warforging and Titanforging keep some level of interest and potential growth in those repeated clears and create the opportunity for everything to happen, giving you more incentive to continue raiding the same tier.
Sco got a Warforged socketed Polearm halfway through progress that was a giant upgrade for him on his tank that made an immediate difference. In a world where loot is more common, the rare opportunities to have these amazing items retains some moments of excitement.
You’re much better off doing a high Mythic+ rather than clearing old content for a small chance to get an upgrade. This was a problem especially in Legion, where players went back to clear Emerald Nightmare for a chance to get Legendaries or Titanforged versions of Class sets. That wasn’t healthy for the game and they decided to move away from that.
The benefits of removing Master Loot have outweighed the downsides so far and there are three things:
On the lower end of the organization spectrum, there are guilds that go through trials and historically in the Master Loot world, guilds had very strict control of loot and trials were not allowed to get any loot. For the time and effort spent, the trial would get literally nothing out of it if the guild decided to not make the player a part of the roster.
On the high end of the spectrum, we’ve seen top guilds run the same raid over and over to funnel gear to specific mains. Split raiding made it difficult to balance encounters and provide a challenge for Method and other guilds while still being a fun and satisfying progression experience for the majority of Mythic guilds in weeks to follow. Method’s item level during the first week of Mythic would be higher than what typical guilds would have to work with a month later. It worked well in Uldir. Bosses like Mythrax, G’huun and even Vectis were challenges for top guilds without needing massive nerfs.
Finally, it lets the team itemize in a somewhat different way. When Master Loot was an option, they had to design loot tables around the possibility of Master Loot, so very niche items (useful only to a handful of people) would drop even though there would be nobody in the raid to wear them.
They think the raid composition in place since Warlords (LFR/Normal/Heroic/Mythic) is the right for World of Warcraft. LFR/Normal are serving totally different audiences.
LFR is not a social or progress experience.
Normal difficulty is for friends and family groups.
In Mists, Normal difficulty was similar to Heroic today, groups found LFR unsatisfying and Normal as it was then to be too difficult, that’s why Normal exists today in its current form.