Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gimme dat Cataclysmic Gear!

It's not for endgame, but they now have hunters' rifles that look more like goblin RPGs!

How is your gear? All oiled up and polished and ready to go? I know it mine is. I wanted to talk a bit about what the gear will be like climbing to 85 based on my observations in Beta.

Levels 80-82: the Vash'jir or Mt. Hyjal zones will be equalizers. If you have gear from 25-man ICC (and perhaps from heroic 10-man ICC) then you probably won't upgrade too much of your gear. If your gear is hovering around ilevel 251 or lower, then you'll be switching up fast. By the time people are finishing either of these first two zones, they should all be looking a lot alike in terms of gear power, if not fashions. The average gear score you'll have after these zones will probably be around ilevel 289, not a big jump from ICC gear.

One of the general things you find with quest greens is that none will ever be as well-rounded as what you're already wearing. Spiffy Tier 10 gear has a bit of everything your class and spec needs to get ahead in the world. And if not, then it has two or three gem slots to close the gap.

Quest greens will have none of this. The primary stats will be higher, but will not have the variety of secondary stats you had before. Nor will these greens have any gem slots.

(Aside: with no gem slots on leveling gear, the value of green cut stat gems is absolutely nil. Jewelcrafters will blow through those first cuts and fire just about every piece they make to a vendor since nobody can use them til level 85, and then they'll want higher level blue cuts. I wish Blizzard would change that. It feels like a waste)

Even if you lose some secondary stats, you'll want to put on the greens. The stats that will always increase for you will be stamina and whatever gives you offensive power, probably strength, agility or intelligence. You need more health and you need more AP or SP just to be able to go toe to toe with the typical leveling mobs you'll be meeting. By level 82, standard mobs are packing around 60,000 health and it'll look funny while you spend 5 minutes chipping slowly away at it in your ICC purples.

With every single piece of gear I examined in beta, some pieces would be good or even fabulous upgrades, and every single piece would be a loss in crit rating. Crit rating degrades as you level up too, so just get used to the fact that getting Crit strikes or heals will become very rare and special occasions. Other reports I have read suggest that crit rating is still low even on the first tier of raid gear.

Enchanting one's leveling greens is not really a big deal anyway. But there is a funny disconnect here. Every one of the new enchants available at the Illustrious Grand Master Poobah level of enchanting requires an ilevel of 300 or more. And you're just not going to even see any 300s until past level 83 or so. Merinna enchants and once I had a small pile of mats to use, I tried to put something on my bracers just for the skill point and couldn't. Even though I had run a majority of Deepholm, I think my neckpiece and my shield were ilevel 305 and nothing else was so high.

Downgrading your armor to something other than your gear specialization is going to be a big no-no now. In the past, it was perfectly alright for, say, a paladin to put on a piece of cloth, leather or mail if it offered better stats than the plate he or she were currently wearing. Those nutty plate-wearing DPS players were always shouting that some leather gear was still best-in-slot for them even at the highest tier levels. (in fact, I expect to hear stink from them about this even still. "Must have agility for criiiiit! Gnnnaaah!" See my comments above about crit rating, guys, and try to get over it).

But putting on even one piece of gear outside your specialization sacrifices 15% of your most important stat for bringing the pain. There is no piece of gear that could possibly make up for that loss.

Finally, how about Cataclysm fashions?!? Erm, it's hard to say. We left Northrend where most of our gear was styled after Eskimos crossed with Mordor, and Outland had the whole crystal thing going on. But Cata fashion looks a tad...themeless, other than perhaps some subtle draconic influences (check out the hunter "dragon camouflage" tier 11 helm!). The leveling gear is fairly blah, but it will always match, so have no fear of clown suits. I hope that when we get into a Vash'jir raid tier, all the armor looks made out of shells and corral and stuff. We can call it the "Enchantment Under the Sea" tier. Or, I hope that we finally get some gear that looks like it was crafted from the nipples of dragons. I think we're overdue!

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