There will be those of you for whom the most important change in Legion has nothing to do with cohesive storyline or immersive fantasy. For many, the Transmog feature is the Holy Grail of game development that will not only grant you back valuable bag space, but allow you to hide shoulders! What do you mean it’s only me that’s stupidly excited about this change? I know that’s not the case, and I’m also well aware that Blizzard’s foray into providing aesthetic alternatives for long-term and new players alike has thrown up some interesting and pretty fundamental issues as to how armor is used in game. I’ve been talking about this for a while, and now that everyone else appears to have grasped the significance, it’s time we broke it down into the fundamentals. One of the most inconsistent parts of armor use in Azeroth is going to be standardised once and for all in Legion, and it is time we explained exactly what that means for you as a player.
In the live client, as things stand, it is quite complicated when you begin your journey as either a plate or mail wearer to know what items are in fact relevant to your class.
These are the rules as they stand: what this effectively means is that as a plate wearer, you can currently equip virtually anything. This used to be quite important back in the days when itemisation wasn’t nearly as good as it now is: ask any Holy Paladin levelling back in the Good Old Days how useful the odd item of cloth healing gear could be, for starters. However, what this will do when Legion launches is cause some fairly major imbalance for any plate wearer who’s gathering items for Transmog. Effectively, if a plate wearer can fill their Transmog wardrobe faster than anyone else? What’s the point of being a Clothie if your DK or Warrior mate can grab everything they need, and as that Wardrobe is Account Wide? Players may as well roll a plate wearer and rofflestomp everything. Fortunately, Blizzard appear to have listened to those of us who pointed out this oversight early in Alpha and now, things have changed. In fact, a cursory glance on the Client prior to it being taken down for the Christmas break showed a very interesting alteration to the starting gear of Paladins in Elwynn:
Plate wearers will start wearing Plate from Level 1, and Hunters/Shaman will now avoid what was often a confusing 40 level hinterland of uncertainty by always starting in Mail. It never made any sense otherwise, and now Blizzard have quite sensibly streamlined the entire process, as part of a long-term overhaul of armor itemisation that’s been quietly going on in the background for some time. What this then effectively means is simple: players will only be able to loot and equip the armor type they’re supposed to wear. No stealing a piece for stats because they could make use of it. No more rolling in dungeons on items that should by rights be someone else’s. Effectively, this will eliminate random reward drama overnight with the Personal Loot setting. That has to be a major step forward in itself, but on the other side of the equation what this means is that the itemisation of each armor type will need to be totally on the money. No more fudging the stats and hoping it will be good enough. There are already indicators that this change is being addressed: Wowhead report this morning that from a lone plate item currently in the Warlords database, the Alpha reveals a whopping 522 Plate items in the level 1-30 range. Most significantly this includes one of the most iconic sets of mail armor, the Chain of the Scarlet Crusade.
There are other consequences of this change that have yet to be formally addressed: a phenomenal number of players (myself included) posses a large number of soulbound items they can currently wear, which will become useless when Legion goes live. Cloth and leather items are saved in my bank that, in some cases, are no longer available in game to use, but which formed transmog outfits before the feature even came into existence. Will these be saved as part of my wardrobe or will, as I cannot effectively equip these items come the Expansion, they simply turn into vendor trash? More significantly of all there’s at least one item I possess as a Hunter that isn’t in the game that I’m absolutely desperate to use on all of my mail wearing toons in the future. I spent literally months before Mists of Pandaria went live farming the old version of Scholomance to get this item to drop. Can I be sure Blizzard will include these items in a database that’s already probably one of the most complicated in the new client?
The solution is simple: people need to speak up now. If you are a long term player of this game, its time to crack open your alts and see what you use as Transmog, and then petition Blizzard so that things not only get included, but they know what’s out in the World that needs to be added. Many of us have been playing this game longer now than the people currently designing it, and that means a wealth of knowledge that can be passed from one person to another to ensure that this new feature not simply does the job, but it includes Legacy items that the Developers may not even have realised need to be included as part of the remit. If you own a specific item and would like to see it marked as Cosmetic? @WarcraftDevs on Twitter‘s a quick and easy way to tell the designers what you have and whether it should be included. All you guys and girls currently raking it in on Transmog sales know the score on rare items, you could make a valuable contribution to this new system by pitching in your lists. Most significantly, gems like the Thermostatic Egg Timer might not get the cut this time as an acceptable offhand item, and that just won’t do. The only means by which people ensure that their current transmog loves or potential outfit choices get used is by making sure the people concerned know well ahead of time they require inclusion into the database.
There is one more question that requires an answer too, which as yet is not clear and could do with a clarification. Blizzard promised in their Saturday presentation at Blizzcon that all armor quest rewards a player has earned throughout their playing career will be retroactively added to their Transmog wardrobe come Legion launch, even if they did not accept them at the time. However, with the changes to the game as discussed above, it’s not clear now whether doing Loremaster on a Mail wearer will only open the mail-specific versions of those rewards or whether you’ll have access to everything. If that’s not the case, you would presumably need to complete Loremaster on each type of armor wearer for the full range of items to be retroactively rewarded. I’m hoping Blizzard realise that it’s probably just easier to do that with everything in this case assuming you have a) the Loremaster achievement active and b) a member of the correct armor-wearing class as one of your alts. I’ve sent my Tweet to Blizzard and I’ll be sending them a copy of this article just to make sure they get this memo too. After all, you can never be too careful.
However, for some players there will be sadness at this overall change. You know who you are: the Warriors with their Formal Dangui that will no longer be worn, the Paladins with a full set of leather gear they like to switch into after the end of a long day bashing the stuffing out of uncooperative bad guys. I’m sorry, but this change means that everyone is going to have to make some sacrifices for the overall greater good. In the end I suspect this standardisation will make like easier and far better for everyone: far less confusion, people not ninja-ing your stuff, players understanding how armor works to everyone’s best advantage. Of course, I can guarantee there’ll be a number of people desperately unhappy about all of this, especially those mail wearers for whom the affected low level mail sets currently makes up part of their transmog wardrobe. If I were a gold making person, I’d be hiding those pieces in a safe place and waiting for Legion, but that’s just me, because I can see a lot of people suddenly having quite a lot of interest in them come release day. Mostly, you might wonder why I’m talking about all this now: well, release is too late to get yourself organised. If you want to start sorting your transmog choices? The Christmas Holidays is a perfect time to begin your journey.Related: Alpha, Blizzard Entertainment, Column, Legion, World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday