No need for a fancy or clever introduction – “legendary items should fill you with overwhelming excitement” is the goal. For many players, that exciting feeling is short-lived…typically fading away as you see “Sephuz’s Secret” or “Prydaz” splash onto your screen. Before these items got buffed, it felt like you had been cheated out of something amazing (it still feels this way). We are not here to complain, we are here to make a flawed system better.
Why do some legendary items feel so bad? Are they bad, or are they just not the one you really wanted? Why do you really want that other item?
Pretty obvious where I’m going with this string of questions – do you want performance-boosting legendary items? But, does that mean utility legendary items are bad? Definitely not! Did you know some of the best players in the world, those with two DPS-boosting legendary items, actually swapped out a “good” legendary for a “bad” utility legendary instead? You should care because these items are powerful in their proper niche.
Players are typically too fixated on maximizing their DPS or healing, but this is not the same as maximizing your performance. How many times have you heard, or read, this phrase: “You can’t DPS while you’re dead.” Sometimes, sacrificing your personal DPS for the greater good is more important to the success of your group. When you take on a role to counter a mechanic, such as soaking puddles for the raid, this won’t be reflect in your damage output. While other players might do more damage, you are just as responsible for the success of the entire raid. The point is simple – DPS and HPS isn’t the only metric that matters.
Being on top of the meters isn’t everything – this isn’t Tuesday LFR…well, not in this context. Reducing your damage taken and prioritizing the proper targets are a couple examples of improving your performance. Referring back to some world-class players, DPS players having a pocket-heal worth an entire health bar is super strong. They can save a life when things get crazy. Much like Overwatch gameplay, you don’t see the clutch plays on the postgame scorecard. Even so, your “bad” legendary ended up being super helpful. While this is niche, this example does reflect a more ideal system for utility items.
Perception: You should never feel bad about receiving the strongest items.
All legendary items would be the same, or at least have a place in the game. However, it’s apparent that utility legendary items will never seem good because performance-boosting are better reflected in combat logs and in the minds of players. That isn’t a bad thing, but it does take away from the thrill and jubilance of receiving a very rare item. Perception is important. The effect is important. There are only two core solutions: Legendary items are exclusively (a) performance-boosting effects, or (b) utility-based effects. They cannot have both types of effects if players should feel excited for these drops.
Performance-boosting legendary items are pretty exciting to get. Given the items are balanced, there isn’t a valid reason not to use this system. However, there are some concerns worth considering. Players will want effects to change the mechanics, or improve them somehow. Using “The Emerald Dreamcatcher” as an example, this item took the baseline rotation into overdrive. It was very challenging to “Dreamweave” properly; many players enjoyed the pace of the gameplay. But what if this legendary item just provided a flat damage boost? Wow! How dreadfully bland! What happens if we have two rotation-altering legendary items? That might cause some issues and would probably be too chaotic for many players.
Utility-based legendary items would be the opposite of performance-boosting legendary items. They would probably be boring, but they wouldn’t make a mess of the spell rotation, plus stacking multiple legendary items would be relative easy. They would actually feel quite powerful in certain situations, and but near-useless when they cannot be utilized. The biggest kicker is that having utility effects, exclusively, means baseline class/spec balance would be far closer between legendary items. The biggest issue right in early Legion was the power of performance-boosting legendary items being far too powerful.
Overall, the legendary system needs some work. Whether or not Blizzard changes this system to be exclusive to one type of effect will need to wait to next expansion. There are a few more issues that must be considered, but those are for another day. (Listing them here: Acquisition Rate, Acquisition Method, Effect Strength/Impact.) There is no “correct solution” to the flaws hurting the legendary item system, but the next expansion needs to be improved on this front. They must deliver on the premise that legendary items will be exciting when you receive them.