A Four-Letter Word: Sets

October 28, 2008

With last week’s Grab Bag #3 highlighting Warhammer Online’s myriad of gear sets, Mythic’s opened a huge window into WAR’s city siege end game. Basically, there’s going to be several end-game sets, each of which you have to obtain (or at least have a few of the pieces) to survive and contribute to the various stages of city siege and capture. Snafzg expressed some fretful hand-wringing over the news, but I’ll back him up by adding this: I hate armor sets.



Hate them.

Syp no like.

The concept of gear sets are almost intriguing: a suit of armor that has a uniform (and unique) look, as well as offering the player increasing bonuses depending on the number of pieces he or she or it has obtained. We as humans like collecting — and here’s sponsored in-game collecting of a meaningful, useful resource. What’s not to love?

Yet I loathe them, ever since delving into the end game of vanilla WoW in 2005. Up to that point, finding and equipping armor was a joyous, ever-changing experience. I felt more unique in my gear loadout in comparison to others, and I often carried around various types of extra armor that I could equip to boost certain abilities or stats if needed. Yet once you hit the end-game wall… BOOM. The choices for gear are whittled down from a huge field of thousands into a meager handful of sets. Sets that require an incredible investment of time and skill and energy to attain. Sets that you MUST collect to progress in content. Sets that, once you have them, makes you look like EVERYBODY ELSE. Sets that, once you start collecting them, offer nothing in terms of future surprises, just a grueling inevitability.  Sets even devolve the sexiness of gear into the most dry, technical terms possible; instead of crowing about finding the “Death-Gloves of Keizer Soze”, we just burp “Hey I got my T4 hands” to guildies. And it’s hard to fight that pull, because the whole design of armor sets is that you’ll feel inadequate compared to others and unprepared compared to the content if you decide not to pursue them.

Armor sets are one of those MMO staples that I wish would’ve died stillborn in the mind of whoever thought them up first, and barring that, that some courageous developer would come forward and say, “You know what? We’re not doing them. They’re grindy, restrictive and cater to old school hardcore insanity. Enough is enough.” But I guess that day is not here.

Armor sets in WAR worry me greatly. When I hit 40, I want to be able to contribute to city capture or defense in a meaningful way whether I have blues or purples or whatever. I don’t want a raid leader to bark out, “Okay, whoever doesn’t have four pieces of Sovereign on them, bail out of the group now. The rest of us are going on to kill the king.”

Of course, gear in WAR has surprisingly been at the bottom of my excitement meter for a good long while now. I get a blue from maxing out a PQ influence bar? Eh, it’s cool but usually not itemized right or will be replaced in a couple levels by a green. Maybe when I get to the end game I’ll find the armor sets a lot more attractive and hopefully not as restrictive for content as it looks from this Grab Bag. I don’t want the end game of WAR to be a sign that measures e-peen height and goes “If you are not THIS decked out, you cannot to on this ride.” That might just be a dealbreaker for me.

A couple things might sway me over from extreme grumpiness.  The first is if Mythic instituted a quick gear-swapping template, where you could switch different suits of armor on the fly (because, hey, isn’t that why they’re putting in so many different sets of armor, for various situations?).  The second is if gear sets would offer more bonuses than just stat bumps — what if, once you’ve collected all six pieces or whatever, you would unlock a special skill that could be usable only if you wore that set?  It’s sorta been done before, pretty inconsistently tho, yet that would be a way to continue to gain skills after 40.

(By the way, I’m just a mite bit concerned that FEMALE dwarf characters look like they’re going to be saddled with helmets that have a simulated MOUSTACHE. Just sayin’.)



  1. Ditto, me no likey. Great explanation of what they bring with them and what they do to originality

  2. I love the art and design of the armor I have seen in WAR. I hope to the MMO gods we do NOT get into a gear grind (ala WoW). Especially if might limit you from going after the opposing city. Or worse the opposing King!
    I never understood the concept of constant grinding to get armor so you can look like everyone else. Please Mythic .. do not become a WoW gear end game!

  3. /applaud

    The last thing I want is a gear grind. This would be a deal breaker for me also.

  4. You nailed it Syp. I loved old EQ with the unique items to be found and equipped. The sets mechanic sucks everyone looking and stat’d the same.

  5. I think it’s a bit early to worry over them as far as how “required” they will be. I’m confident I am in a guild where the leader won’t be doing as you suggest. However, if encounters will really require a large number of people to have most of the set, then that is a bit disappointing to me. I’m holding out hope and I think it is more in the category of making those encounters easier. That said I’m fine with the new gear sets, at least for now.

    I agree with you on how and how they do tend to force players to look the same, but hopefully guild cloaks and dying the sets will add more variety.

  6. I like armor sets, but I tend to be a collecter. I will agree with you about how everyone starts to look alike with all their end-game gear. I would like to see a bit more flexibility in the sets. Offer two or three glove choices, boots, etc in each set. This could do alot to dispense the lack of individuality of appearance and stats the gear offers.

    I do like your idea of special skills or tactics for collecting sets. I guess we’ll have to see what comes, eh?

  7. Every MMO is gear focused. I agree that I don’t want everyone looking identical and going for the exact same sets of gear.. but at end game there is only one thing left to do which is collect gear. The whole genre is a treadmill, whether it’s gear, or XP, or skills, whatever it’s all the same. They just mask it more cleverly sometimes.

  8. Reading this makes me wonder what you thought you were playing. It will be just like WoW’s endgame when it comes to gear. Everything is about advancement and bragging rights. When you level cap, you need renown, when that caps…gear grind inc. For people who can’t do endgame they can do tome unlocks/titles.

    In my opinion Blizz has done a lot to offer set alternatives. Sets are smaller now with bonuses that don’t make swapping them out painful. Alternatives to sets offer gem slots for players who focus on different stats.

    If anything I believe players are the ones keeping sets in game. I know a lot of casual/bad players who wouldn’t know what to wear if it wasn’t for sets….

  9. I knew there were gear sets, I just didn’t think they’d be more or less required for end game content outside of the king raids — just that they’d make them easier. A lesser degree of focus on gear, in other words.

  10. I’m a collector, so getting those gear sets is fun, but certainly not the be all and end all. Now, to be clear- I’m not talking end game- just the leveling gear.

    My problem is where to get the set pieces. It’s useless that a set item is only from gold bags in keeps. With 20 players (or more?) the likely-hood of me EVER finishing first is remote. So the fun is replaced with frustration over never being able to finish the set off.

  11. Personally, once I get a look at the stats – I’ll probably be excited!

    In WoW, I played a PvE shadow priest. That meant the majority of my gear was either crafted by myself or bought with badges – every raid set was absolutely useless for me until T6!

  12. I like the idea of gear sets in that they give you something to work twords and I need that. I do not however want the to be “required” as Mark says; to participate in content. Also I am concerned that females will have simulated mustaches!

  13. Gear grinding is a must in any MMO. And quit calling it a “grind” or it then becomes one. Think of them as wearable badges of accomplishment.

    Furthermore, gear homogenization is a common practice. They are actually taking a more diverse approach than any dev before them. NINE sets?? If you aren’t unique after 9 sets of accomplishments, play with your dyes and trophys more.

    Also, dwarven females CAN grow facial hair.

  14. i really really really like the art direction WAR has shown so far in relation to armor. Even dyes, which i used to find silly and frivolous, have won me over, because I can make my ramshackle set look like a “set”.

    That said, i realllllllly don’t like the idea of ‘grind grind grind, let’s look at the looootsssss… NOPE. let’s do it again’.

    even the way they describe the sets themselves (set 3 has everything set 2 had, and then some. set 4 has everything 3 had, and then some), sounds like there’s NO point in keeping your old gear for any reason at all. In WoW, I’d break out my dark iron set whenever the fight called for fire resists. I’d lose some stats, but that was my fire set. taking it out and brushing off the dust served a purpose from time to time.

  15. Oddly, it was vanilla WoW circa 2005 that ruined armor sets for me too. God. So much farming Upper Blackrock for that stupid chest piece … *shudder*

    There are some things I like about sets. I’m happy if they look sweet. I love unique look armors. But with that point, they could just add regular armor with new looks and I’d be just as happy. I guess I don’t mind if they’re not stupid hard to obtain.

    I admit … what’s attractive about armor sets is the awe factor. I like that each has a unique instantly recognizable look. So much so that if you see someone of your class in one you immediately know it’s name and sigh a bit wistfully. Then once you get your own, get to strut around for others to oo and ahhh.

    … realistically though, for me, I know by the time I complete a set it’ll be mundane and everyone will have one 😦

  16. Just adding my I agree! sentiment to you Syp. It annoyed the hell out of me that every rogue in WoW looked the same as I did and the vast majority in your raid group had to have complete or near complete T1-T2 sets etc. I spent several months in Molten Core to help gear up our raid force.

    Obviously this was pre-TBC and things are different now, but if that mechanic is in WAR, then I likely wont be and it makes me a sad bunny.

  17. Best gear in WoW up until Tier6, was not from sets. Period.
    Randoms epics ruled throughout MC/BWL/AQ and even BRS times, when gear from Dire Maul where insanely better than the set items.

    In WAR sets are pretty powerful. Annihilator 5 piece bonus increases mastery paths’ strength by 2. Also these sets, except from the gloves cannot be grinded. Rest come from Open RvR activities that supposedly everyone should engage in this game when he reaches rank 40.

    The problem with this though, is that RvR PQ set items (shoulders,chest,head) are almost unatainable from some classes. I play a healer, and from what I see our 2 healers in the warband (around 18-20 people) end up in 8-12 places of contribution in keep takes. This makes the chance of us winning a gold loot back almost non existant.

  18. About sets granting new abilities. There is such a thing in WAR. Check out the renown gear vendor in the southern end of inevitable city. There you can see some pieces of legendary sets (rank 40, reknown 50-something I think) that has some very intruiging set-bonuses. For some classes that involves new spells.

    And honestly, so far I don’t think war feels grindy at all. Most of the time I’m having awesome fun playing the game, the gear I get is just a cool bonus. But then, I’m still on tier 3 with my main.

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