A Four-Letter Word: SetsOctober 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.
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’.)