The RPG Scrollbars: A Weapon Of Legend

This week, Blizzard announced the latest World of Warcraft expansion – World Of Warcraft: Legion [official site]. It looks pretty good. Almost as good as my prediction. Almost. I’m not going to rehash the full details here, but I’m up for it. It’s a big step forward for Warcraft’s arc story, featuring the return of its Big Bad, the Burning Legion, and some long awaited story stuff like Blizzard’s promise to redeem themselves for turning Illidan into just a snarling villain. New character class. Ten new levels. New continent. New PvP system. It’s nothing too unexpected or world-shattering at this point in the game, but it is a solid looking expansion.

The part of the pitch I liked the most though was Blizzard’s plan for Artifact Weapons – not so much for the specifics of what Blizzard has planned, but because it addresses something that’s long annoyed me. Weapons, particularly in fantasy games, deserve more respect.

A good weapon is more than just a convenient bit of metal to stick into or smack things. They’re extensions and reflections of the hero. What they choose to wield. The story behind a good blade. Sometimes they can become as iconic as the hero themselves. Indiana Jones’ bullwhip. James Bond’s Walther PPK. In RPGs though, the nature of the loot grind often leads to a frustrating clash, as most recently seen in The Witcher 3. Geralt reunites with old friend Crach an Craite and helps save the Skellige islands from a threat I’ll keep non-specific for spoiler purposes. As a reward, he’s ceremonially presented with not merely a new sword, but one of an Craite’s most treasured possessions. About five minutes later, just about every player has sold it for pennies.

This kind of thing bugs me. I have nothing against gear upgrades per se, but there have to be ways of making moments like this as important as they’re intended. It’s especially unfortunate when one of The Witcher 3’s endings features Geralt going to huge effort and expense to craft Ciri an amazing sword that combines silver and steel to be essentially the ultimate Witcher weapon. Yeah, you have to think, for about three sodding hours. May as well give her the receipt.

Blizzard’s plan in Legion is to take the main weapon out of the standard loot curve, and make it special. The names may not mean anything to non-players, but lore-wise we’re talking some seriously high end kit. Doomhammer. Ashbringer. Blades forged from shards of Frostmourne itself. These are not just things you find lying around at the bottom of a dungeon somewhere. Their power comes at least as much from the stories wrapped around them as whatever raw stats they might possess. Put in other ways, just being allowed to wield something like Doomhammer should be the defining moment of a Shaman’s career. Never mind actually owning it.

Mechanically, the way the system works is that you get your class’ legendary weapon at the start of Legion. From there, you level it up by fighting and doing other actions, and slowly unlock a series of traits that give it more abilities as well as more power. A Frost Death Knight for instance can buy a talent that lets them resurrect themselves. Ashbringer will mirror a couple of the Paladin’s most powerful attacks a couple of seconds afterwards. The tree variations depend on the weapon, with Ashbringer looking like a very linear path and the Frost Death Knight’s two runeblades Icebringer and Soulreaper being more of a tree. It’s also possible to customise your specific weapon with alternate looks, earned in various ways, and colour tints. Ashbringer for instance can be a regular sword, a lightning crackling dark version, a glowing purple runeblade, or a blade of pure flame. Icebringer and Soulreaper meanwhile stick to unpleasant dark looks, but with a choice between frosty, Fel, or the traditional Death Knight ‘covered in skulls’ look. They try so hard.

The main downside of the system is that if you expect to still be using these weapons by Level 150, I have a pile of Aldor and Scryer reputation points to sell you. Blizzard tends to think in terms of individual expansions with its big new features, Pet Battles being a notable exception. The Garrison system in Warriors of Draenor for instance has already been ditched and replaced with a new system called Class Halls, where you get to be the leader of your profession.

Still, I like the idea of artifact weapons a lot, and I hope I’m wrong about them not being a long-term thing. Listening to the pitch, I had the same knee-jerk reaction as many, that it would be boring to have the same weapon all the time. In reality though, this allows for far more meaningful upgrades than simply swapping one sword for another. Far more people will be aware of how badass you are if, say, Flaming Ashbringer has stern requirements to unlock, than they would have been from just wielding another wacky dungeon item. There’s plenty of other inventory slots to back it up with different armours and so on. Also, I point to the likes of the dearly-departed City of Heroes as proof that when it’s done well, and with sufficient scope for customisation, you can easily get through a whole MMO without so much as changing powers, or even clothes. Though you will stink.

Games have been embracing the idea of signature weapons much more strongly in recent years. Commander Shepard’s magic Cut-Scene Pistol. Lara Croft’s twin-pistols. Geralt’s steel and silver swords. Assassin’s Creed’s hidden blade. Batman’s assorted Batarangs from the Arkham series. Often, it’s for other reasons, like cut-scene animators only having to worry about a character wielding one weapon, or to have something punchy for the box, but that doesn’t matter. It’s again proof that weapons can remain relevant without needing constant upgrades, and also become part of their wielder’s character. One of the oldest gaming examples has to be the Master Sword from the Zelda games, which acts as something of a keystone for the whole series. It’s not just a cool weapon that often zaps things at full health. Being allowed to hold it marks each incarnation of Link as special, but also the moment he goes from being a plucky kid to becoming a hero.

Still, there’s much that can be drawn from fiction to make this effect more powerful. There’s something about swords especially that attracts stories, from Bilbo’s Sting to King Arthur’s Excalibur. (Now, if we want to get more specific, Arthur had multiple swords in the different legends, but sssh.) In games, things are actually easier as the difference between two seemingly similar weapons can be pronounced and work in many ways. The Witcher and Dark Souls for instance both put high premium on player skill rather than simply the numbers on things, with every weapon type having its own feel. Games can also find a good half-way house by allowing for weapons to be reforged and upgraded and slotted with additional abilities, without going all the way to what’s referred to as either the Ship of Theseus or Trigger’s Broom paradox: the question of whether or not a thing where every part has been swapped out at some point is still the thing.

I’d like to see that effect more often – to spend enough time with a weapon and its eccentricities instead of merely just its power to feel a degree of connection with it, in much the same way as the skills of a Dota 2 hero or a Street Fighter character go far beyond how much damage they deal. Not every weapon needs to be a big deal, but if they are in lore then they need to feel it in practice. If the player’s happily flogging their latest one before even chipping the blade, things have gone wrong. Look to myth. Look to fantasy. Make them worthy of their legends and the legends we will craft while wielding them. Epic weapons deserve to be more than just epic loot.

63 Comments

  1. lowprices says:

    Fable 3 tried to do something along these lines, as I recall. Weapons would level up and gain new attributes if you achieved certain milestones with them. The idea being, I believe, that weapons of legend aren’t so much the result of magic enchantments and so forth, but are created by virtue of being the bit of metal that a hero did their heroics with.

    It being Fable though, I don’t think the end result quite lived up to the promise…

    • Gothnak says:

      Well, considering this was my design, i’ll accept that backhanded compliment :). I did want to make it a lot more personalised and detailed, but the powers that be wanted it more casual friendly, so that’s how it ended up. At one point we had a weapon system implemented that would react to everything you hit and every decision you made, it did end up with some pretty weird ability combinations.

  2. ZoeM says:

    So far so Mines of Moria ^_^

    I’d love to see an approach that’s specifically designed around a 10-ish level staying time — with weapon-specific advances and ‘level ups’ to a certain extent, while still limiting the power potential of the item so at some point a player will still want to swap out their old Legendary Item for the latest model. Maybe have extra rare resources to ‘imbue’ weapons for another ten levels.
    That feels like it’d be the best of both worlds.

    Oh — also a lot of memorable legendary items in books, movies, etc. have drawbacks. That’d make for an interesting twist on things, if (say) Bloodmourne the Blood Saber required regular injections of the blood of innocents, or if the Battle Staff of Thalamunda’s strength was tied to your (typical Mage dump stat).

    • Lacero says:

      yeah lotro did this ages ago.

      But, they made the legendary weapons still have a level so when you level up you need a new one. A max “imbued” level 79 weapon ws better than a new level 80 but you could level like 6 at the same time to break down for parts to improve your main one.

      It’s a nice idea though.

    • skittles says:

      Except I think legendries in LOTRO actually made weapons less relevant. At least prior to Moria you went out seeking an awesome weapon to complement your playstyle and hoped for it to drop. Legendaries however made your weapon less relevant, not more. Now it forces you to level several weapons at once, you even level complete crap because it is required by the absolute grind of the rune system. They have slowly made it better. But only in increasing the grind speed, not fixing the system. You actually churn through weapons now often faster than you did pre-moria. The system is broke on its original apparent aim. I am hopeful that WoW artefacts takes a different route, and actually allows for more customisation and less pointless grinding. I don’t mind the grind if it is working towards something I want to be unlocked on a weapon. But the grind in LOTRO was often simply pointless as you would usually end up breaking down the weapon anyway.

  3. Coorhagen says:

    Well. We had this in WoW. Thunderfury questchain – hard to begin, hard to conduct and hard to finish (in its time). Pure legendary experience – still got Thunderfury in my bank. Next memorable experience – Quel’Serrar (old one) and Quel’Delar (WotLK one) – both great stuff, still got ’em. Hunter class quest for Rhok’Delar was also great. Point is – Iconic weapons should be immersed in lore and not easy to put hands on them.

    • Tsumei says:

      In response to Coorhagen;

      I also feel like “Legendary weapons” should persist as useful weapons. Perhaps your Thunderfury from Vanilla WoW shouldn’t have been the best weapon in the new expansion too, but considering how immensely powerful it was supposed to be in the lore; the fact that you discard it in the first few zones is just depressing.

      ..Both from a lore perspective and from a “I worked insanely hard for that” perspective.

      • Hobbes says:

        *snerk*

        Oh if only it was that simple. Due to how Thunderfury worked, unfortunately our tank (a gnome by the name of Carale) was still bloody using Thunderfury in the Sunwell by virtue of the fact that it could generate more threat than any other weapon until eventually Blizzard patched out the proc to stop it generating +threat from it’s nature spam.

        As a DPS weapon it fell to the side. As a tank weapon it was unsurpassed for an absolute frigging age, had they not patched out TF’s proccing I wouldn’t have been surprised if that sodding gnome could have tanked Naxx with it in WotlK as well >.>

        • Jediben says:

          I had a Thunder fury for my Rogue, after solo farming Raggy for months in Cataclysm. No matter what level you are, you can’t influence a loot drop :(

    • mtomto says:

      I agree… Legendary weapons were cool when very few people had them… perhaps only 1 person per server. It was easy to understand the value of a legendary weapon – even though you didn’t have one yourself, it still immersed you into a world of possibilities. When everyone gets legendary weapons and everyone is on the same exact rollercoaster ride, then it feels like the possibilities are getting fewer and fewer.

      The MMO genre in general went from MMO to glorified lobby for a “normal” RPG multiplayer game. I loved and hated the old wow, but the new wow only gets hate from me. I’d rather just play a good singleplayer RPG.

      Bring back true immersive MMOs please…

    • Coretex says:

      I think the comparison to Sting (of the Hobbit) is appropriate here. Sting was a legendary weapon in the story of the end of the third age of middle earth, being wielded by Bilbo, Frodo and even Sam for a bit. Prior to the events of the story however it was buried with a dead king in the Barrows and Gandalf calls it little more than a dagger except to a Hobbit.

      The point is that while Sting is a legendary weapon with cool characteristics (glows blue near orcs, very sharp) it is quickly outclassed as one becomes (in this case larger, or) more experienced in an RPG setting. Glamdring (Gandalf’s sword) is another legendary elven blade that the orcs even had a name for: “Beater”. If Gandalf had started out shorter (heh) and used Sting it would have been just as legendary, but as one moves on (or gets bigger) it is no longer the same usefulness and a new legendary sword becomes most adequate.

      This doesn’t mean that Sting is less legendary, just less appropriate for it’s current user’s needs. I think it is fine to move on from an item but having the stories and energy expended attached to them still makes them valuable to you, things that (in a story) you would pass on to a student in your old age as they became worthy. Items like anything can have story attached and build the world in our minds as we play it.

  4. TobleroneRoloCombo says:

    So-called legendary weapons which get sold to the first merchant you come across are one of my biggest pet-peeves in RPGs (and other games with RPG mechanics.) Would be fun if they played with the idea of being able to sell legendary weapons, and have it lead to some upstart gain a bunch of fame and prestige by buying that sword.

    It would also be interesting for weapons to have a “legend” stat, which would be aquirable with each weapon as it gets used for each kill, but the lore-famous weapons would generally dwarf what other weapons would gain in normal play. This stat would affect things like sentient enemies fleeing in battle, and being treated more prestigiously by NPCs. For some reason, the idea of drawing a weapon and have attempted-assassins rout at the sight of it really appeals to me.

  5. malkav11 says:

    They actually have carried over most of the “big new features” from expansion to expansion. It’s only after Warlords that they decided to be very clear that the garrison would not be returning, saying that they should have limited other stuff like pet battles to a single expansion because everything up to this point was now this ongoing commitment that they had to develop for every subsequent expansion and that’s problematic. Which I have mixed feelings about but can understand to a point. I feel like the game is better and richer when they’re adding these things to a pool of mechanics that remain relevant into the future, and while I think the design’s a bit off on garrisons in WoD I’d like to have something of the sort going forward. I’d certainly like to see Artifact Weapons continue, though I similarly doubt they will. But I can certainly see where it would clash with their goal of turning out expansions more often.

    • Stupoider says:

      Considering the ‘class halls’ still use a follower system I’m gonna take a guess and say that garrisons will be returning under a different name.

      • Nevard says:

        Obviously we don’t know the exact implementation yet so it may be that they were blowing hot air, but from the way they described it this sounded less like the current “Facebook Game” follower system and more like you send your champions out to scout for you, and then they come back saying “there’s a thing here”, and then you go out with them to get it rather than simply clicking a “complete” button and receiving a crate.
        That’s much preferable to the Warlords garrison system.

        • malkav11 says:

          That doesn’t sound better to me. I -like- the current garrison system. It could use a touch more flavor and longer timers on the missions, but it’s better than sending out assassins in the Assassin’s Creed games and I was quite fond of that. It feels like having a bunch of minions at my beck and call. Having it be the lead-in to me doing the grunt work is pretty much just questing. Except possibly with some sort of timer that has to tick down before I can do it. Nothing exciting about that.

  6. Evil Pancakes says:

    I too, get annoyed with the calousness with which these so called legendary weapons get tossed aside a few minutes after receiving them. That example with Crach an Craite is perfect, but it’s actually a different interaction I had in the Witcher 3 that stands out to me. In Novigrad there is this master swordsmith you need to help, because now he’s just making dumplings. When you first meet him, he talks about the craftsmanship of your swords, mentions they must be forged in Mahakam or some such. Geralt of course engages as you would expect, blah blah. All the while I’m just sitting there thinking: “What are you on about Geralt? You found that sword in a box by the river, how would you know the exact origin of the damn thing?” It would have only been stranger if it were a sword I only just crafted minutes ago at the swordsmith across the street.

  7. Dawngreeter says:

    *cough* Guild Wars 2 *cough* legendary weapons *cough*

    • LexW1 says:

      The problem with GW2’s Legendaries is that they are, wonderful appearance aside, utterly generic.

      Because they’re designed to give no mechanical advantage (merely being on-par with a Ascended weapon), and have no special abilities or the like connected with them (very much unlike legendary weapons in GW/GW2 lore – hell GW2 even lets you wield such weapons on various story missions), they are appearance and nothing more.

      Similarly, whilst making them is a huge feat of logistics, and impressive as hell, there’s nothing unique or special about it – weapons require different mats, but there’s no story or anything.

      On top of all this, they’re accessible only to the richest or luckiest (a fairly rich) of players, which isn’t a strong criticism but it does mean that they’re not something really comparable to this.

  8. Hobbes says:

    This expansion -reeks- of power fantasy in so many horrible ways that I just don’t even know where to start. The Ashbringer, a lore specific weapon that was so entirely worshipped and unique in it’s nature, is now going to be given to every bloody paladin who can get their hands on it.

    Combined with the story of “YOU ARE THE LEADER OF YOUR CLASS. THE LEADER JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IS THE LEADER!”. Ugh. No. Time to go. Before the story entirely jumps the shark. Or perhaps it will turn into something from the Old Spice Adverts, which would be awesome.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      I’d personally probably look to showing a nice but different weapon in everyone else’s hands so that you’re the only one you see wielding the actual artifact weapon.

    • captainparty says:

      Yeah, be horrible to have a power fantasy in an MMO…

    • Shadow says:

      That’s the problem with many MMOs: the chronic yet inherently necessary lack of persistence and importance. You’re the super special hero with “unique” and “legendary” gear. Just like the chump next to you and the hundreds of thousands around you.

      It devalues the whole experience, and makes you realize you’re in nothing but a theme park, looking for 3 fire devil carapaces the quest giver probably should have 3 billion of, standing in line to defeat an ultimate boss who has been defeated 2.7 million times before, searching for a legendary weapon which is said to have been found, used and discarded by only 1.2 million previous heroes, etc.

      But that’s just what it is, and what it needs to be to accomplish what it does.

    • Nevard says:

      It does, but is power fantasy really such a bad thing? Like, “feeling like the powerful people we aren’t in real life” is a real reason to play video games.
      There are definitely places it can be taken too far, like when the male power fantasy is played to other people’s expense, but I don’t think this is one of those times. “Power Fantasy” might be starting to become a dirty word but I don’t think that on its own it constitutes a criticism.

      • Distec says:

        Nothing wrong with power fantasies. That’s pretty much what Dishonored is, and that shit’s totes awesome. But it does undermine – or is at least in conflict with – what MMOs are all about. Or at least I feel it does.

        “Power fantasy” can be a bit of a useless descriptor after a certain point, as most games empower you to do things you’d be incapable of in meatspace. But there’s a big difference between being a self-made, successful pirate in Eve or ED versus being drenched in self-importance like WoW does these days. It starts getting really silly in the latter, and it seems to miss the point that this a game meant to be played with other people!

        Usually I’d just treat this as some kind of surface disconnect between the presentation (“You are the most important person in Azeroth!”) and the actual game itself (PVP, Dungeons, and Raids are all group affairs). But it took a really bad turn with the garrisons in the last expansion, so I have to wonder…

      • Sian says:

        Well, in this specific case the power fantasy is cheapened by the knowledge that everyone else has the exact same legendary weapon and the exact same unique position. It’s a problem inherent in MMOs, but here it’s especially blatant. Take Guild Wars 2, for example. Throughout the story, you’re some form of chosen one. You’re THE hero of Shaemoor, THE Slayer of Issormir, THE Snaff Savant, but since that isn’t a visible thing, it’s easier to ignore that everyone else has the exact same experience and title. Even the legendary weapons are kind of excusable – they’re so hard to obtain, not everyone has one (though that’ll become easier come Heart of Thorns), and they don’t have any lore attached to them. This is a weakness, but it also means it’s not so jarring that seeing one makes you question why there are two or two-hundred of them.

        And frankly, do we have to be chosen ones? Why can’t we just be heroes – not unique, but special enough? Could someone write a story around that for once?

        • drinniol says:

          Like, say, Wrath of the Lich King? The Argent Tournament?

        • Hobbes says:

          I’m getting far too used to games like Exanima, games where you are not the hero. You are a barely functional mewling sod with a club. Or Dark Souls, where you are always riding the wave of “Just about surviving thank you very much”. Do I really need to be the centre of the world? No. I’m happiest being the meat entrée that the monsters think is their dinner, and savouring the moment where I -just- survive and make it through…

          … only to run into bigger monsters in the next room and have to do it all over again.

          Or a good 4X, where you’re constantly competing as an empire against others, but there’s no guarantee at any point you’re going to be “the BIGARST EVAR”, with the difficulty cranked up, it’s quite likely you’ll have to plot and scheme and diplomacy and fight just for each scrap of land. And it’s all the more sweeter for it.

          Little victories people, little victories. They make the occasional big wins that more special. When in WoW you get showered with constant “YOU ARE THE GREATEST”, it becomes meaningless. You become numb.

          Then again, I raided during The Burning Crusade, that was to raiding what Dark Souls is to combat. One mistake and everyone died. Little victories there too, like a few extra percent off of a boss with each try. Small steps. That’s more fun to me.

    • LexW1 says:

      Complaining about “power fantasy” in WoW is like going to a Megadeth concert and then complaining that it’s all far too loud and too many guitars.

      WoW has always been power-fantasy, from day 1, from beta even. If you want an MMO that isn’t power-fantasy, well, it’s not WoW, nor really any current mainstream MMO. You have to look for survivors from another age like Dark Age of Camelot.

      • Hobbes says:

        There’s a line though. The line is when the game showers you with so much praise that you get bored of it. At some point the game can’t shower you with *enough* and then it gets meaningless. Victory and power isn’t supposed to be thrown all over you, it’s supposed to be earned and taken, either by wit and guile or by ripping the jaws off of the big ugly in front of you and beating them over the head with said jaws.

        This is starting to make it a bit too easy and scripted :/

  9. Rao Dao Zao says:

    I am getting a bit tired of levelling at all, really. I mean, you play through something like Unreal and the Rocket Launcher does not need to be upgraded to still be useful at the end of the game.

    Maybe good swords should have ammunition to limit them instead?

  10. Incanus says:

    “Far more people will be aware of how badass you are”

    Not to sound too much confrontational, but is this really what we want? What we seek? To gloat and to dive in narcissism? To seek in the eyes of the others how much they admire your stuff, your loot, etc..?

    Honestly, MMO and a lot of games are already too much on the “compare yourself and your e-penis” side of the force. Sure, this is an easy way for video games company to play on the stress of the player (i’m not as good as X! I want the same loot as X!), on basic group psychology, on consumerism, but i find it rather awful. We need more massive multiplayer games that encourages empathy, cooperation, helping each others instead of competing for the last shiny thing or a better place in the “leaderboard”…

    • Dawngreeter says:

      There is nothing shameful in wanting to display your in-game accomplishments. You are playing an MMO instead of a single player game, presumably, because you want to do so while interacting with other people. Having your accomplishments displayed in a meaningful manner is a very sensible requirement. People do not need to be shamed for being proud of what they accomplished in a game they play.

      That said, I might advise giving Guild Wars 2 a try. It is an MMO built to, and I quote here: “encourages empathy, cooperation, helping each others instead of competing for the last shiny thing or a better place in the “leaderboard”…”. Seriously, you are always glad to see another player in GW2 and you are never worse off for having someone show up. And when they do, they can also see your legendary weapon skin that you spent better part of a year putting together, or an armor skin that is the result of finishing a lot of difficult achievements.

      • Incanus says:

        Well, expecting people to be aware of and admire your “accomplishments”, is a bit puerile at least, or narcissistic (at least for my taste); I do remember a lot of people on different MMO expecting everybody to know whatever obscure think they “accomplished” and no one cared about (and it’s logical). I found this a bit ridicule and pitiful, because these people were expecting other’s attention while behaving in a way that would soon deny them this attention (“EH LOOK LOOK I AM THE BEST OF THE XXXX LEADERBOARD…” – “Great, and we should care because?”).

        You can be proud to have helped someone in the game, or to be a kind and respectful player, or a good planner, a good teacher, things like this, but these real accomplishments are generally not tracked in game. These ones, the people that you generally care about, they remember.

        I don’t give a cent if someone has killed single handed Kale’thas with a simple rock in 2 seconds, ahead of everyone else in the world before, but if someone is helpful, take responsibilities when someone is insulted in game by example etc..these ones, you remember them and respect them.

        If you think you accomplish something (in a game or IRL), you should be happy by yourself, without expecting others to care about.

        • Dawngreeter says:

          I’d be very interested to hear more about the non-human race that you’re describing.

        • LexW1 says:

          If the game has leaderboards and you don’t care about them, that’s totally fine, but you need stop and think during your rant.

          Why did the game even have leaderboards?

          It’s because a lot of people do care. That doesn’t make them narcissists or whatever. I mean, it’s on the road to narcissism, but in the same way that occasional social drinking/smoking is “on the road” to being a gutter-dwelling crack addict.

          It’s true that a lot of real achievements aren’t tracked by the game, but let’s be real – only because they can’t be. If they could be, they would be.

          There are people who want to shove achievements in your face, or demand “respect” for them, and sure, let’s laugh and point at them, but this isn’t about that. This is more like the commemorative plaque you got for winning the local darts championship or whatever. Sure you could be a massive jerk, and carry it around in your pocket, bring it out and wave at people any time a dartboard is in sight or someone mentions the game – but most people will just put it on their mantlepiece or something. It’s nice, though, to look back and see all the stuff you did – it’s really a big bit of the fun of progression-type MMOs, actually. And that’s what WoW is – a progression MMO, not some quiet exploration game or the like.

  11. caddyB says:

    The real problem isn’t the “selling” of artifacts, the problem is you are selling them to local blacksmith for a pittance, instead of having a place to display them. Most people put unique items or memorabilia in their player housing if they are available.

    I actually think Morrowind did this right. Anyone who played any Elder Scrolls knows there a whole lot of legendary artifacts and you can get most of them in Morrowind. In the Tribunal expansion, there is a museum in the large city of Almalexia where you can sell those artifacts so they can be displayed. The curator will give you the best prices for them and they will have a nice display.

    Because they belong in a museum, dammit.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      Not sure if they kept it with the late ones but several of the Assassins Creed games had a room setup as an armory for your armour and weapons – it was a neat little touch

      • Sian says:

        It also had the nice side effect of having me buy every weapon, even if I had a better one, just to complete the collection. Since there’s already tons to collect in WoW, why not weapons too?

  12. skyturnedred says:

    When you get that Amazing Weapon of Lore +5 from a boss you kill, it should feel special. If everyone is running around with the same weapon, it starts to feel less special.

    • LexW1 says:

      The problem is that attitude is hard-incompatible with a balance progression-based MMO, if the weapon of lore +5 is actually in any way BETTER than the weapons the rest of you can access.

      We’ve seen this in older MMOs, where entire guilds had to basically do what some lucky jerk with an overpowered item said, because he’d take his ball.

      So a better model is to have rare-but-not-better weapons. WoW hasn’t yet really grasped this concept – some older MMOs did – DAoC for example.

      You also need to have a way to keep weapon relevant rather than just discarding them into the trash when you level up – again this isn’t really compatible with progression-based MMOs.

      So it seems like what Blizzard are doing here is a sort of middle-ground – your weapon may be like those of others of the same class, but it will not be the same, as they have both appearance customization for these and the weapons grant customizable abilities too, and it will remain relevant through at least this entire expansion.

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    Harlander says:

    I seem to recall Dwarf Fortress having a mechanic where ordinary weapons can get a name if they’re used to kill enough things. Seems like a fun mechanic (even though I don’t think that makes them any better in that case)

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      Dwarves will also get attached to weapons they use a lot

  14. Hedgeclipper says:

    Ah yes MMOs where only you and 10 million other subscribers get to wield that unique artifact weapon – do they give you a voucher for a tour of the industrial complex where they make them?

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      “Beware the Magic-Industrial Complex!” – good words to start a setting document with, I think

  15. Jenks says:

    This belongs in a single player game, not an MMORPG. It’s no surprise since every expansion has seen the game try to become more the former and less the latter.

  16. PoulWrist says:

    Yet turning the game ever more towards singleplayer/small-group play style game. How does it work having 30 Doomhammers in one city suddenly? It doesn’t… absurd and poorly thought out for what’s supposedly an MMO. But I guess the MMO part of WoW died many, many years ago.

  17. aliksy says:

    Filed under “I’ve been complaining about this for ages”.

    One of the things I liked about Dark Souls is that it doesn’t really have a gear treadmill. The weapons feel pretty distinct and you’re not always replacing stuff. I wish more games were like that.

    But I don’t really understand the joy other people seem to get from MMOs and treadmill progression, so I don’t know.

  18. keenblade says:

    Shadows of Mordor did a really great job of handling weapons and making them more legendary. The separate quests and re-forging and adding of runes and slots all made for a well thought out and customizable system. If only they also added some more reactions from the NPCs to you using them, like a “oh man, is that [legendary weapon] – we’re in trouble now!” kind of way.

  19. mariusmora says:

    “I won’t spoil how he saved an entire island, but here’s one of the game’s end cool and important events” WTF! Thanks a lot!

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Yes, ‘character achieves something and is given a reward’ is a huge spoiler.

      • mariusmora says:

        Im talking more about the “The Witcher 3’s endings features Geralt going to huge effort and expense to craft Ciri an amazing sword that combines silver and steel to be essentially the ultimate Witcher weapon”

        • mariusmora says:

          Well, maybe is not a big deal, but the forging of an important weapon in one of the game’s “endings” sounds pretty “momentuous” to me. I mean, like the reforging and reveal of former isildur’s sword in the lord of the rings.

  20. Rizlar says:

    an amazing sword that combines silver and steel to be essentially the ultimate Witcher weapon

    My interpretation is that all Witcher’s silver swords have a steel core. Can you imagine how bendy a sword of solid silver would be? SIlver plating seems the way to go. And Ciri already has a steel sword, so this is a ‘witcher’s blade’ for her.

    Yeah, that’s about as on topic as I’m going to get.

  21. Sin Vega says:

    Silent Storm had an interesting system where characters would become more effective with a given weapon (and, I believe, very similar derivates, e.g. the several flavours of German Sten smgs) the more they used it, and would gradually lose that if they started using another. There was also a perk for some classes where both the learning and the “getting rusty” effects were amplified.

    Mount and Blade didn’t escape the “drop this for something better” effect entirely, but it did have some things that helped – a weapon with slightly lower numbers could be very deadly in skilled hands, to the point where the extra numbers made little difference. And as things like length and different types of attack mattered, you might find yourself sticking with a “weaker” weapon because you valued the slightly better thrusting attack over the raw slashing damage of an alternative.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    I’ve recently changed my spec from Unholy 1H > Frost Dual wielding. I wonder if you’ll have to spend weeks of work if you want to change your spec..

  23. Opellulo says:

    I actually love the opposite: weapons as tools of the trade with specific uses. It’s a thing that works marvel in non fantasy settings (like mount & blade) equip the right tool: spear for open areas, thrusting blades for sieges, heavy weapons for contained battles and hope your weapon doesn’t break and forces you to scavenge for some rusty replacement.

    Too bad Dark Souls scrap this at higher level when the need for upgrades out balance the fun of tactical diversity.

    • Rizlar says:

      But you choose which tools to upgrade. I think Dark Souls is an excellent example of weapons done well (helps that the combat system is also great along with many other things).

  24. Holderist says:

    “As a reward, he’s ceremonially presented with not merely a new sword, but one of an Craite’s most treasured possessions. About five minutes later, just about every player has sold it for pennies.”

    Yeah, but I did feel sorry for doing it.

    Numbers are King in RPGs, they trump story and often even aesthetic.

  25. LexW1 says:

    Dark Age of Camelot did a good job here (as in many places), because it hard-capped level (and most stats) from the start.

    As such, weapons could be amazingly rare without really being a balance problem. They might have an unusual and powerful ability, but that wouldn’t screw the game because it was instead of another ability.

    I can’t think of any other game which has quite managed this, except GW1 maybe. GW2 just makes weapons into meaningless skins, which is sad, because there’s then no connection between what a weapon is/does and it’s appearance.