Thanks for all of the continued feedback and discussion around the Azerite Armor system. We’ve been following the community discussions closely, and the systems team has been focusing on making some improvements as their top priority. I’ve got some updates to share on our current thoughts, as well as some upcoming changes.
To start, here’s some of the bigger issues we’ve been seeing brought up:
- Overall Availability: While there’s plenty of Azerite Armor in the 295-340 item level range, further sources are heavily limited and susceptible to bad luck. Even players who are doing a wide range of high-end content are still wearing at least one Item Level 340 piece, despite having replaced all their other gear several times over. Everything else about the system is basically irrelevant if you can’t get your hands on the gear in the first place.
- Lack of Agency: When items do drop, it can feel like you’re not really given much in the way of options. You can choose whether you want this to be a Fire or a Frost piece, or a versatile one with a generic trait, but that isn’t necessarily an interesting choice. And when you look at the complete package, those choices don’t often feel like they’re having a meaningful impact on how you play your character.
- Trait Depth: Several of the traits that are considered the “best” mathematically turn out to be some of the simplest mechanically, which reinforces the sense that the system isn’t really affecting gameplay.
We agree that those issues need to be resolved. So, here’s a few changes we’re working on:
- We need to make Azerite Armor more available, for all types of players, through a method everyone can utilize. So we’re actually looking at Emissary rewards for that. The plan is to make Azerite Armor rewards from Emissary quests scale all the way up to 370 (based on your item level), which gives everyone a new, reliable source for appropriate gear. Further on, we’re looking at making some further improvements to the ways Emissaries reward gear, but getting more Azerite Armor in your hands is the higher priority for the immediate future.
- When we add new Azerite Armor in what we’re calling “BfA Season 2” (starting with Siege of Zuldazar and its corresponding Mythic+ and PvP seasons), we’re going to add another outer ring to those pieces of gear that has two spec-specific trait options for each spec. This effectively means that your favorite traits will be available on a lot more items, while also opening up a lot more options across the scope of all of your Azerite pieces (and thus, we hope, create more interesting decisions).
- We’re also going to continue to work on the individual traits themselves. We’ve done some basic tuning so far, but we’re taking the lessons we’ve learned from these first iterations forward, and Tides of Vengeance will bring new traits into the pool that reflect that. Our goal is to make the more generic traits be decent middle-of-the-road options for when you want to use a single piece for multiple situations or specs, but make sure the spec-specific options (which are generally the more interesting traits) win out in their respective environments.
Some of those changes won’t be coming until Tides of Vengeance (and you’ll see them on the PTR soon), but the overall availability of Azerite Armor is a much more pressing concern, so we’re investigating ways of hotfixing that directly into the live game. I don’t have a solid timeline on when that might be yet, but we’ll definitely have more information to share as soon as we can confirm when that can happen.
Got a couple additional notes from the development team based on your initial responses:
- When Siege of Zuldazar opens, loot from other sources will also increase in quality. So BfA Season 2 PvP rewards will have 5 rings, as well as M+ drops from existing dungeons, etc. Those rewards will be higher ilvl to reflect the new season. The change isn’t retroactive (items you already have won't be upgraded), but basically all endgame loot will have 5 rings once we’re in Season 2.
- Emissary Azerite armor still scales with your item level - it's not just a flat increase. The goal is to make sure that if you have a high item level, regardless of the source of that gear (raiding, PvP, M+, etc.), you have a reliable source of comparable Azerite rewards.
- The reason we chose Emissaries for this is that it's an issue affecting a wide range of players, not just those who are clearing Mythic+ dungeons. Adding them to Mythic+ would indeed be a great solution if you're a player who's already focused on completing high-level keystones, but doesn't really help people who just want to stick to raiding or PvP. Emissaries are accessible to everyone.
- 370 is just the current Azerite cap for the hotfix we're working on. When Season 2 begins and the overall quality of rewards goes up, that cap will increase.