In today’s Live Developer Q&A for Patch 8.1.5, World of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas called the Titanforging system a “solution to the problems” proposed by specific loot tables in raiding. He stated that Titanforging was essentially an “answer” to the demoralizing feeling you may get if you’re clearing a boss countless times and an upgrade is seemingly never on the horizon.
Hazzikostas went on to drive home the point that Titanforging provides players with “hope of continued power progression” and that raiders have “things to look forward to” when stepping into a raid.
This couldn’t be less accurate.
Titanforging, in the time that it has made its climb to the pinnacle of relevance, has mainly served as a disservice to the game, as players are essentially pigeonholed into a longshot belief that there’s always a chance at an upgrade whenever they raid. However, after a certain point, this “hope” turns into frustration, and eventually, that frustration turns into flat out disdain for the system.
If you were to run a raid for seven consecutive weeks without an upgrade, perhaps “hope” isn’t enough to make you want to come back and ram your head into a wall for an eighth week in a row.
Players are slowly coming to the conclusion that loot tables are becoming nothing more than a lottery, and now more than ever (especially since the removal of all other loot options besides personal loot) it feels as if players have less and less control over the progression of their character.
Hazzikostas even went on to discourage the reimplementation of a Valor Point system, saying that Valor Points and manual progression “make transitioning from one raid tier to the next awkward”. He also stated that Valor Points and item upgrades inflate players’ strength. In all fairness to the system, that’s the point.
Let’s say you’re in a guild focused on normal raiding and you struggle getting heroic bosses down. Perhaps if you were able to manually progress your gear, you’d stand a fighting chance instead of having to ram your head against a wall eight weeks in a row with nothing but “hope” to guide you through the incredibly lengthy and frustrating process.
On top of all of the misconstrued promises, proposals, and elusive question dodges featured in the section of the Q&A surrounding Titanforging and character progression, the ever-eloquent Josh “Lore” Allen hearkened back to the days of The Burning Crusade when Titanforging was nonexistent and he had to “farm Black Temple for a year-plus for no upgrades”.
With all due respect, Josh, this isn’t Burning Crusade, and the game has evolved since that point. WoW is no longer an archaic fossil of a game that requires you to blindly push forward, simply “hoping” that one day, you’ll break through the barrier and grab the upgrade you’ve been working months to obtain. WoW has evolved heavily since TBC and to compare the current state of the game to the way things were over a decade ago is frankly absurd. If I cared about the way loot tables and item upgrades worked back in 2008, I’d wouldn’t be caring so deeply about the way things work in 2019.
And now, five months into the current expansion, all of that precious “hope” we had as players back in the summer of last year is all but gone. And as we progress further into BfA, especially with the release of the Battle of Dazar’Alor in full swing, raiding might just be the last bastion of hope that the expansion has left. And still, the main draw of the raiding scene – loot – is heavily plagued by an oversimplified and downright puzzling system.
If Blizzard wants to see a revitalization when it comes to “hope” in its players, giving them more power over their character’s progression would be the first step in the right direction. Titanforging is a broken mechanic – it always has been. If anything, the system we have in place now is a threat to inflate players’ strength – not the one that focuses on Valor Points and manual upgrades. The only players that are receiving any sort of gratification from Titanforging are the lucky ones – the ones that essentially pull the lever on the slot machine when the boss is at 1% and “hope” the tides turn in their favor. The system effectively removes the factor of skill from the game and replaces it entirely with luck.
However, if there was any comment from today’s Q&A that could provide players with a sense of “hope” when it comes to manual progression, it came when Hazzikostas said that Valor Points and manual upgrades were “only necessary during the final tier of an expansion when everyone is trying to reach their goals for the expansion”. It may take a few more months, but perhaps a solution to the “solution” may be on the horizon. Let’s just “hope” it isn’t too late.
Photo Credit: Blizzard Entertainment, World of Warcraft