We’ve barely started on our journey through this Warcraft expansion, but I’ve already developed a love / hate relationship with the artifacts.
The artifacts have class AND spec specific stories tied to them. Love it.
The artifacts give us something to build on throughout the expansion. Leveling them, expanding capabilities, becoming more powerful over time. Growing as we grow. Love it.
The artifacts give us new challenges to figure out and collect to unlock colors and styles. Love it.
The artifacts replace our weapons for the entire expansion. Hate it.
Sorry, it is what it is.
At this point I’ve done the artifact quests for the Frost Mage, Marksmanship Hunter, Guardian (tank) Druid, Outlaw Rogue and Retribution Paladin.
I loved them all. Each and every one was so much fun! I honestly don’t want to play through leveling so much as see ‘what awesome new and exclusive story will THIS share with me?’
Aside from the unique stories, the other thing I love is how each artifact spec story requires you to use various class specific abilities. In some cases, abilities I’ve never bothered having on my bar before because, hey, didn’t do anything to bosses in raids so why bother, amiright?
I’m not going to spoil any of the specifics, but let’s just say that there were a few times when I found myself at a loss until I remembered that the class or spec could do something.
The worst was definitely a challenge that I found impossible to overcome, until I remembered that Mages could, you know, Spellsteal. Once I tried that and stole a boss buff, OMG I felt like such a ditz.
I really like the way each one is designed to make you use abilities. I don’t know, but I’d imagine new players to a class that applied a level 100 token would experience it as a good training ground for the basics.
Frustrating as hell maybe, but then again maybe not.
The one class and spec I was least familiar with was the Outlaw Rogue. I mean shoot, they didn’t even exist before, so how COULD I be familiar with them?
And yet that was one of the easiest for me to complete, possibly because the spec was so new to me that I went through every ability, every optional Talent and figured out rotations and proc triggers before I went in. So I had it fresh in mind that I could Bribe humanoid NPCs. Protip; again, LOVED IT in the artifact mission.
But I hate the way artifacts clash with ALL of my transmogs.
It’s the one thing I wish were implemented differently.
Every character that has an artifact weapon has it transmogged to something else. Even my Druid has the fist weapons transmogged to better fit my favorite appearance like so;
Not one single character uses the default artifact appearance.
I’m sure in time someone will unlock one of the alternate weapon appearances to something I like, but so far not yet.
But there is one artifact that takes it a different way, and I wish it were the standard.
Shocker, it’s the Druid.
The Druid artifact doesn’t just have a weapon appearance; it replaces your default form too.
And it’s marvelous.
This is so wonderful. He looks magnificent.
And, just like the other artifacts, there are different colors and appearances you can unlock!
This is the direction I wish all the other artifacts had gone. Not as a weapon, a trinket we carry, but as something that changes our appearance at a fundamental level to reflect the changes taking place from our choices and increasing growth.
If the artifacts changed every character appearance in terms of skin color, adding horns or other minor superficial modifications, applied glows or similar weapon enchant style effects, maybe added thorns and vines growing from or winding around/under skin, mecha skins, ice/faceted skin or fel/red/purple flames, hell you know exactly what I mean, right?
If that was done for all artifacts, then every player would have a truly innate difference in appearance from the artifact that implied how powerful YOU were becoming, a change that would still allow all transmog items including weapons to matter.
It’s the only thing about artifacts that I personally don’t like. I mean sure, the weapons themselves are badass, Ashbringer and Doomhammer, right? How can that not feel iconic and epic and engaging.
But I feel like if I’m the new wielder of Ashbringer, I have a responsibility to walk around, you know, wielding Ashbringer. Or the Doomhammer.
I don’t want to. I especially don’t want to be one of a dozen wielders of the Ashbringer in a raid.
It’s so cliche but it’s true, straight from Syndrome, once everyone wields Ashbringer, nobody does. Not really. They’re just cheap Holodeck replicas.
There can only ever be one real Ashbringer, and the five of us in this raid are just swinging a memory.
It recalls something I saw in the recent Marvel Secret Wars event, and was reflected again in Fantastic Four with the Council of Reeds. There were multiple Infinity Gauntlets, and maybe the intention was to up the feeling of godlike power but instead for me felt like it made Infinity Gauntlets a dime a dozen trinket. Having more than one cheapened the hell out of the impact.
It’s something that, again, helps limit my desire to hit max level. The single player artifact stories and questing are wonderful, but the suspension of disbelief gets stretched as more Ashbringers join an end game raid.
Druids have it going on. Artifact transmog doesn’t matter because your gear has never been displayed in forms, but now we do get a transmog. It’s called choosing various artifact themes and colors so your form feels a little more different, even beyond our normal hair color choices.
Can you imagine playing a Gnome mage that had as just one choice an artifact appearance that made you look like a mechagnome for mechanical Hunters? Or a leper Gnome for Warlocks?
Or a Dwarven Elemental Shaman that could have the stone Dwarf form appearance all the time, or fire or water for that matter?
I have one hope.
Just as I saw the farm in Pandaria and hoped that someday we’d see what became Garrisons in Draenor as the tech was developed, so too do I hope that once we retire our artifacts at the beginning of the next expansion we will get a new, expanded artifact system where we ourselves become imbued with the artifact power system and that we DO get to have dozens of skins or glows effects to seek out, apply and play with.
It could happen. Right?