Theo’s Thoughts #36: Return of the Upgrade Vendor
Patch 5.2 has been live for less than a month, yet Blizzard is already giving information out for the next patch. The biggest news that has been released is that the upgrade vendor, which was recently removed will be returning for PvE gear, allowing players to upgrade gear using Justice and Valor points. What is different this time around though?
A good place to start is looking at why this ability to upgrade PvE gear was removed in the first place. When gearing up, players were now faced with a lot of difficult decisions on when and how to spend valor gear. At first, players would have to decide between upgrading existing gear, or buying new gear with Valor. Eventually, when players out-geared the Valor point gear, they only needed to worry about upgrading. The trouble was which gear to upgrade? With it costing 1500 Valor to fully upgrade, this decision was often difficult and just added unnecessary stress to raiding, which is already stressful. This is the main reason it was removed in the first place.
The version is being implemented in 5.3, however, it a little bit different. Instead of 1500, it will only cost 500 Valor to fully upgrade gear. Though players will still have to decide on when and how to upgrade, it will not be as difficult of a decision. If someone upgrades an item and then it is immediately replaced, it is only a loss of 500 Valor. Most players will not be to upset about losing half a weeks worth of Valor instead of a week and a half’s worth.
Secondly, the item level of certain gear, I believe, will help make this system work more smoothly. When first implemented, players had to choose between spending Valor right away to get a new item, or wait for a better piece to drop and then upgrade that piece. This is not necessarily a problem for Normal or Heroic raids, yet when gear in LFR is better than gear from Valor points, it makes Valor point gear seemingly useless. Now, specifics on item levels in 5.3 have not yet been announced, yet going off of what happened in 5.2, with gear from the Shado-Pan Assault being purchasable for Valor point at a higher item level than LFR, I feel this will not be a problem in patch 5.3
This article sounds a little like I am defending Blizzard for not making players make choices. This is not the case, however. Ever since badge gear was implemented in Burning Crusade, these decisions on which gear slots to improve first have been a part of WoW. The problem that was happening, however, is players had to make giant investments for upgrades that were not worth it, and in most places would only be useful for a few weeks. Blizzard noticed this, however, and quickly removed this system and is re-implementing it in a way that overall just makes much more sense.