Mists of Pandaria Beta: The evolution of itemization

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Let me introduce you to the Massacre Sword. It was, and still is, a solid leveling green with a rather good model. I point it out to you to show you the odds of getting one with stats you’d actually want on a warrior, paladin or hunter (the three classes that would be using the sword at the time the game launched) and how likely it was you’d get, say, a Massacre Sword of the Boar or Whale. Granted, you could get a few fairly useful combinations (one of Strength or Agility, say, or a good two stat combo like Bear, Tiger, Eagle, Monkey or Gorilla depending on your class.

This was a green drop, of course. It wasn’t meant to be the best of the best, just something to pick up and use on your way to dungeon loot. It’s hard to compare it to what it would be replaced by nowadays, because a lot of that gear was re-itemized when Cataclysm came out and the dungeon levels were adjusted up or down. I remember replacing it with Lord Alexander’s Battle Axe, followed by a Demonshear and an Arcanite Champion, before forays into Molten Core and Blackwing Lair. It’s fascinating to consider how itemization works as a tool in driving players forward. Bad itemization, while baffling at times when encountered in game, actually serves a purpose in the hands of the developers. An item with too good of a stat spread can actually serve as a hanging burr, sticking to your character long after it should have been replaced.

I mention this because, to my mind, Mists of Pandaria is the first expansion to really know this, forwards and backwards. This is the expansion that will use gear design to motivate you better, more skillfully, and more expansively than ever before.

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Mists of Pandaria Beta: The evolution of itemization originally appeared on WoW Insider on Fri, 25 May 2012 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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