Friday, December 12, 2008
I wasn't sure what to expect from the abundance of various tokens in Wrath, but it turns out that all of the above are easier to get than I expected. After mere days at level 80, I'm at somewhere around 10-15% of the [Stone Keeper's Shard] total for my first account-bound Heirloom item. I'm also sitting on seven [Emblem of Heroism] for one run through the Heroic Daily quest and one zerg of 10-man Archavon, and Greenwiz even owns his very first 25-man "raid" kill (and two tokens) for the 25-man version of the Vault. Part of the difference for me is that I'm actually in a quality guild that runs (and, more importantly, can be TRUSTED to run) instances. Still, I'm making much faster progress than I expected.
Currencies and something for everyone
It does seem like in-game currencies are everywhere these days - EQ2's new expansion is centered around a currency called Void Shards (which has resulted in some interesting "uses" of the game's mentoring system) awarded through a daily/weekly quest mechanic. That said, Blizzard seems to have refined the system to a science.
With account-bound items, both the Heroic badges and the Wintergrasp shards (which are even available in non-heroic dungeons, if you're fortunate enough to be running one at a time when your faction controls Wintergrasp) can be used to buy items that you can mail to low level alts. As a result, even players with 25-man raid gear have at least some incentive to visit easier content. Wrath has also introduced a "championing" mechanic, which means that players can gain reputation with any of five separate factions while in Wrath 5-man dungeons. The latter is a large improvement over TBC, where players were forced to focus on specific dungeons if they wanted credit for a specific reputation - now you're free to run any dungeon and won't stop benefiting from rep until you've maxxed out all five factions.
Overall, the system is much better at providing incentives to use the content, which should greatly increase accessibility for everyone. (It also means that players with level 80 healers and tanks will probably have alts fully decked out with all manner of account-bound goodies in short enough order.) The developers even get a win here, because currencies, unlike reputations, are spent and must be replenished before you get your next goodie (instead of getting access to all the rewards at once from a faction vendor). This is one feature of Wrath that I hope more developers copy sooner rather than later.