Feedback: Corruption and Itemization

It’s been about a month now since patch 8.3 launched and most of us have had ample time to see items with Corruption and feel their effects in the game. Since the devs have, apparently, been wanting to hear feedback on this system, so they can evaluate its viability for Shadowlands, here are my thoughts.

Corruption came to replace Titan- and Weapon-forging of gear, after players complained (for quite some time) of the imbalances that system created, the huge RNG element it introduced to gearing, and perhaps also as an attempt to make gear less bland.

In one way, at least, this worked – I have to admit that gear is definitely more interesting than it was without Corruption effects on it. In every other aspect, always in my opinion, Corruption is a huge failure.

The fact that Corruption effects come in 52 (or is it 53 now?) different flavors of varying power and desirability adds levels of RNG that Titan- and Weapon-forging could only have dreamed of. And given that these effects can show up on any kind of gear – from blue-quality quest rewards upwards – does nothing for gear imbalance, if it doesn’t actually make it worse.

The final issue I have with Corruption is that it was obviously not tested and balanced enough, resulting in very frequent changes to items, which have left a lot of players either confused or unable to properly gear their character, since they don’t know whether cleansing an item today will end up being a huge mistake two days down the line, with no option to revert such a move.

When it comes to itemization in the game, and what we might end up seeing in Shadowlands, my main concern to be honest is the devs’ seeming obsession with RNG and, for lack of a better word, gambling for rewards rather than earning them. At Blizzcon, when Corruption was revealed, it was touted as a lessening of RNG, as the devs listening to player concerns at last… And that has most definitely NOT been the case with it. It is alarming to me and frustrating.

This idea that players should have access to the same quality loot, if they’re lucky, regardless of what work they put in the game so that no one feels left behind baffles me. People who have no interest in doing heroic or mythic content, quite frankly, have no need for heroic or mythic quality gear. Similarly, people who don’t do high-level PvP have no need for high-level PvP trinkets or other PvP items.

Giving out gear rewards like they were candy, just because someone got lucky, lessens the efforts of everyone else who worked their butt off to actually beat the content that’s supposed to offer such quality gear. More than that, it creates inequality within tiers as well, since one player may get geared in a couple of days just because of luck whereas someone else, who puts in the exact same or more effort ends up waiting for months without reward.

A much better system would be one where we can work toward gearing up our character, earning either tokens with which to buy whichever piece of gear we chose first, or by getting components which crafters could use to craft raid-quality gear instead, making professions relevant. And, by the way, when I say “earning tokens” I most definitely do NOT mean earning them at the snail’s pace that Titan Residuum is being earned, because having to spend 28-33 weeks to equip a single spec (always speaking without gambling in mind here) is just stupid.

In any case… back to Corruption.

As a system it is interesting. As an implementation, it is a disaster.

What could have been done better? Corruption should never have had tiers. Corruption, instead, should scale with item level and should have been present on ALL items, given that N’zoth’s influence is felt all around the world. More than that, corruption effects should be limited by slot – for example, Infinite Stars and Echoing Void should only appear on rings, Deadly Momentum and Strikethrough only on bracers, and so on. That would significantly limit the range of RNG that players would have to deal with.

It would also make it easier to juggle which Corrupted effects to use to maximize a character’s performance to the player’s desire. As things stand now, since Corruptions can virtually end up being in any piece (minus Azerite or trinkets), we have no way to plan around a build for our character. However if we knew exactly what slots specific Corruptions would appear on, it would make things a lot simpler and more intuitive.

More so, if all items started off as Corrupted, players would have a much easier time choosing whether to cleanse them or not. For example, if in the very first raid someone got a ring off of Wrathion with Inifnite Stars and 75 corruption, but had no corruption resistance to use it, they’d feel a lot better cleansing it knowing that they could get that very same ring, with the very same effect next time they killed Wrathion. It would also promote more healthy player interactions and trading of unneeded items.

Finally, I believe that the passive nature of Corruption is a detriment to the entire system. As things stand, all Corrupted effects are wear-and-forget, with the negative effects of Corruption being the only real juggle that players need to work around, and that is really not very impactful. If Corruption effects were on-use, and applied their negative aspects when used, it would give players more agency and would make them a lot more interesting.

Take for example the trinket from the Crucible of Storms – Lurker’s Insidious Gift. Now, THAT was a “corruption” effect that put the choice squarely on the player’s hands.

I sincerely hope that the devs will finally listen and give up on the casino gearing scheme that we’ve had to deal with for the past several years.

I also hope that they will be given the time and funding to create a polished and exciting expansion such as what we’d come to expect from Blizzard without the pressure from the bean-counters ruining it for everyone again.