In a bit more than a month, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands will be upon us. As the latest expansion approaches, the developers over at Blizzard have been letting more and more information trickle out.
While there’s still plenty left unknown, a discussion around the upcoming item level squish – combined with a squish of just about everything – has been on everyone’s mind. Combined with discussions around loot mechanics, there’s plenty to talk about.
As it sits currently, the highest item level gear drops from the mythic difficulty for Ny’alotha, the Waking City, Battle for Azeroth‘s final raid. Azerite gear drops at 485, and with the Azerite Empowered trait, reaches 490.
However, as of writing this, it seems like the highest current item level for gear is around 233, dropping from mythic Castle Nathria in Shadowlands. That likely won’t remain true for long, as Nathria is only the first raid of the expansion.
For comparison, BfA’s first raid, Uldir, dropped 390 gear at highest. The gap between Mythic Uldir and Mythic Ny’alotha is incredible, as it usually is in most expansions, so Shadowlands will likely be the same situation.
Blizzard has commented on Item Levels in Mythic+, Raiding and PvP in #Shadowlands, giving some thoughts on the big picture of Loot in the upcoming expansion. https://t.co/MKWCiDyy5U pic.twitter.com/VagMscTcoF
— Wowhead (@Wowhead) September 22, 2020
“As has been observed in the Beta, loot quantities overall are reduced in Shadowlands,” the developers wrote on the forums. “We’re entering into a world without Warforging and Titanforging, where getting an item from relevant content should feel rewarding on its own more often, without needing to hope for random upgrades.”
Bonus rolls will no longer exist, as we discussed earlier today, helping to remove a bit of RNG while also giving players less chances of loot. Countering this, the Great Vault, replacing the Weekly Chest, will give players a chance to pick between up to three pieces of gear.
The strongest gear will, as is usually the case, come from the three primary endgame progression paths. These paths are Rated PvP, mythic keystone dungeons, and endgame raiding content. Blizzard is doing their best to make certain that neither path is stronger than its companions.
“The design intent is for all three paths to provide parallel progression over the course of a tier,” they write. They give the example of Challenger-level PvP, Heroic raids, and Mythic +7 keystones – all of which are about mid-tier difficulty in their own path – giving 213 item level rewards.
We’ll see at release how well their intentions have translated into design, though. With any luck, Blizzard has been able to tune and shape the coming gear and item levels well, as the squish will already be a bit disorienting to players that have experienced the gearing mechanics of Battle for Azeroth.