One of the major new features in the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion Battle For Azeroth is called Azerite Armor. Think of it as a spiritual successor to Artifact weapons — we’ll be losing those before the expansion launches, and all the talent points we spent much of Legion dumping into it along with it. If there wasn’t a system to replace it with, the game would suddenly feel a lot more shallow than it did.
Azerite Armor aims to fill that gap by attaching a series of talent trees to certain pieces of gear. The end result is something that resembles set bonuses — another feature that’s going away in BFA. You become more powerful, and sometimes, your rotation will change somewhat, once you gain enough Azerite to empower your gear. Sounds decent enough; what’s the problem?
Well, for one, you cannot respec the armor. Much like the current Netherlight Crucible, once you choose a talent, that’s it. You have to replace the piece of gear to get another crack at it. That is frustrating enough on its own, and even worse if you play a hybrid class and want to, say, do some healing on the side, but you chose all DPS talents. And frustratingly, each "choice" in the tree usually coincides with a specific spec — for instance, the monk’s first tier contains the neutral talent everyone gets, along with a skill for Brewmasters, a skill for Mistweavers and a skill for Windwalkers. Not much of a choice there, is it?
Image courtesy of ShadeofIcarus on reddit
It gets worse as you go down, too, because each tier removes one choice. By the time you reach the bottom of the tree, there is no choice whatsoever.
Reddit user ShadeofIcarus broke it down in a post on the World of Warcraft subreddit:
- There are 4 rows of "Traits" for you to choose from. Each row is unlocked by getting your Heart of Azeroth to a certain level (the one they start you with has the top row unlocked by default. Then more unlock at 4, 7, and 10.)
- As you move further down in the row, there are less options to choose from. The top row has a Neutral Trait, then one trait designed to work with each of your specializations. The 2nd row has 3 traits to choose from, then 2, with the final row increasing the ilvl of the Azurite Armor by 5.
- You CANNOT respec. Once you choose a trait, it is locked into that piece of gear forever. The traits are not per spec, but rather linked to the piece of gear directly. If I build my Azurite gear to DPS, it will be a subpar piece for tanking.
- Most of the traits fall at around 60-70% of the power you would expect in a gold trait. They feel like watered down set bonuses.
Of course, this is early in the game development and things can and will change. It is a little alarming that we’re now five months away from the latest promised date of BFA‘s release and the game is still in alpha, but hopefully they have enough time to sort this mess out.