Even before WoW (buy now for € 39.99): Battle for Azeroth had officially started, I had written down my fears about the classes in BfA in the form of a long column. I thought that the classes in Battle for Azeroth would be more boring than ever. With the end of Legion, we didn't just say goodbye to the artifact weapons, but also to the many Legendarys and especially the iconic animal sets. As if someone had pressed "Reset to factory settings". Basically nothing bad. But if you were used to the playing styles, which are influenced by various external factors, for years, then the basic playing style seemed somehow bloodless and boring.
Azeri armor as compensation in Battle for Azeroth?
In compensation, the Azerite armor should now bring variety and fun. In theory, that would have been possible. However, the Azerit Perks should have had much more influence on the playing styles, which was simply not the case. In the first generation of Azerite Perks, there was almost no effect that you as a player had to keep an eye on or play around with. In the best case, a perk changed the priority list or the value prioritization of the class a little, but nothing more. It didn't help much that Blizzard had adopted one or the other artifact weapon capability as a talent. If you were extensively in the Battle for Azeroth beta at the time, you could already see that. All the more astonishing that the developers believed that the elimination of so many game elements would not have any negative effects. But just a few months after the release of Battle for Azeroth, this opinion should change.
Essences as a makeshift in patch 8.2 of WoW
But not only in a playful way, the Azerite armor could never keep up with the artifact weapons. They were also more than boring on the story side. Instead of legendary weapons that were anchored in the history of WoW, we got a necklace and countless interchangeable items. The developers had to intervene to satisfy the unfortunate players who made their displeasure clear in various forums. We now know from our interview with Ion Hazzikostas that Battle for Azeroth was about a month old when developers started looking for a solution to the problem. The additional rings were the first step that helped at least in the short term. With Patch 8.2 the essences came into play, which should make up for everything. According to Adam Riese, the developers needed about six to eight months to develop.
Essences a great success
Now the system with the essences is of course not perfect and like all game mechanics has weaknesses that disturb one player more and the other less. In general, however, it can be said that the essences were mostly received positively. Only the great effort that you have to spend on some essence always causes negative reactions. The essences offer players what the Azerite perks have never done. Some of them have a massive impact on the style of play and offer a good dose of variety. In contrast to the Azerit Perks, which were mostly similarly good or bad for raid, dungeon and PvP (and whose change cost a lot of gold at some point), many players exchange the essences more often than their actual talents. With additional active effects and various passive perks, which are at least partially strong enough that you have to pay attention to them in combat, the essences give the different ways of playing a lot more individuality. Not to other classes, but to other players of the same spec. A retaliate with Condensed life force. Vision of perfection and Essence of focus iris plays completely differently than when he Memory of the lucid dream. Resonance of the world artery and Conflict and discord would use.
Not only do the preferred values change in a striking way, other talents are also used. In my opinion, the balancing was also successful. The differences are big enough that I want to have all the important essences with my main character and I am constantly changing them. At the same time, however, it is so small that I just play what I have on my twinks without hopelessly lagging behind.
The essences saved BfA
If the developers had pulled their boots through and left it at the Azerit Perks, BfA would have ended in a playful catastrophe in my opinion. So long without a little variability in the classes, even the toughest would have been bored. With the essences, Battle for Azeroth has not necessarily become a top expansion (although I still think it's better than most put it), but it still got the curve. In addition, the developers have apparently learned from this that a little more playful depth is not that bad, which is why Shadowlands allows some old class skills to make their comeback. I think it's good.
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