July 14, 2009
A Quick Note on Tier 9 Models
Tier armor sets. These are the rewards that players receive for their efforts from raiding. In the past, these sets were unique and distinguished those players who were able to conquer the end game raid content from those who were not. The only way to acquire these pieces was to go into a 40 man raid instance and defeat the bosses. They were not available for sale from a vendor for badges. They stood out. They were worn with pride.
MMO-Champion recently posted a preview of the Tier 9 models from the upcoming 3.2 patch and unfortunately, this is really no longer the case with the latest sets. Although they may not be complete as of yet and a few classes were missing, a few initial observations can be made from looking at them.
First, let’s take a quick look back at the past tier armor sets in World of Warcraft, shall we?
Tiers 1, 2 and 3 were all available before the first expansion, coming from the early 40 man raid instances. They were distinct, each set had its own style and looked nothing like any other. The Tier 3 set specifically was a status symbol among players, identifying those guilds who were able to reach and defeat bosses in the original Naxxramas.
When The Burning Crusade was released, although the sizes of raids changed from 40 man to 10 and 25 man instances, the tradition for designing the Tier armor sets continued. I can’t say I really liked the look of Druid Tier 4, but Tiers 5 and 6 more than made up for it. Again, each set was unique and distinct.
In those days, you could recognize the individual pieces and identify which Tier armor set a player was wearing when you crossed paths with them in Ironforge or Shattrath.
Enter Wrath of the Lich King. The first raid dungeon we have is a reused Naxxramas and with it comes a reused Tier 3 armor set posing as our Tier 7 gear. Tier 8 introduces a new design, but the set itself looks rather bland and pales in comparison to the work done on Tiers 1-6. You can still make a distinction between classes, but you can see the beginning of the end as it now stands.
To put it bluntly: Tier 9 is terrible. I’m not even looking at the stats, the set bonuses or anything else to do with the gear at the moment (but I may have a rant on that from a Balance druid perspective at some point), I’m just looking at it from a model perspective. All of the sets look similar between classes, to the point where the only real distinction I can make is in a subtle color change that I will never remember later on. On top of this, we firmly believe that each set looks like plate armor. Where is the distinction between cloth, leather and mail? There is absolutely nothing about any of these models that looks nifty, cool or even remotely interesting that makes me want to wear them.
Although a few classes are missing, I’ll fill in the blanks for you. Take one of the models for another class, any of them will work really. Let’s go with the Mage one for fun. Open the file in an image editor. Find that blue color that distinguishes it from the other classes and replace it by: orange for Druid, green for Hunter, yellow for Rogue and a darker blue for Shaman. Voila! You’re now well on your way to becoming an artist for a certain gaming company we all know.
Welcome to Blizzard’s latest expansion and new motto: reduce, reuse, recycle. They reduce the amount of work they need to be doing by reusing what they’ve done before and recycling raid content. Instead of designing new armor with new stats and everything else that goes along with it, they’ve homogenized as much as possible across the board to make it easier to design new gear. This now includes the models of our beloved Tier sets.
Soon enough Dalaran is going to look like a scene out of Brave New World where the main difference between the gear players are wearing is its color which denotes our class…