Blizzard finally details how it's fixing World of Warcraft's bad gear system, and it looks awesome

One of the biggest issues plaguing World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth since it launched last year is the way players earn and upgrade gear. The Azerite Armor system sounded cool on paper (and was fun at first), but players quickly came to despise the grind of leveling up their Heart of Azeroth necklace just to unlock Azerite traits on new pieces of armor—especially when those traits were ones they already unlocked once before. It was a bad system, and one that Blizzard has spent the last eight months trying to fix with small tweaks and more interesting traits. But World of Warcraft's upcoming 8.2 patch is overhauling the entire system—and it looks so much better.

During a livestream today, senior game designer Jeremy Feasel gave players their first real look at patch 8.2, Rise of Azshara. Like any major patch, it'll introduce new zones, dungeons, and raids. But one of its most anticipated features is a complete rework of the Heart of Azeroth, which Feasel detailed in full.

When Rise of Azshara launches sometime this summer, Azerite Armor will no longer be tied to the level of your Heart of Azeroth. Instead, Azerite traits will all be unlocked automatically, so players can freely choose between which traits are most desirable to them. The Heart of Azeroth will now instead act like an Artifact Weapon from Legion, with a skill tree of nodes that unlock as you farm Azerite and increase its level and, best of all, a powerful active ability you can use in combat.

But here's the kicker: You get to customize which abilities your Heart of Azeroth has. As Feasel explains, players will acquire Titanic Essences that each have a major and minor power. Major powers are unique active abilities that will change your combat rotation, while minor powers are passive buffs. When placed in your Heart of Azeroth's major slot, both a Titanic Essence's major and minor power are activated while minor slots only activate minor powers. So, a fully fitted Heart of Azeroth should grant a player one major power and four minor powers.

Titanic Essences will come from a variety of activities—from dungeons and questing to PVP—and will also come in different rarities that will boost and often change how their abilities function. Take a look at the screenshot below to get an idea of how that'll look.

The end result is that Battle for Azeroth is effectively resurrecting the sorely missed Artifact Weapons from Legion, only players get to customize their specific abilities this time. And once 8.2 launches, you won't have to worry about grinding to unlock Azerite Armor traits anymore.

On paper, it's an excellent change that could make Battle for Azeroth's progression system much more exciting and rewarding, and I can't wait to try it out for myself. If you want a more detailed look at how the new Heart of Azeroth works, you can check out Blizzard's blog or watch the livestream.

Patch 8.2, Rise of Azshara, has no release date yet but the beta servers will be available next week.

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.