WoW's director talks about its endgame loot problem: 'Raiders, we hear you'

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands BlizzCon 2021
(Image credit: Blizzard)

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands has been a great expansion so far, but if there's one undead fly in the ointment it's the way endgame gear is dolled out. While PvP players are swimming in an ocean of loot, those tackling Shadowlands' ultra-tough Mythic+ dungeons or its new raid are left feeling starved for good equipment.

But Blizzard has heard your silent groans and game director Ion Hazzikostas says the team is working hard on several big changes, some that are coming in WoW's big 9.1 update later this year, and some in a smaller 9.0.5 patch coming in March. When 9.0.5 launches in March, it'll bring back an old currency called Valor Points so that dungeoneers can upgrade their gear and push into more difficult fights even if the chest at the end of the dungeon doesn't have what they were hoping for. But Hazzikostas says there's still a lot more that can be done.

"We knew that when we set out to craft loot systems for Shadowlands, we were sort of stripping down World of Warcraft loot to its basic foundations," Hazzikostas told me. "Just tearing away years worth of layered systems that had been built upon it like Warforging, Titanforging, Corruption, and all the rest. And I don't know if we went into thinking that's where it was going to stay, but we knew we needed to have a fresh start. We're looking at how these systems have unfolded and we're going to be very mindful of responding to feedback to continue to push them forward. I think we're really happy with how PVP gearing has played out, we've heard great feedback from that community. We think that both raid and dungeon gearing, in terms of your long-tail progression through a raid tier or pushing higher keys with your friends—that could really use some improvement."

Hazzikostas explains the situation felt dire enough for Mythic+ dungeon runners that the team decided to push out the 9.0.5 patch and add Valor Points back into WoW. But raiders are going to have to wait until Chains of Domination launches later this year for a proper fix. Hazzikostas hopes it'll be worth the wait.

"We do have some exciting plans in the works to also give a special, exciting reward to raiders who are going into the Sanctum of Domination [9.1's new raid] and maybe even being able to tinker with some of the very power of Domination itself that lies within as they get unique armor pieces and more," Hazzikostas explained. "We'll have a lot more to say about that system as the [Public Test Realm] goes up, but for raiders, we hear you. We understand that at times it has felt like you've been overshadowed by dungeon runners and PvP oriented players. We want all three of those endgame group gearing paths to be equally viable and to offer something that the other two envy. And outdoor world players, too, we hear you. We know you're out there. We want to make sure you still have goals to keep striving for to make your character stronger because that's what MMOs are all about."

Chains of Domination, WoW's next big patch, doesn't have a launch date, but it's big and it also has a pirate dragon. Patch 9.0.5, which adds Valor Points and some smaller balance changes is coming in March.

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.