Item level within and across expansions

| Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I thought this might be good food for thought for my previous post about raids dropping the same level of gear. To simplify the searching, I've used plate chests as a sample. I might miss something here and there, but nothing should be far off.

Lowest blue plate (mail for before 40): 25
Lowest 'late game' gear (included due to being part of level 60 sets): 61
Lowest level 60: 65
Highest level 60: 92
The 'start to end' gap is 67
The 'noob to elite' gap is 31

Lowest level BC item: 81
Lowest level 70 BC item: 100
Highest level BC item: 159
The 'start to end' gap is 78
The 'noob to elite' gap is 59

Lowest LK item: 130
Lowest 80 LK item (excluding a random stat green): 200
Highest LK item (excluding hardmodes): 270
The 'start to end' gap is 140
The 'noob to elite' gap is 70
Or 77 if we want to include hardmodes.

Vanilla legendaries: 80, 80, and 90
BC legendaries: 156 (both warglaives) and 164
LK legendaries: 245 and 284
Note that the lowest vanilla legendaries are based on drops from the lowest tier raid and trash drops from early to midway through the second tier. The highest vanilla legendary came from the highest tier raid.
The BC legendaries were from last and second to last raid tiers.
The LK legendaries come from the second and last raids, respectively.

Clearly gear is going up, and quickly. But where is it taking place?
Level 60 vanilla gear and BC gear are off by 16, while level 70 BC and LK gear are off by 70. Note that I'm counting the 58/68 gear as 70 to keep things simple; the measure is essentially "if you were at 60 or 70 and not raiding, what gear would you be getting?" The gear resets aren't the cause, and in fact they don't even catch up to the highest level. The leveling process in BC didn't produce a wide range either, only 19, but gearing up caused a much larger gap. In contrast the leveling process in LK covers 70 item levels and then gearing up another 70, a similar gap as in BC, which is more than double that of vanilla.

TL;DR: The gear resets are not the main causes of stat inflation. BC gearing caused huge stat inflation. LK leveling caused even more stat inflation. LK gearing caused huge stat inflation, but no more than BC. This could mean a few things. First, the "twice as many tiers" hypothesis of LK inflation may be false. However if vanilla is the baseline, then BC had excessive gear gaps and LK may have attempted to fix this, but failed due to the "twice as many tiers" hypothesis. In other words, flip a coin, then go ask Ghostcrawler to pick heads or tails.


LifeDeathSoul said...

hmm, I think the main cause of the stat inflation is actually the release of the hardmodes. I'm sure that if you look at the earliest of them all, Sarth3d, you would see a jump of at least 13ilevels from the normal raid loot, and the 3d raid loots. (this is comparing just the differences in 10man only)

Again, it is the same for Ulduar, where the jump in loot levels between normal and hardmodes is exactly the same 13. Just looking at Flame leviathan for example, the difference in ilvel of Twirling blade and Ironsoul is exactly 13.

The real start of the increase in gear inflation however, is with ToC25. If we consider heroic mode as the hard mode version of a raid, then the true culprit would be this raid. For just the 10man modes, the difference in ilevel between heroic and normal, is a total of 16 ilevels. Then if you take a look at the 25man gear, it starts off at 245. But the anomoly comes in from the heroic mode version of 25man where the ilevel loot is actually 272 at it's highest.

Another reason could be that ToC starts off with a larger gap in the gear ilevels compared to naxx and Ulduar. In fact, it would take you quite some time to replace some of the naxx25 gear when compared to the drops in Ulduar. This is in contrast to the drops in ToC which were so much easier to get and so much faster. Let's use the loot that drops from the keeper versus the loot that drops from Jarraxus as an example. (In this case both bosses would require you to fight through at least a few bosses) Consider the time taken to get to say Hodir, versus the time it takes to get to Jarraxus. It's barely even half the time required, and not even half the co-ordination!

Tldr: It's ToC's fault for this expansion

Shiva said...

You have to take into account Blizzard has changed the way ilvl works. Perhaps multiple times, but ilvl definitely changed at least once since vanilla and Wrath.

And even Blizzard/Ghostcrawler admits Wrath was a bit screwed up. The original plans had ICC ending with ilvl 245-258 loot. Not 284.

Anonymous said...

1. Yes, the original plan was for ilvl gap to be a bit smaller in WotLK than it ended up, but do we know if that was also true for the 2 earlier raid environments? Also, that's not a huge deviation from the plan, so not a big deal imo.

2. You are working with absolute ilvl differences, instead of % based ilvl differences. Also, you aren't considering the fact that Blizzard has made gearing up a new toon in WotLK incredibly easy due to badges/faster pvp gear acquisition.

At level 60, you couldn't take an ungeared toon to naxx60. Naxx60 was incredibly hard compared to icc80 normal mode, and an ungeared toon would probably get 1 shotted by raid dmg back then. At lvl80, normal modes in icc80 are easy, and now with the buff you can gear fresh 80's in icc25 very easily, if they run heroics for 1-2 days you wouldn't even have to carry them.

Gear inflation in a raiding sense seems like less of a problem now then it was before. Could raid geared tanks solo lvl60 5 mans, or lvl70 heroics, like raid geared tanks can solo some lvl80 heroics now? I don't recall it being that easy before, but that involves more than just gear inflation, it involves changes to aoe threat/dmg mechanics, and the balancing of tanking talent trees with lethality of a dps/healer pulling adds in heroics. The way to prevent tanks soloing instances in Cata, and to prevent heroics from becoming so easy with better gear, is to change those latter types of mechanics to make those instances be less vulnerable to better tank gear, instead of trying to eliminate gear progression--which is a fundamental part of what WoW has always been, and of the games from which it came.

Anonymous said...

p.s. to be clear about what I mean about % based ilvl differences:

92/65 is around 1.45 or so, guesstimating.

270/200 is about 1.28, guesstimating again.

So on a percentage basis, the ilvl inflation at max lvl in WotLK is significantly less than in vanilla WoW. Which is appropriate, absolute, percentage, or some other option? Well, then you run into the additional complication that the actual ilvl formula has changed multiple times, and everything else in the game has changed as well. Whichever method you eventually choose, an explanation of your reasoning for said choice will go a long way towards providing some meaningful context for these currently mostly irrelevant calculations.

Klepsacovic said...

@LifeDeathSoul: Is there anything that we cannot blame on ToC?

@Shiva: ilevel has changed, I'm not quite sure how that would affect the raid gear for vanilla, but comparing reitemized gear could offer some insight, which is why I included the low level blue. From that we can derive an approximate level to ilevel ratio, and find that it has been going up.

1. I don't recall them planning smaller gear gaps from previous expansions.
2. Based on percentages, vanilla went up 50% from leveling to raiding, BC went up another 50% from Vanilla, and LK went up 75%. So based on the percentage increase each expansion, LK is deviant.
Is normal mode a useful comparison to naxx-40? Naxx was the hardmode.

There were some instances of soloing, but they involved being very clever, though gear wasn't irrelevant. The fact that now places are being soloed through gear rather than skill (I don't mean to entirely discount the soloers' skill) would seem to suggest that the gear gap is worse.

I'm not suggesting that increasing gear quality is bad. It is the basis of WoW. But the rapid pace of it carries risks, such as extreme top to bottom imbalances, which are why our current heroic system is so incredibly boring: we're completely overgeared for it.

A percentage based on the level cap to the highest raid should take something else into account: vanilla gear tended to have terrible itemization. That can be seen as a multiplier on stats, reducing them, which wouldn't change the percent change, but it would reduce how much that gear enhances the naked level 60, which does mean a smaller gap.

Video Game Philosopher said...

There is also the pressure to release better PVP gear with every arena season and PVE gear every patch. Since 1 or 2 item levels isn't good enough, it usually has to go up by 10-15 ilevels. This means massive inflation considering lvl 80 epics already start at a ridiculously high ilevel.

The Gnome of Zurich said...

vanilla is itemized terribly in general, but some of the better itemized pieces are endgame raid gear, so in some cases, you may have the noob item be poorly itemized, while the leet raider item is not only 45% higher ilvl but *also* well itemized, for a much more than 50% increase in stats that matter.

I did BWL on my 60 shammy recently with a bunch of bored 80s, and got 3-4 pieces that are superior to most early ungemmed outlands gear including dungeon blues. Nothing I've ever seen in vanilla outside of the tier raids is as good as standard lvl 57 random stat green drops with an appropriate name. Darn near every single piece of high blue mail or plate has spirit on it. Not so some of the lvl 60 epics, though.

Klepsacovic said...

@VGP: I hadn't thought of PvP gear, but that could be a significant driver, and would explain why vanilla was somuch slower. Back then PvP was driven mostly by PvE gear, and demand for high-end PvP gear was esentially left for BC.

@The Gnome of Zurich: You're right, they did actually start to improve the itemization as they went up, for example, when they figured out that paladins weren't getting much use out of spirit. So maybe I should be reversing the direction of the "terrible itemization slowed inflation".

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