Last night I came across a post in my own archives in which I casually mentioned how epics had become the new shiny fish scales, and that made me think. While we're making Cataclysm wish lists, I'd like to wish for epics to be epic again - even if it's unlikely that my pleas on that subject will be heard.
Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea, this isn't about restricting all the good gear to hardcore raiders again or whatever. It's got nothing to do with the stats on the gear, it's purely a matter of nomenclature or coloration, as it were.
We're so used to referring to items by the colour of their names - greens, blues, purples - that it's easy to forget that those colours are actually supposed to be an indicator of rarity. Greens are uncommon, blues are rare and purples are epic. According to dictionary.com, epic means "heroic, majestic, impressively great, of unusually great size or extent" (when it's not referring to poetry). The keyword here is "unusual", and while it's debatable how much of a step up that is from uncommon and rare, I'm pretty sure that the one thing that something called epic is not supposed to be is common. Unfortunately however that's exactly what epic quality items have become, in this expansion more so than ever before. The bosses in normal instances have them as guaranteed drops; Dalaran is chock-full of vendors that sell nothing but epics, for the low price of running a couple of heroics for emblems; hell, even the emblems themselves are apparently epic. Go around Dalaran and inspect a bunch of random people. How many greens do they wear, how many blues and how many purples? I bet you that epic quality loot will actually be the most common type of gear among level eighties, and that's just silly. I don't care how cool it looks or how much stamina it's got on it, if everyone and their Mum's wearing it it's simply not epic.
What I'd like to see in Cataclysm then would be a monetary reform for gear so to speak, to give the label "epic" some value again.
- Emblems and tokens should never be epic, as they are guaranteed drops by their very definition. They should be rare at best, maybe even uncommon.
- Five-man instances shouldn't have epics as guaranteed boss drops, neither on normal nor on heroic difficulty. Having a few epics as really rare drops along the lines of the battered hilt would be okay though.
- Stuff that's available from vendors shouldn't be epic either, unless the requirements for getting it are severely limiting, like a high arena or battleground rating for PvP gear, or some heroic mode token for the highest level of tier gear. Everything else should be blue at best, including tier items if they are simply available for a bunch of emblems. If we want some items, like the tier sets, to stand out a bit more they could be coloured pale orange like the heirloom items or a different colour.
- Raids would drop a mix of blues and purples, depending on the boss's difficulty and place in the instance. The first boss would always only drop blue quality items, the last one only epics and everything else would be somewhere in-between.
Just to reiterate, this wouldn't actually change anything about the quality of the gear. A new tier of blues would generally be better than the previous tier of epics, as they were. Everything would just be marked more appropriately, so that something that can be bought from a vendor in endless amounts doesn't appear to be as "impressively great" as a drop from a tough raid boss anymore. After all, the colour system is supposed to be an indicator of rarity instead of pure quality: Raptor Hunter Tunic may be green but it's still better than Blackened Defias Armor. I'd really like to have that back at endgame level as well, instead of the muddied down version we have right now where everything above ilevel 200 is simply epic regardless of where it came from and how common it actually is.