Monday, May 23, 2011

iLevel Must Die

Item level, just like gear score before it, is a stupid idea that should be removed from the game.  It is not alone, it is also gear stat inflation but that is directly connected to item level so we will consider them the same for the purpose of this post.

Example #1

In trade I saw this post over the weekend.

/2 ilvl 354 Hunter looking for Cata Raid

Innocent enough right?  Poor guy got flamed to no end with comments from "that is a horrible item level" to "how are you that low this late in the expansion".

First off, 354 is enough to blow through all current content and maybe even step foot into a few of the heroic mode raids.  My first time into a Cataclysm raid was with a 338 healer and I did just fine.  Sure, I had some serious mana issues but that is due to bad design by blizzard coupled with me not being all that great of a healer.

Secondly, just because you started playing the day cata came out and had a 350+ item level one week into the game doesn't mean everyone else started then.  It also doesn't mean even if they did start the day it came out that they are as prolific in their gearing up process as you are.

Third, lets forget valor gear or BoE epics.  If not for the Zul instances you would never be able to get over a 346 item level to begin with in heroics and if you where not lucky your best bet would be getting to around 342 item level.  Even including the Zul instances the best you can hope for is a 351 or 352 item level.  This is with completely exhausting every option available to you.  If getting the best of everything available to you can only get you to around a 350 item level now, how exactly is a 354 item level bad?

This guy was getting brutalized in trade for looking for a raid with an item level of 354 which in truth is pretty damn good for anyone before they start to raid.  Actually, I would personally say 354 before you step into a raid is over gearing the content before you move into it.  I would say a 354 item level is fantastic.

By putting a number on things blizzard is making people judge people by a number and that is a horrible way to judge people.

Example # 2

There are currently a few items in the new Zul instances that are better then their 359 counterparts.  They are 353 however and that will hurt someones item level.  Admittedly we do not see it as badly as we did in wrath when I was still rocking my greatness card deep into ICC because it was one of the best trinkets even comparing 200 to 264.  Good players noticed that, bad player just thought your gear score sucked because you where still wearing a 200 trinket.

A guild member won an item in a Zul run and posted it in guild.  He then said, too bad I am already wearing this, and posted a 359.  I looked at both of them and explained that the 353 is actually better then the 359.  I did not say it in passing either, I explained how the 353 would be an upgrade to him.  His response?  But my item level will go down if I use it.

I had to go on one of my speeches yet again where I preach to the masses that it is not item level that matters and in the end, only bad players look at item level, good players look at item effectiveness.  I try to teach people but sometimes I have no patience for people so I let it slide.  The game is programming people to think in terms of item level.  They even judge entry by item level.  This makes teaching people harder.

Example #3

I was doing some randoms on my Shaman because it was finally a healer bag day again, as few and far between as they seem.  We got BRC and the DPS on the first boss was insane.  Love those rare groups where people actually know what they are doing.  So we walk up to the second boss and I say, I got the right and the tank says, don't worry about it, with this group we do no need anyone to stand in the beams.  The tank was right.  No one worried about beams and the boss went down before one of the zealots turned.

Good right?  You might think so, I don't.  It was good in the fact it made for a nice and easy run but it was also bad because it ignored mechanics.  Ignoring mechanics is what makes bad players.  It is also what makes people think others are bad players.

Lets play devils advocate here for a moment and break that group up.  Put those three excellent DPS in different groups with just average players, even good average players, ones that can do at least 10K DPS.  Now, with 2 10K DPS and their 20K DPS you are not going to burn her fast enough so you need to do beams, at least for the first turn.  Now those people see someone mess up and think they are bad because they do not need to worry about beams when they do it with their group.

Or lets say you are the healer like I was that happened to get lucky enough to be with good groups that did not need to block the beams each run in there and you get a group that is not insane in the DPS department like they where.  You never stood in the beams so you do not know what to do.  If you do not know what to do there it is normally a wipe and now you are told to stand in the beam.  Huh?  What?  I never had to do that before.  Ignoring mechanics makes bad players.

Avoiding mechanics is a bad thing.  Gear level, and by such stat inflation, is letting people out gear things so quickly that it is entirely possible that people get in groups that never need to do the mechanics and when they get a group that needs to they will not know what to do or immediately think the other players are just bad players.

Out gearing content, even more so this quickly, creates bad players.  This early in the expansion we should not be just ignoring mechanics on fights, even in heroics, and we can if the stats on gear increase so huge so quickly.  Slowing down stat inflation would mean that older content still remains relevant longer.  If you out gear something so greatly so soon then you ignore mechanics and create bad players.

More devils advocate here.  Lets say someone starts playing a year from now.  When we are all in 450 or so gear, if we are already ignoring most mechanics in heroics we will surely be laughing at them in a year while we are in our 450s and thinking, there where mechanics to this?

So that new player joins us in a heroic, we blow through everything, basically carrying them, they never get a chance to know the mechanics or even know that there are mechanics, they get themselves geared, they get their badge 450s, they walk into raid, they never had any experience in dealing with mechanics, they fail horribly and you know what?  It is not their fault at all.  They never had the chance to learn about mechanics.

This ruins the fun of the game for them, for us, for the community as a whole.  The item level going up so quickly and the stat inflation on the gear is bad for the game.  Very bad.

Blizzard should really look into removing item level.  It does nothing for the game, it only enforces the belief that the person with the highest number wins, and makes people think that the item level number means more then the stats that are in an item.  Item level brings nothing to the table.

They also need to stop the insane stat inflation.  It makes it so we out gear things so quickly.  That makes content obsolete faster.  They worked so long to create the content that they might as well make it remain a challenge to us.

Wouldn't it be amazing if when Cataclysm ended the heroics where still a tiny bit of a challenge instead of being steamrolled by people in all epics that never even stepped into a raid?  They could do that.  They are just number obsessed like everyone else is.  Bigger numbers are better. 

The way stat inflation is going this expansion so far it worse then wrath was.  People thought wrath was easy, well, they are going to need to brace themselves because the way Cataclysm is going we are going to be begging for it to be as hard as wrath was in about a year if they do not slow things down.

Because we, the over geared, will carry people through the heroics that where meant to teach them and they will learn nothing, then they will get their shiny new point gear to get them into raids and they will be those very same horrible players people complained about in wrath.

It will come down to this.

/2 ilvl 457 hunter looking for cata raid

That 457 won't mean anything.  It will have been assembled in steamrolled heroics and BH which is already a laughing stock if you get a group doing all over 20K DPS each.

Item level has no use in game.  Find another way to judge people because putting numbers on them means nothing.

If anything, let me add, Example #4

Another item level failure can be proved by needing certain item levels to get into heroics and zul instances.  People game the system because Blizzard made it seem like that is all that is needed to do that content.  If you have this magic number you can do this content.

Look around at all those 3K, 4K and 5K DPS in heroics.  Look at all those tanks that could not hold aggro on even a single target against people doing 5K.  Look at all those healers that if two people get hit at the same time they let both of them die because they do not know what to do.

All those people have the appropriate item level to get into those instances.  According to blizzard, they are capable of doing them.  Apparently, no one at Blizzard actually ever plays this game because if they did they would realize that item level does not equal success and is the perfect scapegoat for bad player.  But I have the required item level, I should be able to do this, it must mean you are a bad player.  Passing the blame because you have the item level.

First heroic I ever tanked I had a healer in all PvP and a few green pieces.  New tank, badly geared healer, no wipes.  Want to know why?  The healer was amazingly skilled and I knew how to use cooldowns and CC as needed.  It had nothing to do with me being barely geared for it or the healer gaming the system to get in.  Item level meant nothing then, it means nothing now. 

To anyone on the outside, because of this stupid item level system they would have seen a barely geared tank and a horribly geared healer and said, this is going to be a wipe fest.

I don't know what could replace it really but what they have now is not working.  Item level is a bad idea.  It makes bad players think they are good, because of their item level, and it makes good players that do not have as much time to get gear feel like they are being left out because they do not have the item level required.  Something needs to be done. 

Remove item level, block addons like gear score and let us go back to looking at the people we play with.  Inspect is there for a reason.  If we want to look at gear only we might as well actually look at it.

I wonder if that poor Hunter ever found a group.  I would have taken him along and given him a shot.  354 is more then raid ready.  If we are going to use the item level system, people need to at least grasp the concept of what is needed for what content and stop being asshats.  354 is over geared for raids.  End of story.


  1. It has kind of taken over the game, hasn't it? It's weird now to think back to when before ilevels were widely visible in the game, and how you actually had to look at an item's stats to determine whether it was an upgrade or not...

  2. I still look at things for their stats and not their item level but it is not as often that you see something that is better at 346 than 359 although there are a few.