The World of Warcraft community was in a bit of a tizzy yesterday when it collectively discovered that you couldn’t complete a quest chain involving raids in the Raid Finder version of the content, followed by the official site confirming that you cannot do the quest in LFR. Community manager Ornyx took to the forums to explain the situation in slightly more depth, making it clear that this is unique for a specific quest chain, not the majority of quests involving raids.
While this particular appearance is locked behind a Normal-or-higher raiding threshold, the other raid-based quests (such as profession quests and the end of the Suramar storyline) can be completed normally through the raid finder; this quest line was meant to unlock an appearance specifically through non-queued content. If you want to understand this situation in a bit depth, jump down below; we’ll break it down for you.
What specifically is going on here?
Each artifact weapon in Legion has five appearances. (Well, six, but the last one doesn’t appear to be active yet.) Each appearance requires you to unlock a specific “starter” appearance first in order to unlock all of the subsequent looks on the row; the subsequent looks are all tints to the initial appearance. By pretty much playing normally and clearing content, you can unlock the first two appearances for your weapon, and one is a “hidden’ appearance.
Of the remaining appearances, one of them requires PvP progression and the other one requires the completion of the “Balance of Power” quest chain. This is a lengthy chain that sends you first into Mythic dungeons, then subsequently into raid content. However, it turns out that this quest chain cannot be completed with the queued Raid Finder difficulty; you have to get into a group raiding Normal or higher.
Why is this a problem?
Well, there are a bunch of reasons why this has made people very upset.
First of all, this restriction was not announced until the day that LFR opened for the first wing of the Emerald Nightmare. Prior expansions haven’t had artifacts, obviously, but prior expansions have had plenty of raid quests, and all of them allowed players to clear the quests on any difficulty so long as they went into the raid. So there was no reason to expect that this one was going to work differently, and the fact that it wasn’t announced until the day it became relevant feels bad no matter what, even if it was always the intention.
Second, there aren’t a whole lot of artifact appearances to start with. Or rather, there are, but they’re by necessity spread between 36 different artifact weapons, meaning that each individual skin is kind of a big deal. Since you can’t unlock subsequent appearances in a row without unlocking the first one, this means that players who could unlock later tints on this tier won’t have access to them if they don’t clear the first quest. This is also true for appearances which may not overlap with people taking part in regular raiding groups (for example, dedicated high-end Mythic+ participants).
Third, artifact appearance unlocks are not account-wide, which means that if you play a large number of alts, you’ll have to clear this quest for every one of them to unlock the appearance. That can be obnoxious enough with the wait for queue times and the fact that the quest items aren’t 100% drops, but looking for normal groups can quickly become an exercise in frustration.
Fourth and finally, there’s the social aspect to consider; there are a lot of reasons why someone might not want to run normal raids even with content gated behind them. For anyone who doesn’t like to raid anyway and sees LFR as an acceptable compromise, this just needles uncomfortably.
Are there no workarounds?
Oh, there always are. Assuming that your workaround isn’t just finding a normal raid group with non-insane requirements in the group finder (also known as the “Luck of the Draw” option), you can always just transmog another appearance over your existing artifact weapon’s appearance if you want something to look different. Nor does it affect stats or performance in the least.
Ornyx’s comments also clarify that it’s in effect only for this one appearance; other content that requires raids can be cleared in LFR. So there is the reality to consider that this doesn’t impact performance in the least, unlike higher tiers of equipment; it’s purely cosmetic.
Well, then, why are people so upset?
Did you not read that list up there? Because that answers that question. No, it’s not a difference in power level, but it was announced in a really shady manner that feels underhanded whether or not that was the intention. It’s also the sort of thing that can make you annoyed anyway, since it means that people with dedicated raid groups are getting exclusive looks as well as much better equipment rather than just one or the other. (Most games with cosmetics locked behind specific content make the cosmetics themselves the rewards.)
Also, until Ornyx clarified the change, a lot of people were upset because this might mean that flying in the Broken Isles would also be gated behind Normal-or-higher raiding. Thankfully, that does not appear to be the case, but considering Blizzard’s recent track record on flying, you sort of can’t blame people for a touch of preemptive upset.
Is this just people whining because they don’t get free stuff?
No, it’s people whining because they don’t get to use a feature of the expansion but weren’t told that until much later after they’d bought it. Bit dodgy.
Should this affect people’s evaluation of the expansion?
Oh, you want some subjective analysis now? All right, then; we’re going to go with “not directly, but somewhat.” The fact is that it doesn’t affect the vast majority of what you’re doing in the game, nor will it actually involve gating the stuff that most people were concerned about behind a raid. If you’ve been enjoying the heck out of the expansion up to this point, it’s certainly not something to unsusbcribe over.
At the same time, it does speak to the fact that some of the lessons of the past have not quite been heeded at Blizzard HQ, much like how the Mythic-only Karazhan has more than a few people looking at the whole lack of a queue with side-eyes. It’s not a destructive and horrible thing that ruins the expansion, but it does speak to potential worries down the line.
This is a lot of meaning in a simple artifact skin, huh?
Hey, you wanted to know.