It turns out that even if you liked World of Warcraft’s Artifact Weapons and how they were designed, their front-loaded nature was very bad. That’s one of the big takeaways from a recent PC Gamer interview with Ion Hazzikostas, wherein the game director explains that even though players didn’t complain about the front-loaded aspect of the Artifacts, the designers noticed and thus designed the Azerite system to have players continually chasing more progression instead of incremental upgrades later.
That’s worked out real great.
Hazzikostas goes on to stress that the post-8.2 Heart of Azeroth will be designed much more like… Artifacts, complete with a clickable ability and various traits to buy. He also mentions that Artifacts had to be removed from the game so that you could get weapon upgrades again while noting that the developers have been a bit too willing to remove things from the game instead of maintaining complex systems; it may be time, in his own words, to “make permanent additions to the game and accept that, yes, there will be some untidiness down the road but it’ll be worth it because it’s exciting for players.”