Dressed for Success

BY Heather Richtmyre  //  September 29, 2009

It brings out the . . . turquoise in us.


ear. It's a strange thing, a collection of pixels, numbers, and expectations. So much of the drama I've seen in World of Warcraft could be attributed to it.

Well, not to the gear directly, but to the players who desire it. The simplest motivation is improvement. Better numbers, enemies winding up dead in a faster and better fashion. Then there is the area of appearance, whether through making your characters unique, or just matching. And finally, prestige.

It's the motivation of prestige with regards to gear that I find the most odd, and fascinating.It's the motivation of prestige with regards to gear that I find the most odd, and fascinating. This is an area that carries the legacy of The Burning Crusade and WoW before then, when tier items for badges, numerous bind-on-equip raid drops, and even badge gear did not exist.

And, as I've previously said, achievements didn't exist then either. So, the only real way to see someone's experience was via gear and titles. However, this viewpoint has persisted into Wrath of the Lich King — from a player wanting gear merely so they can sit, barely attentive, in Dalaran and have someone admire them; to people hoping that a certain piece will be easier to obtain so they can have it to show off. Given that they wanted to show it off because it had been rare and now would be less rare, I'm rather confused.

There are a few pieces of gear that are still difficult to obtain and nice to show off, but most pieces now are common enough that the prestige factor has been lessened — but only so much, since many players haven't leveled high enough for them.

Appearance is a simpler issue. There's just something annoying about playing a rogue in nearly a full set of black or dark brown armor, perhaps trimmed with red, and then getting stuck with bright turquoise boots.

There's just something annoying about having a rogue with bright turquoise boots.Yes, bright turquoise boots from a dungeon quest back in The Burning Crusade. I had never tried harder to replace a piece of gear. After that, there was a white, lavender-edged cloak I received in Wrath and was terribly happy to replace. I was not looking so much for a stats upgrade as for a character that didn't appear to be colorblind.

There's also the matter of a characters' silhouette and how many people look similar to your character. A certain extent of this is probable in WoW, just from limited faces and hairstyles. So far as this area goes, items such as weapons, shoulder pieces, and your helm provide a lot of the look. A rogue with a Warglaive is very distinct, and giant spike-wielding shoulder pads are difficult to miss, too.

I'd say the lack of more gear models is one of my frustrations about the 3.2 patch, as my rogue will share the same shoulders as druids, with the model not fitting either particularly well. Large glowing objects on a stealth class? Really?

Gear is a funny thing. So many opinions about it, so many ways we can toy with it that aren't related directly to the numbers that it can produce. And so many bank spaces crammed with older, more interesting pieces that we simply can't part with.

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